Intern Diary: Campaigning for AARP

by Thomas Falcigno, JMC '17

Thomas Falcigno
August 04, 2016

When people hear the company name AARP, they usually think of two things, discounts and old people, when in reality, AARP does so much more. This summer, I had the opportunity of interning with the Community, State, and National Affairs Team of AARP at their national headquarters in Washington, DC.
This group is one of the main lobbying and campaign arms of the organization and works on a range of issues relating to our aging population in the United States.
I mainly worked on AARP’s I Heart Caregivers campaign, where we worked with state legislatures and the federal government to pass laws to support family caregivers. For example, one of the laws we worked on passing is known as The CARE Act, which stands for The Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act. This law aims to support family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.
In order to lobby legislators to pass certain laws, personal stories are critical. One of my main responsibilities was to work with family caregivers across the country and record their stories, which we would then use in our campaign materials. In some cases, we would also recruit these caregivers to lobby their own legislators back at home.
One of the most memorable experiences of working at AARP was our annual lobby day that was held in June. Members of AARP descended on Capitol Hill from every state in the nation to meet with their respective members of the House of Representatives and Senate to discuss issues such as but not limited to tax credits for family caregivers and how to make social security solvent.
On this day, I was responsible for tweeting pictures of meetings with members and attending meetings with AARP volunteers and their representatives. Hearing these issues discussed not only made me realize the importance of them in the present, but also made me realize how one day, these same issues will impact our generation for years to come.
The School of Media and Public Affairs at GW thoroughly prepared me for this internship. I applied my knowledge of political communication and social media to identify how we can best use family caregiver stories to effectively push our agenda items and get them passed across the country.
Interning at AARP was truly a wonderful experience that taught me so much about issue campaigning, social media, and government affairs. Most importantly, AARP impressed on me the value of being able to effectively communicate, which can lead to producing results and achieving your goals, both personally and professionally.    

Thomas Falcigno
Major: Political Science/Journalism and Mass Communications
Minor: History