Brian Gralnick, director of the Federation’s Center for Social Responsibility, and Robin Schatz, director of Government Affairs, joined colleagues from around the country to participate in the annual Government Affairs Institute sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America.
Federation staff met with government professionals and lay leaders from Jewish Employment and Vocational Services, Jewish Family and Children’s Services and the Jewish Community Relations Councils in Washington last week to learn effective advocacy strategies on a broad range of national issues.
The conference included speeches and briefings from policymakers, leaders in academia, White House officials and members of Congress and their staffs. Highlights of the conference included lunch in the U.S. Capitol with members of Congress and the opportunity to meet individually with congressional representatives and staff to discuss key issues impacting the Jewish community.
Notable speakers included: Jason Furman, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors; Aviva Sufian, the newly appointed special envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; as well as Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
Brian Gralnick said the day provided “a great opportunity to hear from some of the leading experts on long-term care, the federal budget and other issues that impact our vulnerable populations.”
“It was critically important to meet with staff from our congressional delegation to advocate on behalf of our community,” he added.
The Philadelphia delegation advocated for key domestic issues including: reauthorizing the Older Americans Act to encompass social service support for Holocaust survivors; authorizing the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, which would provide better access to federal funds that would allow community mental health centers to better access electronic medical records; protecting charitable giving incentives; and implementing the ABLE Act, which enables people with disabilities and their families to save money for disability related services.
Gralnick and Schatz were joined by James Kahn, past chair of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia and current chair of the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies.
“Both Federation and JFCS were well-received by representatives of the Obama administration as well as the staff of our local senators and representatives,” Kahn said.
Conference delegates, he added, were able to “provide critical information on issues of great importance to the work of our two organizations.”