Ten Tips on How to Become an
Effective Advocate for Latinos in Richmond (Espanol)
Latino Messenger -
Mensajero, November 2003, p. 7
are a number of state and local organizations that need your help in
advocating issues of concern to members of the Latino community across
Virginia. Any of these organizations could use your help in monitoring
legislative activities and speaking to state and local legislators and officials
about pending legislation and administrative policies.
find out which organizations are already formally involved in
state legislature, like the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations
(VACOLAO), by searching the lobbyist
fearless. Allow yourself to be assertive. As Robert Grudin
says, ‘[t]he years forget our errors and forgive our sins, but
they punish our inaction with living death.’ ” Claire
data base on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website, www.commonwealth.virginia.gov,
where you’ll find the name of the organizations
and contact information for their registered lobbyists. You can connect
local organizations and issues by participating in Parent-Teacher
community associations, local business and youth organizations
and the like. Once you have found the organization or cause for which
to be an advocate, you will need to focus on how to be effective. Here
tips for being an effective
grass roots advocate that will help you be a better advocate, whether
choose to focus on issues pending before Congress, the Virginia
before a local governing body or a local school board:
the culture – staff vs. member. In Congress, you have to build a good
relationship with staff before you are able to see the member. In the
legislature and in local governing bodies, this is less likely to be
the procedural rules (formal and informal). If you want to make
happen, you need to know what process you must follow to obtain action
issue. Is there a particular subcommittee or committee that will hear
first? How is legislation or an ordinance introduced?
You need to know how the game is played before you take to the field.
fearless. Allow yourself to be assertive. As Robert Grudin says, “[t]he
forget our errors and forgive our sins, but they punish our inaction
Recognize your limits. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. Do
your allies. Build coalitions with other organizations and people who
your goals and objectives. Look beyond the Latino/Hispanic community
support. Get involved personally in mainstream organizations that could
address issues of common concern.
your opposition. Find out who is likely to be against you on an issue,
determine whether there is any common ground.
7. Look for
win/win positions or acceptable compromise. If there is a balance that
struck, strike it. If you can move your ball forward a yard, take it.
be closer to the goal even if you cannot score in one play.
prepare, prepare. You are presenting a “case” to a difficult jury. If
not know your stuff, no one will pay any attention to what you say.
know more about how people align on issues? Check
out www.pollingreport.com. Want to become a better speaker? Read
Leading Out Loud by Terry Pearce. Use the internet to become more
attention to how you are marketing yourself. Like it or not, how you
wear your hair, talk, all affect how you are perceived. Do not take
too seriously. Use humor to defuse “difficult” situations.
things professional. Develop relationships by providing information and
opportunities and making yourself indispensable.
follow these tips, you will be on your way to becoming an effective
for a cause or organization whether you choose to focus on issues
before your local school board or community association, with your
government, or at the state or federal level. Now all you have to do
is just “get out there.”