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Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

ORC - Serving All Oklahomans with Disabilities

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Champion

"A leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do
what they don't want to do and like it."

-- Harry Truman

The advocacy process can be very complex and much of it is hidden from view. Often you need a policymaker (or two) to act as your champion inside the system.
Ideally, your champion will be someone who:

  • Is influential within the system you want to influence - a legislator can be influential in advocating within the administration and vice versa
  • Is experienced at working within the system
  • Knowledgeable about your issue
  • Dedicated to the cause, perhaps for personal reasons
  • Works easily with you and your organization

Champions can be

  • Legislators
  • Legislative staffers
  • Agency staffers
  • Lobbyists
  • Experienced advocates
  • Influential organizations - e.g. CBIA, CT State Medical Society, CCAG
  • Another elected official - e.g. a mayor

After you identify your champion(s) -TRUST them.

  • Get them what they need when they need it - e.g. information, fact sheets, mailings, a grant written, a letter to the editor
  • Do what they tell you - if they tell you to organize calls to a legislator, do it
  • Communicate with them often - let them know what is happening outside the process, find out what is happening inside
  • Thank them profusely and publicly
  • Support them after the process (and before the next time) - e.g. make sure your supporters know of their hard work, work on their campaign

In advocacy trainings, I advise that if your champion wants you to walk his dog, do it. Legislative and administrative processes have become so complex that an inside strategy is often necessary.