SourceAmerica connects to the Hill
The SourceAmerica Government Affairs team is responsible for the development and execution of SourceAmerica's national advocacy strategy. They accomplish this by collaborating with members of Congress with the goal of protecting and increasing employment opportunities for professionals with disabilities.
At the beginning of 2020, the Government Affairs team collaborated with leaders on Capitol Hill to bring key disability employment stakeholders together on a regular basis. They began piloting a new state advocacy program known as State Hill Days. Each month, Government Affairs planned to target a different state in order to enhance the engagement between congressional leaders and the nonprofit agencies that work directly with SourceAmerica. All nonprofits in a particular state were invited to come to Washington, D.C. to meet in-person with members of their state congressional delegation. The initial State Hill Day was successfully held in February with nonprofit agencies from the state of Washington. However, plans to host Virginia nonprofits in March were dropped once the COVID-19 pandemic began.
At the outset of the pandemic in the U.S., SourceAmerica recognized the importance of continuing to have its nonprofit agencies share their concerns and challenges with their members of Congress. The pivot for this project was sudden, but ultimately worthwhile. SourceAmerica started to set up virtual meetings for the nonprofits with select members of Congress. These virtual meetings began in late March, targeting members who sit on key House and Senate committees overseeing the development of COVID-19-related relief legislation. These meetings provided insight for both the nonprofits and for the congressional delegations themselves.
Once COVID-19-related relief legislation was passed, SourceAmerica continued to provide this virtual forum for nonprofits to share their experiences with challenges and successes during the pandemic, including the impact it was having on their employees.;
As SourceAmerica and its stakeholders head into the waning days of summer and into the fall, over 130 virtual meetings with members of Congress have been held across 27 states, involving nearly 100 different nonprofit agencies. These conversations have enhanced communication between organizations and their federal lawmakers. Unable to host in-person State Hill Days, SourceAmerica began to hold virtual State Hill Weeks, enhancing the virtual experience.
The Government Affairs team also hosted a virtual panel for nonprofit agencies with U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) Rep. Beyer highlighted the value of the connection between SourceAmerica and its many stakeholders, saying, "Americans with disabilities face great difficulty finding jobs and helping to remove those hurdles is good for the disability community and for businesses. Everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve professional success, and Congress can do much more to help address these disparities. I am proud to partner with advocates and organizations who push solutions that make workplaces in this country more inclusive."
Staying engaged with key members of Congress has proven to be a successful strategy for SourceAmerica. As a result of continued legislative efforts, H.R. 4920 was passed and became law this summer. This law addresses contractual rules with the previously enacted Veterans Affairs Rule of Two, improving employment opportunities for professionals with disabilities on federal contracts. Additionally, U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced a resolution in the Senate to express appreciation and support for essential employees with disabilities or who are blind during the ongoing pandemic. These high-profile successes are just some of the results that the SourceAmerica Government Affairs team has delivered so far in 2020 – a year that our nation will remember for generations to come.