In the second session of NFIB’s members-only “Path to Public Service” program, NFIB members share what they’ve learned by becoming appointed officials
On Oct. 14, NFIB members Cade Joiner, owner of Shred-X, and Diana Petrak, owner of Colorado Policy Pathways, shared their stories of becoming appointed public officials in their states, and their journeys since joining NFIB. NFIB’s Senior National Political Director Sharon Sussin facilitated the discussion alongside Nancy Bocskor, a civic engagement and democracy coach, during NFIB’s second Path to Public Service virtual event for NFIB members. The virtual event focused on the process of being appointed to a commission, board, or task force in local, state, and federal government, and the different issues Cade and Diana were able to speak to in their public roles. The session is now available for all NFIB members to watch on-demand.
Cade learned the importance of public service at an early age when his grandfather served in the Georgia state legislature, and he has found meaningful ways to serve his state and his community through NFIB. Cade became a member of NFIB in 2008 because he didn’t have much spare time while building his business and he wanted to join an organization that he could count on to focus on the legislation that would affect him and his business.
NFIB’s Georgia State Director Nathan Humphrey and Grassroots Manager Hunter Loggins are diligent about providing policy updates and finding new ways to get members involved. “They keep us all informed about what’s going on in the Capitol and provide us with easy ways to get involved, and they’re also respectful of our time,” Cade describes. “They know we have to run our businesses, but they find ways to plug us in that are meaningful and that don’t require a lot of our time, which I greatly appreciate.”
Cade mainly talked about his position as co-chair of the Georgians First Commission. Cade volunteered on Governor Brian Kemp’s campaign and served on his inaugural committee before becoming co-chair. Creating the Georgians First Commission was one of Gov. Kemp’s first actions after he was elected. The top three accomplishments of Georgians First Commission were:
- Hosting a symposium on procurement to explain how to become a contractor for the state
- Recommending that Gov. Kemp name a director of small business outreach in the Department of Economic Development
- Georgia being named the number one state in the country for small business by the Cato Institute
Diana first got involved because NFIB’s mission aligned with her own. She became more interested in state policies and now supports NFIB through the policy research her business conducts.
“Contrary to Georgia, the regulatory load in Colorado just keeps getting heavier. The costs, the risks keep getting higher and there’s just not near enough concern about that,” Diana explains.
Diana was studying paid family leave and looking at its impacts in other states and countries. The Colorado Legislature introduced paid family and medical leave legislation for the fifth time, but when it stalled, a task force to study the issue was created in 2019. Diana was appointed to the state’s Family and Medical Leave Implementation (FAMLI) Task Force to represent the authentic voice of small businesses. The effects paid family and medical leave would have on small businesses were glossed over until Diana pushed to publish an addendum to the task force’s final document, which itemized how the job protection portion of the program would introduce costs on businesses.
“I knew it would be an honor to serve on the state’s FAMLI Task Force and that it would be a really great learning opportunity for me,” says Diana. “I knew I had to bring our voice to what would probably be a pretty difficult conversation. But NFIB’s work at the Capitol is recognized and admired. So it was really based on [NFIB’s Colorado State Director Tony Gagliardi’s] recommendation that I was able to get the appointment and became one of thirteen on that task force.”
For other NFIB members looking to be nominated to appointed positions and to get involved, Cade’s advice is to, “Raise your hand and ask for an opportunity to volunteer. There are…thousands, of appointed positions. Get to know your local state and federal officials and ask questions.”
“It only takes one very small personal experience as a business owner and people listen,” Diana explains. “It does stand out. Sometimes the other perspectives start to sound a little bit the same. So when a small business walks into the room and says something fresh, even though it seems like a small detail, they do listen.”
NFIB will be hosting one final session for members in the Path to Public Service series. Learn more at the Run for Office event on Oct. 28 at 2:00 p.m. ET. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please reach out to NFIB Regional Political Manager Matthew Woolley at [email protected].