“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Following an afternoon of thoughtful presentations by California policy leaders,
and a dinner honoring Senator Ed Hernandez as 2016 WACAC Legislator of the Year,
a small but mighty group of 33 WACAC members visited 45 legislative offices.
We began by describing WACAC, its 2300 members, our five Share, Learn and Connect events, college fairs and hosting the national conference in San Diego. Each team lobbied in favor of reducing student to ratios from 1000:1 (the worst in the nation), continued Cal Grant funding, a cap on non-resident students at UC, and to propose legislation for more school counselors in districts with the most underserved students. When asked what WACAC is currently doing about counselors, we were able to discuss WACAC’s District Directions program and share the results to date in five major districts serving first generation college students.
The best example of our team’s success is described in the February 10 email below:
Hello Esther Hugo,
Thank you for stopping by today with Dewey Wilmot and Garret Hoff to meet with Assemblymember Chu and me, and thank you for providing the information on counseling services and the District Directions Program. Whenever you have a chance, I would like to speak more about the proposal we mentioned today regarding a pilot program or pilot program expansion in the district. Assemblymember Chu would be happy to help with legislation to benefit students and counselors. I have cc’d my colleague Robert Mason who will be helping me draft legislative proposals.
Sincerely, Joel Woolfork, Office of Assemblymember Kansen Chu, 25th District (Milpitas/E. San Jose)
Congratulations Esther Hugo, Adjunct Professor, LMU and SJSU; Dewey Wilmot, Admissions Edge Counseling, and Garret Hoff, student, Francis Parker! For the first time in the 13 year history of the WACAC Legislative Conference, our Government Relations team is charged to proceed with creating proactive legislation in Sacramento. This is the best of all possible outcomes.
WACAC Government Relations would also like to thank Lee Angela Reid, our lobbyist from Capitol Advisers, for scheduling meetings with Rick Simpson, Interim Chief of Staff to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins; Monica Henestroza, Principal Consultant to Higher Ed Committee; Kathleen Chavira, Staff Director, Senate Education Committee’s office, and Assembly Member Jose Medina, Chair of Higher Ed Committee.
And finally, take it from first timer Lisa Simonian, Associate Director of College Counseling and Associate Dean of Academic Advisement at de Toledo High school who says:
“I had a great time at the 2016 WACAC GRAC Conference. It was great to learn about what is happening in legislature with college counseling and how we can add a voice. I enjoyed going with my team to speak with our elected officials, or their representatives, and it was wonderful to meet more amazing WACAC members. I would have to say that it was a great experience overall.”
Thanks Lisa. I hope your enthusiasm will encourage more first timers to attend next year
Kris Zavoli, Chair, Government Relations Committee, WACAC
A note from our WACAC President, Ed Devine:
“You will always remember your first WACAC Government Relations conference. I sure do. It is such a natural high to join forces with fellow WACAC members to connect with state legislators. It is inspiring, and definitely needed, for us to pull up to that 30,000 foot view, and to make our voices heard. We alone can provide the message needed to help pave the way to college access for all. It is an honor to be on “the Hill” representing the thousands who work with young people on the front lines every day. Actually, it is more than an honor; it is a responsibility. WACAC needs to create a powerful presence in Sacramento, to present our individual stories, so that we can promote our collective agenda of college access.”