Participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program are volunteer advocates of all abilities committed to taking part in the democratic process and serving as liaisons between NDSS and their congressional delegations. The overarching goal of the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program is to build long-lasting relationships with US Senators and US Representatives to continually raise awareness, educate and advocate for public policy solutions that benefit the Down syndrome community at the federal level.
The following are the key objectives of the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program:
- Strengthen and organize the Down syndrome community’s grassroots advocacy network across the US
- Be more effective on Capitol Hill by building relationships in Washington, DC, with Members of Congress and staff
- Engage more affiliates and advocates to provide valued input and feedback to NDSS
- Encourage more advocates to become active in supporting legislative efforts that are beneficial to the Down syndrome community
- Grow the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program to 435 participants – one for each congressional district in the US
Participants in the program are crucial to the success of NDSS.
Learn more about what motivates participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program on our Pinterest board.
NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program Expectations
Participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program are valued volunteers, yet do not receive compensation for their services. The estimated minimum time commitment is 2-4 hours per month.
Expectations of participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program:
- Establish positive relationships with the Senators and Representatives (and their staff) who represent their state in the US Congress
- Build a network of grassroots advocates within their state and local context
- Encourage local affiliates and advocates to support national legislative efforts that are beneficial to the Down syndrome community by making calls, sending e-mails and meeting with elected officials at critical points in time
- Gather input from local affiliates and advocates regarding NDSS’ advocacy efforts, programs and key initiatives
- Partner with NDSS on special assignments to advance the organization’s advocacy efforts
- Make all efforts to attend the annual Buddy Walk® on Washington (a limited number of scholarships are available)
- Consider serving on their state’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) or, at a minimum, stay informed regarding the GAC’s activities
- Help to expand the number of participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program in their state by sharing information and inviting qualified advocates to join the program
- Demonstrate support for NDSS in dealings with legislators, advocates, the public and on social media
- Conduct all Ambassadorial responsibilities and communications with professionalism and respect for all parties involved
- Participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program are solely volunteers of NDSS, and shall not use the name NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program on emails and social media, or otherwise represent themselves as speaking on behalf of NDSS unless authorized by NDSS to do so
Expectations of NDSS to participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program:
- Organize quarterly business phone calls to provide legislative and program updates
- Offer tools needed for successful advocacy including talking points and templates for meeting requests, press releases and letters to the editor
- Sponsor the annual two-day Buddy Walk® on Washington conference and advocacy training
- Issue Advocacy Alerts regarding priority issues
- Provide e-newsletters every other month featuring important information and happenings at NDSS and in the Down syndrome community
- Provide free educational webinars conducted by NDSS and other national experts on topics related to Down syndrome such as health, education, research and family life
- Facilitate relationships among advocates for information sharing and support
- Respond to requests via e-mail and phone for guidance and advice on pursuing legislative initiatives
Application for the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program
To explore the possibility of participating in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program, the first step is to submit an online application by following this link. You will be contacted soon after you submit the application. If you have questions about the application process or would prefer a hard copy of the application, please contact Jawanda Mast, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program Business Calls
NDSS holds quarterly webinars for participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR™ Program to provide legislative and program updates. Slides and recordings from the webinars are e-mailed to participants and posted on the program's Facebook page. If you are a participant in the program and need the information to be resent, please contact NDSS Advocacy & Public Policy Associate, Julie Ryan-Silva, at email@example.com.