{ legislative & regulatory } by Shantel Smith, Legislative & Regulatory Director How Strong Is Your Advocacy Game?

said, and will continue to say, because all are true. While it’s easy to preach those mantras, it’s harder to dive into what makes advocacy effective.


Although advocacy is defined as a public support, many times it is personal. Your effort may be on a public level—especially when involved in group efforts, like those on behalf of the MDA. However, personal actions and personally taking responsibility, that of each mem- ber, is needed to be effective. How is this achieved? This is a question that is always on our mind and one we’re always trying to answer.

One of the most important outcomes of our advocacy efforts is obviously the passage of our legislative agenda and protecting the dental profession; but even more important for the long-term game is ensuring that the MDA continues to maintain a positive reputation and is viewed as an impor- tant player in the healthcare arena. This includes building relationships with the legislature and key players in state departments and collaborating with other healthcare entities.

dvocacy is a word we hear a lot this time of year. Advocate for organized dentistry … ad- vocacy is more important than ever … we can’t afford not to advocate … all of which I have

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The MDA always has been fortunate that we have many members actively advocating for the dental profession. We have had members testify in committees, host and attend fundraisers and Missouri Dental Board meetings, attend legislative days at the Capitol, deliver checks to elected officials or those running for office, and more—but we still ask, “What else can we do to make advocacy even more effec- tive and easier for our members?”

One answer to that question is the implementation of VoterVoice this year. With this tool, we can reach out to our members in real time, as issues come up during the legislative session. Our members will re- ceive an email and a text message (if you have opted-in to receive text messages, which we highly recommend) that contains a link to a pre- written message for your legislator. The system also pre-populates your legislator’s information. When you receive the message all you do is open, review and send the message, which will appear to come you’re your own email.

These messages are designed to work toward building the personal relationship between you and your legislator—and their perception of the dental profession—as well as assist in reaching our goals for

16 focus | MAR/APR 2020 | ISSUE 2

that legislative session. This has become an incredibly useful tool for our members and advocacy efforts inside the Capitol walls in just the short time we’ve had it. Through the implementation of VoterVoice and our member’s advocacy involvement, we already have been able to defeat dangerous legislation and progress our key pieces of legisla- tion forward. I feel such satisfaction and pride when one or more legislator says in a Committee hearing, “I’ve heard from a dentist in my constituency that this legislation would be good (or bad) for them” and to know our members used the VoterVoice system to easily convey that message.

The MDA legislative team is at the Capitol day in and day out to work intimately with the legislators on your behalf, and the senators and representatives expect that. However, your personal messages and outreach are what shows the legislators that the dental profession is there and present. It’s amazing how two clicks will secure your involvement and presence in the Legislature’s mind and help mold success for the MDA. f

If you have any questions regarding legislation or regulations, MODentPAC or using the VoterVoice system, contact Shantel at

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