Janssen Focuses On Advocacy During Gaddis Lecture

Chris JanssenChris Janssen graduated from Central Methodist University in 2009, and since has gone on to pursue his passion for promoting advocacy and fighting for causes that are important to him. 

Janssen presented “Advocacy Everywhere: Lessons Learned From Influencing Public Policy” during CMU’s 35th annual Merrill E. Gaddis Lecture, which was held at CMU’s main campus in Fayette on Thursday, Oct. 11.

As the regional advocacy coordinator for Missouri REALTORS®, Janssen promotes advocacy for property rights. He primarily works with local REALTOR® boards, associations, and individual brokers, but also works with local REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) and Advocacy committees to develop plans for candidate recruitment and endorsements, elected official engagement, collaboration with stakeholders, and volunteerism.

“Advocacy is not just about influencing public policy – I think, now, it’s about influencing public opinion,” Janssen said during his lecture at Central. “If you can control the opinion, you can control the policy.”

According to Janssen, a broad range of activities are involved with advocacy campaigns, including research, public education, lobbying, voter education, and funding – all combined to influence public policy.

Janssen spoke in depth about identifying problems, devising strategies, making progress, and ultimately working toward achieving solutions. 

Once a problem is defined, Janssen highlighted the importance of finding root causes by simply asking “why?” in order to draft a path to move forward. Mapping out the internal and external forces is crucial, he said, which includes identifying the players involved, how they will be impacted, and what their responses will be.

“The better we understand those, the more likely we’ll achieve the desired result,” he said. 

It is important to select the right tools to achieve the overall goal, according to Janssen, who said there is great value in figuring out ways to persuade people to change their minds. With that said, as part of the process, one must reach out to the undecided, rally those who share the same views, and initially avoid those who may be opposed. 

Measuring goals and outcomes – both immediate and long term – is another pivotal step. “If you don’t evaluate the impact of what you’ve achieved, what’s the point?” Janssen said.

Most importantly, Janssen spoke about how one must trust the process, adapt, and never stop when working toward a plan.

“Even if you don’t succeed, you have to learn from your tactics, figure out how to implement them in the future, and change your campaign for the next time around,” he said. “The most successful advocates never say ‘mission accomplished’ – they continue the education of the public. There’s always more work to do.”

Janssen graduated from Central Methodist with honors in political science. He was recruited by both the University’s Honors Program and Eagles varsity football program, and was awarded the 2009 Judge Andrew J. Higgins Award for Excellence in Pre-Law Studies.

While working for Missouri REALTORS®, he earned an MPA from the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri with an emphasis in public policy and non-profit management. 

The Gaddis Lecture is sponsored by CMU’s Kappa Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu, which was established in 1935 by Dr. Merrill Gaddis (1891-1958), who was professor of history and later chair of the History and Political Science Department. He served at CMU – then Central College – for nearly 30 years.

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