As a new year approaches, is seems appropriate to take a few minutes and reflect on our work during the previous 12 months. Looking back, 2015 was a wildly successful year as we launched Citizen Cabinets in Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia.
Thousands of registered voters participated in the Citizen Cabinets in those states, along with a representative sample of registered voters across the United States, providing national results in addition to our state-based efforts. Citizens weighed in on the looming funding shortfall in Social Security, how to fix the U.S. Postal Service and an in-depth assessment of the multi-national agreement over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
Armed with specific recommendations from constituents, we met with dozens of congressional offices to brief members of Congress and their staffs on the findings. We’re happy to report each staffer and member with whom we spoke was very appreciative of our efforts and the data that we provided. We also met with numerous outside groups like the League of Women Voters and local citizen organizations to discuss the Citizen Cabinet initiative
The Citizen Cabinet reports generated a high level of interest from the media, garnering coverage in the major newspapers in Oklahoma (The Oklahoman, Tulsa World), Maryland (The Baltimore Sun, Annapolis Capital Gazette) and Virginia (The Virginian-Pilot, Roanoke Times). The Washington Post also published excellent news coverage on multiple occasions, as did other “Beltway” press including The Hill and the Federal Times.
Time Magazine, the New Yorker, Christian Science Monitor, Voice of America and Slate also reported on the work of our partners at the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation. The New York Times editorial board cited an Iran study in an editorial published in March. VOP President Steven Kull and Executive Director Richard Parsons were interviewed by radio and TV stations in our states, and Kull did interviews with DC-based broadcast outlets as well.
We were also successful in engaging our university partners with outreach efforts that included town hall type discussions, media appearances and op-ed submissions. The support from our bipartisan advisory board has also been outstanding and very much appreciated.
One key partnership worthy of mentioning is our new relationship with Nielsen Scarborough, which has allowed us to reach tens of thousands of potential Citizen Cabinet participants. With this, we will be able to gather important data on what American voters want their Congress to do to address pressing issues including the Defense budget, Medicare, climate and energy, poverty and many others.
Beginning in 2016, we will be developing Citizen Cabinets in the three most populous states, California, New York and Texas, as well as two crucial electoral swing states, Florida and Ohio. We are already meeting with key congressional offices and media outlets to set the stage for our work in those new regions.
Lastly, we are very grateful for the support of our friends in the public at large. Your generous financial donations and your continued interest in our work is gratifying and appreciated.
To all, our sincere thanks for your help in a successful year of giving Americans a more impactful voice in government. We look forward to ever greater successes in the year to come!