My Start on Capitol Hill
My first real foray into advocacy was when I was working for a Member of Congress on Capitol Hill. My boss was the co-chair of the Rare Disease Caucus, a group of Members dedicated to raising awareness of, and advancing policies around the unique needs of thousands of those with a rare disease. It is a community of small organizations, often founded by a parent or loved ones. Resources are tight, but the passion and determination are limitless.
While my job was to run the caucus – organizing briefings, adding new members, and reviewing legislation – I quickly found myself as an advisor of sorts to these small organizations and families looking to be impactful on Capitol Hill.
I quickly realized I had something valuable to offer – I knew how the place worked. I understood how to get the most out of a meeting with a staffer or member. I saw that I could help these organizations better lobby me and my colleagues, and leverage their limited resources and manpower to accomplish big things.
Joining the Fight
Flash forward a couple of years: I left Congress to join a government relations firm, and there, I had the opportunity to formalize the advocacy role that I had grown to love as a Policy Advisor for Fight CRC.
I knew Fight CRC quite well from my time on the Hill, where I had the pleasure of meeting with advocates year after year during Call on Congress. What’s more, my former boss in Congress had been a champion of one of Fight CRC’s top legislative priorities, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act.
Shortly after I started, Fight CRC hired a new Grassroots Advocacy Manager, Julienne Gede Edwards. We quickly became policy partners in crime – me with the background in legislative issues and navigating Capitol Hill, and her as a stage IV CRC patient who understood the policy on a deeply personal level.
Julienne taught me so much about advocacy and the cancer experience. As much as I can empathize with what CRC survivors and their families are going through, I have never experienced it myself — but Julienne became my guide. And more importantly, she became my friend.
Julienne passed away earlier this year. And like so many who knew and loved her, I miss her deeply.
So, when Anjee Davis, president of Fight CRC, approached me about coming on board full-time as Fight CRC’s Director of Advocacy – a job that should have been Julienne’s – I jumped at the chance, not just to do good and meaningful work, but to have an opportunity to turn my pain into purpose.
I believe in the power of advocacy because I have seen it work. I have seen it empower and inspire. I have seen it turn an idea, to a solution, into impact. I have seen it build an incredible community of people who love and support each other.
I am so excited to step into this new role and help build on all the incredible work that has been done before me. Fight CRC is recommitting to advocacy in a big way this year, harnessing that relentless spirit of hope that defines the CRC community to advance meaningful policy change.
I hope you’ll join us.