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.

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.

New Year Brings New Possibility of Health & Prosperity with the NYJL’s Run Club

It’s 2018 and the NYJL Run Club is back in action! Do you want to casually get back into running as part of your New Year’s Resolution? Or are you are a runner and want to get involved with a group of women to push you towards your personal best? In either case, the NYJL’s Run Club is the group to join.

At the New York Junior League, volunteers are encouraged to take part in many different skill building activities, programing to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and develop lifelong habits to promote fit living. NYJL’s Run Club is an ongoing Affinity Committee program, offering a monthly activity to promote running within a group setting, hosting a post-run brunch to socialize and encourage volunteers to continue to build friendships at the New York Junior League.

As 2017 came to a close, we spoke with two current Run Club members, Katelynn Jones and Leah Wager. They shared their love for Run Club and gave us a sneak peek of their New Year’s Resolutions as they begin 2018.


Katelynn Jones

My main goal for starting out the first few months of 2018 is to complete my training for the NYC Half Marathon in March 2018. After taking off almost year due to a lingering knee injury, I am hoping training goes well enough to finish the Half Marathon with a decent time. I plan on using Run Club as part of my new training runs and hope to attend every month!


Leah Wenger

I have a few goals for the New Year. My first goal is to be able to run a half marathon in under 2 hours again. I’m doing the Manhattan Half in January, so we will see how successful I will be at meeting my first goal. My next goal will be to run a full marathon in under 4 hours, but that goal will take a little bit longer. I am doing this because I was at my fittest when I was able to beat those times, and remember what a great feeling it was to be in that good of shape (my steps were lighter, my back never hurt and I felt healthier and stronger).

Which brings me to why I love the NYJL Run Club, they have kept me running even when I didn’t feel like it. Plus the knowledge and support I’ve gained from the group is immeasurable. It’s an amazing group of women runners of all levels and as a result, If you’re facing obstacles whether it be an injury, lack of time, or lack of desire, there is always someone who’s experienced what you’re going through and can share advice to help you move past it. I’m thrilled to be part of Run Club! I’ve learned more than I would’ve imagined and have met some of the best friends through the group!


The Run Club will be kicking off the New Year with a run in Brooklyn on Saturday, January 6th. For more information and to join the mailing list, contact the NYJL Run Club.

Getting to Know Community Committees

The Engagement Events committee recently hosted the third Thirsty Thursday of the 2017-2018 NYJL year, “Hello, My Name is Community”. Active members and provisionals mingled in the Pine Room and Harriman Room, enjoying sliders, crudités, and pigs-in-a-blanket on behalf of the Astor House.

In advance of Provisional graduation and January placement, Provisionals and Transfers alike were able to learn more about community committees by speaking directly with co-chairs. Representatives from committees including Senior Friends, Artistic Journeys, and Crisis Intervention, explained the requirements of their committees and spoke to the meaningful work they bring to the city and beyond.


NYJL members catch up with old friends and get to know new friends

All members of the NYJL community are invited to Thirsty Thursdays, a monthly free event held at the Astor House with a cash bar. Members are encouraged to check the internal calendar and weekly Friday Flashes to stay up-to-date with the Engagement Events schedule. Stop by in 2018 for a fun evening and meet new women at upcoming Thirsty Thursdays, including Bingo Night and Trivia Night!

NYJL Volunteer Beth Batiuchok-Colon Honored by Working Mother Magazine

We are excited to celebrate NYJL volunteer Beth Batiuchok-Colon, who was recently honored by Working Mother Magazine.

Beth is noted for being a “great mentor to other women, and her co-workers often describe her as personable, professional, patient and kind.” She shows leadership in the workplace, working at FINRA in the Market Regulation Department for six years, starting as a business analyst, and now as an Assistant Director in Market Manipulation Investigations/Trading Analysis where she served as co-chair of the FINRA Women’s Network Employee Resource Group (ERG).

At the NYJL, Beth co-chairs the Building Blocks committee, working with The Single Parent Resource Center to provide free “Mommy and Me” classes to single mothers and their children.

It is such an honor to be recognized as FINRA’s working mother of year. I am delighted to work for a company where I can bring my whole self to work:  that includes being a career-minded woman, a wife and mother, a volunteer, and a mentor. I am grateful for my involvement with the NYJL, as the organization gave me the training and skills to excel as both a volunteer and a professional woman.

Beth truly exemplifies NYJL values in her personal life, work environment, and in the community. Congratulations from all of us at the NYJL!