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Learning to Advocate for Others: Legislative Advocacy Training

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In January, the Child and Adolescent Development Alumni Chapter, together with the CSUN Office of Government and Community Relations, sponsored a Legislative Advocacy Training Program at the Grand Salon on campus. Brittny McCarthy, Director of Government and Community Relations, moderated the evening’s program.

After a welcome from Vance Peterson, Vice President for University Advancement, McCarthy introduced a panel of experts on the topic of advocacy. There were 110 people in the audience, which included CSUN alumni, members of the community, and a number of administrators from the campus including our own Dean Sylvia A. Alva; Michael Spagna, Dean of the College of Education, and S.K. Ramesh, the Dean of Engineering and Computer Science.

The panel included Ms Francine Oschin, President of Oschin Partners, who began by describing how the decline in state funding to CSUN at a time of increasing enrollment has negatively impacted the campus. She urged the audience to advocate for CSUN because we could face with even greater cuts in the future. Dr. Joannie Aguayo, Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology and Counseling, talked about the effect of budget cuts on services for young children and families and pointed out the significant future costs we may incur if we don’t adequately serve vulnerable populations. She described this as a possible “pipeline to prison.”

The last two panelists, Mr. Stuart Waldman, President of the Valley Industry Commerce Assocation, and Mr. Jarrod DeGoni, Field Deputy to Supervisor Mike Antonovich, gave the audience practical advice on how to effectively advocate for issues they care about. Waldman focused on how to write effective letters to legislators and urged the audience to develop strong arguments for their positions. DeGonia spoke specifically about how to have a successful face-to-face meeting with legislators.

Following these presentations, the audience took part in a several breakout activities that allowed them to actually practice the points made by the speakers. This was the first time the Office of Government and Community Relations has conducted advocacy training for a large group, but it was a very successful evening and Ms. McCarthy indicated that her office will plan similar events in the future.

- Dr. Joyce Munsch