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Promote SWE’s Goals on a Local Level in Your State

Public Policy Affinity Group (AG) member and SWE Fellow Jan Williams provides tips for those interested in shaping public policy in their area and beyond.
SWE Community Spotlight: Public Policy Affinity Group
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Each year, SWE members gather for the organization’s annual Congressional Visit Day to visit legislators and their staff and promote bills and policies that support SWE’s mission. Congressional Visit Day is always a minimum 10,000-step day, jam-packed with great visit training, exciting speakers, and Congressional staff meetings where members put a face to the goals of SWE with our federal legislators.

However, not all of us have the time or resources to attend this annual event. So what can the rest of us do to get involved in public policy for SWE? Start some grassroots efforts in your area!

Promote SWE’s Goals on a Local Level in Your State
Participants in the first Engineers Day at the New Mexico capitol

Some tips to get started with supporting public policy at the state level:

  • Check out your state legislature’s website. You’ll find a wealth of information about when your legislature meets, what committees convene during and between sessions, and, of course, who your local legislators are.
  • Find partners to combine your influence. What other organizations in your area have similar public policy goals around STEM? Partnering with other organizations can increase your impact.
  • Host an event at your state capitol. Most legislatures offer the opportunity to host specific events when in session. For example, SWE-Central New Mexico Section was invited to participate in STEAM day at the capitol in Santa Fe through contact with one of the STEM outreach organizations in our state.
  • Attend committee meetings throughout the year. In New Mexico, the Education committees supported our goals to invest in a centralized STEM network to ensure equal access to experiential, hands-on STEM learning, and covered technology issues, including enhancing the pipelines of STEM graduates to fuel our state’s efforts to attract more high-tech and green tech companies.
  • Target individuals who are likely to be interested and engaged in STEM education. This can include representatives in STEM professions, with STEM training, or who are current or retired teachers. You can be particularly influential if your own elected representatives happen to be members of committees that deal with education or technology issues. In my area, we have been very fortunate to have many representatives who have STEM career backgrounds or have been teachers as our representatives and who have been willing to commit to introduce legislation on our behalf.
Promote SWE’s Goals on a Local Level in Your State
New Mexico House of Representatives

If you have questions or want help started with local public policy efforts, you can post in SWE’s Public Policy AG Facebook Group or contact Jenny Tsao, Public Policy AG lead at publicpolicy.ag@swe.org or Jan Williams at janlwms@gmail.com. You can subscribe to the Public Policy AG’s email updates by logging in to your member portal and scrolling to Communication Preferences.

 

Author

  • Jan Williams

    As a reentry student who found engineering by accident, Jan Williams (she/her) has advocated for women engineers her entire career. She has participated in SWE's Capitol Hill Day for over a decade and has recently connected with her representatives in the New Mexico State Legislature to embark on more local STEM advocacy. She is the past chair of GRPP, a Distinguished Service award recipient, and a Fellow of SWE. She holds a BSME and MS in construction management.

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