Our Biggest International Conference Ever — Thanks to You!


July 29, 2016
Evi Harmon, Events & Conferences Manager

Our Biggest International Conference Ever — Thanks to You!

It was the last day of the 2016 RESULTS International Conference, and five advocates from Louisiana huddled together in the hallway of Capitol Hill’s Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. It was advocacy day, and excitement was in the air.

“Your heart races, and it’s a little nerve-racking,” said Judith Thigpen, a volunteer from New Orleans. “Are you going to be able to think on the spot of all the things you’re supposed to say? But it’s exciting too. Each of these meetings is important.”

The Louisiana volunteers were among hundreds of RESULTS advocates who descended on Capitol Hill for meetings with their senators and representatives on June 28. Global poverty volunteers pushed for the passage of the Reach Act, a bill that pushes the U.S. to do its part in helping end preventable maternal and child deaths. U.S. poverty volunteers urged members of Congress to protect SNAP (formerly food stamps) and expand tax credits that lift millions out of poverty each year. Meanwhile, RESULTS international partners headed to the World Bank for meetings on education and health policy.

In total, RESULTS volunteers met with more than 350 congressional offices. Some, like Rachid Ouedraogo from the Louisiana group, had never lobbied before.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s all about helping to push forward legislation to make a difference. I’m very proud to be a RESULTS volunteer.”

That sentiment was echoed throughout the conference, which was RESULTS’ biggest ever. More than 600 attendees from 35 countries packed the grand ballroom of the Washington Court Hotel for the opening celebration on June 25.

As she walked on stage, RESULTS Executive Director Joanne Carter stood in awe of the massive crowd before her. She noted the extraordinary work RESULTS volunteers had done since last year’s conference. Their sustained advocacy helped lead to a major tax victory at the end of 2015 that prevented 16 million Americans from falling into poverty or deeper into poverty. But that’s not all. Since the Reach Act was introduced last summer, almost 200 senators and representatives have signed on in support.

“Different perspectives, geographies, and backgrounds, all coming together with heart, persistence, and courage. This is the source of our collective power,” she said during her opening remarks.

The audience cheered, and they kept cheering when Paul Farmer, chief strategist and co-founder of Partners in Health, took to the stage to discuss global health and the fight against inequality. He praised RESULTS advocates for their indefatigable spirt and determination.

“We need more of you,” he told the crowd.

Next up was author and broadcaster Tavis Smiley, who reminded the room that “courage is contagious.”

Getting ready to use that courage on Capitol Hill, over the next few days, conference attendees raised their voices in dozens of workshops, skill-building sessions, and plenaries. From a step-by-step guide on how to reach your community through radio, to advocacy lessons from RESULTS Experts on Poverty, to a discussion on the urgency of replenishing the Global Fund, the 2016 RESULTS International Conference was a soaring call to action.

 

 

Check out the conference slideshow and videos of Tavis Smiley and Paul Farmer.

Did you meet with your member of Congress at the International Conference? Let us know what happened.

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