NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS
National Council of
Social Security Management Associations
My Day on the Hill
Monday, July 24, 2017
Since SFRMA’s November election, I have had the privilege of serving as President of the San Francisco Region Management Association (SFRMA). Since that time, I have been part of the NCSSMA Executive Committee along with five national officers and nine fellow regional presidents. Taking on the new responsibility brought me several new assignments and learning experiences. Most recently, I took my first trip to Capitol Hill and what an experience.
Before embarking on this trip, I had spoken to SFRMA past presidents and other past attendees about their trips to the Hill. As you can imagine, I was excited. If you have ever been to Washington, D.C., you may have witnessed the buzz as people are hustling to and from the train station up to the Hill. However, this time, I was one of those people hustling. As I made the long trek from the train station to Capitol Hill, I must admit, I was a little nervous, but also excited.
Fortunately, I teamed up with one of the national officers who had been to the Hill before, and she knew her way around. Otherwise, I know I would have gotten lost. If you have ever been in any of the congressional buildings, seen photos or watched a movie, you know what I mean. Walking into that first building was like being transported to another world. There are tons of people moving fast, dressed sharp, and most likely on their way to their next meeting. The history, architecture of building, and the surroundings were both beautiful and humbling.
As I headed up the elevator to my first meeting, the nerves started to kick in as reality set in. I was not sure what to expect when I opened the door to my first appointment of the day. After being asked to have a seat, I took in my surroundings, which included many local items from the Congressman’s hometown and a congressional hearing playing on CSPAN. A few minutes later, we were called back into the Congressman’s office where we met with one of the staff. I will admit that during the first few meetings I mostly observed, adding in some anecdotal stories as needed, to get my feet wet.
As the day went on, I gained confidence and led one of the meetings. Knowing that I was there speaking on behalf of managers across the country, sharing the various challenges we all face in our field offices was a great privilege and an invaluable experience.
You may be wondering what we share with the congressional staff, and sometimes actual Members of Congress during our meetings. We share what you share with us! During this trip, the topics included challenges we regularly encounter regarding our systems. We discussed various examples of how the lack of IT funding affects us on a daily basis. The congressional staff generally ask follow-up questions and we answer based on feedback from the national membership. In addition, we spoke about the importance of field office staffing levels and provided examples of what we see in our day-to-day happenings. I found that NCSSMA is respected and sought after for insight based on the point of view we hold in our leadership roles.
Remember, when we start to get lost in the day-to-day busyness of our own offices, let’s stop and try to remind ourselves to see the big picture. During my trip to the Hill, I was handed the clearest view of the big picture perspective. This experience gave me valuable insight that I realize would never have been possible without stepping up to the executive council plate. Taking a day of leave, waking up at 5am, riding the train for an hour, walking almost 5 miles, was well worth it knowing that without our representation on the Hill, the information may not be known. I want to encourage our members, if you are interested in stepping up and making a difference in your District, Area, Region, or on the National level, to get involved in your Regional Management Association and NCSSMA. Being a part of these organizations provides so many great developmental opportunities that you otherwise would never be able to experience. As I sit in my own local office every day, the perspective given through my NCSSMA experiences enhances how I lead and why I lead. Don’t wait, get involved today!
By Sarah Arnold, President,
San Francisco Region