Registration for this event is currently closed.


The 2023 American Counseling Association (ACA) Virtual Hill Day will kick off with a briefing on Wednesday, 1pm to 2:30pm, June 14, 2023, which will include:

  • Comprehensive training that will focus on advocacy in support of the counseling profession.
  • An overview of ACA’s legislative agenda.
  • Tips on conducting a successful Congressional meeting.

Beginning on Thursday, June 15, 2023, ACA will provide an opportunity for ACA members and leaders to meet with their representatives in Congress and advocate for the profession. ACA recognizes the importance of law makers hearing directly from their constituents on critical issues that affect the counseling community.

What to Expect

  • Participants will learn about legislative success and overcoming current legislative challenges.
  • Learn about policy areas ACA is currently focused on.
  • Learn how to support the legislative needs of the counseling profession.
  • After Day 1 you will possess the tools and resources you need to advocate effectively.

 Registration for this event is currently closed.



Lisa Pino

Lisa J. Pino, Health Innovation Fellow at The Aspen Institute

Lisa is leading a venture related to health equity across underserved communities, and a seasoned attorney with 15 years of public sector, government, and private practice experience. As a former appointee of the Obama and Biden-Harris administrations, her federal experience includes service as the Director of Civil Rights at HHS, Senior Counselor to the Secretary at DHS, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at USDA, and the USDA SNAP Deputy Administrator. Her state government experience includes acting as the Executive Deputy Commissioner at New York State's Department of Health under former Governor Cuomo during the COVID-19 public health emergency response.  

Mara Boggs, State Director in the United States Senate 

Mara has worked as a member of Senator Joe Manchin’s (WV) staff since December 2011. Mara worked in Senator Manchin’s Washington, DC office where she was the Senator’s Chief of Operations and Senior Advisor. She returned home to West Virginia to serve as Senator Manchin’s State Director in 2014, where she oversees the Senator’s operations in the state, which are focused on helping all West Virginians and developing opportunities. Because of her public service, Mara was named a West Virginia “Wonder Woman” by WV Focus magazine in 2014. She has a master’s in engineering from the University of Missouri and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Wake Forest University. She serves on various boards, including the Yeager Airport Board, and is affiliated with numerous Veterans organizations.

Mara Boggs
Sean Cleary

Sean Cleary, North Dakota State Senator

Sean was elected to the North Dakota State Senate in November 2022, where he serves as the vice chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services. He represents District 35 in the center of Bismarck, where he was born and raised, and now lives with his wife and their daughter. When the Legislature is not in session, Sean works for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, an organization dedicated to sharing the beauty of western North Dakota with visitors from throughout the country. He previously served on the staff of North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and Governor Doug Burgum.  


Kristine Blackwood, Counsel for Arnold & Porter

Kristine Blackwood has been counsel for Arnold & Porter’s legislative and public policy practice since 2015, bringing over 21 years of public service in senior positions in both chambers of Congress and two cabinet departments, where she focused on federal health care program oversight and health care policy. Kristine provides strategic counseling, coalition and advocacy campaign support, and direct lobbying services to help clients achieve their legislative and regulatory goals. She served in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Obama Administration where she was responsible for leading the department’s strategic response to Congressional oversight, audits, and investigations, including of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare and Medicaid reforms, the Indian Health Service, mental health reform, emergency preparedness, scientific research funding, the FDA drug and medical device approval process, and a host of other HHS programs. 

Kristine Blackwood
Mari Leavitt

Mari Leavitt, Washington State Representative 

Mari is a small business owner, former PTSA leader, and strong supporter of Washington’s military families. Mari joined the Washington State Legislature in January 2019 where she serves as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs and as a member of the National Committee for State Legislatures’ National Task Force for Military and Veterans Affairs. She also served as Vice Chair of the Post-Secondary Education and Workforce Committee, the Vice Chair of the Housing Committee, on the Capital Budget Committee and Rules Committee, the NCSL Education Committee and the Council of State Governments’ Education Committee as well as a member of the Washington Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons and in 2022, she was elected by her colleagues to the leadership role of Deputy Majority Whip. 

Layla Brooks, Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Troy Carter of LA02

Layla is a 5th generation DC native. She graduated from Virginia State University, an HBCU in southern Virginia, with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and political Science. Later, she graduated from George Washington University with a master’s in public administration policy. For 3 years, Layla has worked in both the Senate and House side in various offices and Committees, she currently works as a Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Troy Carter of LA02 where she handles his homeland security, education, financial services, housing, science, space, and technology.



Layla Brooks

Virtual Hill Day FAQs

    • Prior to meeting with a legislator, read her or his bio and research her or his district(s), committee assignments, number of terms served, voting record, and/or position on the issue.

    • This information is available at/accessible from: Get on the e-mail lists maintained by your legislators. 

    • Follow your legislators on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube).

  • You can go to the website of your member of Congress or you can call their office in order to set up a meeting. Please be aware that your call will most likely be answered by a staffer (individuals who assist the legislator or representative during her or his term). Identify yourself as a constituent (only if you are a constituent) and ask to speak with the legislative aide assigned to the issue that you are calling about.

    1. Plan your visit. Review the legislative calendar to know when Congress is in session. That is the time when the legislators are more likely to be on Capitol Hill or at the state capital, rather than in their district. If you are meeting during a recess period, you are more likely to meet with a staffer, who will have more time for a meeting.

    2. If possible, schedule your meeting(s) on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. . When setting up your appointment, schedule your meeting with the legislator at least 2-3 weeks in advance, as their schedule fills up quickly. If she or he is not available, arrange to meet with the staffer who directly handles your issue (usually the health care staffer).

    3. Contact the appointment secretary/scheduler to schedule your meeting. Let the appointment secretary/scheduler know that you are a member of the American Counseling Association. Be sure to say the full name of the organization. Keep in mind that ACA is also the acronym for the Affordable Care Act, as well as for many other organizations.

    4. Include the purpose of your meeting request. It is easier for staff to schedule a meeting if they know what you want to discuss and your affiliation to the area of interests represented by the legislator.

  • The best platform for virtual meetings is Zoom when meeting with a legislator or congressional staffer. Some may not appear on camera. If they do appear, and you would like to record the meeting or take a picture, please ask before doing either.

    • Although meetings are now virtual, please be sure to arrive at least five minutes prior to your meeting. If you are going from meeting to meeting, make sure you have enough time between meetings to get there.

    • Be prepared. As soon as your meeting starts, be prepared to discuss your issue and your position. Be sure to highlight important details, such as how this issue affects the legislator’s district and constituents. After your meeting, be sure to email the legislator or staffer any information (one-pagers) that you have on the issue, along with your contact information. Also, share how you and/or your organization can provide expertise on the issue to the legislators.

    • Lastly, ask for a commitment on your request from your legislator or staffer.

    • If you are having virtual meetings with a larger group, get together afterward and share what you learned, including: 1) which legislators and staffers seemed supportive or unsupportive of your issue, 2) what you learned about the prospects for your bill, next steps, etc. (pro tip: create and use a one-page evaluation sheet for each meeting to help preserve that information.)

    • Follow-up. Send the legislator or the appropriate staffer a “thank you” letter by mail or email. Thank them for meeting with you and for their commitment. Stay in contact with the legislator and the staffer you spoke with.


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