Having spent the past week working for AAPD, I am amazed by the amount of work that goes into developing public policy. The sheer number of people, organizations, coalitions, meetings, conference calls, follow-up emails, policy reports, sign-on letters, action items and blog posts involved in pushing a single piece of legislation (or perhaps a paragraph within a piece of legislation) is rather remarkable, not to mention the money that goes into funding it all (or the money that goes into raising the money to fund it all).
My experiences over the past week along with my experience working as an intern at GLSEN last summer have allowed me to learn about the behind-the-scenes work done by hundreds of advocacy groups in DC. Two weeks ago I knew little about the efforts that went into the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet the collective (and often hidden) efforts of disability activists, congressional staffers, and politicians has had a huge impact on my life.
Watching the often tedious work done by AAPD staff every day gives me a new appreciation for their efforts to ensure that people with disabilities have the ability to live free of the stigma and barriers that still exist. Perhaps my biggest take-away from this week has been the importance of the (often not so glamorous) little things in making advocacy work.
In a little over a week I will begin working for Del. Eni Faleomavaega and, in between answering constituent calls and making copies, I hope to learn more about the other side of the policy-making process.