Grassroots advocacy starts with you

Published July 01 2017

During the Public Affairs Advisory Committee’s town hall event at Experimental Biology 2017, the committee announced the launch of the Grassroots Advocacy Network. The network is intended to provide a host of advocacy options for American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members across the country as well as to offer leadership opportunities for members who have a strong interest in being a voice for biomedical research. To date, nearly 200 of your colleagues from 35 states have signed up to be a part of the network.

The network has been created to provide ASBMB members with both organic and organized opportunities to be involved in advocating on behalf of the life sciences. The late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is famously credited with the phrase “All politics is local,” and our advocacy efforts can be only as strong as our understanding of what’s happening in laboratories in states all across the country. An important role the members of our network will play is helping to let the public affairs office in Maryland know what is happening in your backyard. What policies are affecting research where you work? What has your elected official said at a community event about recent budget cuts? Building stronger relationships with you locally will strengthen our national advocacy efforts, and those relationships begin with communicating with you and hearing what concerns you.

Beyond simply communicating, we are looking for local leaders. We are exploring a variety of options that will provide a platform for grassroots advocacy network participants to share experiences and even organize locally on your own. As our network grows and activity increases, we hope to identify state captains who can help organize and mobilize locally, amplifying our national efforts with targeted local advocacy.

In addition to the local flair, the ASBMB’s central office will help to organize national efforts. The first will be sponsoring ASBMB members meeting with their elected officials during the August recess period, when members of Congress leave Washington to do work back in their local districts. This will be the third summer that the ASBMB has organized these recess district meetings, and with your help, we’re looking forward to breaking the 200-meeting barrier this summer. In advance of meetings, we’ll be organizing online training on how to hold a meeting and what to expect, and we will provide you with resources from leave-behind materials to taking on all the administrative work in scheduling the meeting for you.

The political atmosphere right now is unique, and interest in getting involved is rising to a fever pitch. But local advocacy — standing up and making the case — has worked for biomedical research. Federal funding for the National Institutes of Health has grown steadily for three years now, and the appetite remains in Congress to keep on the same path for growth. It’s a great time to get involved to support a strong future for our community.

Benjamin Corb Benjamin Corb is director of public affairs at ASBMB. Follow him on Twitter.