Advocacy Boot Camp

5 Simple eTips to Better Know Your Congress Members

Are you doing these?

Find Congress Members

Know your Senators and Representative. That is super easy enter your zip code here to find your elected Members of Congress. If it finds multiple possible officials for your ZIP code, you can narrow your search by entering your street, city, state and ZIP code OR your nine-digit ZIP code (ZIP+4).

Member Newsletter

From the search above just click a Member of Congress to learn more about them. Then on the detail page click to their official website and sign up for their newsletter. Newsletters will help you see how they project themselves. Their newsletters are a good way to learn about events like town hall meetings, other public appearances, and call in session.

Social Media

Connect with your Congress Members on social media. Social media offers the opportunity for you to comment back Members’ posts. You can find social media links on members’ official sites and from DPAC’s Scorecard. (

Get Alerts

Use Google Google Alerts ( just enter their name and set up email to alert you to news about your member of Congress. News feeds give you the ability to be timely. When you Congress Member is in the news cycle, it is an excellent time to comment and tailor messages for phone calls and letters to current events.

Follow Local Reporters

Find the local reporters who cover your members of Congress with Google News ( Look for those with local papers and media. Read their stories and comment. Follow the reports on Twitter, engage and where appropriate offer resources about life with diabetes.

These Simple steps can help you better understand and engage with your Members of Congress. These same things can help you better know you state officials too.

Do you use other tips or tricks to know better you elected representative? Please share the in comments below.

Ask An Expert: Trip and Doug Stoner – State Advocacy Inside and Out


Join our Experts Trip and Doug Stoner in a conversation on advocating for people with diabetes in the state legislature.

Double the Experts: The Powerhouse Couple: A Diabetes Advocate and a Former State Senator 

Register Now

Trip and Doug will share their unique perspectives. Trip is an active advocate for people with diabetes in Georga. She organizes Type 1 Diabetes Day where the state legislators interact with people with Type 1 to learn the realities of living with diabetes. Doug, a former state senator and now a lobbyist, will share the perspective of an insider on what works best.

Doug and Trip will speak about practical techniques highlighting the importance of building connections in the statehouse. These can be more than channels to help inform state policy for people with diabetes. Many members of the U.S. Congress begin careers in state legislatures and carry the relationships they build locally with them to Washington. In this way, advocacy contacts can become increasingly productive.

Register now for the Webinar

Playing Policy Advocacy at Recess

Congress is coming home from Washington for a break – or a recess. The House calls it a “District Work Period.” Your Representative may be having a town hall or other public event to connect with constituents. If so, it is an excellent opportunity to share your views on diabetes and health policy.

What’s Your Member Doing for Recess?

Your member’s web page is a great place to find out what they have scheduled. Or you can call their office.  DPAC’s Scorecard lists every member of Congress’ web page and phone number.

Go to the Scorecard

  • Scroll Down to your State and Member
  • Click the “www” in your Member’s row for their website.
  • The DC office phone number is there too.
  • Scroll to the right and find out how many people in your district live with diabetes.


Write a question before you go. Start with a short introduction including:

  • Your hometown, so they know you are a constituent.
  • How many people in the district have diabetes, so they know there are a lot of us.
  • A specific question that touches your life, so the member’s reply address you as an individual.


Hi. I am Jane Doe from Hometown. I am one of 56 thousand people in the 5th district with diabetes. It is a pre-existing condition of us all. How are you protecting access to my doctor and the treatments she prescribes that me a useful and productive contributor to the community here in the 5th district?


Hi. I am Jane Doe from Hometown. My child is one of 56 thousand people in the 5th district with diabetes. Will you protecting her access to care through my insurance until she is 26 so she can see her doctor, stay a healthy and established herself as a young adult?

Get there early and get a good seat.

While You Are There

Even if you may not agree with your representative’s party or stand on a topic, it’s crucial to be polite during your interactions. Insulting or yelling at a representative is a sure way to shut down a productive conversation quickly.

Stick around.

  • Connect with staff and get their contact information.
  • Engage with local reporters.
  • Offer to be a resource and share your contact information.

What if They are Not Playing?

If you are not seeing that your Member of Congress is holding a town hall meeting, you can still connect.

  • Call the office and politely ask when the members will appear at a public event in the district.
  • Make an appointment at the local office to speak to staff.
  • Sign up for their newsletter to stay informed of your Members activities.
  • Ask your question through your member’s social media channels.

Your First 100 Days: Building Your Personal Advocacy Plan

Building A Personal Advocacy Plan

We have a new Congress and a new Administration. There are many reports speculating about what they will do in their first 100 days.

I am asking myself, what else can I do in the first 100 days for people with diabetes? To be effective, I’m going to need a plan.

DAPC will be hosting a session before The Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas on Friday, February 10 from 3-5pm at the Westin Las Vegas to help individuals set their advocacy goals for those 100 days. We would love to see you there (This session is open to the public and it’s free!). But if you can’t be there, you can use this outline to build your plan from home.

Health Policy – What Matters Most

The Diabetes UnConference is powerful through the group’s ability to talk passionately and respectfully about sensitive issues. Let’s create a parallel effort online with the same respect and passion. Follow the challenges below to help define your personal advocacy plan.

The goal is not to find the one thing on which we all agree. Rather to inspire each other to act from our individual passions. Together our actions will aggregate to be a more robust chorus of people calling for better diabetes policy.

The Home Edition of Our Game

When I was a kid and home sick from school, I watched game shows. They all closed with a mention of the game’s home edition. I have a home game too, and it is simple. All you will need are passion, a pencil, and paper. I liked the shows where there were a series of little games that progressed through the show. So a series of challenges follows.

I will ask you to write things in these challenges. I hope you will actually take pencil to paper. Writing helps focus the mind. But writing and sharing are not the same things. We all know about cyber security. You can keep what you write to yourself. If you choose to share your thoughts, do so within your comfort zone. As examples, I am sharing what I wrote here.

For those who do want to be part of a first 100 days diabetes policy advocacy communty, please do so on DPAC’s Facebook page or in the comment section of this post.


Challenge I: Introduction

Game shows always introduce their contestants. Typically just two or three sentences. So in sixty seconds, scribble down your introduction. Include where you are from and your relationship with diabetes.


I am Bennet Dunlap from Bryn Athyn PA. My wife and I are proud to have raised four children here. Two of them have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than a decade each.


Challenge II: Who’s Good and Why

Quickly, write the name of a group that successfully influences policy. What do they do that makes them good? Maybe there are ideas you can borrow.

  • Are their policy asks specific?
  • Can an individual member measure her actions?
  • How does she show her community that she accountable for action?
  • Are the actions she commits to take a realistic expectation of her time?
  • How can her actions inspire others to take action too?


The NRA are experts at grassroots advocacy. Members appear motivated to engage and do so regularly. I don’t know how members track their personal activity. It seems that collectively they are excellent at motivating both themselves and peers with social media. Passion drives action and makes time for individuals to act.


Challenge III: Health Care and Diabetes

What is one thing you would most like to see be an outcome of the health care debate? Are you concerned that pre-existing conditions will make coverage impossible? Should young adults be able to stay on their parent’s plans, do you worry about closing the Medicare donut hole, or something else?

Please write this one thing down.


I worry about the repeal of ACA especially access to coverage for young adults like my kids who live with diabetes. I want them to be able to stay on our plan through college and as they start out in life. I worry that repeal may again allow insurers restrict coverage due to T1D being a pre-existing condition. 


Challenge IV: What Can I Do

Now, our game gets a little harder. Like Jeopardy, your answers need to be phrased in a specific way. Not as a question but as an “I can” statement.

In DPAC’s January Ask An Expert, Al Jackson encouraged advocates to focus on the Senate as an important advocacy target in the health debate. Let’s take his advice.

Starting with “I can,” write a reply to the following question:

What can I do that would make clear to my Senators the one outcome of repeal and replace that is most important to me?


I can reach out regularly to my Senators and share the value I place in insurance access for young adults. In the past few days the phone lines have been busy, and voice mail overflowing, so for the first 100 days, I will go old school and snail mail picture postcards to my Senators twice each week. I’ll send to both the DC and in state offices.


Challenge V: Refine

You now have the core of your personal plan. Now refine it.

Start by blending in the short introduction you wrote above. It will help your Senators see you as a real person and the where you live part demonstrates you are a constituent.

Next look at the things you identified as exceptional advocacy above under “who is good and why.”

  • Is your ask specific?
  • Once and done isn’t enough. How will you measure the actions you will take over the 100 days?
  • Being accountable to a friend is a powerful motivation to act – To who you will be accountable?
  • How will you inspire others with your work?
  • Be realistic, how will you do fit these actions into your busy life?


I will send separate cards for pre-existing and young adults on parents plans. I will send each Senator two cards a week. Each will start with a variation of the introduction above. The kids are motivated to engage and I will hold myself accountable to them with text photos of the cards I send each week. I’m confident they will call me out like nobody else if I don’t do it. I’ll challenge them to continue to share their advocacy actions with me. We are a competitive family and I look forward to some one-upmanship. To fit this extra effort into the schedule, I have bulk bought cards with Pennsylvania themes from Amazon and will write batches while relaxing with TV in the evening.


Final Challenge: Do it – and SHARE what you’ve done!

Doing is hard. Having a plan makes doing easier. Here is the picture I messaged to my kids to kick off my plan.

We’d love to see what you’ve chosen to do. Help inspire others to act by sharing your thoughts and ideas in the comment section of the page or on DPAC’s Facebook page. What will your first 100 days be like?

Sharing Your Story

Storytelling is an important advocacy tool. You and your experience with diabetes are unique. Personal stories are far more memorable than statistics. They connect in an easily to understand,  human way. Watch any political speech; they are full of stories to make policy points. We should too.

DPAC make sending a form letter easy. All of them are better if they start with your story. So write it out,  save it on your desktop, and paste it into each DPAC action you take!

Here are some tips to help you.

Keep it short, a 150 to 300-word personal story is great. Tell the reader who you are and how diabetes came into, and has an impact on, your life.

Use plain language. Avoid jargon and abbreviations, tell your story like you are talking with a sympathetic friend over coffee.

Speak from the heart, and to it, your passion should be in the story, up close and personal.

Talk about success, make your story be the uplifting example of how things can be better.

Be concise. Use details from your success to connect passion and policy.

Quality of life over numbers. We want to hear about you and your life. If you use statistics, make sure they are accurate and relevant to your personal story.

If possible, craft a way for policy makers to be a hero by demonstrating to them how their actions help you stay healthy and successful.


Where Can I Learn About Diabetes Policy Advocacy?

DPAC BOOTCAMP FEATUREDiabetes Advocacy Boot Camp (DABC)

March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas


Join DPAC at the first face-to-face DABC (Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp) and learn how to become an effective diabetes policy advocate – while having fun!

On Friday, March 11, 2016, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition will be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Flamingo Las Vegas, holding a highly interactive session on diabetes policy advocacy. It is free and open to the public, but you will need to register using this link.


We recognized that no one is a born policy advocate. No one is an expert without learning the fundamentals of a topic (and that goes for diabetes, too!). Just as we are given guidance on how to manage our diabetes in order to become better versed in taking care of ourselves, we need to explore and learn from others about advocacy.

There isn’t currently a program for diabetes policy advocacy, so… we’ve created one.

This was something that we realized at DPAC; not only do you need an “easy button” for policy advocacy, but you need an “easy button” to learn about becoming a policy advocate. (We promise – no push ups!)

bennet-e1400791480274Advocating for yourself in healthcare situations or raising awareness (or funding) for diabetes is important. Policy advocacy is different, with it’s own vocabulary and rules. DPAC will help those interested in stepping into the world of diabetes policy advocacy and making sure policy makers know that 29 million Americans and their families need their help when it comes to diabetes issues.

What will DABC Cover?

During DABC, Bennet Dunlap will give a brief overview of what diabetes policy is, why it’s important to our community, and then how to talk with government representatives and their staff so that they’ll listen – and help us. You’ll learn how to share your story so that it’s personal to them. (And of course, there will be special guests!)

This is a highly interactive session. Come prepared to have fun and learn about how to be an effective policy advocate. Join Bennet and other passionate people who want to change the diabetes world on Friday, March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas.

(Can’t make it to Vegas for this DABC? We’ll be holding sessions this summer online and in person. Stay tuned!)

DPAC Insiders – 1st Quarter, 2016

DPAC Insider 600x300

Do you know that you can look back and forward at the same time? That’s what we’re doing with our DPAC Insiders quarterly dialogues. Our first was recently held and we shared what our diabetes policy advocacy community has done together and what we are planning on spearheading in 2016.

If you missed the live presentation, you can watch the recording by clicking here. 

What DPAC Accomplished in 2015

DPAC officially launched the online portal for patient diabetes policy advocacy on June 1, 2015 and since then, our DPAC Insiders (if you’ve sent a message or joined, you’re one!) have taken 2,750 “Actions,” sending tweets and emails to elected representative on both a federal and state level.

We’ve helped push two bills forward: the CGM Medicare Act of 2015 and the National Diabetes Commission Clinical Care Act. (Still bills, not laws yet!)

We’ve raised our voices about the importance of enforcing infection control policies on a state level, as people with diabetes have endured preventable Hepatitis B outbreaks because of the sharing or improper disinfecting of diabetes testing supplies.

We created the DPAC Scorecard. DPACs Scorecard helps you see where U.S. Congress member stand on legislation that will help people with diabetes. With the Scorecard, you are able to simply click and tweet Congress.

What is DPAC’s Focus for 1st Quarter 2016?

CGM Medicare Act of 2015

Medicare should join the vast majority of private insurance providers in making CGM accessible by Medicare patients. American seniors, who are successfully managing insulin-dependant diabetes, should not lose this powerful tool when they join Medicare. This bill will also possibly help with artificial pancreas pathways and getting CGMs covered by Medicaid in all states.

The Medicare CGM Access Act added 27 House and 6 Senate co-sponsors in the first quarter (so far!) in 2016. We’re closer to getting this enacted, but we continue to need your help!

The Senate Bill and House Bill can be found by clicking the links.

Medicare Competitive Bidding

Speaking of Medicare, we are disturbed by the increased mortality, hospitalization, and patient costs with the CMS Competitive Bidding Program for diabetes supplies. Information from a comprehensive study has shown that CMS is ignoring the facts. You can take action and learn more.

National Diabetes Commission Clinical Care ActPrint

This bill coordinates the focus on diabetes activities and helps the federal government to better address the disease, in a fiscally responsible and effective manner. The act is budget neutral, and prior experience suggest this commission can have a significant positive impact on care. The National Diabetes Commission Clinical Care Act added 19 House and 3 Senate co-sponsors since January 1, 2016.

The Senate Bill and House Bill can be found by clicking the links.

Ask An Expert Series

DPAC has created a monthly Ask an Expert Series to provide professional inside looks into the most concerning problems related to diabetes. In January, our expert from the CDC shared important information on the Risk of Bloodborne Virus Transmission Due to Diabetes Supplies in Healthcare. In December, Dr. Gary Puckrein spoke on the findings of a white paper about CMS’s Diabetes Supplies Competitive Bidding Program.

We have two upcoming Ask an Expert presentations that you can sign up for now (simply click the images to register):

DPAC_ASKanEXPERT_AACE (1)                                         DPAC_ASKanEXPERT


DPAC BOOT CAMP 600x600Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp

No one is expected to be an expert in diabetes policy advocacy just starting out. We will be offering you way to learn how to be an effective advocate through The DPAC Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camps (DABC’s). These will be held online and in real life. You can attend a DPAC DABC in person at:

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas – March 11, 2016

Friends For Life Falls Church, VA – April 9, 2016


What Will DPAC Do in 2nd Quarter of 2016?

DPAC District  Days

One of the responsibilities of being in Congress is to head home and speak to the people who live in your district. This is the best opportunity to schedule time with your elected officials to speak to them about diabetes related policy. We want you to get up close and personal, so we will provide you the tools to do so. Afterwards, we would love to hear your story in order to encourage more to do so as well.

How Do Candidates Feel About Diabetes?

It’s 2016. That means it’s an election year. DPAC will let you know how candidates feel about specific diabetes issues before you head out to the polls.

Online Resources for Advocates

DPAC will provide you the online resources you need as a diabetes policy dvocate. We will provide:DPACActNowBubble checklists, downloads, in-depth knowledge, and of course…. a little fun.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Become a DPAC Insider. Sign up now and then tell a friend or click a button on the DPAC site.

If you have any questions about what DPAC has done or what we have planned, do not hesitate to reach out and ask us. We are here to make diabetes advocacy easier for you. We value your feedback.

March 11, 2016 Vegas Baby! Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp


March 11, 2016 1pm PST (Las Vegas, NV)

DPAC Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp in Vegas

1454788_10151837872072677_1978508520_nJoin Bennet Dunlap of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition for a Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp at the Flamingo Hotel for a highly interactive session about policy advocacy and how you can become an effective, powerful voice for the diabetes community quickly. This is a free face-to-face presentation at The Diabetes UnConference Pre-UnConference Sessions held at the Flamingo Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV.

Register for this free in person session here. 

April 9, 2016 Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp – Friends for Life Falls Church VA


Friends for Life Falls Church 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016,

Details and Registration

Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp

Advocacy I 10:45 am
Working With FDA: Understanding Device Regulation and the Role of Patients

Stayce Beck, PhD, MPH, Bennet Dunlap, & Christel Marchand Aprigliano

Advocacy II 1:00 pm
The Impact of Health Policy: A Case Study Evaluating Medicare And Competitive Bidding

Gary Puckrein, PhD, Bennet Dunlap & Christel Marchand Aprigliano

Advocacy III 3:00 pm
Working Together for Innovation:
A Panel Discussion
Bringing Artificial Pancreas Technology to Patients

Stayce Beck, PhD, MPH, Ed Damiano, PhD, Molly McElwee Malloy, RN, CDE, Bennet Dunlap, & Christel Marchand Aprigliano