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AUCD - Plenary C

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Engagement in Policy: Disability Priorities for the New Congress

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Location: Grand Ballroom North/Central Salon

Session Description

US Capitol

Scheduled just one week after a national Congressional election, this morning closing plenary event will bring together bipartisan leaders to share the priorities of the new Congress and discuss the implications of the election for people with disabilities.

At the conclusion of the plenary, we strongly encourage you to join the Hill Visit group to meet with your members of Congress. It is essential that our individual and collective stories be heard by others. By sharing your experience, you have the power to affect policy and change perceptions of how others view disability and civil rights.

But don't let it stop there! As you travel home and throughout the coming months, continue to meet locally with your Senators and Representatives, be open to meeting others, and share your story. Collectively we can build on nearly 50 years of disability and civil rights legislation to continue changing the world, for people with disabilities and for us all.

AUCD is working with schedulers to secure high-level speakers from the government and corporate realms for this event and will provide updates as they become available.

Featured Presenter(s)

Senator Harkin

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), United States Senate

Senator Tom Harkin has represented Iowa in Congress for nearly 40 years. He currently chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Since arriving in Congress, Harkin has championed issues that touch the lives of everyday Americans - health care, education and equal rights. He has worked to transform America into a "wellness society" focused on disease prevention and improving public health. He is a staunch defender of America's working families, and has led the fight to improve education and modernize school infrastructure. He has worked to reduce class size, give students better computer and Internet access, expand school counseling and nutrition programs and improve teacher training.

In 1990, Harkin sponsored and passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation that protects the civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. He learned firsthand about the challenges facing people with disabilities from his late brother, Frank, who was deaf from an early age. Known as the "Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities," the bill has become Senator Harkin's signature legislative achievement. The law has literally changed the landscape of America by requiring accessible buildings and transportation, and workplace accommodations for people with disabilities.


Towner French photo

‎Deputy Staff Director: Committee on Rules, U.S. House of Representatives

Towner French currently serves as the Deputy Staff Director for the House Committee on Rules. His past responsibilities on the Committee included a role as the Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process where he conducted hearings on biennial budgeting, comparative international budgets, and the Line Item Veto. Towner previously served as the Chief of Staff for Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) with responsibility for healthcare policy. Prior to joining Chairman Sessions, Towner worked as the Parliamentarian of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Chief of Staff for Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and an aide for Congresswoman Judy Biggert (IL-13). He received a degree from Duke University in 2000 in Political Science and a Certificate in Business Markets and Management.

Legislative Director for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers

Laura Bozell

Cornerstone Government Affairs

Laura Bozell brings over a decade of legislative and health care policy experience in the U. S. House of Representatives to her position at Cornerstone Government Affairs. For the last five and a half years, Laura served as Professional Staff on the Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee. During Laura’s time at the Committee, she worked with stakeholders, regulators, and Senate staff in developing policy and analyzing the impact of regulations. She advised Chairman Camp and Committee Members on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP Extension Act, among others laws, including providing guidance on implementation of the laws. She was actively involved in the health care reform debate and was a key contributor to Chairman Camp’s health care reform legislation, which became the Republican alternative to the ACA in the House of Representatives. Prior to her work for the Committee on Ways and Means, Laura served as a Legislative Assistant to former Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Jim McCrery of Louisiana. She advised Mr. McCrery on a range of legislative priorities, including health care, social services, education, agriculture, natural resources, labor, and unemployment issues.


Erik Fatemi

Cornerstone Government Affairs

Erik Fatemi recently joined Cornerstone Government Affairs after serving for 12 years on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education under Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA). During his time in the Senate he oversaw the entire breadth of funding and policy issues in the subcommittee's jurisdiction, developing particular expertise in the areas of biomedical research and education. He is the only non-NIH employee ever to receive the NIH Director's Award; his other honors include the 2014 Staff Recognition Award from the Committee for Education Funding for his work on the Appropriations Committee. Prior to Capitol Hill, Fatemi worked for a dozen years as a reporter, editor and columnist at various media outlets, most recently at Education Week, where he directed the publication's coverage of federal education policy and education technology. Fatemi holds a degree in English from Princeton University. He is married and has three daughters.