Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Weller
Legislative Relations Service Intern
Too often, legislative issues that impact people’s lives are viewed only as line items in budgets with corresponding dollar amounts. When the issue is cellular therapy, those numbers represent people. Sharing compelling patient stories with Members of Congress brings those numbers to life, and is essential to enlisting their support for in our life-saving mission.
As a Legislative Relations Service Intern for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match, Nicole Weller played a key role with the Health and Public Policy team when she joined the team in June.
“It was an incredible opportunity to be able to help develop the first ever Advocacy Ambassador Leadership Summit. I was involved in everything from creating content to selecting All Star Advocates and volunteers. We taught over 50 volunteers from across the nation how to engage their elected officials to make access to cellular therapy a priority.”
The C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program (operated by the NMDP/Be The Match) is authorized by Congress to advocate on behalf of patients. The Health and Public Policy team works tirelessly to remove barriers and ensure that all patients in need, including Medicare beneficiaries, have equal access to bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants.
As Nicole said, no one is a better advocate than those whose own lives have been impacted by legislative decisions. “Gaining the work experience was invaluable,” Nicole said, “But the greatest reward was being able to work with all the amazing survivors, patients, caregivers, donors, couriers, health care professionals. They all had such great insights and remarkable stories to share.”
The Advocacy Ambassador Leadership Summit was so popular in its first year, applicants had to be wait listed for next year. Jessica Knutson, Government Relations Manager said, “The passion of these volunteer Ambassadors, demonstrates tremendous potential to grow the program next year and have even more impact on Capitol Hill as we forward our mission of saving more lives through cellular therapy.”
“This internship has been both challenging and extremely beneficial towards my future aspirations,” Nicole said. “I decided to go into the Public Sector for the sole reason of helping others. I’m currently working towards my Master of Arts in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University. I’ve been greatly inspired by my co-workers and the NMDP/Be The Match community. I encourage everyone to get involved with Be The Match, join the registry, volunteer and be an advocate. It will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.”
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