On Wednesday, June 29th, I attended a conference in Washington D.C. on behalf of Global Healthy Living Foundation/CreakyJoints as an intern and patient advocate alongsideStephen Marmaras, the GHLF State & National Advocacy manager. The conference was held at the Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue (unfortunately President Obama was not in attendance as he was in Canada that day and forgot to tell me, typical). All kidding aside, having never been to D.C. before, I thought this was the perfect introduction to a city I’ve been thinking about starting my professional career in with an undergraduate degree in Public Health.
The morning after my arrival, I met with Steve in the lobby of the Willard Hotel. Fun fact: I soon learned that the term “lobbyist” originated during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Steve briefed me on what I should discuss while networking with other health organizations that were attending this conference. The conference was hosted by Pfizer, one of the largest international pharmaceutical corporations, they invited Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) to speak and participate in a Q & A on behalf of his position as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
After the conference, Steve took me around Capitol Hill acting as a tour guide pointing out and explaining the history behind different landmarks I’ve only seen in pictures. DC is a wonderful city, rich in history and elegant architecture. Steve had a few meetings he wanted to try scheduling on the Hill, which was an extremely educational experience for me. After trying to make appointments with different representatives of Congress, we ended up fitting into the schedule of a woman named Mayra who works for Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Steve and Mayra discussed ideas and actions GHLF is taking regarding funding research for gun violence rates. They also spoke about Congresswoman DeLauro’s sponsorship of H.R. 4525: Public Health Emergency Preparedness Act which enables the government response regarding public health emergencies to be quick and efficient, much like the government response to natural disaster. Mayra enjoyed learning about the mission and goals of GHLF. We left the meeting feeling confident that the discussion will continue and plans will become actions.
With a positive ending to my short D.C. visit, I spent a few minutes on the train to reflect and felt a sincere appreciation for this organization that I’m interning with. Providing frontline experience to advocacy, I feel that I am in good hands in preparation for the workplace after graduation as well as in good hands as a rheumatology patient, seeing for myself how much tireless work and dedication GHLF puts into the arthritis community.
-Sarah Kravette for CreakyU