Interview with Sarah Jones, member of the Chicago Congressional Action Team. Pictured above, Congressional Action Team members at Senator Kirk's Office last month.
1. Sarah, can you introduce yourself briefly? Why do you choose to spend your time volunteering with UNICEF?
I work with an organization that focuses on vulnerable populations in Chicago. The UNICEF Congressional Action Team was a natural extension of the work I do locally, and fits well with my goal to make a difference for struggling children worldwide.
2. You met with an aide to Senator Kirk recently. Was this the first time you met with a Congressional Office? Were you nervous?
While this was not the first time that I have met with a Congressional office, I still found myself with nervous butterflies! I think the work we do as a part of the CATs is so important since we are able to bring a face and a voice to global problems and under-represented populations. It is a great responsibility.
3. What were some things that helped you have an effective meeting?
We met with Elisabeth Conklin, who is a Latino Outreach Coordinator for Senator Kirk’s office and supports the Abuelitas Program, which brings family members from Mexico to the United States on a 30-day visa so that they’re able to reconnect with their family. We were able to have an engaging conversation as we shared stories about UNICEF’s work with displaced populations and family reunification efforts around the world.
Our team prepared well for the meeting. We were joined by staff, and two UNICEF Midwest Regional Board members. Their unique insights helped to round out the discussion.
4. How do you think UNICEF Congressional Action Teams can continue to get better at advocating for kids?
We are really lucky here in Chicago and Illinois to have strong, bipartisan support for the work of UNICEF. Our Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), are staunch UNICEF supporters. This really challenges us as a team to think outside the box in how we engage with them, as our work is not done. We also need to work as a team to contact our Representatives, as well. It is important for us to continue to communicate with them and find ways to advance UNICEF’s work together. CAT members should keep collaborating with Congressional Offices.