On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Kate Breslin and the NYS Assemblymember Patricia Fahy presented a webinar with SUNY Albany Nonprofit U on Advocacy in the Age of COVID-19. They discussed the interaction between public policy, advocacy and nonprofit organizations, including how nonprofits influence—and are influenced by—public decision-making. While this workshop was not solely COVID related, they discussed current affairs and issues that affect today’s policy environment, as well as the total impact of COVID-19 on the Capital Region’s nonprofit entities.

Assemblymember Fahy noted this hopefully short term health crisis, which has caused an upheaval in every aspect of our lives, heightens the importance of advocacy. The economic devastation we are facing is likely to be long term and economic disparities are bound to continue.Thirty-nine percent of those earning under $40K are now unemployed or furloughed and people of color and the less educated have been the hardest hit. Those who are making the policy decisions are not nearly as impacted as those who are paying the price.

Ms. Breslin added how, in light of current events, Schuyler Center has pivoted and reassessed policy priorities. New York needs assistance from the federal government because the state won’t be able to fund all the needs on its own. This recession is likely to last a long time, and New York State is in desperate need of money from the federal government for people who are covered by Medicaid, who need child care subsidies, and/or are working in the child welfare system.

Kate and Assemblymember Fahy both stressed how public policy can either make the ground fertile for opportunity or contribute to its desolation. Our power is in our strength in numbers—our collective voice and ability to convince policymakers about what is right and needed. It is the job of advocates to shine a light on issues often overlooked, and work to build bridges across systems that need alignment.

View the slideshow presentation here.