“Ms. Stiles Goes to Washington”

I’ll be the first to admit that politics kind of intimidats me, regardless of working for a small municipality on the Aleutian Island Chain of Alaska.  There was something about Advocacy Day during SHRM’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference that intrigued me, and maybe slightly terrified me, but never one to back down from a challenge, I signed up.
All the emails! All the information! All the…Boot Camp! Boot Camp? What was I getting myself into? I’m just a small town Western Pennsylvania girl living in small town rural Alaska and here I was, representing SHRM, the Alaska delegation and my profession. Do politicians even know what HR is? Do politicians even care what HR is? Well, according to Advocacy Day Boot Camp, they did, if they didn’t I needed to educate them, and I needed to capture their attention in the midst of a new administration.
What do I say?  The other two members of my delegation seemed so much more polished, more confident than me, I felt awkward in my dress and very “Alaskan shoes” aka Keens, but if there’s one thing I knew I could do, it’s talk, so I just took a breath and…
Talked. I talked to U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan as we were racing to the Senate floor on this super-secret underground subway…. I talked to Senator Lisa Murkowski’s staffer about my City Manager’s “photo bomb” during her visit to my little island and used that as a segue to talk about how the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health care “Cadillac Tax” keeps him up at night…. I didn’t let myself get distracted by all the mounted hunting trophies in Representative Don Young’s office as I told his staffer that ACA reporting almost caused my Senior Accountant to move her vacation….
I talked. And they listened. And I felt like what I had to say, mattered. I didn’t feel like this awkward nobody with her sensible shoes and hand-knit hat, I felt like a true advocate, like a true professional, like someone SHRM would be proud of….
And I’ll do it again next year…sensible shoes and all!
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