DS-Ambassadors 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 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 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 DS-Ambassador program to 435 DS-Ambassadors – one for each congressional district in the US
DS-Ambassadors’ efforts are crucial to the success of NDSS.
Learn more about what motivates some of our DS-Ambassadors with the DS-Ambassador Pinterest board.
Expectations of DS-Ambassadors
NDSS DS-Ambassadors are valued volunteers, yet do not receive compensation for their services. The estimated minimum time commitment for NDSS DS-Ambassadors is 2-4 hours per month.
Expectations of DS-Ambassadors:
- 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 NDSS DS-Ambassadors 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
- NDSS DS-Ambassadors are solely volunteers of NDSS, and shall not use NDSS DS-Ambassador titles 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 DS-Ambassadors:
- 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 to inform NDSS DS-Ambassadors and other advocates of 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
How Do You Get Involved?
To explore the possibility of becoming a DS-Ambassador, the first step is to submit an application. We will soon post an electronic version of the application on the website. Until then, those interested in becoming a DS-Ambassador should contact Jawanda Mast, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, at email@example.com.
DS-Ambassador Business Calls
NDSS holds quarterly business phone calls to provide legislative and program updates. Click below to review the slides only or the full recording of recent business calls.
August 2015: Slides / Full recording of business call
June 2015: Slides / Full recording of business call
March 2015: Slides / Full recording of business call