With grant funding from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), Easterseals Central Texas has selected Lauren Rangel as their TCDD Policy Fellow. With guidance and support from key staff at Easterseals Central Texas, Lauren will engage in meaningful training opportunities, cultivate relationships with legislators and other advocates, and develop data-driven recommendations to improve policies that impact people with developmental disabilities (DD).
While pursuing a degree in political science at Columbia University, Lauren first became interested in civil rights and social justice. Later, when her daughter was diagnosed with autism, Lauren knew she needed to be an advocate and that she needed to learn, both about her rights and how to support her daughter going forward. This combination of experiences has inspired Lauren to devote her life to empowering people with DD and their families to engage in the policymaking process so they can have a voice regarding the services and supports that affect their lives.
Lauren hopes to use the skills gained through this fellowship to help advocates understand how specific policies and legislative actions could impact people with DD in Texas. She also plans to utilize online tools to educate people with disabilities and their families about their rights, and to raise awareness about the resources and services available in Texas.
Easterseals Central Texas is a nonprofit organization in Austin that provides a full array of services for children and adults with disabilities and their families. Their mission is to promote independence and create opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue their hopes and dreams.
The goal of the TCDD Policy Fellows program is to increase the number of people employed in public policy positions that address issues important to individuals with DD. In addition to Easterseals Central Texas, TCDD is currently funding fellowships with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Disability Rights Texas, the Family to Family Network, and The Arc of Texas.