The Legislation Conference Turned Me Into an Advocate

By Jade Chao, Immediate Past President, Palo Alto Council of PTAs

I first heard about a conference focusing on advocacy and legislation through my local PTA. As a relatively new volunteer in my children’s middle school and not knowing exactly what I might experience, I said, “Yes! I’ll go.” I trusted PTA parents like Nancy Krop who urged me to attend the California State PTA Legislation Conference.

At my first conference I met many new people and listened to some of the most experienced and knowledgeable speakers about subjects that directly impact our children. What really impressed me was the way we could meet our state legislators in Sacramento and talk with them 1-on-1. I quickly made new friends, forged alliances, and learned advocacy skills that would later prove to be valuable.

When I returned to my local PTA, I became aware of an urgent issue involving vaping and flavored tobacco. We took up the issue and mapped out an advocacy plan using skills I had learned from the conference. This included plans to go to Sacramento and talk to various legislators. Erwin Morton taught me how to walk the halls of the Capitol building and speak to anyone willing to listen, with or without an appointment. It was truly democracy in action.

In 2020, the Palo Alto PTA Council brought forth a resolution titled Teen Health & eCigarettes. I used the knowledge and tools I gleaned from the Leg Conference, quickly put together a team and the team sprung into action. My fellow conference attendees were thrilled to join me to meet with legislators and they strongly supported us by joining us in the legislators’ offices. It was actually fun to be so actively engaged in the democratic process — this is something that other countries can only dream of doing. Here we were actually making democracy happen.

The Leg Conference is a super well-organized, well-designed conference to onboard new volunteers. You will get the most out of a very short 2-day conference. Friendship alone is well worth the effort. Meeting and networking with like minded volunteers and being able to speak on our children’s behalf was a bonus. If you have attended this conference, you know what I am talking about. If you have never attended this conference — well, you are missing out! Go! Get yourself approved from your local PTA to attend. You won’t regret it!