One of the important efforts in diabetes advocacy is setting up time to meet with your elected officials. It is also important to understand who the key people are in the office. The staff that works in the office are the ones who can directly communicate with your elected official.

The size of the staff differs between the Senate and House. Senators’ staff can range from as low as 20 to as high as 60. A House member is only allowed 18 full-time positions and 4 part-time positions.

Congressional Staff is broken up into a few categories:

  • – Personal Staff
  • – Committee Staff
  • – Leadership Staff
  • – Institutional Staff
  • – Support Agency Staff

The people who you may see in the office and are the ones who may be beneficial to your advocacy efforts would be part of the Personal Staff.

Personal Staff

The main role of the personal staff is to provide value and service to the people directly living in an elected officials district. It is likely that communications you receive via e-mail newsletter, printed letters, updates, etc. are coming from the personal staff. The personal staff may also be split between Washington D.C. and the home district. All offices are different, however, it is typical for each office to have the following:

Receptionist / Staff Assistant

The receptionist would be the person that handles incoming phone calls and emails. This could very well be your very first point of contact with your Member’s office, so establishing a friendly relationship could go a long way.

Executive Assistantcalendar-1568148

The executive assistant manages the Member’s schedule and may be the decision maker on who sees or does not see the Member. If you have the opportunity to speak with the executive assistant, this could be your way to get an additional meeting scheduled with a legislative director or assistant, or even the Member themselves.

 

Legislative Correspondents (LC)

LC’s would be the person in charge of responding to emails, letters and drafting responses. Many times your emails and letters are responded to with pre-written emails. Do not get discouraged by this, any response is a good response.

Legislative Director (LD)

The legislative director is responsible for keeping all legislative related items on task and to keep things moving along. The LD can be a key factor in whether or not a member of Congress sponsors or cosponsors a bill. This means that it could be just as important to speak with the LD as it is to speak with the actual member of Congress. Sharing your story with the legislative director about why certain diabetes related legislation can help change your life is an excellent form of advocacy.

Legislative Assistant (LA)

Legislative assistants play a crucial role in advocating for diabetes. LA’s are responsible for monitoring the activity of a bill while in the committee phase. Continued communication with an LA about specific legislation could help ensure that the bill doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. They may also be assigned to writing speeches, meeting with lobbyists and special interest groups, as well as meeting with advocacy groups. Depending on the office, there may be several LA’s assigned to very specific items in order to keep them laser focused on that legislative item.

Chief of Staff (COS)

The Chief of a Staff is in charge of the entire staff. Since all the staff reports to the COS, they are knowledgable in all subject matters. This means that the Member of Congress relies heavily on the COS to keep them informed and updated on all political items within the District and D.C.

District / State Director

The State or District director is in charge of managing the local office and maintaining a relationship with local community leaders and advocates.

DPACActNowBubbleAs you can see, there are a lot of people working in an elected official’s office. Having the opportunity to meet and speak with any one of them in the office is a great starting point. Do not feel discouraged if you cannot meet with your actual elected official. As we mentioned above, there are staff members who are influential in the decisions made by the elected official.

We would love for you to share your story about meeting with your local official or a staff member of theirs. It is important for us to share these stories so we can help encourage each other to do this. The more voices we can make heard, the better. Please share your story either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

If you have not met with your officials yet, then now is a great time to get started. Simply go to our elected officials lookup tool to find out who your elected officials are. Once you know who your elected officials are, you can then begin the process of scheduling a visit.