Talking to elected officials can seem daunting, and the process of scheduling a meeting can be drawn out – but given the magnitude of the workforce crisis in IDD supports and services, it is essential for ANCOR members to reach out to their elected officials. Scheduling meetings to discuss this issue regularly is a critical way of building trust between you and decision-makers… that way they believe you when you say that there is a workforce crisis and that they should take action. You do not have to take just ANCOR Government Relations staff’s word for it – your fellow ANCOR members who hold or have held elected office can confirm that!
Fun fact – several members of the ANCOR family hold or have held elected office! We have listed the ones we are aware of below, including two who were kind enough to share a few words on their perspectives on short notice.
Barbara Merrill, ANCOR Chief Executive Officer, based in Alexandria, Virginia: Yes, our very own Barbara served in Maine’s House of Representatives in 2005. Anyone who has spent five minutes with her will appreciate that she is a proud Mainer!
Fred Romkema, former ANCOR President and previous CEO of North Hills Training Center, based in Spearfish, South Dakota: Fred has extensive experience as an elected official. He served on various positions on Spearfish City Council from 1979 to 1996, and then served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2009 through 2016.
Gary Blumenthal, Vice President, Strategic and Special Projects at PAR, based in Lemonye, Pennsylvania: Gary served in Kansas’ House of Representatives for a decade, from 1983 through 1992. He shared some insights with ANCOR members in this article:
“I view my time as a legislator, 1983-1992, as critical in my development as a disability activist. I initially ran for the Kansas Legislature because my brother Steve, had been denied community services. As family member and legislator, I was often referred to as an “advo-slater”, half advocate, half legislator. My experience in the disability movement gave me credibility as an expert, eventually helping me become the Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Task Force on Developmental Disabilities; and then a member of the Clinton and Obama Administrations addressing disability issues. All of these experiences enhanced my knowledge base helping me in my disability advocacy in Kansas, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Without my prior legislative activity, I don’t believe I would have my subsequent professional roles and advocacy successes.”
Richard “Dick” Farnsworth, ANCOR Benefits Representative, based in Portland, Maine: Richard is currently serving his fourth consecutive term in the Maine House of Representatives.
Stan Soby, Vice President, Public Policy and External Affairs at Oak Hill, based in Hartford Connecticut: Stan currently serves on the Town of Colchester, Connecticut’s Board of Selectmen. Stan shared a few words for ANCOR members:
“As a provider, advocacy for the people we serve and the services we deliver is a continuous activity. Developing relationships with elected and appointed officials by being a reliable information source is key to successful advocacy. While we often focus on Congress or the State Capitol, in the area of workforce, we especially need to be speaking with our local municipal officials as well. We need to make them aware of the jobs our agencies provide (and have available) in the local community, the number of people from their community that we employ and the economic impact that employment provides. As it is not uncommon for local elected officials to run for a State-level office, building these relationships locally has far-reaching potential.”