Nicole Brua-Behrens, Executive Director, Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation
For those of us working to change our communities for the better, meeting with state and national legislators is so important! I know this, yet it is one of those activities that makes me break out in a cold sweat. I recently discovered that preparation and a “posse” makes the task bearable, even enjoyable!
Last October, Representative Guy Vander Linden accepted an invitation to meet with a small group including two Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation board members, Kari McCann Boutell, President of Iowa Council of Foundations and me. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the impact of the state’s Endow Iowa Tax Credit program on our little slice of heaven-Poweshiek County. My nerves where calmed during the meeting because Representative Vander Linden was very engaged and asked great questions, but also because the posse was there around the table supporting one another. Kari provided state level historical and current information about the program, the foundation board members described why they support endowed funds, and I rounded out the conversation with examples of endowments and how they affect Poweshiek County communities, making them better places to live for all ages. We provided data and anecdotal information and answered questions. The meeting lasted no more than an hour and Representative Vander Linden thanked the group and reiterated the importance of speaking with legislators face to face-really making a connection and providing information about the impact of their decisions at the local level.
Your organization needs you to connect with those who will affect funding and legislators need you to tell them how the programs and funding impact our counties and communities. If you are planning a visit with a legislator to talk about a community foundation issue I would recommend reaching out to Kari McCann Boutell for coaching and guidance and gathering together a few board members or community members to reiterate your message. Creating your own posse will ease your fears and also make the meeting more worthwhile for your legislator.