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Government Relations: Know the mission

Government Relations: Know the mission

Ike IsaacsonQ. How do I work with legislators that I don’t agree with? 

A. Advocate for policy not party! One of my greatest sources of pride in my role is that people really don’t know what “party” I affiliate with. I do have my leanings, and to be sure, I have a core set of beliefs. However, in my role, my focus must be different than in my personal life. To maintain this focus, I have something that I remind myself of any time that my personal and professional role meander toward conflict. 

What’s the mission? 

I worked in the non-profit sector for many years, cobbling together money so that people that needed support could live independently. In one of my roles, I was working through the annual budget with my finance committee. One of the members of that committee was a nun from a local order. At one point in the meeting, I was expressing concern over a revenue line item that appeared to have too much margin in it, at least from a non-profit perspective. When I was done expressing my concern, she snapped at me (playfully…I think), “Ike, without margin, there is no mission!” 

Mission matters! 

That line has stayed with me for more than 20 years now. I’m reminded of that any time I have a “personal conflict” going into a meeting with a legislator of either party. At the end of the day, if we don’t advocate to create an equitable health care system for our patients, and they, in turn, are no longer able to get the care and service they need to stay independent, where are we?   

Our mission is to serve people, and to do that, we must engage with our elected officials, regardless of our personal leanings. Focus on the people you service and the goals of your business, and always remember that “without margin, there is no mission!” 

Mike “Ike” Isaacson is senior vice president of government relations at VGM & Associates. Reach him at [email protected].


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