Sunday, July 1, 2012

My busy week in the Capitol!

What an exciting week!  First, all the AAPD interns were guests at the United Spinal Roll on Capitol Hill Awards Reception.  This year’s awards winners were Representatives James Langevin and John Carter, and Senator Tom Harkin.  I had the privilege of meeting Senator Harkin at the reception, and he graciously posed for photographs with me and several other interns.  It was a true honor to meet someone as committed to disability rights as Senator Harkin is. 

Left to right are: Angela Davis, Rob Stewart, Dwight Kelly, Theresa Taylor, Senator Tom Harkin, and Carrie Hall.

I also had the opportunity to meet United Spinal’s President and CEO, Paul Tobin.  I learned that he is also a social work student, studying for his PhD at Fordham.  I talked with him about the some social work MSW/PhD combined programs that I was looking into, and Mr. Tobin was very knowledgeable and helpful.  Finally, I met the family of Earle Powdrell, a aerospace engineer who had a brain stem stroke, and has locked in syndrome, the syndrome that also affects Stephen Hawking.   He and his family were in Washington to lobby for the affordable care act.  

Speaking of lobbying, I did exactly just that, on Capitol Hill, no less, with Yoshiko Dart and another intern.  We visited the offices of 19 Republican senators in the Hart, Dirksen, and Russell Buildings, and meeting, whenever possible, with foreign relations legislative aides about the "tangible and symbolic benefits" of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a treaty that the U.S. signed in '09. Like ADA, it is a bipartisan effort, and by ratifying the Convention, the U.S. can set an example to other countries by supporting these ADA ideals on an international level.  We also stopped by the offices of Senators McCain and Kerry to thank them for their bipartisan support.  The lobbying efforts of disability rights activists appears to be paying off, because senators began supporting the ratification, even ones who had previously been on the fence about it.

This week, my OSERS supervisor, Jennifer Sheehy, invited me to my very first Divas Dinner, where I met an incredible network of women who share Women Power and Disability Pride.  These women are so supportive of each other, and were so welcoming to both myself and the other two interns who attended.   What a powerful, empowering evening!

 During this busy week, I was a guest at the 51st Annual Congressional Charity Baseball Game.  I had never been to a real ballpark before, so this was a treat.  The Democrats had a really good team this year, but win or lose, the important thing about the evening was that it was fun and for charity. 

I also experienced my first derecho this week; yikes!  Once was definitely enough.  A friend of mine, who lives in Maryland, texted me to warn me of the impending storm.  Thankfully, my son, and my service animals/family were home and safe in Ivory Tower. 

I am so grateful to the AAPD for all of the experiences I am having this summer.  They have informed and shaped me in so many positive ways, and I could never thank everyone at AAPD enough, but I will try:


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