Peace Action Virtual Lobby Days 2021

Tuesday, June 15

Keynote Address: Congressman Mark Pocan, U.S. House of Representatives, WI-02
3:30-3:45 Eastern

11:45 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Eastern Welcome & Introductions!
Presenters: Jim Anderson, Co-Chair, Peace Action Board
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action
An overview of the conference and brief introductions.

1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern BREAK

1:15 – 2:15 p.m. Eastern Successful Advocacy 101: Get the Most From Your Visit
Presenter: Cassandra Varanka, Advocacy Director, Foreign Policy for America
Moderator: Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action
We’ll review the key points for a successful legislative visit, including how to make an impactful ask, follow-up advice, and more.

2:15 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern LUNCH BREAK

3:00 – 4:15 p.m. Eastern Oppose Nuclear Expansion: Blocking Trillions in Dangerous Weapon Upgrades
Presenters: Monica Montgomery, Advocacy Coordinator, Council for a Liveable World
Blake Narendra, Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant, Senator Ed Markey (MA)
Moderator: Niki VanAller, Assistant Director, Coalition for Peace Action
We’ll learn more about the continuous threat of nuclear weapons and dive deeper into the programs aiming to upgrade and expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal and how we can push back on their implementation.

Wednesday, June 16

12:00 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern People Over Pentagon: Addressing Real Security Over Endless Militaristic Bloat
Presenters: Wendy J. Jordan, Senior Policy Analyst, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Laicie Heeley, Founder and CEO, Inkstick Media
Moderator: Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action
We’ll take a deep dive into the Pentagon Budget, and learn about the need to reallocate our resources away from the commonplace privileging of war in security policy and toward the true security threats facing our society — pandemics, inequality, climate catastrophe, etc.

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern LUNCH BREAK

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. Eastern Time for Real Peace: Ending Our Endless Wars & Calling for Diplomacy
Presenters: Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies
Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Manager for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee On National Legislation
Moderator: Will Hopkins, Executive Director, New Hampshire Peace Action
We’ll hear about the years of endless invasion, war, and occupation in the aftermath of 9/11, and discuss the opportunities available to finally sunset the outdated war authorizations, end our support of brutal wars, and move toward true and lasting peace through diplomacy.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. Eastern BREAK

3:30 – 4:15 p.m. Eastern Situation Report: Opportunities to Work for Human Rights and Peace in Israel & Palestine
Presenter: Bill Harper, Chief of Staff, Representative Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Liz Bajjalieh, Advocacy Campaigner, Just Foreign Policy
Moderator: Jon Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action
We’ll hear about Rep. Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) legislation to stop US funding from going towards the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; or from supporting seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes; or to extend any assistance or support for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory.

Thursday, June 17

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Successful Advocacy 201: Deepen Congressional Relationships & Perfect Your Ask
Presenter: Emily Rubino, Executive Director, Peace Action New York State
Moderator: Lilly Dragnev, National Engagement and Campaigns Manager, Peace Action
We’ll discuss strategies for building relationships with staff and members, effective versus ineffective “handouts,” and the need for honing your message around our key issues.

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern LUNCH BREAK

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. Eastern Lobby Practice: Individual Group Breakouts
Facilitators: National Staff Will be Available to Answer Questions
Participants will break into rooms with their affiliate or national staff to strategize about and plan out their upcoming lobby visits. Handouts with information about Member of Congress voting and legislation sponsorship will be presented to each affiliate leader prior.

3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Eastern Closing Reflections
Presenter: Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action
A wrap-up of our meeting and reflection on next steps.

Friday June 18 onward

Presenter Bios:

Congressman Mark Pocan
U.S. House of Representatives, WI-02
Congressman Mark Pocan was sworn in as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s second congressional district in 2013 following 14 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly. A small business owner, union member, and lifelong advocate for progressive causes, Rep. Pocan is committed to using his experience from both the private and public sectors to fight for policies that promote economic and social justice and support the families of south-central Wisconsin.

Rep. Pocan is the co-founder and Co-Chair of the Labor Caucus, where he works to advance the needs of the labor movement, combat the issues facing working families, and connect legislators directly with unions and union leaders. He is also the co-founder and Co-Chair of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), dedicated to reducing the Pentagon’s bloated defense budget and reinvesting in the needs of the American people, including healthcare, housing, jobs, combating climate change, and education

Jim Anderson
Co-Chair, Peace Action Board and President, Peace Action New York State

Jim Anderson has been a long-time civil rights and peace activist throughout the state of New York pushing for an end to US militarism. During Jim Anderson’s leadership Peace Action New York State has seen its potential harnessed and oversaw various directional changes and expansion of programs such as youth outreach.

Cassandra Varanka
Advocacy Director, Foreign Policy for America

Cassandra Varanka serves as the Advocacy Director at Foreign Policy for America. Prior to joining FP4A, she was the Policy Director for Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) where she worked with federal and state legislators to help advance nuclear nonproliferation priorities. Her work included managing a campaign that passed the first state resolution calling on Congress to take action to restrict the President’s sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon passing in California. Cassandra also served as a Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, advising on foreign policy, defense, judiciary and other issues. Her tenure with Congresswoman Schakowsky culminated in the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act through a Republican House and Senate in 2017. Cassandra holds a Bachelor’s degree from Saint Michael’s College.

Monica Montgomery
Advocacy Coordinator, Council for a Liveable World

Monica Montgomery is the Advocacy Coordinator for the Council for a Livable World, where her work focuses on building Congressional champions for nuclear arms control and non-proliferation and a reduced Pentagon budget, and on electing Members of Congress who share these goals.

Prior to joining the Council, Monica worked as the Program Assistant for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. She has also previously worked as a research and office assistant at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and as an intern at the Arms Control Association and in the district office of former Senator Bob Corker.

Monica graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in political science and peace studies and a certificate in international security studies. She was awarded the Yarrow Award in Peace Studies, given annually to a graduating student who demonstrates academic excellence and a commitment to peace and justice.

Blake Narendra
Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)

Graduate in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Blake has a background in U.S. domestic politics and international security policy. His time at the National Nuclear Security Administration as well as position in the U.S. State Department and U.S. Air Force (Ctr.), as well as over three years in the U.S. Senate under two Senators serving on the Committee on Senate Foreign Relations have provided him with a deep knowledge of the interagency processes of U.S. governance.

Wendy J. Jordan
Senior Policy Analyst, Taxpayers for Common Sense

Wendy has been in Washington, working on issues related to national security for more than thirty years. Before she joined Taxpayers for Common Sense, she ran her own lobbying and consulting firm for seven years. Wendy also ran the Washington office for a mid-sized defense contractor as its Vice President of Government Relations. Prior to that, she was a political appointee at the Department of Defense for six years during the Clinton Administration, serving in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in several capacities.

She has also worked in the Washington office of a major, nationwide, law firm. The firm hired her after her time on Capitol Hill where she worked for both a Democrat involved in high-tech defense issues and a Republican Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Wendy received her B.A. in political science from the University of Maine at Orono and her M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics.

Laicie Heeley
Founder and CEO, Inkstick Media

Heeley is the founder and editor of the foreign policy magazine Inkstick and the CEO of Inkstick Media. She is also a Fellow with The Stimson Center and a Partner with the Truman National Security Project. Heeley’s work has appeared in well-known newspapers, journals, and periodicals including Foreign Policy and The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Associated Press, and she has appeared as an expert on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.

Heeley is also the creator of the lifestyle brands Holson House and A Thousand Threads. Her successful dinner series Field + Foundry, a collaboration with the Microsoft search engine Bing, brought together influencers with a combined social media reach of over 1.6 million followers in an effort to build a creative community in the policy-driven bubble of Washington, DC.

Phyllis Bennis
Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. She works with many anti-war organizations, writing and speaking widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East issues and was twice short-listed to become the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Phyllis has written and edited eleven books. Among her latest is Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer, as well as the just-published 7th updated edition of her popular Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. She has also written Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror and Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power.

Hassan El-Tayyab
Legislative Manager for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee On National Legislation

Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s lead lobbyist on Middle East policy. He is also responsible for representing FCNL with the various coalitions that work on these issues.

Prior to joining FCNL in August 2019, he was co-director of the national advocacy group Just Foreign Policy, where he led their lobbying work to advance a more progressive foreign policy in the Middle East and Latin America. He played a major role in the successful passage of the War Powers Resolution to end US military aid to the Saudi-UAE coalition’s war in Yemen.

Hassan’s passion for foreign affairs is rooted in his desire to make life better for people in the Middle East, including his extended family in Jordan. He is convinced that advancing a more peaceful and diplomacy-based foreign policy in the Middle East is critical, not only for the family he loves but for peace and stability worldwide.

His writings and commentaries have been featured in numerous news outlets, including CNN, BBC World News, The Hill, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Intercept, The Young Turks, and more.

Bill Harper
Chief of Staff, Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Since 2001, Bill Harper has served as chief of staff to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN04) and supports her work as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee where she serves as chair of the Defense Subcommittee and vice-chair of the Interior-Environment Subcommittee. Harper manages 18 congressional staff serving the families of Ramsey and Washington counties in Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District.

Prior to Congress, Harper managed Rep. McCollum’s first congressional campaign in 2000, helping her become only the second Minnesota woman ever elected to Washington. He also operated a consulting business assisting local government, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies address public policy issues.

Harper served for five years as a Peace Corps volunteer working in rural Malawi (1995-98) establishing a community-based HIV/AIDS initiative and in rural Guatemala (1990-92) working in agriculture with smallholder farmers. Harper also chief of staff to the chairman of the Hennepin County (MN) Board of Commissioners and as staff assistant to former Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey III.

Bill Harper earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.

Liz Bajjalieh
Advocacy Campaigner, Just Foreign Policy

Liz Bajjalieh is the Advocacy Campaigner for Just Foreign Policy, where she manages congressional outreach by assisting senior staff in advancing policy efforts and building relationships with Hill offices.

Previously, she worked with the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation. In these roles, she lobbied, educated, and advocated on peace and human rights policies related to Yemen, Palestine, and Iran. She is also on the Board of Directors for Chicago Area Peace Action and the current Lead Organizer for their Palestinian Human & Civil Rights Campaign

She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and was honored with the inaugural Judith Wittner Social Justice in Action award.

Emily Rubino
Executive Director, Peace Action New York State

Emily Rubino has been involved with Peace Action New York State in various capacities for the past four years, including as Director of Policy and Outreach before being named Executive Director in March 2021. She is an International Peace Bureau Council Member and co-convener of the World Conference Youth Assembly group. She was a Ploughshares Women’s Initiative spring 2019 grantee, 2018 Japan Peace March International Youth Relay Marcher, and an attendee of the 2018 and 2019 World Conference Against A&H Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a guest of the Japan Women’s Peace Fund (Shinfujin). Emily is dedicated to intersectional activism that recognizes the connections between domestic social justice struggles and international human rights struggles and looks forward to continuing to advocate for a less oppressive world order. She is a Fordham graduate with a BA in International Humanitarian Affairs and Sociology.


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