Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Know Thy Power," Speaker Pelosi's Chief of Staff Advises Girls

The New Moon delegation met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff, Terri McCullough, at 11 am on Wednesday, March 21st. Ms. McCullough thanked the girls for coming and began the meeting by explaining that one of Speaker Pelosi’s favorite sayings is “Know Thy Power.”

“You have a lot to say, and your voice needs to be heard,” Ms. McCullough said. She said that Speaker Pelosi brought all the children in the audience up to the podium with her when she was sworn in because she believes children are important and she wants to make their lives better.

The New Moon girls then asked what Speaker Pelosi is doing to address their top three concerns—the environment, health care, and girls’ education. Ms. McCullough said that those three issues are very important to Speaker Pelosi. She explained what Speaker Pelosi is doing to help provide health insurance for people who can’t afford it and to help students pay for college. She said the Speaker believes it is very important for the U.S. to put more money toward education. She said it’s a big challenge to find a way to provide the funding, but that it has to happen.

In response to the girls’ concerns about the environment, Ms. McCullough explained that Speaker Pelosi is putting together a Select Committee on Energy, which brings expert members of Congress together to work on global warming and energy independence.

“People are really starting to listen to the concerns about global warming, and we’ve got to take action now,” Ms. McCullough said. “We don’t have much time.”

Sophia, one of the girls in the meeting, asked Ms. McCullough if Speaker Pelosi is interested in increasing women’s studies in public schools. Ms. McCullough responded that the Speaker believes Women’s History Month should be every month.

“It’s great to highlight women’s accomplishments in March, but we should be doing that all the time,” she said.

During the conversation, the subject of a potential woman President of the U.S. came up. Ms. McCullough said that some of our strengths as girls and women are that we like to work in teams and build coalitions to help solve problems. If a woman becomes President, she hopes that is a trait that will help our nation.

“It’s a very exciting time,” she said.

She also cautioned our group, however, that Speaker Pelosi’s party just got back into the majority and that it is going to take some time before girls will start seeing the changes they are asking for.

“You all being here today is a really important way to influence public policy,” Ms. McCullough said. “The most eloquent voice a member of Congress can hear is that of a constituent.” She encouraged the girls to email, write, and call the offices of their representatives in Congress, and to make appointments to see the Congresspeople who deal directly with any particular issue that they care about.

“Leader Pelosi would love to hear more from you,” Ms. McCullough concluded. “Your voices are critical—it’s very important that you influence public policy in the future. I hope you will stay in touch with our office.”

Thanks again to Terri for meeting with us, and thanks for the commemorative buttons!

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