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California Humanities Staff & Board Go to Washington!

By Cal Humanities Board Member, Alice Y. Hom

Cal Humanities staff and board traveled to Washington, D.C. March 24-26 for Humanities on the Hill, a 3-day annual event where state humanities councils speak with their congressional representatives to talk about the importance of the humanities and to ask for support of the Federal/State partnership line item of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) budget. Neha Balram, Jody Sahota, Julie Fry and board members Margaret Shellada and myself split off into two teams and we walked the halls with our communications materials outlining what we do, our grantmaking programs, and other signature programs.

We had 35 meetings with staff from congressional districts throughout California and 1 senatorial meeting. Both teams highlighted the California Documentary Project and Community Stories which support the heart of the humanities—stories of our human history and lived experiences that connect us to one another. Meeting the staffers and having conversations about the impact of our work with our recent initiative, War Comes Home, resonated because congressional representatives are concerned about veterans and how they will be reintegrated in civilian life. In some cases, we had an opportunity to meet with our Congressional representatives, which gave us an opportunity to thank them directly for their support and, in some cases, have a deeper discussion about how to ensure that our programs reach as many Californians as possible.  We made sure to ask for introductions to District Directors, who are important connections for us in finding new board members and partners, and making our work more visible through grant workshops or newsletter mentions in their districts.

All in all, Cal Humanities received positive responses to our work from those we met. There were a few staffers who shared that congressional representatives could be counted upon for their enthusiastic support of the humanities and were appreciative of the work Cal Humanities has done in their respective districts. It was heartening to have the opportunity to talk with congressional staffers and to engage them on the impact and importance the humanities have on our diverse communities in California.

Images from top left to right: Board Member Alice Y. Hom with Rep. Xavier Becerra, staff member, Neha Balram talking with Rep. Eric Swalwell, Hom with Rep. Jackie Speier, Board Chair, Margaret Shelleda and Cal Hum President & CEO Julie Fry with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Shelleda and Fry with Rep. Anna Eshoo, Hom and Balram taking some down time at the Library of Congress, Cal Hum Staff and Board with NEH Chairman, William “Bro” Adams. 

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