No Off Season for Advocacy
Susan Cottle Madden,Guest Editor

With the beginning of baseball season, I am reminded that there is no off season for a winning advocacy effort. So, as the Maryland General Assembly completes its work on April 8, now is the time to prepare for the 2014 season!  


Any winning advocacy effort has at its foundation the "Four Ps."  You must be Pleasant, Purposeful, Persistent, and Passionate. And, a really smart advocate knows there is a "fifth P" -advocacy is like parenting because your job is never done.   So, once the session comes to an end get some rest, maybe take in an Orioles game, and gear up for the season ahead.  


Be pleasant!

It should seem obvious what it means to be pleasant. But, so often today with our hectic schedules we seem to let our "Emily Post" fall to the wayside. Always take the time to say please and thank you. Don't let your passion for an issue get the best of you-"be calm and carry on!" Use the spring to take time to thank the staff and elected officials you worked with during the session.


Be purposeful!  

Know what you want and ask for it. So many caring and passionate advocates will make a compelling case on a policy matter or budget issue and fail to close the deal. Why--because they don't clearly articulate a specific request or they simply don't ask. First rule of politics- you don't ask, you don't get. Also don't assume a long time proponent knows your needs as well as you do. Elected officials are inundated with requests and are expected to make decisions about a multitude of policy and budget matters.   Make it easy for them to help you. If they have to do research or read a lengthy policy paper, your request is likely to end up on the bottom of a "to do" list. Make your case-be clear and concise. Make your ask-simple and definitive.  


During the summer months craft your legislative agenda. Get input from stakeholders and potential sponsors. Clarify your needs and hone your message.


Be persistent!

Even the best players strike out. Babe Ruth known as the "Sultan of Swat" led the American League in strikeouts five times.   Setbacks just provide you the opportunity to reframe your message or modify your ideas to fit within a policy discussion that has currency. Do your post-session "stats" analysis-did you garner more votes this session, pick up more sponsors or get a portion of the bill got adopted? Use this analysis to chart your course for next session. A series of small victories can lead to meaningful and lasting change.    


Be Passionate!

You must be the most enthusiastic fan for your issue.   Demonstrate-ooze- your commitment to the issue or policy. How? Remember the old adage- facts tell and stories sell! Certainly, any serious effort must be backed by data-data buys you credibility.   But, stories linger and last. Connect lawmakers to the issue directly through meaningful stories that get to essence, the heart of an issue. During the fall start assembling telling data and find the stories that will make your issue resonate with decision-makers.


Advocacy is like parenting-it's a year round job!

Advocacy in Maryland like in any other state is a 365 days of the year job-not just the 90 days of the Maryland General Assembly session. Start now to enhance your knowledge about decision-makers, build your relationships with your lawmakers and make new friends. Bring lawmakers to your company to see the work you do. Celebrate success with decision-makers. Ask them for certificates or proclamations to recognize your good work. Invite the executive branch staff or lawmakers for tours, to participate in panel discussions or to speak to your organizations. Go find new partners who share your passion for your issue and begin to work together.  


Every sports team knows you win ballgames with preparation in the off session. Start brainstorming ideas today and begin implementation on April 9-well perhaps May 1 will do! The 2014 session is really just around the corner! Until then, see you at Camden Yards!



 Susan Cottle Madden is the Chief Government Relations Officer for Montgomery College-Maryland's largest community college. Her career has included work in Maryland House of Delegates, for Montgomery County and on the staff at the Montgomery County Council along with political campaign experience. 

Joanne T. Davis, A "True Servant Leader"

Joanne Davis, Synergies Partner, was inducted into the Howard County Women's Hall of Fame on March 7. One of her many supporters noted that "Joanne is a true 'servant' leader to the Howard County Community. Servant leadership is based on the premise assuring that other people's highest priority needs are being served as opposed to their own agenda."


In addition to working for the University of Maryland's Center for Quality and Productivity, Joanne served in local government and in banking. She has long been committed to volunteering with non-profits, including Leadership Howard County, the National Family Resiliency Center, Howard Community College, Howard County Tennis Patrons, Foundation against HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, The Columbia Foundation, and makingCHANGE - A Financial Wellness Center.


People who make generous commitments to others do not expect recognition, and Joanne is no exception. However, she received the Leadership Legacy Award in 2012, the Honorary Associate of Arts Degree from Howard Community College in 2007, and the Distinguished Leadership and Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2002.


Joanne knows the people in her community and the issues that affect them. She keeps her friends informed about events and motivates others to be involved and to appreciate the benefits of giving time and resources to non-profits. As part of her work with Synergies Consulting Group, she helps organizations with problem-solving and with improving leadership skills of boards and directors.


Joanne is available to apply her experience and expertise in human resources, workforce and quality management to solve problems for your organization. Contact Joanne at

SCG Partners Mary Ellen Duncan and Barbara Lawson congratulate Partner Joanne Davis on her induction into the Howard County Women's Hall of Fame for 2013. Duncan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 and Lawson was a 2002 honoree.
Community Events to Note: Spring, 2013

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, Planned Parenthood of Maryland will celebrate its 8th annual Right to Shoes at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East. A VIP reception and gourmet hors d'oeuvres and desserts will fuel you for participation in the silent and live auctions. Look for registration and more information at


The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research is holding its annual Fiesta 5K Run for ALS Research on Saturday, May 4.

Since its founding in 2000, the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins has remained the only international scientific operation dedicated solely to curing ALS, a motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Packard's approach is unique in that they combine real scientific collaboration and research with fundraising for the development of new treatments. Sign up with a team or come down solo to join those who want to help find a cure for ALS. For more information, go to

About Us

Synergies Consulting Group provides the leadership and management experience to help clients build more effective and profitable organizations. Our experience informs our solutions. We listen closely to our clients and devise solutions to meet their specific needs. For more information visit