People with disabilities share their stories with federal lawmakers

By Jason Golden 04/26/2021

Disability employment policy takes center stage on Capitol Hill during virtual Grassroots Conference

The SourceAmerica® Grassroots Advocacy Conference will bring over 50 nonprofit agency leaders and people with disabilities from across the United States together to advocate on disability employment-related issues.

From April 26-30, self-advocates will gather online to discuss barriers to employment in their communities and how the AbilityOne® Program, one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, has played a role in their careers. Through self-advocacy, story-sharing, and training, these individuals will be empowered to share their employment journey with peers and members of Congress.

“The SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference is a unique, but critical, way for self-advocates to directly reach members of Congress who are making the very decisions that affect job opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Richard Belden, SourceAmerica Interim President and CEO. “I am thankful for all the members of Congress and their staff who have chosen to spend their valuable time engaging with our passionate advocates on this important topic.”

Connect. Create. Change.

This year’s theme, “Connect. Create. Change.” highlights the importance of collaboration between hundreds of nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica network, the talented individuals they employ, and the members of Congress who decide on national disability employment policy.

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, (D-N.J.), an active supporter and advocate for the rights and employment of people with disabilities, shared a pre-recorded statement with conference attendees.

“The work of SourceAmerica – and the work you’ve done over the past 45 years – including championing the rights of individuals with disabilities and creating a more inclusive workforce, is truly inspiring,” said Sherrill.

During the conference, self-advocates have the chance to share their experiences with other attendees and the virtual audience during a “Celebration of Stories.” This event provides a platform for these essential members of the workforce to showcase how having employment options has changed their lives.

The conference, emceed by disability advocate and Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte, will also provide advocacy training sessions for nonprofit agency leadership and self-advocates. Nearly 200 congressional meetings are scheduled to take place over the five-day conference.

For people like Candace Hartley, the SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference means she can tell her story directly to members of Congress. Hartley, who is employed by Palmetto Goodwill in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of more than 50 people with disabilities selected to take part in the virtual conference. “Our nation’s lawmakers need to know that their decisions have a profound effect on the employment prospects of people with disabilities.”/p>

About SourceAmerica

SourceAmerica connects government and corporate customers to a national network of approximately 700 nonprofit agencies that hire a talented segment of the workforce – people with disabilities. Established in 1974, SourceAmerica is committed to increasing economic and social inclusion and advocating for a more accessible future of work for people with differing abilities. As a leading job creator within the disability community and distinguished as an AbilityOne authorized enterprise, SourceAmerica harnesses the momentum and boosts the capability of its network and customers. To learn more, visit and follow the organization on Facebook (@SourceAmerica), Twitter (@SourceAmerica), Instagram (@SourceAmerica), and LinkedIn (@SourceAmerica).