National Advocacy Event on the Hill
You Attended. You Advocated.
You Were Heard.
JUNE 24-25, 2019
For the millions of Americans living with the debilitating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms of a functional gastrointestinal or motility disorder (FGIMD), the fight for awareness, research into safe and effective treatments, and cures are ongoing.
But Members of Congress can help.
IFFGD's National Advocacy Event on the Hill was a two-day event bringing together advocates from across the nation — patients, family members and friends, and health care providers. This was an opportunity to connect with other advocates; learn how patients and caregivers can engage with Federal agencies to help shape research, drug development, and approval; share personal stories of how you have been impacted by a FGIMD; and educate key policymakers in Washington about the needs of the millions of Americans affected.
Together, we made the voice of the digestive health community heard and encouraged Congress to prioritize actions that will lead to greater awareness and the development of new treatment options and cures.
Our Advocacy Training Program on Monday had 60 participants. They attended training sessions from IFFGD staff, medical professionals, patients, D.C., FDA and NIDDK staff.
Tuesday was a successful day on the Hill with 57 attendees. Our collective voices reached 79 Congressional offices, representing 21 states.
Whether you are living with a FGIMD or you know someone who is, you understand the true impact of these conditions on those affected and the need for greater research funding for treatments and cures. IFFGD's National Advocacy Event on the Hill is an opportunity for you to share this impact with your elected officials and advocate alongside others just like you.
Monday, June 24
You don't need to be an expert in public policy to be an effective advocate. All you need is your personal story!
To help prepare you for your Congressional visits, you will receive an introduction to advocacy — including key priorities for the digestive health community — and learn how to conduct a Congressional meeting. You will have the opportunity to connect with other advocates from your state and develop a strategy for sharing each of your stories during visits.
You will also receive updates from representatives from Federal agencies involved in research, treatment approval, and national health education and awareness programs on current efforts and learn about opportunities for you to get involved with these processes.
Finally, you will receive your meeting schedule for the next day and have time to become familiar with your fellow group members.
Tuesday, June 25
Together, we will head to Capitol Hill to conduct our Congressional visits. You and your group members will attend group meetings with your Members of Congress and/or their staff. Along with your group members, you will share your story of how a FGIMD has impacted you and ask for their support for increased funding for medical research into these conditions. You will have a packet of materials to present to the staff following your visit. Meetings are expected to run until approximately 5:00 PM EST.
Congressional meetings for you and your group will be set up ahead of time. Please do not contact Congressional offices to set up meetings yourself.
Sunday, June 23
Monday, June 24
Presentations. Advocacy Training. Networking.
Tuesday, June 25
Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
Please plan to arrive on Sunday, June 23, or early Monday, June 24, and depart the evening of Tuesday, June 25, or on Wednesday, June 26.
Meetings on Tuesday, June 25, are expected to run until approximately 5:00 PM EST. To make sure that you can attend all of the meetings you are scheduled for, please follow these departure guidelines:
- If you are flying out of Reagan National Airport (DCA) on Tuesday, June 25, please plan to book your flight no earlier than 6:30 PM EST.
- If you are flying out of Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), please plan to book your flight no earlier than 7:30 PM EST.
Cambria Hotel Washington, DC Convention Center
899 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Other Hotels in the Area
- Comfort Inn Downtown DC/Convention Center (0.5 mi)
- Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel (0.6 mi)
- District Hotel (0.6 mi)
- Sofitel Lafayette Square Washington, DC (1 mi)
Taxis are widely available. Other methods of transportation include ride-sharing apps (Uber/Lyft) and the Metro. The closest Metro stop to the hotel is Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center (0.3 mi).
To Cambria Hotel Washington, DC Convention Center (event hotel) from Reagan International Airport (DCA)
From Reagan International Airport, head North on Aviation Circle. Follow signs to ramp onto George Washington Memorial Parkway. Take I-395 N ramp to Washington. Merge onto I-395 and follow until 12th Street exit toward L'Enfant Promenade. Slight left onto 12th Street Expy, turn right onto Constitution Ave NW. Make 3rd left onto 7th Street NW and turn left onto O Street NW.
To Cambria Hotel Washington, DC Convention Center (event hotel) from Dulles International Airport (IAD)
From Dulles International Airport, follow signs to Aviation Drive and then take the ramp onto State Highway 28/I-66. Follow signs for VA-267 E. Continue on VA-267 E for 11 miles. Take exit 18A toward 495 Express Lanes/Capital Beltway Outer Loop/Interstate 495 High Occupancy Toll. Take exit 57B for I-395 N toward Washington and take exit 10 from I-395 N toward Massachusetts Avenue. Continue onto 2nd Street NW then turn left onto Massachusetts Avenue NW. Turn right onto 7th Street NW and turn left onto O Street NW.
To Cambria Hotel Washington, DC Convention Center (event hotel) from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
From Baltimore-Washington International Airport, head southeast on Friendship Road and turn left onto Service Road Lower Level. Continue onto I-195 W (signs for MD-170/Interstate 95/Annapolis/Baltimore/Washington/MD-295/170/Annpolis). Take exit 4B for Interstate 95 S toward Washington and merge onto I-95 S for 19.4 miles. Take exit 27 W to I-495 W toward Silver Spring. Take exit 28B to merge onto MD-650 S/New Hampshire Avenue toward Takoma Park. Merge onto MD-650 S/New Hampshire Avenue and turn left onto North Capitol Street NW. From there, turn left onto Hawaii Avenue NE and turn slightly right onto Clermont Drive NE. Continue onto North Capitol Street NW then turn right onto Rhode Island Avenue NW. Turn left onto 9th Street NW.
When is the deadline for registration?
Registration for Advocacy Day 2019 closes on May 31, 2019 at 11:59 PM PDT.
I would like to attend, but I am not sure I can make it. Should I still register?
Yes. We will follow up on your registration email closer to the event date to confirm your attendance and share additional details.
How many guests can I bring?
We encourage you to bring as many guests as you would like to Advocacy Day. We understand that it's not just patients who are affected by these illnesses, but our families, friends, and communities. We just need each person's address to arrange Congressional visits for them with their elected officials.
Do my guests have to register?
Yes. We will need contact information and an address for each person attending the event.
I have multiple addresses. Which one should I use?
Congressional meetings are scheduled based on your voting address, so it's important to provide us with the address where you are registered to vote. For most people, this is the address of your residence.
What will IFFGD provide for the event?
Participants are responsible for their airfare, hotel accommodations, and ground transportation. However, IFFGD will provide transportation to and from Capitol Hill on Tuesday, June 25, for Congressional visits.
Your Congressional meetings will be scheduled by IFFGD and you will be provided with a schedule of your meetings, other participant materials, and leave-behind folders for the offices you meet with.
Will I receive any materials prior to the event?
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with additional information on traveling to and from Washington, DC, and information on the event hotel. We will also send you emails leading up to the event. When you check in for the event at the hotel, you will receive a participant packet that includes all the materials you will need.
Will I be meeting with Members of Congress alone?
No. You will be placed in a group with other advocates from your state or region. You will not have to conduct your visits alone, even if there is no one else from your state attending.
Who will I meet with?
When possible, we will try to make appointments with your legislators — your two US Senators and your US House Representative. However, these individuals lead very busy days and they may not be available to meet with you in person. If your Representative is not available, the meeting will be scheduled with the member of his or her staff concerned with matters of health policy. Meetings with staff representatives are just as important as meetings with the actual legislator, as staff help to identify legislative priorities for their bosses.
Can I set up my own appointments with Members of Congress?
No. To avoid confusion and redundancy, we ask that you do not contact any Congressional offices directly to arrange meetings. If you have a special connection with individual Members of Congress or their staff, please let us know and we will take that into account when arranging meetings.
Will I be able to go on Congressional visits with my family or friends from other parts of the country?
Members of Congress are primarily concerned with the interests and issues presented to them by their constituents, so it's important that each participant is present during meetings with their elected officials. However, you and your family and friends will have opportunities to spend time together during training and at meals.
How do I get to and from meetings?
Ground transportation to and from Capitol Hill from the Cambria Hotel will be provided by IFFGD. Once there, you will head to your Congressional meetings. Meetings with US Senators will take place in three buildings located at the north side of the Capitol (Russell, Dirksen, and Hart buildings). Meetings with US Members of the House of Representatives will take place in three buildings located at the south side of the Capitol (Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon buildings). You will be provided with a map of the Capitol to help you find your meeting locations.
Entrances to government buildings are protected with security screenings. These are similar to screenings encountered at airports, and you will need to remove any metal on your person to pass through the screening. If you have a medical device, the security personnel can help you through the screenings. Also, please keep in mind that you may need a photo ID for some meetings.
What is the dress code for Advocacy Day?
Attendees will be given t-shirts to wear for the event. These will help you identify other participants and make our event visible to others on Capitol Hill.
The weather can fluctuate, so we encourage you to dress in layers and check the forecast ahead of the event. You will be doing a lot of walking, so please plan to wear comfortable footwear.
Will IFFGD be able to accommodate my dietary restrictions?
As a digestive health foundation, we understand that many participants will have special dietary restrictions or requirements. We will work with you to make sure that your dietary needs are met during the course of the event.
I would like to spend time touring the city. Can I arrive prior to the event or stay afterward?
Absolutely! We encourage you to take advantage of your time in Washington, DC. Many of the museums located along the National Mall west of the Capitol are free to the public.
IFFGD has long been a voice on the Hill. By educating key policymakers and regulators in Washington, we have been able to bolster National awareness and elevate the research portfolios for FGIMDs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other Federally-funded research institutions.
We thank you for your participation in Advocacy Day 2019 and look forward to future Advocacy Events!