Congratulations to the Class of 2021

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Congratulations to the Class of 2021

Congrats 2021 class

On April 10, 2021, thirty-one remarkable disability advocates graduated from the Texas Partners in Policymaking program. These advocates leave the program equipped to lead positive change at the local, state, and federal levels.

  • Martha Aguilar, Austin
  • Deana Armstrong, Boerne
  • Akili Atkinson, Houston
  • Jennifer Bacak, Round Rock
  • Melissa Beam, Anna
  • Amy Burks, Quinlan
  • Leigh Calmes, Plano
  • Magaly Diaz, San Antonio
  • Cynda Green, Austin
  • Manuel Gutierrez, Poteet
  • Lisa Heine, Waxahachie
  • Darla Hill, Arlington 
  • Elizabeth Hinojosa, Mercedes
  • Misty Joubert, Beaumont
  • Rasha Kawar, Coppell
  • Amy Kreller-Kochis, Lubbock
  • Catrina Longoria, Eagle Pass
  • Katy McBeth, Houston
  • Jennifer McCleskey, Lubbock
  • Cori McGhee, San Antonio
  • Kimberly Mosley, Grand Prairie
  • Alison Packard, San Antonio
  • Andrea Patrick, Allen
  • Stephanie Picazo, Alamo
  • Sandra Pierce, Richmond
  • Maribel Piña Leos, Brownsville
  • Allison Schaberg, Sugar Land
  • Meridith Silcox, Splendora
  • Chandra Steppy, Fort Worth
  • Blanca Trout, El Paso
  • Amy Turner, Flower Mound

Throughout the program, the Partners learned about the history of the disability rights movement and engaged in an in-depth study of the policies that determine how our current systems work. They examined our state’s education, housing, and employment systems and identified how they can influence policy and systems change. Participants honed their leadership skills, and each graduate completed a capstone project that created real and necessary change in their communities. 

Partners used their knowledge and advocacy skills to build community capacities, increase resources for families, improve accessibility, foster community connections, and create systems change in the education, employment, judicial, and transportation systems. As a result of their hard work, more people with developmental disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. Below are a few examples of the exceptional impact made by the 2021 class in their communities:

  • Elizabeth HinojosaKaty McBeth, and Stephanie Picazo partnered to establish the Advocacy Support Action Project for Potential Workers with Disabilities (ASAP). ASAP is a training and support program for adults with disabilities who are determined to enter the employment world but have concerns about losing their social security income and Medicaid benefits. 
  • Rasha Kawar advocated for improvements to Coppell city’s sidewalks to increase safety and accessibility.
  • Amy Burks and Sandra Pierce created a website for legislators, individuals with disabilities, parents, educators, and community members to better understand the need for expanded funding for the Home and Community-based Services Medicaid Waiver program. The website includes advocacy resources with information and action steps for advocates.

These Partners join an impressive network of over 27,000 graduates worldwide, with over 730 Partners in Texas. To learn about the class of 2021 and what they accomplished while in the program, visit the graduates section of the website. 

Congratulations to our Class of 2021 graduates! We celebrate your accomplishments and cannot wait to see what you do next.