Get to Know the 24%: Senator A.J. Griffin
Like many female elected officials, Senator A.J. Griffin (R-OK) was recruited to run for office by her local chamber of commerce, where she had previously served as board chair. When she was approached about running she knew that the timing was right, not only for her family, but for her as well. Senator Griffin had always been interested in the political process and had been an advocate over the years for many issues that she felt passionate about, so she felt sure that running for office was the right career choice. Senator Griffin was first elected in 2012 during a special election, and later re-elected in 2014.
As someone who has been an advocate in many difference capacities, Senator Griffin was the perfect person for the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association to come to when they wanted to update the state’s concussion protocol. As a mother of two girls who play high school soccer, Senator Griffin knew this issue was important to her and to parents of athletes everywhere, and decided to take up the cause. “Being in a state where a lot of football gets played, where a lot of kids spend a lot of time on the field, we want to make sure that the short term competitiveness of high school athletics doesn’t lead to long term health problems.” With the latest research on head trauma, along with the recent acknowledgment by the NFL of the link between football related head traumas and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it was evident to Senator Griffin that more had to be done to protect student athletes.
Previously, Oklahoma required that secondary school students participating in organized athletics receive an information sheet every year, prior to the start of the season, which outlines the signs and symptoms of concussions. With the new legislation that Senator Griffin sponsored in 2016 (SB 1164), a training component was added for coaches and game officials as well as health professionals to ensure that they know how to detect the signs and symptoms of concussions. The legislation also included penalties for violating the state’s return to play standards. Lastly, the legislation extends the statute to recommend that youth sports organizations be subject the same standards as organized high school sports. When asked if she faced any obstacles with this piece of legislation she stated that generally people were supportive, and that there is a greater understanding that, "this is truly an area of concern and not just a made up problem”.
Moving forward, Senator Griffin hopes to continue to make revisions to Oklahoma’s concussion protocols. During her break between sessions she will be meeting with stakeholders and a technology company who can help Oklahoma implement a database to track reported concussions, to further the cause. This information will be critical moving forward, as it will help the state’s lawmakers to make better, data informed decisions about concussion protocols.
About the Author
Katie Lanzarotto joined Women In Government as a Policy and Programs Associate in August 2015. Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Quinnipiac University. She came to the organization after having worked as a Legislative Aide in the Connecticut General Assembly. While at the Connecticut General Assembly, she worked for four legislators, taking care of constituent issues and working on various legislative initiatives that were of importance to her assigned legislators and to the House Democratic Caucus. Prior to working in the Connecticut General Assembly, Katie worked on various campaigns in her home state of Connecticut both during and after college and was an intern in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2012.
About Future WIG
Women In Government supports women of all ages in leadership roles, and is working hard to ensure that young women are given the resources and mentorship they need in order to achieve their goals. This program takes place at WIG Regional conferences, where WIG asks women state legislators and leaders in the private sector to encourage young women across the country to pursue leadership roles. This program is made possible by Southwest Airlines.