This month I had the opportunity to attend two great events put on by One Voice Texas. One Voice Texas is a network of public, private and non-profit organizations and individuals working together to ensure that the health and human services needs of all Texans are addressed through legislative, regulatory, funding and other public policy initiatives.
The first event was a lunch event aimed at teaching advocates in the health and human services organization how to lobby for the rights of their clients in the Texas Legislature. It was called “Gaining Confidence as a Negotiator- Persuading Texas Legislators to Respond Favorably” and was presented by Mike Hebert, a professor at UT Law. I found out about the event through the GCSW listserv and it was free! Mike Hebert was an excellent presenter and put on several different scenarios with his co-presenter, Fred Lewis (President of Texans Together) to give us a great picture of what it would be like to approach a representative or someone in their office. We learned not only to challenge our own assumptions about the person on the other side of the negotiation, but also how to identify our own personality types when it comes to negotiation. My favorite was the “Pool Player” who negotiates indirectly by setting up multi-player negotiations so that your message can actually be sent indirectly through someone else. Definitely not my type, but it was interesting to think about different perspectives. I think I am more like the “Involver” who is more concerned with relationships in the negotiations.
I also got to attend a One Voice conference in my role as a GCSW Student Ambassador. The conference was focused again on advocating for the health and human services sector. It started with an explanation of Federal Healthcare reform by Freddy Warner, who is a lobbyist for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. This presentation was the first time the bill had actually been laid out piece by piece for me, which was really interesting. We also got to hear from former Texas Senator Kip Averitt about the upcoming Legislative Session in the Spring about tips for lobbying for health and human services. He was very positive despite the $20 billion deficit Texas is facing and the redistricting issues that will be coming up this session. Another great aspect to these events is meeting others in the social work field. For example, at the One Voice conference I got to meet health and human services advocates that were interested in pursuing degrees in social work at UH!