Testing the waters of legislative testimony

Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2011

Juneau’s chapter of the National Organization for Women hosted a Legislative Testimony Workshop that was open to the public. The event was small, but a real success, and included presentations on resources and effective testifying, a question and answer session with current and former legislators and assembly members, as well as a mock hearing.

Volunteer panel members included Reps. Beth Kerttula and Berta Gardner, Mayor Bruce Botelho and Assemblyman Bob Doll. Also on the panel were former Rep. Andrea Doll and voice coach, a staffer from Sen. Mark Begich’s office, former legislator and Mayor Sally Smith.

Amber King of the Association for the Education of Young Children presented on resources for watching bills, contacting legislators and scheduling to testify either in person, by telephone or via e-mail.

Barb Belknap, who has been active in women’s groups since retiring from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, presented on effective testimony giving.

Reps. Kerttula and Gardner gave up their last free Sunday before the session to bring their experience and spirit to the panel.

Botelho and Doll spoke to effective testimony giving before the legislature or the City Assembly.

Doll showed her years of teaching experience allowed her to provide excellent feedback and encouragement.

Smith provided some great constructive feedback about voice, vocal pauses, and tone.

Participants had the chance to ask legislators face to face what was effective and what they should do when they testify as well as before and after and in the stead of providing testimony. The panel had a lot of fun, some of them intently listening as they would in a real hearing, others clownishly exhibiting bad behavior to test the mettle of the participants. All the panel members offered invaluable advice and constructive feedback, while participants walked away smiling and feeling more confident in their ability to testify this session. We had five people give mock testimony on various issues, with more in attendance just to listen and learn.

This annual event, hosted by NOW, takes place each January before the legislative session begins. It is always open to any who would attend and completely free. It was held this year in the Butrovich hearing room of the Capitol, and we had support from Kerttula’s staffer Aurora Hauke and Gardner’s staffer Noah Hansen.

Melissa Griffiths

Juneau Chapter of the

National Organization for


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