Last week, nearly 700 advocates from 48 states gathered in Washington, D.C. for the annual Disability Policy Seminar. Attendees heard from Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, Special Assistant to the President on Disability Policy Kareem Dale and were treated to a reception on Capitol Hill hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). They also had the chance to gather information from policy experts and representatives from the Obama administration about key issues for the I/DD community before spending a day in the House and Senate advocating for their cause with their elected representatives. And many attended special meet & greet sessions for self-advocates and siblings from The National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc and the National Sibling Council. If you missed this year, be sure to plan to attend the 2013 Disability Policy Seminar April 15-17 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown D.C.
For 38 years, Paul Marchand was one of the most ardent and successful disability policy advocates working on behalf of The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy and the entire intellectual and developmental disability community. Upon his retirement in January, it was obvious that our organizations would suffer if we did not immediately cultivate advocates of his caliber to eventually fill his shoes. We also couldn’t imagine letting someone like Paul walk away without doing something significant to celebrate his storied career.
With Paul’s blessing, we created The Paul Marchand Internship Fund to establish a policy fellowship supporting young people pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with I/DD. The Fund will help enable future professionals to work at an approved site in Washington, D.C. by offsetting travel expenses, helping with cost-of-living expenses or other means of assistance.
The goal is to raise $50,000 for one or two fellows in 2011. To kick off a campaign for the fellowship fund and to honor Paul in person in the company of his colleagues and friends, there will be a special reception during the annual Disability Policy Seminar in D.C. in which Paul has always played a large role. We invite you to join us Tuesday evening, February 15 in support of The Paul Marchand Internship Fund. Find out more about the Fund and The Disability Policy Seminar at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org or www.thearc.org.