Upstate New York Advocacy
Play a key role in advocacy by sharing with state lawmakers your story of living with MS. This helps educate legislators on the challenges facing those with MS, and helps guide them as they make public policy decisions on issues that impact individuals with MS and their families.
It Takes You
The National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter needs you!
The Upstate New York Chapter serves more than 12,800 families affected by MS throughout 50 counties. The chapter’s mission is to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis. Advocacy at local, state and federal levels is essential. Effective advocacy involves committed staff and volunteers who are dedicated to the interests of people with MS. For this reason, the Upstate New York Chapter urges you to get involved.
The Society has identified four important policy areas for people with MS: advocating for federal funding to support MS-related research, providing access to affordable health insurance, providing quality, affordable alternatives to keep people with MS living in their communities (long-term care), and assuring physical accessibility for persons with disabilities, protecting their well-being, and preventing discrimination (disability rights).
How Can You Help?
On a federal level, you can join the MS Action Network.
The MS Action Network is the center for advocacy at the National MS Society. The MS Action Network represents the interests of people with MS while important policy decisions are being made in both public and private sectors. By joining the MS Action Network, you will receive legislative alerts and federal and state updates via email. You will be invited to advocate for individuals living with MS by doing something as simple as sending lawmakers a pre-written email, or as involved as testifying at public hearing about your experiences with MS. You will have the opportunity to influence voting decisions for key federal bills by flooding congressional offices with emails, faxes and telephone calls. To learn more about the MS Action Network, click here.
On a state level, you can join the Government Relations Committee.
The Government Relations Committee (GRC) assumes primary responsibility for advocacy at the state and local levels. On a state level, the GRC gathers information about current activity in priority policy areas through the advocacy department’s “State Legislative Trends”, coalitions having mutual interests, involvement in health or disability commissions, subscriptions to publications that report on policy issues, legislative or executive branch contacts, or their own legislative research. The GRC uses this information to choose and prioritize the most important issues for the year and to plan the best advocacy approach. On a local level, the GRC directs advocacy efforts toward issues involving both public and private sectors. Such issues tend to focus on matters of accessibility, health-care coverage and long-term care. If you are interested in joining a Government Relations Committee in your area, contact Aaron Ward, Advocacy and Program Manager, at 518-464-0910 or Aaron.Ward@nmss.org.
We are looking for GRC members in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse
We are seeking to recruit a diverse group of people with an array of skills and interests, including individuals with MS and those affected by MS such as concerned family members, disability rights attorneys, health care providers, and staff at local social/medical model adult day care centers or rehabilitation facilities. We also encourage participation from individuals with strengths in writing and public relations, as well as from former legislators or former legislative staff members.
The GRC is responsible for continuously gathering information — externally about current pending issues and internally about matters that are important to people with MS and their families. The GRC should:
Have a general understanding of the five major public policy areas of importance to people with MS: federal funding of MS-related research, availability of affordable health insurance, health care quality and patient protections, availability of community-based, long-term care options, and rights of people with disabilities.
Research expected or pending issues in legislative or executive branches concerning our five major public policy areas.
Select health and disability coalitions for the chapter to join, and evaluate information on issues provided by the coalitions.
- Review the need and opportunities for chapter representation on public commissions dealing with health or disability issues at the state or local levels, and make appropriate recommendations.
Develop an annual advocacy plan that includes (1) a priority list of issues the GRC would like the chapter to support or oppose, (2) the Society’s position on each issue, (3) realistic advocacy goals for each issue, and (4) strategy and selection of tactics for each issue at various stages of the legislative or administrative process.
Track the progress of the issue and adjust tactics as needed.
- Track the outcomes and report to chapter board and home office.
Knowledge of Process and Politics
The GRC recruits one or more members with knowledge and experience in legislative or administrative process. To supplement this knowledge and enhance chances for advocacy success, the GRC should:
- Help develop the chapter’s legislative and administrative contacts at the federal, state and local levels. Contacts should be important decision-makers in policy areas that are important to people with MS.
Volunteers needed: ongoing recruitment
Contact information: Aaron Ward, Advocacy and Program Manager, 518-464-0910 or Aaron.Ward@nmss.org.
Apply to become a GRC member today! GRC Application