SWE’s Public Policy Affinity Group (AG) aims to inspire members to get involved in public policy and support and to create a community and safe discussion around advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels to advance policy interests that align with SWE’s goals. This week we are choosing to showcase one of our AG members, Jan Williams (she/her), whose work inspires so many other people and is a huge participant in local, state, and federal advocacy.
Jan is a retired SWE member who has been a part of the organization for almost 40 years. She is a very active member, having received the Distinguished Service Award and has served in many roles, including the Government Relations and Public Policy Chair, Affinity Group Conference Engagement Lead, Strategic Planning Committee Chair, and Central New Mexico Section Awards Chair.
How did you get into Advocacy?
Jan has been active in SWE advocacy for 8 years, but just got started in local advocacy right before the pandemic. After connecting with her state senator just before his election, she was able to make the necessary connection that allowed her to help him write and get a bill in front of her state officials.
This bill, Senate Bill 347 from the 56th Legislature – State of New Mexico – First Session, 2023, was introduced to create a STEM Plus Center of Excellence for teaching and learning at New Mexico State University. The center would be established to work towards developing and promoting innovation in the STEM fields, by researching and promoting STEM best practices, promoting enhanced teaching of STEM, aligning and expanding STEM opportunities with the needs of the workforce and promoting economic development, and more. While this bill was unfortunately unsuccessful, Jan and others learned a lot from that and plan on reintroducing the bill with modification in hopes it is finally passed.
What is some work you are currently doing?
Jan recently helped organize Engineers Day at the Roundhouse for her state, bringing together SWE members and New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers members for a day of advocacy. Members from around the state met with elected officials to advocate for local and state legislative policies that help advance women in the STEM field. Jan did the necessary research for this event, gave out talking points to attendees, and helped guide attendees to the right officials.
What was your most notable advocacy moment?
“The moment I heard the bill being introduced on the floor of the senate.” This was such a surreal moment for Jan knowing that her hard work paid off.
Any advice for those who want to get into advocacy?
Jan recommends that anyone who is interested in advocacy starts at their comfort level and finds a mentor. SWE’s Capitol Hill Day is a great opportunity to start advocacy work and you will find so many people there that have been doing this work for years.
Remember, “it is our privilege and our right to petition the government by talking to our representatives and their offices, and there is no reason to be shy or nervous because that is our fundamental right as a U.S. citizen and citizen of our state.”
Public Policy Affinity Group
Those who are interested in joining or learning more about the AG can join our Facebook group or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next general meeting will be on Tuesday, May 16th at 6pm EDT – register here for a reminder.