Thursday, May 31, 2012


Tammy Pilisuk is an MS activist from California who has been involved with the National MS Society for more than 20 years, as well as a health educator for more than ten. She is also a member of the Society’s Federal Activism Council, which annually reviews unmet needs in the MS community and helps determine policy priorities. Recently, she shared her advocacy insights in a post on the SurroundHealth Blog. You can read her post here.

Tammy points out that the basics of health advocacy are to know your issue(s), stay focused on key points, have a few facts, know what committees the policy maker sits on, tie it to a constituent concern, and leave a written leave-behind piece. But besides the key structural elements of health advocacy mentioned above, Tammy reminds us that advocates can’t forget why the issue is important and the difference it will make to real people. For Tammy, MS advocacy is personal—her mother has MS. In addition to being a health policy expert, Tammy finds herself in the role of affected family caregiver.

Throughout her post, Tammy talks about her own experiences with advocacy. As Tammy says, “I remind others that while policymakers can pick apart your budgetary requests, they can never argue with your story. This is where you bring the head and heart together.” Tammy often uses her mom to help her make her point while advocating, but she also uses her own life experiences. Advocacy is, and should be, personal.

In her post, Tammy takes time to teach all of us something about advocacy. Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your story!

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