Public agencies and advocacy organizations face a graying of the workforce and an ensuing loss of institutional knowledge. Advocates and policy professionals who learned from those who shaped the disability advocacy movement are preparing to retire. Opportunities to be mentored by long-time experts may diminish. At the same time, tight budgets and the current fiscal climate have increased the difficulty for organizations to hire individuals who would benefit from experienced mentors. Providing support to pair mentors with less experienced policy professionals through a Fellowship program can maximize the skill sets of all involved, while also supporting organizations to continue creating positive change through their advocacy work.
The Fellow will build a deep understanding of developmental disability (DD) policy; become adept at working with and training self-advocates with DD and their families; and develop the knowledge and skills to become an effective member of the policy workforce. By providing opportunities to work in and observe a variety of settings, the fellow will develop a comprehensive understanding of how to facilitate lasting policy change.
The Fellow worked as a researcher for Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) and became an expert in financial literacy and independence. A focus on advocating for the Texas ABLE Act shaped the fellowship. He gained a firm grasp of mental health issues and the potential for intersection between mental health and disability policy. He added to the staff’s capacity and broadened CTD’s outreach to ensure the DD population is represented in cross-disability issues. He was also the CTD’s lead advocate on children’s issues.
The fellow developed training materials, position papers, presentations, and provided lectures and trainings for self-advocates, families, and allies of the disability community. He recruited and trained self-advocates for the Advocacy Corps and assisted the Advocacy Team with the legislative agenda.
This Fellow produced several communications that were helpful to CTD’s advocacy efforts: surveys and reports on disability were used during legislative session; a “Disability Parking Law Matrix” addressed parking needs; and a primer on the ABLE act and Trusts was the culmination of many activities during the project. The presentations that formed the basis of the primer were well received and reached a wide audience throughout the state.
The Fellow has become a highly sought out speaker on the ABLE act and children’s issues, and CTD has incorporated the Fellow’s knowledge into a series of training courses. The Fellow was booked for several of such trainings during the fall of 2016.
- Reached over 800 individuals through trainings or presentations for advocates, families and allies
- Attended four conferences as a speaker
- Provided Advocacy Corps training for approximately 30 advocates from Austin and El Paso
- Became a subject matter expert on enabling legislation for the ABLE Act and has become a sought speaker on this and children’s issues
- CTD incorporated his knowledge into training courses and he is booked for several trainings in 2016
- Became a voice in the community on disability issues
- Co-chair of the “cultural change” committee and appointed to the Texas ABLE Advisory, Austin Mayor’s, and the Policy Council for Children and Families committees
Meet the Policy Fellow
Chris Masey is the Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellow at the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. Chris recently obtained a master’s degree in business with a concentration on strategic planning and nonprofit management. Chris is the parent of a child with a disability, and has been active with a variety of organizations that provide support and services to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Chris’ research and advocacy interests focus on issues relevant to people with developmental disabilities such as employment, early childhood intervention, support services, and promoting choice and independence.