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Catalyst Goes to the Capital (Again!)

Group dinner and legislative briefing on night one

On Tuesday, February 4, 2020, a group of dedicated community members and Catalyst Miami staff set off on an 8-hour bus ride to the state capital to meet with senators and representatives from their districts. Since 1997, Catalyst Miami has taken a delegation of community advocates to Dade Days—a two-day event held during the annual Florida Legislative Session where organizations and individuals from across Miami-Dade County have the opportunity to elevate community needs and potential solutions.

Prior to each annual trip, the organization identifies key issue areas and provides trainings for participants. This year, we decided to shake things up a little! In the months leading up to the trip, Catalyst Miami brought on five previous Dade Days attendees as community Ambassadors to engage state legislators locally, participate in policy coalitions, help set our policy agenda, and serve as mentors to new participants. This was our first time meeting with legislators in their home offices before the start of session! Vincent Adderly, Travis Lowery, Janielle Murphy, Jeanette Ruiz, and Alecia Tramel did an amazing job as inaugural Ambassadors for Catalyst to the Capital. 

In addition to the five Ambassadors, six Fellows—all first-time participants—joined us in preparing for Dade Days. Fellows included Dorian Christful, Alexandra Genard, Debra Davis, Tashia Mesidor, Liliam Rojas, and Patricia Ruiz. We also had Danielle Dubuc on behalf of Be Strong International, Inc as a community partner. Everyone participated in trainings on the legislative process and our three focus areas: climate resilience, affordable housing, and healthcare. In collaboration with other local groups, such as the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the New Florida Majority, we identified over 20 bills to track and highlight throughout the session.

Meeting with Senator Jason Pizzo

This year in Tallahassee, we met with 14 legislators and the Chief Resilience Officer for Florida, Julia Nesheiwat. Community members shared their personal stories and connection to many of the bills heard in committees and on the floor. There was a lot of rich discussion about the ways community members, organizations, and policymakers could work together to help improve the health, wealth, and overall quality of life of our neighborhoods.

It was an exciting and successful Catalyst to the Capital trip! The commitment and passion of each participant was contagious and for some, this is just the beginning of their journey in advocacy and community leadership. Until next year!