More than forty Chicago and Springfield Jewish community leaders and professionals convened at the State Capital on April 11-12 for JUF's annual State Advocacy Mission.
"This year our message focused on the need to protect the partnership between our agencies and state government and on our steadfast commitment promoting community safety" explained David Golder, Chair of the JUF Government Affairs Committee. "Our credibility as a bi-partisan group and a leader in providing critical health and human services in Illinois means we can help move the needle on the pressing issues impacting our agencies and our community as a whole."
Over the course of two full days, the delegation, which included representatives from JUF, Jewish Child and Family Services, CJE SeniorLife, Sinai Health System, EZRA, and Jewish Vocational Services, received briefings on new mental health legislation and efforts underway to reduce gun violence, and met state leaders including Governor Bruce Rauner, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, and Speaker Michael Madigan.
"There are few other groups that can say that they met first with Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton and then immediately march downstairs for a meeting with the Governor" reflected Golder. "This illustrates our ability to build strong relationships with elected officials from both sides of the aisle and highlights our representation as a credible voice and trusted partner."
Following a luncheon briefing, the participants fanned out in lobbying groups across the State Capital to meet with more than twenty elected officials. After first thanking legislators for passing the hospital assessment and then detailing concerns about the State's low reimbursement rates, the conversations transitioned into policy strategies to prevent violence and increase community safety by investing in mental health services and passing reasonable reforms to curb gun violence.
Participants then dined with members of the Jewish Caucus including Senators Daniel Biss and Julie Morrison and Representatives Jonathan Carroll, Kelly Cassidy, Sara Feigenholtz, Laura Fine, and Will Guzzardi. The mission formally concluded at noon on Thursday with the Statewide Yom HaShoah Commemoration at the Old State Capital.
"The trip was an eye-opening experience" reflected Susan Segal, CJE SeniorLife Board member and one of the twelve new participants on the mission. "It enabled me to see firsthand the connection and voice the Federation has with legislators, as well as the connection between agency professionals and volunteers who are passionate about advancing Federation's mission and delivering services to our most precious populations."