Highlights from 2017 Congressional Education Day
By Flannery Winchester
What an incredible week! CCL’s 4th annual Congressional Education Day was our largest November lobbying event to date, with more than 600 attendees registered and more than 400 lobby meetings scheduled on the Hill.
Even with 600 CCLers there in person, we know there were thousands more across the country who would have loved to be with us. For that reason, we captured and shared lots of the conference on social media, so everyone could join in virtually. Here’s a roundup of the highlights:
The event began on Sunday, November 12, with a screening of Chasing Coral and a panel discussion, which you can watch here. On Monday the 13th, our day of volunteer training got underway. Executive Director Mark Reynolds and Marketing Director Ashley Hunt-Martorano offered a welcome in the morning. Part of that welcome included a 10th anniversary message from Rep. Carlos Curbelo!
Then, attendees split up among three different training sessions for the morning. Jim Tolbert, Stephanie Doyle and Carla Wise covered conservative and progressive messaging in one room, and in another, Elli Sparks and Brett Cease took new volunteers through a Climate Advocate Training workshop. Regional and state coordinators got their own special session at this time, too.
After lunch, CCL’s VP of Legislative Affairs Dr. Danny Richter gave us an in-person breakdown of this year’s June Analysis. Mark then introduced our wonderful volunteer marketing consultants, Lesley Beatty, Carter Keith and Kevin Sutton, who gave us a sneak peek at an upcoming awareness campaign called Undo Your Part. Mark also reviewed our CCL values from the stage, which Lesley helped CCL define earlier this year.
Later that afternoon, we heard from a panel of partner organizations about how we work toward a common goal, and where their organizations stand on the issue of carbon pricing. Included in the panel were Shannon Heyck-Williams from National Wildlife Federation, Melissa Carey from The Nature Conservancy, Justin Stokes from National Audubon Society and Carol Andress from Environmental Defense Fund.
Later that night, Danny took the stage again to share some strategy and help volunteers look back at how far we’ve come over the last year. After that last session, everyone was fully prepared to take the Hill the next day for their lobby meetings.
The day was a huge success, with many members of Congress and volunteers sharing their own images from lobby meetings on Twitter with the hashtag #CCLCED. We celebrated this success, and our 10th anniversary, at a reception later that night. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents Oregon’s 1st district, gave remarks at the beginning of the evening. She told volunteers, “You are making a difference!” (During the few following days, CCL staff also heard from Rep. Charlie Crist and even ran into Sen. Jeff Flake!)
Tuesday night also featured short speeches from CCL founder Marshall Saunders and from several volunteers who shared their experiences at the conference and in CCL.
We’re so happy to see the relationships that were strengthened this week, both among our volunteers and between our volunteers and their members of Congress. We hope you left feeling empowered and rejuvenated, and if you couldn’t attend, we hope to see you at a future conference!