Thank you to Author, Alida Beck, Business Development Manager at icitizen, for representing the Nashville tech community in DC and contributing this blog post about the DC Fly-in trip.
Most people spend February 14th (Valentine’s Day, in case you missed it!) giving chocolates to their sweetie or writing cute cards to their loved ones… How boring?!
Instead, I got the chance to spend February 14 and 15 with these wonderful fellow IT representatives and colleagues from Tennessee, advocating for innovation and workforce development on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC:
The 13 of us that attended are either members or employees of the Nashville Technology Council (NTC), although a few not pictured in our selfie above. We served as the Middle Tennessee delegates for our industry and headed to D.C. for CompTIA’s annual “fly-in.” The Fly-In allows groups, like NTC, from across the country meet on Capitol Hill and speak with their representatives about different issues pertaining to the technology community. This includes diversity, education, infrastructure, cybersecurity, etc. It was amazing to see the intersectionality between different sectors – I had no idea how many topics and jobs actually fell under the “IT” umbrella!
On Tuesday, February 14, CompTIA hosted us and featured a variety of speakers, panelists and presentations regarding IT, discussing different ways we would like to see it grow over the next few years. Leaders of different companies spoke about the need for continued education in their communities and how they had worked with their tech councils to accomplish this.
Staffers from the House and Senate prepared us for our upcoming meetings with their bosses by emphasizing how important it was to give our advocacy messages broader context in terms of “business, community and the people.” Afterwards, we felt more equipped to meet with our representatives to advocate for the needs and success of the growing IT field in Tennessee.
Tuesday evening closed out with CompTIA’s 2017 Tech Champion Awards ceremony. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Texas Representative Will Hurd and North Carolinian tech advocate Ron Culler were all honored for their commitment to bettering technology through policy.
Wednesday, February 15, we hit the Hill! Over the course of six hours, we met with seven of nine Representatives and two Senators from the state of Tennessee. By the end of the day, we had the chance to discuss advocacy issues for both the NTC and CompTIA. We focused on efforts toward growing the local workforce and enabling the hire of quality applicants, improving access to ingredients of business growth capital and infrastructure, lowering tax burdens and diversifying the workplace.
Coming from icitizen, a civic tech company that focuses on better facilitating conversations and collaboration between elected officials and constituents, it was so inspiring to do this work in person and to experience both representatives and staff valuing what we had to say. Everyone we met with was engaging and interested in what we were working on, who we were advocating for and wanted to know how they could help.
A big thank you to NTC, CompTIA, representatives and staff from the Hill, and all the great people I had the joy of meeting this past week in D.C.! I would not have wanted to share this glorious sunset outside the Capitol with anyone else.
If you’re interested in advocacy at the NTC, you may be interested in an upcoming Tennessee Hill Day and Legislator Reception on March 15, in Nashville. To sign up for advocacy updates click here.