1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
Being an advocate has been part of my identity as far back as I can remember. It has provided my life with fulfillment and meaning. Advocacy enables a collective voice to individual experiences and often to those marginalized or unheard. It can provide invaluable information to a cause previously unknown or misunderstood. It can grab the imagination of a decision maker. It can provide hope and a path for a better future. All our lives are better because of advocates before us. Advocacy is one of the unique acts of humanity.
2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
Several policies addressing the rising cost of medications, increasing access to care for uninsured or under-insured, shared decision making, improving access and quality of care for LGBQT, woman's reproductive rights, healthcare for all or healthcare as a human right, Medicaid expansion, addressing dis/misinformation in healthcare related topics and especially vaccines, policy to address interoperability in health information technology, increasing budget for national research funding, increasing age of purchasing tobacco, increasing health service research funding, improving access to care for individuals experiencing homelessness, recuperative or respite care.
3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
First, find a topic that matters to you, and advocates working on it. This is a great way to get started. Second, the first people you'll meet in advocacy work will often be individuals who have been doing it for a long time. Do not let this intimidate you! Your presence, passion, and commitment are the greatest assets to becoming a successful advocate, and you'll have that on the first day.