Sophie Hansen, LCSW, is Political Director of National Association of Social Workers, MA chapter. She is an expert on talking to legislators, because getting lawmakers to do things is pretty much her job. Plus, Sophie helps get social workers to be legislative advocates. Here's her expert tips on speaking to lawmakers. First, establish common ground - find something in the district to establish a bond as people. Then tell your reasons for asking for action. Sophie cautions that you don't have to be an expert on the language of the bill - but you should share your passion. Don't forget to have a definite "ask," either to vote a certain way, to sponsor a bill, etc. And finally, make the legislator accountable. Ask when you can contact again to check in, ask if there is a certain aide that works on the issue. Find a way to get a response to your request. You're their constituent, she reminds us. They need and want to talk to us, to hear what we care about.
Sophie is also a member of the speakers' bureau at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARC). where she takes off her social work and lobbyist hats to talk about her own personal experience. It's a different type of speaking than she does at her day job, and she shares her experience of the vulnerability and power of telling her own story.