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Becoming A CCL Liaison

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This training page provides an overview of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Congressional Liaisons Program, what the responsibilities are for the role, and how to get involved if you are interested and how to find out if there is a liaison need in your Congressional district.
 

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/topics/working-with-congress
TOC and Guide Section
 
Who are CCL’s Liaisons?

A CCL Liaison is someone who is the representative for CCL when the local CCL chapter contacts a Congressional staffer. Since there are 535 members of Congress, CCL’s goal is to have a personal liaison for each of those offices and their staff.

CCL liaisons build ongoing relationships with their members of Congress, and their staff, by maintaining regular personal contact and by coordinating the group’s meetings and communication with that office. This can include updating the office with timely resources related to climate change, planning meeting agendas, or even inviting the staff to a local event. 

Having one consistent point of contact with the office of each member of Congress makes our process of communicating about climate change and our solution organized and much more effective. 

The liaison is the representative for the CCL chapter. The liaison has the goal of building a trusting relationship, moving that member of Congress toward supporting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and encouraging the member to reach out to other members of Congress to have conversations about the bill.

The liaison position requires a longer term commitment, good knowledge of CCL’s goals and culture, and good people skills because it involves building a relationship with one’s congressional office. When there is only one group working in a congressional district, the group should find a volunteer for the liaison role in consultation with their state or regional coordinator or with CCL’s Liaison Program Coordinator, Amy Bennett. When there is more than one group in a district, then those groups should work together. Liaisons to Senators are chosen with input from other leaders in the state. The monthly state or regional group leader call is a good place to work that out.  

CCL Liaison ABC’s

There are three important commitments that all CCL Liaisons are responsible for, known as the Liaison ABC’s. They include:

A. Appointment setting and lobby meeting planning (usually quarterly)

  • For June and November D.C. lobby day appointment requests - Liaisons use our automated log so that we can coordinate all meetings. (usually primary liaisons)

B. Build a trusting relationship with your member 

  • As the primary liaison, you will be the main point of contact for monthly communications with the office.

C. Collaboration, Confidentiality and Communications

  • Collaborate with your chapter and other district/state chapters when you plan activities and Congressional meeting agendas.
    Confidentiality - Keep issues discussed in your meetings and correspondence with members of Congress and their staff private.
    Communications - timely, short and sweet, including the ability to respond to emails promptly. We keep Liaison contact information private, even between liaisons. Learn more below.

We have primary liaisons and secondary liaisons.  Secondary liaisons often take on local tasks such as communications with district offices while the primary liaison takes on the communications with the D.C. legislative staff.

What To Do If You’re Interested

Becoming a CCL Liaison follows the four-step process outlined below:

  1. If you have not completed the Climate Advocate Training Workshop, please join a live or recorded online training available to get you up to speed until you can join an in-person Climate Advocate Training workshop (such as at a CCL conference).
  2. Reach out to your Group Leader, State Coordinator or Regional Coordinator to see if there is a current liaison for your congressional district or if they are in the process of selecting a liaison. 
  3. In your conversation, discuss the ABC’s of the liaison role with your Group Leader, State Coordinator or Regional Coordinator.  

If you mutually agree, then follow this link to let Amy Bennett, CCL’s Director of Liaisons, know so she can add you to the roster.

What Support Is Provided?

CCL Director of Congressional Liaisons and Lobby Days, Amy Bennett, hosts liaison support calls (on Zoom or by phone) on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month at 1 pm and 8pm Eastern Time. The invitation and agenda goes out on the Sunday ahead of the call.  We suggest you join these calls so that all liaisons are on the same page and know the current actions we are working on. Amy will also send out a link to the recorded call and call notes within 24 hours after each call.

Once you are added you to the liaison roster, you will automatically become a member of the hidden Liaisons Group on CCL's Community site (this process might take up to 48 hours). From your Community dashboard, you will see Liaisons on the left in My Community Groups. 

Note: The Liaisons Group is hidden so that liaison discussions can remain private.  As a result, you won’t be able to access it until you’ve formally been admitted, and after that you will need to log in with your Community password in order to access the page.

Confidentiality of Liaison Contact Information

Over the years we have gotten requests to make liaison contact information more public.  When a request for liaison contact information comes in to me I get back to the person requesting it to get more details.  In a few cases I do forward the email on so the liaison can respond as they wish.  There are 3 main reasons for keeping this practice.

  1. Privacy - The first reason is simply privacy for CCLers. Even if we created separate email addresses for each liaison, we have over 700 liaisons and they do change frequently, we do not have the capacity to create those emails and the changes required.
  2. Confidentiality and trust - I estimate that about 90% of the time the requests require a personal email or call from me to learn about the situation. In many situations the request is about sharing confidential information. I explain how important it is to maintain confidentiality about anything said in MOC meetings. I also explain why information from one MOC/district meeting should not be shared across to other MOC/districts. A seemingly simple statement of support or question asked in a meeting needs to be held in confidence.  If we fail to keep confidences it can risk the trust we have developed and risks the relationship. I have found it is really worth the time to explain this personally, one on one. 
  3. Empowerment - We have also had instances where a CCLer wants to suggest to a  liaison for a different MOC, that they take an action step.  That liaison ends up in an uncomfortable position and has a difficult time saying no thank you.  It can become disempowering for liaisons to get suggestions from outside their district for actions that are not part of their own MOC plans. 

There are instances where we do pass along those emails or I ask CCL’s DC staff to help advise us.  There are states and state coordinators who have monthly calls with group leaders and liaisons for statewide planning purposes. There are often common climate impacts or economic circumstances within states that are helpful to discuss.  In these cases, while we still stress maintaining confidence,  it is helpful for liaisons to share best practices that might work in other parts of the state or with their Senator. 

Length
Press play to start the video (33m 16s)
https://vimeo.com/showcase/6187405
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

CCL Liaison ABC's Basics
(from beginning)

Review of CCL Basics
(5:58)

Review of Webpages
(12:55)

Instructor(s)
Amy Bennett
Go Deeper

If you have any additional questions, please email Amy at amy@citizensclimate.org.

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Lobbying Congress
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