Conference Kick-Off!

June 20, 2009
by Cindy Changyit Levin, North Chicago Group Leader

Bit by bit, we’ve all been trickling into the hotel . . . noisily meeting, greeting, and hugging our way through the day. We were a scattered group as we checked into rooms, attended early sessions, checked out the surroundings and gabbed with each other. But finally we gathered together for the kick-off session. Scott Leckman, RESULTS Educational Fund board chairman, introduced our beloved executive director, Joanne Carter. He traced her long history with RESULTS, which is very inspiring to beginning activists who may be wondering how much impact and importance they can have. Joanne started as a veterinarian, then successively became a RESULTS volunteer, group leader, and regional coordinator. She then joined the RESULTS staff as a legislative director and became our executive director last year! Joanne warmly and graciously received our applause by saying “In a really true way, everything I am is because of you all.”

She continued on by acknowledging how the hard economic times are affecting our work and our personal lives. “The economic crisis makes it more important than ever for us to be together, but it makes it harder for us to come together.” Neverthelesswe had a great turnout this year including representatives from Canada, Mexico, the UK, Australia, Kenya, France, Tanzania, Brazil and the Congo (I’m sorry if I missed some . . . Joanne however was sure to get all the countries in). We are a vibrant growing community! We are missing some people because of economic reasons, so Joanne stressed that we are making a commitment to connect partners at home. Some ways that some of them are participating are through letters, phone calls to offices made on lobby day, media pieces, and even joining in on some conference calls to be vocally in the room during the lobby day visits (and hopefully, by reading this blog!!!). We hope that in these ways, we can make this the biggest and most powerful conference ever. Joanne says “Hello (to the people at home). We are sending you our love.”

Joanne talked about the special nature of RESULTS in that what we bring is a vision of what’s needed rather than what’s likely or doable. We don’t start with “how much money do we think we’re going to get?” We start with “what is needed in the world,” then we figure out how to get there. Her message was that we work on making the impossible possible.

There is a fundamental question that RESULTS will be thinking about at this conference: How do we keep doing this and create demand? Some specific facets of this question are: How do we inspire members of Congress to take it on, then keep being the wind behind their sails that make it impossible for them not to do it? How do we build a base of support for ourselves? How do we get 100 people who would make three or four phone calls throughout the year?

Joanne left us with some inspirational words about hope, which ended like this: Hope is a decision. Hope is a practice. We’re here to keep hope alive for each other.

As an extra blog note, I should mention that after the kick-off remarks came recognition of our fantastic regional coordinators and the Parade of Groups. If you haven’t seen this phenomenon, you really should. We were treated to classic state songs, re-lyriced songs, silly jokes, state history, custom poetry, and a great deal of genuine warmth.

Good night, everybody! See y’all tomorrow morning!

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