Cross-Disability Coalition Meets with White House
Justice For All Action Network Meet with Presidential Staff
by Andrew Imparato, AAPD President and CEO
Last week, the Steering Committee of a new national disability-led coalition called the Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN) met for an hour with two senior White House officials to discuss some of our common policy priorities. Attending for the White House were Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy; and Jeff Crowley, Director of the National AIDS Office and senior adviser on disability issues within the Domestic Policy Council. Attending for JFAAN were Kelly Buckland, the new Executive Director and former Board President of the National Council on Independent Living; Bruce Darling, a national organizer with ADAPT and Executive Director of the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester NY; Chester Finn, President of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (accompanied by Karen Topper of SABE); Nancy Bloch, Executive Director of the National Association of the Deaf; Brenda Battat, Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America; Ron Brown, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind and President of NFB of Indiana; Eric Bridges, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs for the American Council of the Blind; Gary Arnold, Vice President for Public Relations for Little People of America; Ari Ne’eman, Founder and President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network; Dan Fisher, steering committee member of the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Survivor Organizations; and Andy Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Imparato kicked off the meeting by describing how JFAAN came into being, and Fisher and Finn talked about the importance of working with disability-led organizations for the White House. Ne’eman and Bridges touched on some of the disability community’s priorities for health care reform, and Darling pressed on the need to end the institutional bias as part of health care reform and some of our coalition’s priorities for housing policy. Rob Sweezy, an attendee invited by Dale to represent an Amerigroup-funded National Advisory Board, chimed in on the importance of home and community-based long term services and supports. Ne’eman, Bloch and Sweezy then touched on some of our education policy priorities, including ideas for addressing the problems identified in the recent GAO report documenting widespread school abuse of children through aversives, restraint and seclusion; followed by Battat and Brown talking about our technology and transportation policy priorities. Imparato quickly referenced a draft JFAAN employment policy paper, which Dale expressed an interest in reviewing. The group thanked Dale and Crowley for their time and expressed an interest in quarterly meetings, something that Dale and Crowley were not willing to commit to at this time. The JFAAN attendees felt that this was an historic meeting and look forward to engaging with other leaders in the Administration and in Congress moving forward.
Image: JFAAN Steering Committee Members at the White House with Kareem Dale.