In my role as Senior Government Affairs Manager for NRPA, I’m often on Capitol Hill working to establish relationships with hill staffers and members of Congress. We have been successful in this effort because everyone has a love for local parks, but there are still relationships that we would love to strengthen. This is where the fantastic NRPA members can come in. We know that many NRPA members already have relationships with members of Congress and their staff. There are likely congressional staffers who coach one of your agency’s youth sports teams or a member of Congress who takes a yoga class at your recreation center. Imagine how powerful it would be if NRPA staff knew about these relationships and could leverage them to create a more impactful dialogue between park and recreation professionals and legislators.
For example, as we were taking meetings during our Capitol Hill Day following the 2019 Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, we learned that a deputy director of a large park district personally knew a Senator and many members of their staff through a previous job. This relationship has already paid off, and we know it will continue to help our work on behalf of the field of parks and recreation.
With this in mind, we are excited to launch a new system in which you can share these relationships with NRPA’s public policy staff. This congressional interaction and relationship logger allows you to quickly and easily tell us about these relationships — all it takes is entering a little bit of information, and in a few quick clicks, you’ll be helping us put you, and the field of parks and recreation as a whole, in a better position to fight for the issues that are important to park and recreation professionals.
Just in case you aren’t convinced of the potential positive outcomes a system like this can have, here’s a quick example situation: What if next week we found out that Senator J. Doe was determined to make drastic cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)? Senator Doe’s office is one that the NRPA public policy team hasn’t been able to establish a strong relationship with yet. Luckily for us — and for LWCF — an aquatics manager in Senator Doe’s home state has visited the congressional interaction and relationship logger and informed the NRPA public policy team that they are friends with Senator Doe’s state director. Knowing this information, the NRPA public policy team can ask that aquatics manager to introduce us to the state director, giving us a way to establish a relationship with Senator Doe’s office. NRPA staff can then invite Senator Doe out to visit a local LWCF project and show them the importance of the program. Our hope would be that Senator Doe sees the value of LWCF, and changes their mind.
See, it really is as simple as letting us know who you know, and we will take it from there. This logger is also where can you log those ever-important Park Champion™ events that your agency hosts. When you log your Park Champion™ events, you also become eligible for the 2020 Park Champion™ of the Year Award, which is given each year at the NRPA Annual Conference.
Kyle Simpson is NRPA’s Senior Government Affairs Manager.
Pictured above: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi speaks with NRPA members in his office during the Capitol Hill Day following the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference.