Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Fall 2019
In July, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) unexpectedly said goodbye to an amazing, hard-working advocate for people with developmental disabilities.
Elizabeth Dawn Alford (known to her friends, family and colleagues as “Dawn”), GCDD’s Public Policy Director, left a legacy on disability rights and established strong long-lasting relationships with legislators and people across the state.
We heard from a lot of you – all over Georgia – who shared their memories and thoughts with us. GCDD wanted to honor Dawn and the impact that she made on agency leaders, legislators and families.
“When Dawn was born and diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, her life expectancy was about 10 years. She was the MD poster child in 1984, met President Reagan and graduated as valedictorian from Temple High School and magna cum laude from Georgia Tech in chemical engineering. The Tech fight song was played at the end of her services as her heartbroken parents left their pews. She was a star everywhere she went, admired by all and fiercely determined to succeed on behalf of others.
[Advocates at the Capitol] do not always enjoy a positive image from the public, but Dawn made us all better people by her presence and advocacy ... It is impossible to state how much she will be missed, and we all feel the painful gap from her absence in the work world of politics. May you rest in peace, Dawn, and thank you for your service.” – Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, Georgia District 82
“We were saddened to hear this news! She was a great advocate and one of the first folks I met when I moved here who literally helped me understand “the ropes.” Our condolences to GCDD and her family.” – David T. Wilber, Executive Director, Diversified Enterprises
“She will be missed but will be remembered as a champion for all those experiencing disability and for her dedication to her advocacy work.” – Beate Sass, photographer
“Dawn was not only a subscriber of Georgia Lobby, but she was a friend that both Brooke Oakley and I enjoyed interacting with daily during session. Dawn worked hard with a heart for GCDD. Always a smile on her face and ready for the business of championing the cry of those with disabilities. Both Brooke and I will sorely miss her this coming session and we already do miss her now.” – Pamela Adams and the Georgia Lobby Team
Tap Into Your Self-Advocacy Power!
October celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and this year, the theme is The Right Talent, Right Now.
And what better way to bring that message home than to announce the return of GCDD's Take Your Legislator to Work Day! And this year, we are putting the power in your hands!
The annual employment advocacy event provides an opportunity for employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) to visit them at work. It allows legislators and decision makers to see the far-reaching benefits to employers, employees and communities alike of hiring people with disabilities.
It’s also a great way to create opportunities for Georgians with disabilities to form and nurture relationships with their elected officials.
Here’s How You Can Take Your Legislator to Work!
Schedule Your DIY (Do It Yourself) Visit
- Employer Permission: Your employer must give written permission for your legislator to visit you at work. Use this form for your employer to sign and email to
- Identify your senator and representative for your particular district on Open States by filling in your address.
- Click on their name or find their contact information on the Georgia State Senate or Georgia House of Representatives page.
- Contact Legislator: Use their contact information to send an email to set up a meeting with the senator and/or representative you’d like to connect with. Use this sample copy.
- Set up a date and time that works for you, your employer and your legislator. Complete this form before your visit.
Plan Your Itinerary
- Plan for a tour that should be approximately 30-45 minutes. Be sure to highlight where you work and what your job responsibilities are, and introduce the legislator to your co-workers.
- If you work with a job coach, or receive another form of support, try to include that person in the conversation with the legislator.
- Be sure to include your employer and available co-workers in the conversation, as their perspectives will be very important to the legislator.
- Although it is important to include the co-workers, the job coach and the employer in the discussion, the visit should primarily focus on your experience as the employee.
On the Day of the Visit
- Be on time to welcome your legislator.
- Share with your legislator why they should support competitive, integrated employment, funding for waivers, Medicaid home and community-based services, Employment First and inclusive post-secondary education.
Share Your Story with GCDD!
- You made the connection. You had the meeting. And now we want to know!
- Take a few minutes to complete this form and upload your pictures. GCDD may contact you for further information about your visit for our next issue!
Even though the nation’s focus is on the 2020 general election, there are elections happening this year too on November 5, 2019!
Across the state, local elections are happening from Gwinnett to DeKalb to Sumter counties and all across Georgia. These are as important as federal elections. Here, you vote for city council persons, school board members, and other officials that govern your local community. These local lawmakers are key to making sure that the town you call home is also working on behalf of people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Check your local newspapers to see if there are elections being held in your area or connect with your county liaison to find out more information.
The Disability Vote Counts! series is a finalist in Content Marketing Awards!
The 2018 Disability Vote Counts! series published in Making A Difference was a finalist in the 2019 Content Marketing Awards. The four-part series informed and educated people with disabilities about the midterm elections and candidates and also featured a guide to getting out the disability vote!
To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below: