The Gerontological Society of America

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Home Policy Center Advocacy
Basic Toolkit

From writing letters to your Congressmen to Capitol Hill Visits, this basic toolkit teaches you how to advocate for aging issues.

The Legislative Process
An overview of the types of legislation, the role of individual Members of Congress, and the importance of committees.
Glossary of Legislative Terms
A listing of terms commonly used in connection with the legislative process.
Public Policy and Advocacy: The Basics

How-to guide on writing to Congress, setting up meetings with legislative officials, and getting to know the staff.
Leadership Structure

Names and roles of the major players in the U.S. Congress.
Roles of Congressional Staff
Learn the commonly used titles and principal functions of key staff.
Key Congressional Committees
View the most important committees for Aging and Health issues.
Committee Membership: 112th Congress, 1st Session
See the key committee players in the current Congress.
Hill Visit
Tips for your visit to Capitol Hill, from saying thank you to bringing a short summary of your research.
Map of the Capitol Complex
Use this map to minimize your chance of getting lost and help ensure that you're not late to appointments!
GSA Fact Sheet
Carry this fact sheet to tell Congressional staff about the background and goals of GSA.

Opportunities to Comment

The following organizations are seeking expert input on aging issues.  See available opportunities to provide feedback.

Policy Sign-on Letters

As part of GSA’s advocacy initiative, the Society signs onto letters that promote its mission of increasing funding and support for aging research and programs. View an archive of the letters.

Partner Organizations

GSA engages in advocacy through its active participation in the following coalitions:

The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) is a 64-member coalition of national not-for-profit organizations representing over 60 million older Americans. LCAO’s diverse and dedicated association strives to preserve and strengthen the well-being of America’s older population by providing a voice for seniors and their families in the ongoing national debate on aging policy.

Friends of NIA
The Friends of the NIA is a broad coalition of organizations committed to the advancement of health sciences research that could affect millions of older Americans. FoNIA supports the research and training missions of the National Institute on Aging and serves as a bridge between the NIA and supportive organizations and groups in order to promote and advocate for the NIA and its initiatives as public policies in health and research take shape. By bringing together like-minded organizations to support the federal government’s leading aging research institute, FoNIA addresses current and future challenges in advancing public awareness and acceptance of research goals.

Take Action Week

GSA organized a Take Action Week for our members to set-up district meetings with their local congressional offices. The event took place from September 26-30, 2011. Although Take Action Week has officially passed, GSA members are encouraged to share their research with legislative decision makers year-round.

Unsure about taking on an advocacy role? This handout from Research!America makes a compelling case for why scientists need to engage in advocacy and why now is such a critical time to take action.

Advocacy Training Webinar slide presentation and audio (16 MB file in .wmv format)
Advocacy Training Webinar slide presentation
(in PowerPoint format)
Setting Up Your Appointment
Talking Points

What to Bring
GSA Fact Sheet

Follow-up: Did you participate in Take Action Week? Share your experience!