By Chris Norton, President Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition and NBCC Board Member
Each year the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) Board of Directors determines legislative and public policy priorities for the organization. Since its inception, NBCC has chosen priorities that will have a significant impact on breast cancer. The priorities must have a broad focus that can be accomplished through enactment of legislation or by public policy.
In 2010 NBCC set a deadline to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. Our strategic plan to accomplish this goal focuses on prevention of primary breast cancer and prevention of metastatic breast cancer. Each priority must fit within this strategic plan.
The process to decide these priorities begins with NBCC’s grassroots. In early January, emails requesting suggestions for priorities are sent to Board members, Field Coordinators and the National Action Network. NBCC staff then researches the issues that have been raised by the grassroots. Next the staff prepares background information on each issue put forward. At the two-day Board meeting in January, the Board members and staff discuss each issue in depth. The Board then decides if a particular issue should be a priority for that year. The Board reviews the issues selected as priorities and then votes on the order of the priorities.
After the Board determines the priorities for that year, the National Action Network is notified and a link to the priorities is put on the website. NBCC staff then develops background material to explain each priority.
For me, the truly fun part of working with the priorities begins when NBCC sends an alert asking the grassroots to contact their Senators and Representatives in Washington about a specific legislative priority. I then send emails to the grassroots network in Minnesota and ask people to email or call their Representative or both Senators to request their support of the legislation.
Securing the support of a Representative or Senator is gratifying. But the best feeling is learning that the legislative priority that thousands from across the country worked to achieve has passed the House and the Senate.
Chris Norton, President of the Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition, has been a member of NBCC since the 1991 “Do the Write Thing” campaign. She has served on NBCC’s Board of Directors since 2000. Chris is a 22-year breast cancer survivor.