Saturday, July 18, 2015

Looking Back at my RESULTS Conferences

Photo Credit: RESULTS Educational Fund
Greetings from the RESULTS International Conference in sunny (for now) Washington D.C.! We are celebrating the 35th Anniversary of this stellar organization, which has played such a pivotal role in the steady march to end poverty. We've been sharing a lot of memories and retrospectives here at the conference and it made me want to post a few of my own memories here on my Anti-Poverty Mom blog. Makes sense because this is the organization that MADE me the Anti-Poverty Mom. 

Getting our pic with my Senator Obama's foreign policy
aide at my 1st RESULTS conference
2008: The year I took a leap of faith. 
I wanted to learn to lobby in person and heard from people in the know that RESULTS teaches face-to-face lobbying better than any other organization. Wow. That's huge considering the people that told me also belonged to other advocacy organizations. So, I left my babies with my husband and went all by myself to the RESULTS International Conference where I knew exactly ZERO people. During that week, I met people I now call dearest friends and role models. I lobbied my senator's office never knowing that Senator Obama would soon become President Obama.

Standing with lobbying giants Sarah Beardmore and RESULTS
legend Bob Dickerson
2009: The year of the green suit. 
(Who wears a green suit?) By this time, I had been bitten by the lobbying bug hard and was on my way to becoming a regularly published letter-to-the-editor writer. I loved RESULTS so much, I ran for the national board by making a speech in front of the whole conference...and won! Wait, what?! Yep, I became the Evanston group leader and a board member the same year. With pre-schoolers. See what a good green suit can do for you?

A photo op with Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois
2010: The year I met Senator Dick Durbin
By this time, my U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky knew my name and even mentioned me in a speech. More importantly, I'm feeling super empowered because I walked into their offices, asked them to do things, and they said "Yes!" You're looking at a mommy drunk with power!!! Fortunately, when I came home, my kids wasted no time dumping food on the floor, which I had to clean. Humility restored. 

2011: The year of the D.C. family vacation.
By this time, my family was wondering what the heck I do with myself at the RESULTS International Conference of mystery. The girls were still too little to come with me, but we decided they are old enough to enjoy some museums and, I guess, an open-bar reception in the Capitol. I greeted them with "Future Member of Congress" T-shirts and we ushered them in to meet all my friends, colleagues, and celebrity activist Valerie Harper. Then, later, even after the conference was over, we had a double senator meeting at the IL constituent breakfast with senators Durbin and Kirk. Um...yes...somtimes our family lobbies on vacation on our free time. We're a bundle of fun!

Pre-Lobby Day shenanigans at a podium
2012: The year I was elected to Senate.
No, no. Just kidding. But I did quit my board term early and start working as RESULTS staff part-time on the fundraising team. I got paid for talking on the phone and emailing the most wonderful people every day! I loved being so involved with our volunteer activists and getting to know the staff I admired so much as friends and colleagues. I no longer had any free time and learned that everyone who works at a non-profit does about 30% more things that I thought they did.

My daughter & I become a DC lobbying team
2013: Take your daughter to work year.
Finally deciding my oldest daughter had enough patience to sit through conference sessions (even if she reads books while we meet), I brought her out to DC with me. After all, she'd already attended more in-district lobby meetings than most adults by this point in her short life. Turned out she was great at filing things and sorting nametages, so "take your daughter to work day" became "put your daughter to work" day as well.

Bringing the little sister to join the team
2014: The year BOTH daughters attended.
By this time, I had decided to leave my part-time job because of my decision to become a writer. Yet it was far from a slow paced conference. That year I brought both girls, ran for board again (and won), met the president of the World Bank Dr. Jim Kim for the price of writing a thoughtful blog piece about his speech, coached a team full of brand new poverty advocates on my team, and even helped acclimate movie star Sean Astin to our happy family traditions. Honestly, I'm kind of tired even thinking of last year!

2015: ??????
What will this year hold? I don't know, but I'm here with my two seasoned lobbyist kids and heading to offices who darn well know who we are now. All I can say, is that I'm excited for the future days and future years with all my RESULTS family.

And now, here's a retrospective of my dear friendship with Jen Paprotna who has now left the RESULTS staff for another organization. Here are all our pictures together in one place from Lobby Days past. (Honestly, 2012 was a rough year on that open bar.) Enjoy, Jen!