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I Met Senator Elizabeth Warren! (My Advocacy Day 2014)

Posted May 09 2014 2:12am

My calves ache. Even though I brought two extra pairs of comfortable shoes, schlepping miles back and forth between congressional offices did a number on me.

Totally worth it. #IFAdvocacy Day was simply incredible. It felt amazing to be back on Capitol Hill for my third Advocacy Day after a year off. 154 advocates. 27 states. 160 congressional appointments. 2000+ letters.

3 bills. 1 goal.

Congress: pass these bills to help us build our families.

I got to meet Senator Elizabeth Warren! Here, I have proof:

(Yes, it looks green-screened because we were standing in front of a giant poster of the Capitol Building in her conference room.)

(Yes, it looks green-screened because we were standing in front of a giant poster of the Capitol Building in her conference room.)

The Massachusetts delegation (over a dozen men and women, I might add) had our senatorial meeting with her legislative aide at 11:15 that morning; she let us know about Senator Warren’s Meet & Greet at 1pm that same afternoon. Just before 1pm, we lined up and got ready. All of a sudden she came in and I genuinely had to say to myself (not out loud, obviously): “Don’t squeal like a fangirl, Keiko!”

As the line moved forward, folks did their elevator pitch about who they were and what they were on the Hill for that day. I was toward the back of our RESOLVE group, so we just kept repeating the bill names: Family Act, Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act, Womens Veterans Other Healthcare Improvements Act… By the time I got to her, I wasn’t about to rehash it all.

“I’m with the RESOLVE crew,” I said nervously. “So you know the schpiel at this point!”

“What a big group you’ve got here today, that’s wonderful!” Senator Warren replied.

“I’m a new mom after infertility, so these are issues and bills I really care about,” I began.

Senator Warren’s staffer – who met with us two hours – before chimed in: “Her son turns a year old on Monday!”

I turned, stunned, that she remembered that little tidbit I threw out during the introductions at our appointment.

“Is that so? Congratulations!” Senator Warren smiled.

“I’m here for him-” my voice caught. Keep your shit together, Keiko.

She got right where I was going. “It’s things like this that remind us to count our blessings,” she said softly. “And that every family deserves a chance to get there.” In the briefest of possible moments, in between the handshake and the “smile for the camera” – she got it. We had this split second recognition of genuine empathy, understanding and connection. And before I knew it, I was back out in the hallway. I found myself suddenly on the tail end of that emotional wave and had to take a minute or so to collect myself again.

It was by far one of the most powerful moments I’ve had at all of my Advocacy Days to date.

Other highlights included:

  • Senator Rick Larsen’s impassioned keynote about how our veterans are coming home with impaired fertility because of injuries from things like IEDs and how there is such a gap in coverage for them once they’re no longer active duty. (He’s one of the original sponsors of the Womens Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act.) Fantastic speech.
  • Meeting @jenrutner , @rmisconception , @chancesour & @apluseffort – so nice to get to meet people beyond profile pictures and avatars! Y’all are lovely in person :)
  • Meeting so many first-time advocates: John, Rosa, & Elizabeth from Massachusetts (repreSENT!) the couple from PA whose names I never got!, Cindy, Lindsey & Jennifer from Ohio, Elizabeth and Lizzie from Michigan. New attendee energy is always inspiring.
  • Risa Levine honored with RESOLVE’s Hero Award: a well-deserved honor indeed.
  • Briefly spotting Miss California randomly in one of the Senate buildings.
  • Build your own tacos at the debrief session! Amazing. Stayed away from the refried beans because I still had 2 appointments after that.

It was an incredibly empowering, moving, exhausting, amazing day. I think I summed up best exactly how I felt as the day wound down to a close when I took to Twitter for some parting thoughts:

Our work here is done today… But the work is never done. Amazing #IFAdvocacy Day. Thank you,…

— Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll) May 7, 2014

I matter. You matter. We matter. #IFAdvocacy #thegoodfight

— Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll) May 7, 2014

For the record: I will keep coming back to Capitol Hill until every American can have the family they want. #IFAdvocacy @resolveorg

— Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll) May 7, 2014

I never wanted to be a part of this community. No one does. But I’ll be damned if I won’t fight for you. For me. For us. #IFAdvocacy

— Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll) May 8, 2014

See you on Capitol Hill in 2015.

Check out my highlight reel from around the Hill in my #IFAdvocacy Storify !

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