SourceAmerica hosts 25th Grassroots Advocacy Conference

By SourceAmerica 06/08/2018

People with disabilities make their voices heard on Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON – For the 25th year, people with disabilities from across the country are gathering in Washington this week to encourage Congress to support expansion of employment opportunities. SourceAmerica, a national leader in creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities, is hosting its Grassroots Advocacy Conference June 11-14 at Marriott Metro Center.

“For a quarter century, we’ve worked to ensure that people with disabilities across the nation have an opportunity to tell lawmakers directly the things that are most important to them,” said SourceAmerica Vice President of Government Affairs John Kelly. “This conference is critical to our mission and the 24 million Americans with disabilities who are currently left out of the workforce.”

Initial advocacy efforts 25 years ago started with a handful of advocates on a single day. The event now spans four days of networking opportunities and educational sessions that also include family members of employees. This year’s attendees include 56 self-advocates from 52 different nonprofits representing 33 states.

“Many of the advocates that attend our conference have never left their home town, never been on an airplane and certainly never been in a position to directly influence the laws that impact them every day,” Kelly said. “This conference is a vehicle by which these important voices are heard.”

The program has also supported the development of the AbilityOne Congressional Champions program, in which members of Congress pledge their support of disability employment. That list of supporters has grown to 166 members of Congress.

This year’s conference includes sessions led by Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy and AbilityOne Commission member; Mary Lazare, acting administrator for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and others who are hosting education sessions for self-advocates and their family members. Speakers include Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-MA and Johnny Collett, assistant secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education.