News from the NH-ME LEND Program – June 2023

Spring Kick Off: Engaging in Advocacy and the Policy Process (January 27, 2023)

In late January, the NH-ME LEND Program hosted a panel discussion and keynote speaker as part of their Spring Kick Off Event, Engaging in Advocacy and the Policy Process. The five panelists, one from NH and four from ME, represented a variety of perspectives on policy-making: Cameron Myers, a 2022 graduate of Lake Region High School (ME);  Ben Jones, Managing Attorney, Education Advocacy, Disability Rights Maine; David Luneau (D-Merrimack) NH House Representative; Joe Baldacci (D-Bangor), Maine State Senator; and  Carrie Woodcock, parent advocate and Executive Director of the Maine Parent Federation. Dr. Alan Cobo-Lewis served as the panel moderator.The panel discussion and subsequent keynote by parent advocate Carrie Woodcock were designed to help prepare NH and ME trainees to virtually participate in the annual Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) in April.

Disability Policy Seminar, “Fly-In” Capitol Hill Visits, and Policy Brief (April 27, 2023)

Due to issues with the conference hotel, the 2023 Disability Policy Seminar was a one-day virtual conference (April 24, 2023) with April 27, 2023 designated for “fly-in” Capitol Hill visits. It was co-sponsored by seven national disability organizations and provided LEND trainees with the opportunity to network, learn about disability policy, and meet with their congressional delegations. Susan Russell and the four UMaine trainees; Michelle Fong, Gabriela Fuentes, Ashley Mulkern and Abbott Philson, participated in Capitol Hill visits with the following legislators or Hill staff to discuss the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) workforce shortage.

  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Legislative Aide, Lara Rosner.
  • Evan Schweikert, Legislative Correspondent for Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME)
  • Evan Johnston, Legislative Director for Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
  • The meeting with Katherine Gillespie, Legislative Assistant for Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) was cancelled due to illness.

The trainees included copies of their cohort’s policy brief, The Individuals with Disabilities Higher Education Act (IDEA) Workforce Shortage in the information packets for the legislators.

Annual Capstone Poster Session (May 5, 2023)

On May 5, 2023, NH-ME LEND held its Annual Capstone Poster Session at the University of New Hampshire. Trainees participate in leadership placements with community-based organizations whose missions are aligned with the mission of the LEND program. The poster session highlights each trainee’s capstone project and reflects how the project supported their growth as leaders. Read more about the Capstone Session here: Best Wishes to the 2023 NH-ME LEND Cohort.

Links to capstone posters from the Maine trainees:

Michelle Fong: Mind the gap! Advancing data equity to improve population health equity for people with disabilities. 

Gabriela Fuentes: Connection impacts experience during early intervention and ELCO process.

Ashley Mulkern: Promoting mental health in schools.

Abbott Philson: Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as role models to youth with IDD.

Spring Conference: When it Comes to Autism, Can We Reconcile the Medical and Social Models of Disability? (May 8, 2023)

This half-day virtual conference focused on two different perspectives of autism: the medical model and the social model. The medical model views autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder that requires medical treatment and recognition, particularly for those with severe forms of autism. The social model, on the other hand, considers autism to be a natural variation of human ability and identity that should be celebrated and accommodated like any other identity. Sponsored by the NH-ME LEND Program, BANDS (Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Services) at Dartmouth Health, and the Northeast Regional LEND Consortium.

Leadership Partner Profile – Maine’s Title 5 Program, Maternal and Child Health (June 2023)

NH-ME LEND profiled one of its leadership partners, Maine’s Title 5 Program, Maternal and Child Health (MCH), located with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Disease Prevention. Read the profile here: Ashley Mulkern (NH-ME LEND 2023) Partners with Maine CDC to Improve Pediatric Mental Health Care Access