“She’s an introvert but she’ll chase her member of Congress down the hall”: Eloise Sutherland flexes her brand of advocacy for global education

March 28, 2024

At first, advocacy felt intimidating 

At her first-ever RESULTS meeting, Eloise Sutherland recalls being asked to practice a short, persuasive speech called a “laser talk.” Advocates use laser talks to share their legislative priorities in lobby meetings with members of Congress. “I said…‘no,’” shared Eloise with a chuckle.  

Eloise is a grassroots advocate from Austin, Texas, rounding out her 30th year as a RESULTS volunteer! A self-described “introvert,” she remembers that advocacy felt intimidating (hence her initial refusal to practice the laser talk). But, “the first thing I learned in RESULTS was that 35,000 children die every day of preventable disease and malnutrition,” continued Eloise, “I thought, if [advocacy] is what I have to do to make sure 35,000 children don’t die of malnutrition and preventable disease, then I need to be doing that.”  

Advocate Eloise Sutherland engaged a lawmaker one-on-one in early 2024 

Jumping ahead to early 2024, that’s exactly what Eloise did with Representative Tony Gonzales at a public interview. She believes that global basic education is a key part of child survival. Right now, the READ Act is a piece of legislation that lawmakers like Rep. Gonzales can cosponsor to support access to education globally. But there were obstacles. For one thing, the interview was not about global education. The topics discussed were gun safety and immigration. Rep. Gonzales’s district includes the city of Uvalde where the horrific Robb Elementary school shooting took place in 2022.  

“I graduated from Uvalde High School. My mother was a teacher at Robb Elementary. I’m not even a constituent of [Rep. Gonzales’s], but this part of my background was a connection,” reflected Eloise. She introduced herself and expressed appreciation for Rep. Gonzales’s action on gun safety. In keeping with the town hall’s themes, she turned her comments to immigration. “I told him that many of the people risking their lives to come to the U.S. might not want to do that if they had the opportunity to get an education where they lived.”   

At that point, she described the READ Act and urged Rep. Gonzales to sign on as a cosponsor. She was sure to collect contact information for the aide accompanying the representative. This self-described introvert did advocacy her way. She didn’t have to raise her voice publicly in a room full of people. She raised her voice more subtly, in a powerful one-on-one connection with a lawmaker.  

Within a few days, that lawmaker co-sponsored the READ Act 

Eloise made sure to follow up with Rep. Gonzales’s aide, who forwarded her email to the Chief of Staff. Within two days, the Chief of Staff confirmed: Representative Gonzales would sign on as a cosponsor of the READ Act by the end of the day. 

On paper, the situation had not been ideal. Eloise was not a constituent. The town hall interview was not about global education. Approaching lawmakers in general can (understandably!) make a person anxious. But Eloise reminded herself that if this is what it takes to end preventable child deaths worldwide, then that’s what she needs to be doing. And she did — in a way that capitalized on her strengths as a strong, introvert advocate. We don’t always get to see such a clear impact right away, but we’re always making one. As Eloise said, “I don’t think there’s anything I do that would have a bigger impact on more people than what I do with RESULTS.” 

Eloise Sutherland, RESULTS volunteer
Eloise Sutherland, RESULTS volunteer

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