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30 MARCH 2018

ALF Annual Advocacy Day

From Monday, March 12th to Wednesday, March 14th,  fifty five American Liver Foundation patient advocates and staff participated in our ALF Annual Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. and our pre- and post-activities.  What can fifty-five individuals accomplish?

Together, we represented twenty-five home states.  We conducted eighty-three legislative visits–not as lobbyists, but as constituents.  In groups of 3-6, we visited the offices of forty-four Senators and thirty-nine Representatives from all regions of the country.  Forty-three are Republicans and forty-one, Democrats.  All have a stake in supporting our legislative priorities (attached).

Janet Rost, a member of ALF’s Rocky Mountain Division’s Board who has had a liver transplant, reflected on her days in Washington, “Looking back on the week, a person gets incredibly proud of all the meetings and hopes that our work will push the initiatives along in a positive way.  The people at the company I’m doing work for were thanking me today for my efforts to make things better for everyone.  Without ALF’s commitment to bringing us to Washington, our efforts wouldn’t go anywhere as we don’t personally have the resources to accomplish all of this.  The big thank you is to ALF and the staff who put this event together. It makes me proud to be involved.”

To prepare for our visits with legislators, we spent four hours over two days preparing ourselves with the assistance of ALF’s advocacy consultants, the Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington (HMCW).  The day after speaking to our Congressional Representatives, many of us met again for a refresher on advocating as members of ALF’s National Patient Advisory Committee–not simply understanding our positions, but being prepared to speak to the press, advocate on regional, state and local levels and harness the power of social media.

I am delighted by this evidence of ALF’s effectiveness in speaking for individuals whose lives have been affected by liver disease.

Not to be outdone by all our official activities, just after completing his final presentation to our National Patient Advocacy Committee, National Director of Programs Jonathan Martin gave us all quite a scare when he was suddenly taken ill by what was later determined to be a gall bladder attack.  Luckily, one of our advocates, Jess Schnur, is a nurse and jumped into action to help manage things until the paramedics arrived.  She accompanied Jonathan to the hospital in the ambulance (not the way either would recommend viewing the monuments in D.C.) and stayed with him until he was discharged several hours later.  We are thankful she was there, and are happy to report that Jonathan is fine and was back to work the next day, although it does look like elective surgery is in his future.

Tom Nealon
CEO
American Liver Foundation


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