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.)
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 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: