In advocacy, there are many tool kits from organizations and various groups that explain things like how to develop your advocacy issue, how to call your congressperson, or how to testify. These technical details that will enable advocates to effectively have their voices heard and make change. However, there is more to advocacy than the issue itself. These are the nitty gritty details that lie beyond the work. As the Preface to Advocacy document lays out, there are many other aspect to advocacy that no one talks about – how hard the work can be, the emotional side of advocacy, the clashes of personalities, political realities, and what it means to win. Advocacy is never what it looks like on the surface.
With the author’s personal experience in advocacy, she found herself counseling others – those new to advocacy, those who started to realize that advocacy wasn’t what they thought it would be, those who were having a hard time keeping up with the work. These conversations were happening over and over again as no resource existed to guide advocates through these (sometimes difficult) discussions. The author wanted to put together her thoughts in one place to help others in their efforts to make change, yet she also knew that many other advocates had insight to offer.
Thus, The Preface to Advocacy Project began with a tweet asking advocates to share their experiences – what they wish they’d known before jumping into advocacy and what wisdom they’d pass on to new advocates. Over 100 replies later, a document was started to capture the myriad insights from advocates across the world. No one could expect that this would turn into a 26 page document bringing together input from folks at every stage of advocacy and from all walks of life.
While the document is already published on this site, it is not meant to be a static document. It is my hope that the document is just the start of this Project and that other advocates will add their voices over time.
- The Preface to Advocacy document quotes many advocates. These quotes are not meant to be an endorsement of any individual or the advocacy issues they purse.
- For each quote, in writing the document, a choice was deliberately made to use the person’s Twitter social media handle and put their stated name at the time the tweet was sent in parentheses. Many individuals change their name and are often identified by their handles, thus it seemed more practical to use handles.
- Every effort was made to include every person who originally answered, if there was an oversight and something was missed, we welcome folks to reach out and add their voice again on our submission page.
- Any person quoted in this document are free to ask for their name, handle, quote, or other identifying information removed. The document was based on public tweets, but it is understandable that not all would want their information further publicized.
Conflicts of Interest
Erin Gilmer has personally received no money or remuneration of any kind for writing A Preface to Advocacy or developing this site and The Project. The fees for the domain name and hosting were provided by an anonymous donor.
About the Author & Founder
Erin Gilmer is the founder of The Preface to Advocacy Project and the author of the document on which it is based. Erin is a disabled attorney who focuses on health law and policy. She entered advocacy in college while running a diabetes awareness and support group at the University of Colorado. She continued her advocacy work at the University of Colorado Law School as the president of the Public Interest Student Association, co-president of the Health Law Society, and the vice-president of the Women’s Law Caucus. She also led the efforts to ensure funds from the University of Colorado’s Law School endowment were divested from Sudan. After law school, Erin worked in the Texas State Legislature where she gained invaluable insight as to the inner workings of advocacy. She has carried this knowledge with her as she has continued her advocacy over the years and into the present – focusing on health as a human right and issues including social determinants of health, drug pricing, access to care, mental health care and trauma, health care technology, regulatory matters (e.g. HIPAA), patient involvement in research (including her work creating The Research Loop), and more. Erin uses her personal and professional experiences to continue to fight for equity and justice at local, state, national, and international levels. She can also be found blogging at http://www.healthasahumanright and on Twitter at @GilmerHealthLaw – both places where she shares her personal story and struggles as well as her advocacy work.