A Taste of Grassroots Advocacy for NPI's Congressional Visits Day Participants

A Taste of Grassroots Advocacy for NPI's Congressional Visits Day Participants

By OSA Communications


April can be a perfect time to visit Washington, D.C., U.S.A. and to see the city’s famed cherry blossoms. For a group of 37 advocates for science including members of The Optical Society (OSA), who participated in a Congressional Visits Day (CVD), 2 to 3 April, the draw was more than the blossoms. After a day of training, the optics and photonics experts from across the country split up into teams and fanned out across Capitol Hill for a day of grassroots advocacy, meeting face-to-face with U.S. legislators and their staffs.

Congressional Visits Day participants pose with "Elvis" outside the office of Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). 

 Under the aegis of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), and with support from OSA, the CVD participants visited 44 legislators’ offices on both the House and Senate sides of the Capitol. The groups, including 22 early career professionals brought in with support from the OSA Foundation, talked to Hill staff about optics and photonics and its potential, and they called for increased funding for research and development (R&D). Their goals were to raise awareness and visibility of optics and photonics, to connect lawmakers with OSA members in their states and congressional districts and to urge Congress to raise the budget caps and support increases to basic and applied research across the federal R&D enterprise.

 Team members connected with lawmakers in their districts regarding the discovery and application of optics and photonics and the impact of their work.  The meetings are considered a springboard for  ongoing dialogue between lawmakers and their constituents.

 Participants reported particularly engaging visits with the offices of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.). Outside the office of Rep. Dina Titus’ (D-NV), CVD participants got to meet with a Las Vegas “icon,” who is often rumored to still be alive somewhere.

 The NPI also sponsored a table at the “STEM on the Hill” evening reception on 2 April in the Senate’s historic Russell Office Building. Many of the congressional visits day participants who attended had a photo op with senior Democrat, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). In addition, it would not be a day on the Hill without a visit to one of the neighborhood’s famous watering holes—Tortilla Coast -- the last stop for the NPI contingent.

 The NPI, co-sponsored by OSA and SPIE, is a coalition of five scientific societies, which advocates for the importance of photonics.  Member societies include IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America and the American Physical Society Division of Laser Science.













Posted: 10 April 2019 by OSA Communications | with 0 comments

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