May 25-26, 2021
Leadership Day 2021 will be held virtually this year on May 25-26, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the highlights of the event is having our members meet with their members of Congress. In order to facilitate the meetings with your congressional members, ACP national will schedule all of the virtual meetings via Zoom video/audio teleconference for all chapters and their registrants. To help you prepare/know what to expect for your virtual meetings, we have developed this document to address the logistics and process for the virtual set-up.
How are virtual congressional meetings scheduled?
ACP national works with an outside consulting firm to schedule meetings with members of Congress and provide Zoom video/audio teleconference lines for each meeting. Our capacity is 400 Zoom lines for the event.
You will be put in teams with other ACP members based on your home and work addresses, with consideration given to existing relationships you may have with members of Congress. The number of congressional meetings scheduled for you will be based on your state/district, and we will try to ensure the greatest quantity of meetings possible for your chapter within our Zoom line limitations but enough to ensure a robust advocacy experience.
If registered for the event, at the appropriate time, you will receive a personalized link that automatically logs you into a Web-based Portal where you can access your electronic meeting schedule, which is in a user-friendly format. A dial-in/video link for each congressional meeting will be accessible within the schedule. Other resources will be made available within the portal, such as electronic issue briefs on ACP’s advocacy priorities, helpful background materials on your lawmakers, as well as other planning materials.
If there is a change to any of your meetings, you will receive an electronic notification of the change via email.
When will I receive my schedule?
Initial meeting schedules will be emailed to registrants beginning on Tuesday, May 18 with updates provided up until the day of the scheduled meetings, which is May 26.
What if I haven’t received my schedule?
Please check your SPAM folder and verify the accuracy of the email address you provided when you registered. If your schedule is not in your SPAM folder as of May 18, please contact Shuan Tomlinson at email@example.com.
What is the time commitment for me to participate in this virtual Leadership Day event?
For planning purposes, we ask registrants to hold 9am to 5pm local time on Wednesday, May 26, the day of your meetings with your members of Congress. Meetings will be scheduled in 20-30 min increments and they will be scheduled within local business hours understanding that we have members in all time zones.
How should you plan for speaking roles for your chapter members during your congressional meetings in this virtual environment?
Each meeting could last a minimum of 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes depending on the congressional office and whether that meeting is with the lawmaker or just staff.
Depending on the size of your group, not everyone will be able to speak at each meeting. If you have a large chapter delegation, with perhaps many participating in a single meeting, we recommend that you coordinate beforehand on whom among you may take the lead role and what issues each of you will cover (briefly). We also recommend that each state delegation enter the Zoom meeting 5 minutes before the start of each meeting (and only 5 minutes before please as Zoom lines will be shared/occupied throughout that day) to quickly verify among you the roles each will take in the meeting.
Are there breaks between meetings?
As much as possible, our practice will be to schedule virtual meetings with at least one hour between “start times” anticipating up to 30 minutes per meeting with excess time allotted in case a meeting runs longer.
Will I actually meet with members of Congress?
When meeting requests are submitted to congressional offices, those requests are first made with the lawmaker with the understanding that the lawmaker might not be available but that the policy/legislative staff may attend either with or in place of the lawmaker. Meetings scheduled with just congressional staff should not be looked upon disfavorably as those individuals are typically experts on the issues, and can advise you and the member accordingly.
Will I have access to leave-behinds documents/issue briefs to give to my members of Congress?
Yes. Because this is a virtual event, our traditional Leadership Day “leave-behind” documents will be referred to as issue briefs that can be submitted electronically to congressional offices. You will have access to these issue briefs in the Web-based portal as referred to above, and they will be available on the Leadership Day webpage.
How exactly will I submit the issue brief documents to congressional offices?
There will be available a “Thank you note” feature within the Web-based portal that will be prepopulated with the email of each respective congressional office with a prepopulated thank you note message (that can be customized) AND will contain an embedded link with ALL of the issue briefs. We recommend you use this feature and send this email message to congressional staff after each meeting.
What if my availability changes?
Please let us know, as soon as possible, if you are no longer able to participate in any or certain meetings, especially if you might be the only one from your chapter scheduled to attend. If you are unable to participate, please contact Shuan Tomlinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-338-2746 ext. 4547.
How can I prepare to meet with my lawmakers?
The Web-based portal referred to above will give you access to specific resources that will help you prepare. These include: issues briefs outlining ACP’s asks of Congress, a list of bills supported by ACP, the makeup of key congressional committees, links to websites/social media for your lawmakers, and tips on virtual advocacy. These materials will also be posted on the Leadership Day webpage.
On May 25th, the day before you meet with your members of Congress, ACP national will provide virtual educational briefings on ACP priorities issues, advocacy training, and a demonstration of the virtual congressional meeting platform (see Program agenda).
Your ACP Chapter’s may also decide to host additional preparation/training calls in advance of the event on your own.
What is the appropriate dress code for my virtual meetings with my member of Congress?
We recommend that you dress in typical business attire for your virtual meetings and approach them just as you would if you were meeting in person with lawmakers or staff. The idea is to make the best possible impression.
How do I easily provide feedback to ACP national staff and my chapter leaders about each of my meetings?
An electronic “meeting reporting form” will be available for participants within the Web-based portal so you can easily provide feedback to us after each meeting. We recommend doing this as soon as possible after each meeting while the contents/discussion is still fresh in your mind. You might also want to schedule a chapter “debriefing” session on your own as a follow-up to the event.
Is there any electronic mechanism for me to communicate with other members of my chapter who are participating with me in virtual meetings?
Yes. There is a secure peer-to-peer chat function within the Web-based portal that will allow you to connect/communicate with other chapter participants.
Will I get a preview of the Web-based portal in advance so I understand the electronic format and can accustom to the interface?
Yes. We will make the Web-based portal available in advance once schedules and materials come together so you can familiarize yourself with the set-up. We will also do a live virtual demonstration of the portal during the “advocacy workshop,” which is scheduled for 11am ET via Zoom on May 25th.
What if a member participating in Leadership Day personally disagrees with one or more of the ACP’s policies selected for advocacy during the event?
With a diverse membership of more than 163,000 internal medicine physician specialists, and medical student members, we understand that not every member will agree with every aspect of ACP policy. Yet our policy development process, ensures that the diversity of membership views are considered throughout the process.
While we strive to select issues for Leadership Day that can enjoy the broadest possible support from our members participating in the event, and from members of Congress of both political parties, there may be times when an issue is selected that an ACP member-participant disagrees with. In such situations, we do not expect that the participant will advocate for a position that they can’t support, but we do ask that they not advocate against ACP policy or raise topics not addressed in our priorities in their conversations with lawmakers and staff, since this would hurt ACP’s influence by signaling lack of unity among our membership. In such cases, we would encourage other members from their state to speak in support of ACP’s legislative “asks”. Members who disagree with ACP policy on a given issue can seek to have it changed through resolutions from their chapter to the Board of Governors; Leadership Day itself, since it is not a policy-making body or event, has no ability to change adopted ACP policies.
What happens if an issue ACP has selected for Leadership Day is one that may not be well-received by some members of Congress, because they disagree with ACP’s recommendations? Should it still be brought up in meetings with them?
Congress can be highly partisan and polarized, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike often at odds, and with limited willingness by them to compromise and find common ground. Yet ACP has found that despite such disagreements, we have been successful in advancing our agenda with bipartisan support, on a variety of issues. We always seek to bring forward to Leadership Day a non-partisan agenda that will enjoy support across the political aisle.
Yet there will be times when an issue is so important to ACP, its members, and patients, that we are obligated to advocate for it during Leadership Day, even though it may be more, or less, well-received by some members of Congress depending on their own partisan identity and ideological orientation. In these and all cases, we make our arguments based on ACP policy, evidence, and the experiences of our members, not politics or partisanship. Even if we don’t persuade an individual lawmaker to support our policy on a given issue, we anticipate that we will find common ground on other issues on our Leadership Day agenda. We fully understand if Leadership Day participants want to put more emphasis on issues that their own legislators may be amendable to; ACP staff will provide tips the day before the visits on how to handle such situations when they come up.