Learn the Lessons of Effective Advocacy at the State Capitol

Oklahoma City — The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) annually holds two conferences, one to shape policies that will benefit the youth of Oklahoma and the other to educate advocates about how to be more effective when pursuing policy changes with lawmakers.

This latter gathering, called the OICA Legislative Learning Lab (LLL), assembles experts who discuss a variety of topics about aspects of the legislative process. This year, our conference will be blended with the first three days done virtually, and the final day either virtual or in-person.

I am sure many people think back to the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon with the song “I’m Just a Bill” or to the lessons they had in high school about Oklahoma history and government, but there is so much more to the process that advocates need to know.

Beyond the deadlines faced by the Legislature, there are also different versions of bills that go through the process, along with four different types of legislation that can be considered. For one to truly be effective and make a difference in the process, one needs to know as much as possible to have that impact.

It also certainly helps to know your lawmakers at the state level, and who to contact at the other levels of government.


Thanks to the generosity of some of our donors, we can provide the virtual component free of charge to educators, journalists, nonprofit employees and board members, collaborative partners, and students.

We have also provided free registration to Oklahomans who might want to attend, and the price is too much for their budget.

Thank you to Paycom, the Cherokee NationTSET, The Journal Record, Leadership Oklahoma, the Oklahoma AcademyBlue Cross Blue Shield’s Oklahoma Caring Foundation, the Potts Family Foundation, and George Krumme for sponsoring LLL.

We also will record each session and place these conversations on our website following the conference for those who were unable to attend. While people will miss out on that live interaction with the presenters, we are confident that the recordings will still provide useful for personal, classroom, or advocacy use.

Starting on the morning of February 1, I will kick things off with an overall discussion of the system of government and how advocacy plays into that.

Over the following two days and into Monday, February 6, we will connect advocates with professionals who have great amounts of experience in the legislative process.

Monday, February 6, the final day of the Legislative Learning Lab, is also the first day of the legislative session. LLL will be conducted both in-person and virtual and will include panel discussions with lawmakers about this year’s session, tribal-state relations, and Oklahoma’s political history.

We will also have special recognitions of award winners in child advocacy that we will present at lunch on that final day. The culmination of the LLL will be viewing the governor’s “State of the State” address and concluding with a panel discussion on the speech.

Later that afternoon, we will inaugurate 2023 Kid Governor Mila O’Brien following the conference and hear the farewell address from outgoing Kid Governor Charlotte Anderson.


Those will be broadcast on our social media for people to also watch.

Please go to https://www.oica.org if you want to see a full agenda or sign up to attend; don’t forget to use the promotional code “Oklahoma” if you are someone in the special categories mentioned above to attend virtually or at a discount for in-person.

Together, we will work to better understand the process and be more effective as advocates for children.

Note: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023. According to the group’s promotional materials, “the organization was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.” The group’s mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.” Joe Dorman, whose commentaries often appear at CapitolBeatOK.com – an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed news service – is a former state legislator from Rush Springs.