A Record Number of Women Make Their Voices Heard
If history has taught us anything, it’s that those who show up and speak up are the ones who make great things happen. This year’s NAWBO Advocacy Day—attended by more than 100 women business owners compared to 25 when it was first held four years ago—was a great example of what it means to “power your voice” as a woman business owner dedicated to making positive change. Held on June 19th, NAWBO members from across the nation came together in Washington, DC. to hear from and engage with speakers and legislative movers and shakers to represent the voice of women business owners today.
Attendees began the day by visiting the U.S. Capitol, and went on to meet with the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee Staff, members of Congress and the Presidential Administration on Capitol Hill. They heard from inspiring speakers, including staff from the office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office, Caroline Harris, vice president Tax Policy and Economic Development at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Kathy McShane, assistant U.S. small business administrator at the Office of Women’s Business Ownership. NAWBO attendees were even able to personally connect with members of Congress and their staff during a special “meet your members” event.
For Fran Davis from NAWBO-South Jersey, it was important to attend this year’s event and be heard. “It allows NAWBO members to learn how to navigate the legislative system, connect with their representatives and make their voices heard,” she says. “When we all come together as a collective voice for women business owners, our representatives take notice and are interested in speaking with us and learning how they can assist us.”
While there were many great moments from the day, Michele Schina from NAWBO-Greater Philadelphia notes that one of the topics that inspired her focused on tax reform. “It was important for me to learn about the lending opportunities available to small businesses. The ability to participate in conversations with both the Democratic and Republican points of view, and their stand, was inspiring. The conversations were focused on policy and not politics. I think Joy Lutes [NAWBO National vice president of external affairs] and her team did such a great job planning the presentations and focusing on the important topics for us,” she says. “The Philadelphia chapter had four members present at the meeting with State representative for Senator Toomey, and that was encouraging in addition to representative of commitment to change. It was so powerful to be in that meeting.”
Besides connecting with policymakers, Mina Fies of NAWBO-Greater DC appreciated the opportunity to engage with fellow members on important issues affecting women business owners. “The number of ideas and creative solutions our NAWBO members were offering had an obvious impact on the staff members,” she says. “The robust discussion even led to a commitment by a number of us to gather and solidify our ideas to further discuss during a future joint conference call with Congressional staff.”
While this year’s Advocacy Day was a great success, it was also a great reminder of the importance of speaking up to be accurately represented as a woman business owner. “We must share our ideas and insights with those who are impacting the legislative process,” Mina says. “Most Capitol Hill staffers have never been entrepreneurs and they need our input in order to understand the very issues they are fighting for.”