Capitol Hill Day – The Tools You Need, the Experience of a Lifetime!

Jo-Ann Schofield, MENTOR Rhode Island
October 11th, 2017
Posted In: Advocacy, Awareness, National Mentoring Month Blog Series

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Join mentoring advocates at the fourth annual Capitol Hill Day during the 2018 National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C. to bring the personal stories and policy issues affecting the mentoring community straight to Members of Congress and their staff. You can sign up for Capitol Hill Day when you register for the 2018 National Mentoring Summit or email Adriane Alicea if you would like to attend Capitol Hill Day but are not attending the National Mentoring Summit.

During last year’s Capitol Hill Day over 350 advocates, including Jo-Ann Schofield from MENTOR Rhode Island, traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in Capitol Hill Day. Jo-Ann shares some of her reflections and advice for future Capitol Hill Day participants below.

What kinds of resources and trainings do attendees participate in to prepare for Capitol Hill Day?

Capitol Hill Day is one of the special days of the year when we, as mentoring organizations, walk the halls of Congress to meet with legislators from our home state. It is amazing to see government up close and personal! The team at MENTOR: the National Mentoring Partnership makes sure we’re ready for our big day with informative webinars and an amazing dinner the evening before. We learn everything from our way around DC to what we’re advocating for on a national level, like funding for mentoring programs or legislation that helps us do our jobs in our home communities. You get a folder with national materials as a leave behind that you can add your own materials to. This is truly a partnership that combines what’s needed on a national level with what you need locally. Plus, you feel and sound informed in your meetings with Members of Congress and/or their staff. I always like to sound smart and as my mentor told me, “Fake it until you make it.” With the help of MENTOR, I no longer have to fake it!

What is Capitol Hill Day really like? What is it like to be in meetings with Members of Congress and their staff?

The first year I went, I had no idea what to expect and felt a bit awkward since I’d never been to DC to visit my legislators. During Hill Day we have a high level of training and preparedness and it really has made a huge difference in our conversations!  Having participated in Capitol Hill Day since its inception, I have built great relationships with the staff at our long-time Senators’ offices. I attended last year with one of my board members. It was amazing to have her see the relationships that can be built over time.  The eye-opening thing about being on the Hill and meeting with our legislators is that you realize they REALLY do want to help! They want to know what the needs are back home and they take great pride in the work they’re doing on behalf of their constituents. Often the individual Members of Congress are not available for the meeting, so you meet with their staff members. The first time this happened, I realized that although many of the staff members were young (one looked like he was 12!), they were dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic about capturing our needs so that our voice was heard!

What is your favorite Capitol Hill Day Moment or Experience?

My favorite Capitol Hill Day experience was the day we had very little time between appointments, and a great deal of terrain to cover, so our amazing Congressman’s staff member escorted us via the Senate subway system. Not subway like Metro — but two sets of tracks that carry underground trains ferrying lawmakers from Senate chambers to their office buildings. It was the coolest thing ever! I still have my “Official Business Visitor” badge on my bulletin board as a reminder.

So my official advice is if you’re considering Capitol Hill Day, DO IT! You’ll see a lot, share a lot and most importantly, learn a lot. And one more thing, wear comfortable shoes! There’s lots of walking. There is a reason it’s called Capitol “Hill”! 

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You can also be a mentoring advocate during the 2018 National Mentoring Summit when you sign up to participate in Capitol Hill Day! If you have any questions about Capitol Hill Day please contact Abbie Evans, Sr. Director of Government Relations.

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