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Faculty, Staff, and Trainee Advocacy

Janna Gewirtz O'Brien testifies
MNAAP Board Treasurer Dr. Janna Gewirtz O'Brien Testifies in Senate Education Finance Committee in Support of Health Education Academic Standards

Dr. Janna Gewirtz O'Brien testified virtually on March 26, 2024 in favor of Senate File 3746. This bill, spearheaded by Assistant Majority Leader Mary Kunesh, mandates the adoption of health education academic standards in Minnesota schools. These standards encompass crucial topics like mental health education, vaping awareness, and education regarding sexually transmitted diseases.

Kara Beckman
Kara Beckman - Restorative Practices in Education, Legal, and Community Settings

Restorative justice approaches are increasingly being adopted in communities to address harmful and criminal behavior by young people. These practices involve trained practitioners working with those impacted and those who caused the harm to determine healing and restoration. These approaches help young people develop empathy, understand multiple perspectives, and live in accordance with their values, while shifting the narrative about criminal behavior to one where society and community share responsibility. Studies have shown promising results, with some counties achieving higher success rates and lower re-referral rates.

Rebecca Shlafer
Rebecca Shlafer - Testifies for MN House on Better Options for Children with Incarcerated Parents

Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, describes her work on the impact of incarceration on children and families during a Feb. 3, 2023 meeting of the House Corrections Division and House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division.

Photo by Mike Cook, Copyright Minnesota House of Representatives, used with permission.

Judith Eckerle
Judith Eckerle - Improving Korean Adoptions

In May of 2023, Dr. Judith Eckerle traveled to South Korea with a small group of focused, professional Korean adoptees to advocate for change in order to help children who are in orphanages or permanent foster care. Goals of the work include removing family registry requirements, creating Safe Haven Laws that allow women to bring their child to a safe place without retribution or criminal charges, and loosening laws that currently block abandoned children from being adopted. Throughout their time in Korea they spoke with former Korean ambassadors, heads of state, various CEOs and politicians and attended National Adoption Day events. This group doesn't advocate for or against adoption specifically, rather a chance for children to grow up in a family. 

If you would like your advocacy efforts featured here, please contact Matthew Stoffel.

Faculty and Staff - Example Testimonies and Writing/Media


Gewirtz-O'Brien, J., Commissioner of Health, Legislative Testimony, Minnesota Legislature for House File 2171. Commissioner of health directed to convene working groups to examine health disparities and educational achievement links for American Indian children and children of color, report required, and money appropriated. (March, 2019)

Shlafer, R., Legislative Testimony, Oregon State Legislature HB 2535 (April 26, 2023)


Gewirtz-O'Brien, J.,  Star Tribune, "Help! My Kid Wants to be a Sephora Tween", (March 18, 2024)

Shlafer, R., Drivetime with with DeRusha, "Laura, DeRush-Hour Headlines & Protecting Kids in the Digital Space", (April 3, 2024)


American Civil Liberties Union - Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs - Resource Library & Learning Modules

ChildCare Aware of America - Advocacy How-To Guides

Duke Communicator Toolkit - Writing Effective Op-Eds

Minnesota AAP - Tips for Contacting Your Representatives

Minnesota Children's Alliance - Training Opportunities & Toolkits

Minnesota Department of Public Safety - "Tips on Testifying in Criminal Court"

Minnesota Legislature - how to contact state representatives

Minnesota Legislature - bill finder & tracker

Minnesota Medical Association - Take Action advocacy opportunities

New York Times - Tips for Aspiring Op-Ed Writers

University of Kansas Center for Community Health & Development - Writing Letters to Elected Officials & Letters to the Editor

UMN Editorial Style Guide