Virtual Trainee Rene: Policy Seminar 2007

April 3, 2007

I want to thank AUCD for allowing me to attend the seminar as part of my position as the Virtual Trainee. I also want to say hello to everyone I met at the seminar. It was great to meet so many trainees from AUCD programs around the country! For those of you unable to attend, here are some brief highlights and memorable moments. The first two days of the seminar consisted of a variety of speakers who provided rich information about current policy issues related to disabilities and realistic strategies for effective lobbying. The last day of the seminar was spent lobbying on the Hill in state groups, meeting with Congressional Representatives and Senators. This was my first time on the Hill and I felt like I was really making a difference, at a systems level. This trip was both a learning experience and fun. My most memorable moments were:

  • The AUCD trainee reception: The reception was attended by over 50 people including trainees, AUCD staff, program faculty, and AUCD Board members. I enjoyed meeting fellow trainees and getting to know the person behind some familiar emails. I also witnessed trainees linking with program faculty making connections for future opportunities...great networking!
  • Autism Breakout Session: Since this is an area of interest for me, this was a major highlight of the seminar for me. Individuals spoke from Senator Clinton's office, Easter Seals, Missouri Division of MR/DD, and the Autism Society of America. This panel provided perspectives regarding federal changes and legislation, statewide initiatives, and parent perspectives on diagnosis, services, research, and education. A very interdisciplinary perspective!
  • Dinner with fellow trainees: I enjoyed dinner the last night of the seminar with several trainees (past and present). We took the train to China Town for a late dinner at a Spanish tapas restaurant. It was great to get to know everyone in a relaxed atmosphere, share program experiences and future plans. I hope to see you all again someday, good luck in all you do!

In summary, I learned more about policy, government, and making changes in these three days then I did in any government or other class in school!!!

For those of you who will continue on as trainees next year, I strongly encourage you to attend. Watch the AUCD website ( for information on the Spring 2008 Disability Policy Seminar.