Hey Allison, I'm interested in this idea and it's very much in my wheelhouse. A few questions:
What results have you seen from the previous cybersecurity/AI workshops, aside from continued participation—have you seen signs that staffers are bringing what they’ve learned to their offices and impacting policy?
How are the participating staffers chosen/recruited? (Are you targeting offices strategically?)
What would you do if you only hit your minimum funding target of $75k?
How did you decide that quarterly workshops would be the ideal frequency?
I worry that quarterly workshops will saturate busy staffers’ interest and that you'd get diminishing returns from both your own time commitment in organizing this, and for asking for so much time from others. Intuitively I would’ve assumed that 2/yr would be better, especially considering events in the same general realm that other organizations, such as the Center for Health Security, run. (Incidentally, have you been in touch with CHS about this? Just curious if you'd considered a collab, not a criticism if not.)
For other regrantors' context, I have a strong positive impression of this proposal, because it resonates with my understanding of the field and shows thoughtfulness in many key points:
Policy is very relational and driven by attention; the line about maintaining involvement and interest in a biosec community really inspires my confidence.
The biosecurity field is in an odd place, attention-wise—there’s been a combination of momentum from some parties and (COVID) fatigue from others. I think the timing is good for an effort like this one, aimed at building core understanding of biosec outside of COVID.
Colleagues and partner organizations I know have been very pleased with the outcomes of workshops. (Eg my boss made a major strategy update for our whole org based on success he saw with a workshop.)
I initially thought that some other organization would have covered a project like this, but to my surprise, when I considered the (outside of government) biosec organizations I know of, nobody really is handling such a general information-sharing effort.
The angle (Congressional staffers) is a little under-approached, to my understanding. (I've been hearing more about targeting the executive branch, but this just could be a coincidence.)
The research-policymaker connection is vital but breaking out of silos/getting people's attention/finding the right levers is always difficult; targeting that goal in particular is very thoughtful and valuable.