Effective Expert Advocacy Tips

In November, The New York Junior League’s Advocates for Public Policy (APP) Committee hosted a special meeting with guest speaker Basil Smikle, the Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party. Smikle graciously allowed the committee to interview him about the state political process, effective advocacy approaches, and important issues that are being considered in the New York State Senate and Assembly. As a bipartisan advocacy group, APP was delighted to hear Mr. Smikle’s recommendations based on decades of experience working with a diverse group of clients from all sectors and political inclinations.

Before his current post as the second-ranking official of the New York State Democratic Party, Smikle managed a political and policy consulting firm and worked with politicians, nonprofits and corporations alike. Previous clients include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, the New York Urban League, AT&T, Senator Joe Lieberman, former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence. He also served as a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her first Senate campaign, and later on her Senate staff.

Smikle began the conversation by asking the committee a simple question: “Do you know what political parties do?” He proceeded to explain that a political party is composed of several levels. The National Party Committee, which is what usually comes to mind, meets several times a year to set the agenda on the national stage and focuses on the presidential race. The State Party shares resources and branding with the National Committee and implements the vision of the National Party and the Governor of the State of New York. The State Committee engages and expands the voter base and focuses on State issues in the State legislature. Finally, the County Committee focuses on hyper-local issues.

“Most politics that affect you day to day are state politics,” said Mr. Smikle.

For this precise reason, each year APP participates in Advocacy Day in Albany where the committee and members of NYJL and other Junior Leagues of the New York State meet with State senators and assembly members and advocate for a state issue impacting women, children and families of New York. As we gear up this day in the spring, APP asked Mr. Smikle to share some advice about effective advocacy approaches. Here were his recommendations:

  1. Pay attention to multiple bills that address similar issues. This indicates increased interest in the issue from several groups, which increases the likelihood of success. Eventually, the discussion to consolidate is bound to happen.
  2. Build relationships with the key members of the legislature such as the Senate Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly. Get to know the Chair of the committee behind the bill and all the committee members and ensure they know your stance. Think about how to touch these contacts and how many points of familiarity you need to effect change.
  3. Influential independent caucuses that transcend party lines can be your powerful allies. For example, the IDC (Independent Democratic Committee) is a caucus of 8 Democratic Senators who caucus with the Republican leaders of the state. Neither the Republicans, nor the Democrats, can pass legislation without their vote.
  4. Research the major donors of the legislators you’ve identified as being critical to the passage of your bill. Look at the campaign filings to determine who gave money to the sponsors and opposers of the bill. Contact these individuals, organizations and companies to let them know your stance – they have influence!
  5. Labor Unions are an integral part of advocacy in New York State. Have a relationship with them and know their positions.

When asked what legislation should APP focus on this year, knowing APP’s successful track record supporting legislation that empowers women in the workplace, Smikle recommended the committee take a closer look at three bills that seek to further Close the Pay Gap. He additionally suggested APP consider a bill that protects comprehensive contraceptive coverage, a bill that amends the definition of rape and a bill that aims to end discrimination of victims of domestic violence. APP is researching the bills to determine whether one of them will be the bill that the committee supports in the spring.

Several other issues that Smikle feels will be important going forward are College Affordability and Tax Reform. Locally, he recommended that APP considers looking into Teacher Evaluations, School Choice, and Property Tax Cap.

APP looks forward to implementing Mr. Smikle’s recommendations in our advocacy efforts this year and in the future.

Is there an issue that you think APP should support? Get in touch with the NYJL’s APP committee.

Hit the Slopes at NYJL’s Annual Apres-Ski Winter Fundraiser

The Astor House Events committee is thrilled to announce the 7th Annual Après-Ski Winter Fundraiser. One of the most highly anticipated events of the volunteer year, the event is open to both NYJL members and the public. The Après-Ski Winter Fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, January 26 at the Astor House.

Guests are invited to warm up from the chilly New York winter inside the festive Astor House, as it is transformed into a chic ski lodge. Thanks to generous sponsors, attendees will sip on tasty cocktails and enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres. Don’t forget to don your favorite ski apparel, from fur vests to vintage neon ski suits! See more photos from last year’s event.

Attendees are encouraged to buy their tickets as soon as possible, as the committee expects another sold-out event. Tickets include an invitation to an exclusive after-party to keep celebrating past 11pm, as well as a celebratory party favor to remember the night.

Find out more event details and tickets information for the Après-Ski Winter Fundraiser on January 26. We hope to see you there!

Kickstart the New Year at NYJL’s Wellness Day

Join us for NYJL’s inaugural Wellness Day on January 20, which features a full day of great speakers, fantastic fitness classes, and exciting exhibitors offering services, nutrition information, promotions, healthy lifestyle advice, and more!

Wellness Day is an opportunity to learn about the latest health and fitness trends while also learning to think holistically about your health. It is a health and fitness expo-style event that brings together a variety of fitness classes, health and wellness related speakers, and local experts all in one place.

Whether you have kicked off your 2018 resolution to be healthier, are already dedicated to your wellness, or just seeking an energy reset after the holidays and recent winter storm, there will be something for everyone to enjoy!

Fitness Classes include:

Seminars include:

Stop by the Astor House’s Wellness Hall and visit our incredible exhibitors:

Explore everything Wellness Day has to offer with the VIP pass. In addition to admission to both Wellness Day sessions at NYJL HQ, the VIP pass also includes lunch from Splendid Spoon and Curious Elixirs and an exclusive panel featuring female CEOs of wellness-focused companies. The panelists will share inspiring stories of their personal wellness journey and the successes and challenges of starting their own business.

All guests are invited to join us for a Wellness Day post-event reception from 4:00–6:00 p.m. at Bandier. Enjoy light bites and refreshments while you shop for great new workout gear! Complimentary monogramming is available with each purchase.

NYJL Celebrates National Mentoring Month

Here at the New York Junior League, 2018 starts strong with our core mission to improve the well being of children and families in New York City. Our mission would not be possible without the care and persistence of our volunteers. January’s National Mentor Month highlights the importance of mentorship in our communities.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, it’s time to celebrate the special mentors who have trained children, teens, and adults through our 11 mentoring programs.

A way to show your  role models appreciation for their support and guidance is by making a donation in their honor to the New York Junior League Annual Fund. Your chosen mentor will receive a card thanking them for the positive life changes that were made possible with their mentorship. To make a brighter and safer future for those in need is the foundation of our solid mentorship programs.

Want make an impact and support mentor programs? Send your donation of appreciation to your mentor!

Navigating the NYC Real Estate Market

Deciding to purchase your first home can be daunting enough. Doing it in New York is a whole other experience! To help prospective buyers, Femme Finance, which is part of Affiliation, recently hosted an interactive discussion on the do’s and don’ts of purchasing real estate in New York. From brokers to mortgages to closings, panelists from Wells Fargo, MiT National Land Services and Wexler & Kaufman, PLLC went step-by-step through the typical purchasing processes. By the end of the evening, attendees had a better grasp on how to navigate the New York real estate market and knew the differences between a condo, a co-op and condop!

The Affiliation Council hopes you are able to join them for the first Thirsty Thursday of 2018 – Trivia Night!  Hosted by the Engagement Events committee, enjoy an evening of evening of “friendly” competition this Thursday, January 11.