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State Captain Resource Toolkit

Welcome to the Hill Day State Captain Resource Toolkit for Hill Day 2020. The National Council thanks for you for your tremendous service to behavioral health’s largest advocacy event of the year. State Captains are the bedrock of our community’s success and make Hill Day the amazing, fulfilling and effective advocacy event that it is.

Download a PDF version of the State Captain Resource Toolkit.

If you have questions or need additional assistance at any time, please feel free to reach out to Malka Berro at

State Captain Timeline and Checklist

Week of February 24th – 17 weeks away:

  • Introduce yourself to registrants
  • Register for Hill Day
  • Book your hotel room
  • Download the State Captain toolkit
  • Start collecting attendee information (i.e. who their representatives are)

Week of March 2nd – 16 weeks away:

  • Reach out to your network, invite them to Hill Day

Week of April 13th10 weeks away:

  • Call your attendees, get to know them and why they’re coming to Hill Day

Week of April 27th – 8 weeks away:

  • Encourage your delegation to register and attend the Hill Day webinar

Week of May 4th – 7 weeks away:

  • Attend Hill Day webinar

Week of May 18th – 5 weeks away:

  • Start reaching out to Congressional offices and set up meetings

Week of May 25th – 4 weeks away:

  • Download policy ask issue briefs
  • Connect with National Council’s meeting strategy coaches (optional)

Week of June 8th – 2 weeks away:

  • Download the Hill Day 2020 App, encourage attendees to do the same

June 23-24th – Hill Day!

  • Post on social media with #HillDay20
  • Take photos with your legislators/their staff (and post on social media)
  • Have fun!

I. Hill Day 2020: The Basics

Tuesday, June 23: Hill Day Policy Institute

  • During this day-long event, the National Council and Hill Day Partners will provide the latest news about federal behavioral health policy, host advocacy trainings and brief attendees on the policy “asks” for Hill Day 2020.
  • Back by popular demand, we have set aside time on Day 1 for State Delegations to meet and strategize around their Hill visits. We’ll meet-up again on Day 2 over breakfast.

Wednesday, June 24: Capitol Hill Visits

  • Annual Hill Day State Delegation Meet-up: All Hill Day participants will discuss the meeting logistics for the day, led by State Captains.
  • Capitol Hill Visits: State Captains will be responsible for organizing meetings for their states’ attendees, or for delegating meeting organization to attendees’ themselves prior to Hill Day. We will not book meetings until much closer to June.

Register for Hill Day

II. Making Introductions and Contacting Attendees

  • A draft invitation to Hill Day 2020: Send this letter to your networks and encourage them to attend Hill Day. The more attendees we have, the larger our impact will be! Feel free to edit the letter as needed.
  • Keep track of the number of people registered in your state: The National Council will send weekly lists with the names, phone numbers and email addresses of people from your state who are attending.
  • A draft letter with a welcome and introductory message: Send this letter to your state’s registered attendees to thank them for participating in Hill Day, to introduce yourself and to inform attendees how they will go about meeting with their member of Congress. You will need to decide whether you are going to schedule all Hill visits or whether your attendees should schedule their own and coordinate with you. Feel free to edit the letter as needed.

PRO TIP: Call your state’s attendees well in advance of Hill Day to gain a better understanding of who they are, why they are coming, etc. This will help you strategize for Hill meetings!

III. Scheduling Hill Meetings with Legislators

State Captains are responsible for deciding how to schedule their Hill meetings. You can either schedule all meetings yourself, or you can ask someone in your state delegation to schedule meetings for your group. Both ways have been successful in the past, and we are happy to speak with you if you have questions about how to organize your delegation’s meetings.

  • State Delegation Meeting Survey: If you have a large delegation or would like a way to better organize your attendees, we can put together a survey for your delegation to fill out which members of Congress they would like to meet with. Please email if you’re interested in this option.
  • The 2020 Congressional Health Staff Directory: Find your legislators’ health care staff members and reach out to request a meeting.
  • A template letter to use to begin scheduling Hill meetings with legislators: State Captains can start reaching out to Congressional offices about six weeks out from Hill Day.
  • Hill Meeting Tracker: Input the meetings you’ve scheduled with your legislators here. This will help us track Hill Day’s reach, and ensure we are not duplicating efforts.

IV. Tips for Scheduling Meetings

The National Council recommends that you reach out to Congressional offices five-to-six weeks prior to Hill Day 2020 to schedule your meetings. Use our template letter, and feel free to customize as needed.

  • CONTENT: State that the purpose of your meeting is to discuss “federal health care policy affecting people with mental illnesses and addictions and the community providers who serve them.”
  • INFLUENCE: Request a meeting with both your legislator and their health care staff members. If you have a relationship with the member of Congress and believe you can obtain an audience with them personally, don’t hesitate to ask.
  • FLEXIBILITY: Be flexible — Congressional staff schedules are busy, so take whatever time they offer – morning or afternoon – as long as the time does not conflict with your other appointments. An ideal window of time to schedule is between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • TIME CHECK: The walk from the Hyatt to Capitol Hill will take about 10-15 minutes, so be sure to factor that in when scheduling your meetings. Also, make sure to leave plenty of time between Senate and House visits, as it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Senate side to the House side of Capitol Hill. If possible, try to schedule your Senate meetings back-to-back and group House meetings together, as best as possible.
  • SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: Finally, don’t forget that you don’t need to schedule all of the meetings. Ask others from your state to help out with scheduling. If you are delegating, remember to have them share all confirmed appointments with you so you can enter them in the registration tool!

V. The Hill Day App!

The Hill Day 2020 App is currently in development. When it’s ready, the Hill Day App will be the one-stop-shop for attendees to get up-to-date information about the event, a first look at our legislative priorities and asks and so much more! Please make sure to download it prior to the event and encourage your delegation to join you in being trendy and in the know!

VI. Become a Meeting Master

Whether this is your first Hill Day or your 10th, going to the Hill with your delegation to lobby for our priorities can be overwhelming and exhilarating. We know that it requires advanced planning and the more you plan ahead, the better! Here are a few tips on how to strategize the flow of your meetings and coordinate your delegation:

  • Before you go on the Hill, make sure you have selected a meeting lead. This person will be in charge of making sure the meeting stays on track, decides who talks when and about what issue(s) (remember to rely on the talking points provided!) You will have opportunities on both days to meet with your delegation, but feel free to get a head start on planning via email or host a conference call with your registrants before heading to D.C.
  • When you arrive at the meeting, do a quick round of introductions to let the staffer/member of Congress know who everyone is. Have each person say their name and organization.
  • Once you have introduced everyone, it’s time to talk behavioral health! The person assigned to speak about a specific issue will go over the talking points, specific asks and provide information on how it will affect their state/district. Others can also chime in and provide supplemental information, as needed.
  • Don’t feel obligated to speak about all of the policy asks. Pick two and focus on them – the leave-behind packet will provide information on the issues not mentioned.
  • Remember to make a specific “ask.” Rather than simply highlighting the policy issues encompassed by the Hill Day asks, be sure to give your legislator a specific action item. Highlight the bill numbers you are talking about, and leave them with a direct ask for their support. E.G. “Please co-sponsor the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767).”
  • Once you’ve gone through everything, ask if the staffer has any questions, and give them your business card for follow-up.
  • Before the meeting ends, make sure to thank the person you met with and reiterate that you are asking for their boss’ support on [NAME OF THE BILL] and that you hope he/she will sign on.

VII. Social Media Guide

Use the sample posts and graphics provided in this toolkit to join the Hill Day conversation on social media and encourage your members and colleagues to register. Urge your partners to join the conversation by tweeting at their Twitter handles. Remember to always use #HillDay20 when posting on Twitter.

Follow @NationalCouncil and like the National Council’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date on #HillDay20 news.

Capitol Hill

Shortened registration link for Hill Day:

Sample Tweets

We’re proud to join mental health & addiction professionals from across the US for #HillDay20. Have you registered?

We’ll be at #HillDay20 to support mental health & addiction services. Will you be there? Register today:

It’s time to do more for people living with mental health & addiction. Register for #HillDay19 to make your voice heard:

Join @NationalCouncil & 100s of fellow advocates in DC to fight for behavioral health at #HillDay20.

Protect behavioral health & addiction treatment across the nation at #HillDay20. Registration is free:

Shape the future of health policy at #HillDay20. Register for free today:

#HillDay20: your chance to make your voice heard to protect behavioral health. Learn more & register for free:

Sample Facebook and LinkedIn Posts

On June 23-24, join the National Council and hundreds of fellow advocates in Washington, D.C., to fight for mental health care and addiction treatment across the nation. Register for Hill Day today (registration is free):

We will be in Washington, D.C., June 23-24 at the National Council’s Hill Day 2020 to urge Congress to pass crucial mental health and addiction legislation. Learn more and register for Hill Day:

Make your voice heard to protect behavioral health and shape the future of health policy at Hill Day 2020. Learn more about Hill Day and register for free:

VIII. Common Issues and Solutions

Although we always hope things will go off without a hitch, issues can still occur. Here is a list of the most common issues State Captains run into and tips on how to overcome them. Have you run into any challenges or have any questions not listed here? Let us know!

Issue: Attendees make their own appointments and don’t keep you informed.
Solution: Make sure you’re communicating often and make your expectations clear. Sending out regular emails with updates on the meetings you’ve scheduled and asking your delegation to add to the list based on meetings they’ve scheduled can help solve any scheduling issues. We will also be monitoring when appointments are made through our online registration tool and we will keep you updated on anything that seems out of place.

Issue: A large number of your delegation wants to attend the same meeting.
Solution: Don’t worry! If you anticipate having a large number of people for a given meeting, ask for a large meeting room – most offices can easily accommodate you! And don’t forget that there will be individuals from outside of your direct network attending Hill Day, so make sure that you include them in your meetings and delegate some responsibility to them. It’s also acceptable to limit the number of attendees in your meetings – you can let your delegation know you are setting up meetings on a first-come first-served basis.

Issue: Last year, my attendees went off message. What can I do to prevent that from happening this year?
Solution: Communication is the key to a successful attendee-State Captain partnership. Reach out to your attendees beforehand and utilize your time on Tuesday to strategize for your Hill meetings. If you feel comfortable, designate yourself or someone else as a lead for each of the meetings to help everyone stay on track.

Issue: Someone who has volunteered to take the lead on scheduling a specific meeting doesn’t follow through.
Solution: If Hill Day is a few weeks away and you still haven’t heard from your lead about specifics, it is time to pass the torch! Even if someone seems super-enthusiastic early on, other things can come up. If you notice they’re not meeting expectations, ask someone else you trust to take over rather than waiting to hear from them.

Issue: Attendees want to know the specifics around what issues they’ll be lobbying on during their visits.
Solution: Let them know that we try to be as current as possible and don’t release the “asks” until a couple of weeks prior to the big event – but promise they’ll have everything they need to be the best advocates out there. Explain that this year, we will post issue briefs on the asks one month before Hill Day, which should give everyone some time to research before they arrive!

Have you encountered any other issues? Let us know and we’ll help you brainstorm.

THIS YEAR, we will publicly post issue briefs on all 2020 “asks” one month before Hill Day!

IX. Final Thoughts

It is okay to delegate your responsibilities. Just because you’re the State Captain, doesn’t mean you must do all the work. Don’t forget that we are all in this together. Make sure to include everyone from your state in your outreach and communications regardless of which organization they’re with!

For any additional comments, questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Malka Berro at