On the way to the White House . . .

Published December 17, 2012 under Blog

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Laura McAlpine at The White House - Dec 2012

Our policy consultant, Laura McAlpine, was invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement — as part of a delegation of Illinois grassroots leaders — to attend an all-day policy meeting on the fiscal cliff.  The meeting was to be held on December 13th.  She was already scheduled to present on the community-based doula program during the CityMatch conference in San Antonio on December 12th.  Of course, she quickly re-arranged her flights to be in San Antonio on December 12th and in Washington DC on December 13th.

This was her first trip to the White House, and she was the only person going from HealthConnect One.  Following are two emails she sent to colleagues at home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hi comrades,

I’m in San Antonio, feeling very overwhelmed by my next 48 hours. But then I think of all of you, and how much more fun advocacy work is when we get to do it together. I will do my best to represent HC One and our work to promote peer to peer MCH community health. Do me a favor and send me your strongest HC One team vibes, so that when I get to feeling small, I will get picked up by the energy. I have great documents, and power points and stories, which you all helped me put together, but I don’t have any of you with me.

Yet, I know your magic is already working, because as I ate alone at the lobby bar, I met a woman from Pasadena who has been trying to start a community-based doula program and already knows about HC One. She seems perfect for our network. I asked her if she already talked to Jere, but she has only been on our website. So perhaps more to come.

I get the most nervous when I think about the White House. I had always imagined my first policy meeting there would be with all of us, so I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around going alone. I will try my best and be brave. I think I just need to show up, and the rest will fall into place.

Your humble advocate,

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Hi gal pals!

Ok. I’m now on the flight home, at 39,000 feet. Feeling like I’m even higher than that. And it is because each of you “came with me” to the White House. And the Network came with me. And our Congressional friends, and HHS friends, and funder friends, etc.

I was so scared and I felt so inadequate when I reached out for your support from San Antonio. You gave me laughs, pictures, pep talks, talking points, fact sheets, folders, business cards, power points, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts.

You are my policy doulas, and this was the most exciting policy moment for me. Representing HealthConnect One and a national network of community-based doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors and community health workers at a policy meeting at the White House is a dream come true.

And I could not have done it without all of you. When I stood up on behalf of HealthConnect One and the Network, and asked the White House policy staff and the Illinois delegation to advocate for an appropriation to Section 5313 of the Affordable Care Act, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Stephanie Valencia, said “Oh, we know about that section – we love that section and promotoras.” I said, “Great! It’s our favorite section of the ACA and we want everyone in this room to love it too,” in my perkiest, Doula cheerleader way.

There’s lots more policy details to share and strategize about, and I will have long notes to send your way soon, but in the meantime, thank you so much for your personal support to me for this particular meeting, and know that our voices were heard by the Obama Administration.

Group hug!

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