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Preparing for election season: What you need to know about Emory, advocacy and lobbying
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With less than three months to Election Day, many members of the Emory community are engaged politically. Whether you are sharing research and expertise with lawmakers and voters, volunteering at Emory’s election site, or spending your personal time on the campaign trail, it is important to understand how Emory, as a tax-exempt nonprofit, interacts with elected officials. 

The Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA) oversees federal, state and local affairs for Emory, as well as community engagement. While much of our work happens behind the scenes, the department develops and maintains relationships with government and community leaders and works to advance and protect Emory’s mission. "You elect them, then we work with them,” says Cameron Taylor, vice president of OGCA. 

“Relationship-building and education are central to the department’s work and success,” explains Taylor. “We live in a time of political soundbites, so we strive to educate our decision-makers about the myriad of complex issues facing Emory. Sometimes we agree with our elected officials and sometimes we don’t, and how we navigate the disagreements is just as important as how we celebrate our agreements.”

In addition to the legal requirements associated with lobbying, there are practical reasons related to coordination and a diversity of opinions. “When you decouple the politics from the policy, there is a sweet spot for potential success,” Taylor notes. “Emory is uniquely situated to serve as a place where we can discuss and study the issues that divide us. Our decision-makers appreciate Emory’s ability to bring research and data to policy debates.”

Education, advocacy and lobbying

Taylor has been with Emory for nearly 20 years and prior to that worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years. The nine-member OGCA team has many decades of work experience inside government. We share this expertise by meeting with Emory departments or groups who are interested in learning more about interacting with government or community leaders. 

Emory’s experts have much to offer by sharing best practices or the results of research. When lobbying on legislative issues, Taylor notes the line between education and advocacy can be easily crossed. She encourages members of the Emory community to read and follow the lobbying policy. Unless acting officially on behalf of Emory, employees must make it clear that they are expressing their personal views and not an official position of the institution. In addition, employees should not use any Emory resources, such as emails and phones, when lobbying in a personal capacity. 

“Anyone can advocate on their own, for anything they care about,” Taylor explains. “But it is different for Emory. As a major research university and health care provider that employs registered lobbyists, we are obligated to follow federal and state laws, which require the disclosure of our lobbying activities. Front-line team members are registered and file reports on all of Emory’s lobbying activities.”

These lobbying activities focus on advocating on any government action that affects Emory’s mission. Some recent examples of this work include:  

  • Supporting government funding that fosters Emory’s work;
  • Joining efforts to increase Pell Grant award amounts and support international scholars; 
  • Advocating to bring a new federal agency to Georgia; and
  • Working with the Georgia Department of Community Health to advance directed payment program initiatives that will allow federal funding for uncompensated patient care.

Taylor encourages members of the Emory community to contact the OGCA team for more information. “We may not be able to lobby on behalf of the issue you care about, but we can be a resource for you,” she says.

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