PAA and APC Bring Population Scientists to Capitol Hill for some March Madness

1)PAA members and staff meet with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) on March 17, 2017. Pictured L-R: Dr. Bill O’Hare, PAA Director of Government Affairs Mary Jo Hoeksema, Rep. Connolly, Dr. Matt Ruther

PAA members and staff meet with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) on March 17, 2017. Pictured L-R: Dr. Bill O’Hare, PAA Director of Government Affairs Mary Jo Hoeksema, Rep. Connolly, Dr. Matt Ruther

March Madness took on a new context this year as a squad of a dozen PAA members from across the US converged on Capitol Hill March 16 & 17 to meet with and educate congressional staff about the contributions of population science to the nation’s well-being—and the critical role that federal funding, scientific agencies and statistical agencies play in supporting the field.

Mary Jo Hoeksema presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award to Robert Bonner, Minority Staff Member, House Committee on Appropriations

Mary Jo Hoeksema presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award to Robert Bonner, Minority Staff Member, House Committee on Appropriations

The twelve scientist-advocates that convened in Washington were drawn from the congressional districts of key lawmakers who hold pivotal roles as legislators – whether as appropriators or as members of committees with jurisdiction over our agencies of interest. Hailing from New York, Wisconsin, Washington (state), Missouri and elsewhere, and including early career scientists and past PAA presidents alike, the corps collectively participated in a total of 42 meetings with congressional staff from the House and Senate from both parties over the course of two days. The event kicked off at the Office of Management and Budget with a meeting with the newly appointed Chief Statistician of the U.S., Nancy Potok. The day also coincided with the release of President Trump’s blueprint budget for FY 2018.

Dr. Colleen Heflin (U. of Missouri) presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award to Laura Friedel, Majority Staff Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations

Dr. Colleen Heflin (U. of Missouri) presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award to Laura Friedel, Majority Staff Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations

Reports indicate that the overwhelming majority of the meetings were positive and constructive, with the congressional staff receptive and engaged.  PAA/APC Director of Government Affairs, Mary Jo Hoeksema, attributes much of the success of the meetings to the preparation that the advocates put in before coming to Washington. “We asked each member of our team to prepare talking points that described their research in ‘digestible’ language, with concrete examples of research findings that benefit the American people – and they delivered,” observed Hoeksema.

Dr. Charles Hirschman (U. of Washington) presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Accepting on Sen. Murray’s behalf is Appropriations Committee staff member Alex Keenan

Dr. Charles Hirschman (U. of Washington) presents 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service Award for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Accepting on Sen. Murray’s behalf is Appropriations Committee staff member Alex Keenan

In addition to the business of requesting support for federal funding for population science, the visits included opportunities to present four 2017 PAA Excellence in Public Service awards to two Senators – Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and two congressional staffers – Laura Friedel (Senate Appropriations Committee Majority staff) and Robert Bonner (House Appropriations Committee  Minority Staff).

Our thanks go out to the phenomenal team of PAA members who answered

Dr. Colleen Heflin (left), University of Missouri, presents 2017 Excellence in Public Service Award to Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). Accepting the award on the senator's behalf is Ms. Desiree Mowry, Legislative Assistant (right)

Dr. Colleen Heflin (left), University of Missouri, presents 2017 Excellence in Public Service Award to Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). Accepting the award on the senator’s behalf is Ms. Desiree Mowry, Legislative Assistant (right)

the call to serve in this role on behalf of PAA and colleagues across the country:  Dr. Margo Anderson (U. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Dr. Louis Donnelly (Princeton); Dr. Colleen Heflin (U. of Missouri); Dr. Charles Hirschman (U. of Washington); Dr. Linda Jacobsen (Population Reference Bureau); Dr. Wendy Manning (Bowling Green U.) Dr. Emily Merchant (Dartmouth); Dr. Bill O’Hare; Dr. Steve Ruggles (U. of Minnesota); Dr. Matt Ruther (U. of Louisville); Dr. Joe Salvo (New York City Office of City Planning). Filling in for Dr. Kelly Raley (U. of Texas-Austin) who unexpectedly was forced to cancel was former PAA President Dr. Christine Bachrach.