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Population Scientists to Capitol Hill for some March Madness

By PAA Web posted 09-27-2017 00:00

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

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.

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 AppropriationsReports 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.

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).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

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