UW Impact, the legislative advocacy program created by the University of Washington Alumni Association, is hosting a national conference of public higher education advocates.
The 2013 conference of Public Higher Education Legislative Advocacy Professionals is being held July 10-12 at the Washington Athletic Club and the UW Seattle campus. The focus is “grassroots legislative advocacy,” says Courtney Acitelli, UW Impact’s program director.
Guest speakers include UW President Michael Young, who will talk about the role of a university president in facilitating grassroots advocacy; Randy Hodgins, vice president for external affairs, who will speak about how grassroots advocacy works in partnership with an office of external affairs and state relations; and Nancy Amidei, senior lecturer emeritus in social work and longtime grassroots activist. UW regent Herb Simon and state Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37) will speak in a session about using citizen voices effectively.
The conference follows what many higher education supporters in Washington regard as a very successful legislative session. The push in Olympia was supported by a large group of what Young termed “engaged alumni.” Nearly 900 UW alumni and friends used the tools on UW Impact’s website to email, call or write more than 3,000 messages to their state legislators, urging the state to reinvest in higher education.
UW Impact activated its members through email and social media, keeping them apprised of events in the state Legislature and urging them to weigh in at critical moments.
“We know many factors go into the decisions budget negotiators must make,” Acitelli said. “In the end, we think a sharp and efficient UW state relations effort, combined with UW Impact’s active and informed community voices, made a powerful difference.”
UW Impact was founded in 2010 when the UW Alumni Association Board of Trustees determined that a more aggressive effort was needed to increase awareness and understanding of the role the UW plays in the state, nation and world – and that this information needed to be communicated more effectively to elected officials.
“Four years ago, as higher ed budgets continued to decline, legislators said they never heard from UW alumni,” says Patrick Crumb, UW Alumni Association president. “Now the state is reinvesting. I think it’s a positive sign that citizen voices make a difference.”
UW Impact is supported by UW Alumni Association membership dues and uses no state resources.