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Heading into the mid-term elections, the U.S. appears to be on the verge of another “Year of the Woman.”

It isn’t just about record high numbers of women running for office, it’s also to do with more women voting, donating, engaging and leading in the civic arena.

Advocating for one’s cause or belief is now very in vogue, but long before the Women’s March on Washington, every day women began embarking on careers as professional advocates to stand up for the things they believe in on a full-time basis.

Professional Women in Advocacy (PWIA) defines advocates as anyone working to affect public policy including those working in government relations, community organizing, activism, politics, political engagement, public affairs, public relations, law and campaigns.

These are hard-working women fighting for an organization, issue, or cause. Often, they do it on a shoestring budget with nothing but passion and determination to fuel their efforts. But who usually gets the credit when they succeed? A Member of Congress? The head of their organization?

It is a small start, but for the last five years PWIA has recognized these women through their annual Excellence in Advocacy Awards (EIA).

In a Connectivity piece titled Advocacy Tips From 5 of the Nation’s Best five former EIA award finalists gave advice on how to succeed in advocating for your cause.

Not surprisingly, some common themes emerged:

  • Know your subject matter
  • Be confident
  • Be creative
  • Tell a story
  • Be a resource

There’s a new crop of nominees for 2018, and they exhibit all these qualities and more.

Here are a few to inspire you, and when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to nominate an exceptional woman you know, working to advance an issue for her organization.

Nominee for Excellence in Advocacy in a Federal Issue Campaign

Dorian Wanzer, Grassroots Advocacy Manager, Outreach & Communications, National Association of Community Health Centers.

In 2017 Dorian’s industry faced a 70% reduction of federal funding without Congressional action. Dorian devised and implemented an awareness campaign entitled Red Alert for Health Centers that activated 175,000 advocates to take action by wearing red and posting pictures of their demonstrations to social media. This, in conjunction with a news conference on Capitol Hill resulted in 230,000 emails to Congress, 35,000 phone calls and 25 million impressions on social media. These efforts were instrumental in getting $7.8 billion in funding restored to health centers in the budget ultimately passed by Congress.

Nominee for Excellence in Advocacy in a State Issue Campaign

Courtney Cox, Associate Director, Moore, Inc.

During the 2018 Louisiana Legislative Session, Courtney coordinated the efforts of the Patient Access for Louisiana Coalition to pass a package of landmark drug cost reforms to ensure patients benefit from negotiated discounts on pharmaceutical drugs offered by the manufacturers that make them.

Using a mix of traditional and digital strategies Courtney united fourteen third-party patient and provider groups and recruited thirty advocates to attend meetings in Baton Rouge. Her efforts secured national headlines as well as fourteen state-based earned media placements and 3.4 million impressions on social media that contributed to the May 17, 2018 passage of Senate Bills 282, 283 and 241.

Nominee for Excellence in Advocacy in a Campaign for Women Serving Women

Ann Sullivan, Founder and President, Madison Services Group

Ann has been instrumental in making sure women-owned small businesses have the opportunity to bid on and win federally-funded contracts. Since helping get the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program established in 2011, Ann has assisted with implementation of the program and most recently in making necessary improvements to the program such as removing dollar caps and sole source authority. Thanks in part to Ann’s work with Congress and the Administration in FY17, agencies awarded $20.8 billion to Women Owned Small Businesses and the government is finally meeting it’s 5% contracting goal.


Nominee for Excellence in Advocacy in a Controversial Issue Campaign

Cristina Antelo, CEO, Ferox Strategies

After year over year of falling attendance and a steadily declining stock price following the documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld was not only suffering from a brand crisis, they were facing a political firestorm with legislation and regulations proposed against them in Congress and in the Obama Administration.  Cristina helped SeaWorld not only navigate the troubled waters, but ultimately helped them pivot with an announcement ending orca breeding, a new partnership with the Humane Society, and a renewed emphasis on rescue and ocean conservation efforts that left most critics on Capitol Hill satisfied and willing to give the company another chance.

Excellence in Advocacy Award Nominations are open until August 15th, 2018. PWIA is not a membership organization so anyone can participate. Nominating someone is free, easy and gives the advocate and her cause several weeks of visibility. Details at

This guest post was contributed to CQ Connectivity by LeeAnn Petersen, CEO of Professional Women in Advocacy, an organization committed to the advancement of women working in the advocacy space through education, workshops and an annual conference in D.C.