2017 Summer Leadership Program Summary

2017 Program Summary

DeafBlind Citizens in Action is pleased to release the details about this year’s very productive leadership development seminar. This week-long seminar took place from June 25 to June 30. This year’s program was possible because of the support of the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, Helen Keller National Center and HumanWare. We also express our gratitude to Verizon Wireless for hosting a successful forum on technology and leadership at the Verizon Technology and Policy Center.

Sunday June 25

A “rolling” opening session divided into 3 formal and several informal meetings throughout the day provided the participants with an opportunity to get to know one another, familiarize themselves with the week’s agenda, orient themselves to the Gallaudet campus, and generally settle in. A meeting of volunteer support staff was held to prepare volunteer interpreters for the week’s program as well.

Monday June 26

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will understand and be able to explain each of DBCA’s policy foci;
  • Participants will select 1-2 main areas of interest based on their personal and professional goals;
  • Participants will gain confidence in discussing selected areas of focus through mentoring and role play;
  • Participants and mentors will reflect on the ways that their personal and professional experiences as developing leaders can benefit a national community;

The morning was devoted to familiarization with the structure and function of government. This included a brief lecture, tactile modeling of government structure, and team research and presentations.

The afternoon kicked off with an introduction to public policy. Working from the definition of public policy as a dialogue about “who gets what, where, when and how,” we discussed the various actors in said dialogue and their distinct roles. We also situated ourselves as actors in this process, learning to tweak our messages as advocates to suit the role of those whom we engaged. Amy Parker took the lead in guiding issue-focused practice in this section, including focused discussion of the Cogswell-Macey Act. The remainder of the afternoon, including some extra-curricular time, was devoted to developing presentation skills and polishing narratives.

Tuesday June 27

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants and mentors will gain knowledge from agency representatives in selected policy areas;
  • Participants and mentors will gain skills in presenting policy issues from personal and professional perspectives with federal agency representatives;
  • Through dialogue, DBCA will formulate preliminary action steps with agency representatives that lead to greater support and understanding for children and adults who are DeafBlind;

The week’s second full session featured speakers from the Federal Communications Commission and the departments of Education, Transportation and Justice. The session began with a presentation by Brianna Burger from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs on the agency’s role as it relates to the special education of students who are deafblind. Next, Rosaline Crawford, Karen Peltz Strauss and Suzanne Singleton from the Federal Communications Commission, Disability Rights Office, gave remarks on what their agency does and opened the floor for dialogue with the participants on issues ranging from telecommunication equipment and the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. The morning session was followed by presentations from Nicole Zeitler, a trial lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section; Yvette Rivera from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Departmental Office of Civil Rights; and Chrinstina Groso, who presented on health care policy as it relates to people with disabilities.

Wednesday June 28

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants and mentors will gain skills through professional dialogues on policy issues with members and staff in Congress;
  • Participants and mentors will reflect on the efficacy of these meetings as individual and as a collective group of advocates via dialogue and journaling
  • Participants and mentors will keep all contact information to plan and enact effective follow up with all Congressional offices;

On the third regular day of the program, participants and their support staff traveled to the U.S. Capitol for scheduled meetings with Congressional offices. It began with participants attending constituent breakfasts hosted by their respective Congressional representatives. This was followed by various scheduled meetings with legislative aides to discuss the three policy issues mentioned above. Some of the participants, such as those from Minnesota, met directly with their senators. The finale was a whole-group meeting with Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts for a thank-you and photo opportunity in his office, which included an impromptu reading by one of our new mentees of the braille on the plaque he received for sponsoring the CVAA.

Thursday June 29

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants and mentors will reflect on the specific role of advocacy with industry leaders;
  • Participants and mentors will represent personal and professional narratives on the ways that technology facilitates participation and leadership in their community;

On the fourth day of the program, participants practiced for the evening joint forum with Verizon Wireless. Thanks to the American Foundation for the Blind for connecting DBCA with Verizon Wireless, an evening forum on technology and leadership was held at the Verizon Technology and Policy Center. This forum brought together representatives from several federal agencies and partner organizations to join DBCA and Verizon for a panel discussion on the power of technology in facilitating access to various facets of our lives. The panel was facilitated by George Stern.

Friday June 30

Learning Outcomes:

  • Through reflection and action planning, all participants and mentors will create next steps for individual and organizational action;
  • Through video and interviews with mentors, participants will create video artifacts that capture their learning and insights from the leadership experience;

This final day was one of reflections and action planning. Both mentees and mentors were asked to complete feedback forms. Videotaped reflections also took place, thanks to the hard work of the program’s media team, Jacob Hogan and Leanne Cook.

Mark Richert of the American Foundation for the Blind and Christine Grosso, a disability policy expert, speak to 2017 Leadership Development Program participants seated around tables.
Mark Richert of the American Foundation for the Blind and Christine Grosso, a disability policy expert, speak to 2017 Leadership Development Program participants seated around tables.
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees are joined by FCC and DOE staff. Top Row: Katherine Inman, Zachary Fox, Kelvin Crosby, Danielle Burton; Middle Row: Amita Sirnivasan, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Mussie Gebre, and Divya Goel; Bottom Row: Brianne Burger, Rosaline Crawford, Karen Strauss, Suzy Rosen
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees are joined by FCC and DOE staff. Top Row: Katherine Inman, Zachary Fox, Kelvin Crosby, Danielle Burton; Middle Row: Amita Sirnivasan, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Mussie Gebre, and Divya Goel; Bottom Row: Brianne Burger, Rosaline Crawford, Karen Strauss, Suzy Rosen
Kit Englard tactilely receives ASL while Vice President George Stern moderates a discussion at Verizon.
Kit Englard tactilely receives ASL while Vice President George Stern moderates a discussion at Verizon.
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees together in Sen. Markey's Office. Top Row: Sen. Markey, Zachary Fox, Katherine Inman, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Mussie Gebre, Kit Englard; Front Row: Kelvin Crosby, Amita Sirnivasan, Divya Goel
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees together in Sen. Markey’s Office. Top Row: Sen. Markey, Zachary Fox, Katherine Inman, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Mussie Gebre, Kit Englard; Front Row: Kelvin Crosby, Amita Sirnivasan, Divya Goel
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees are joined by DOJ and DOT staff: Top Row: Katherine Inman, Zachary Fox, Kelvin Crosby, George Stern, Mussie Gebre ; Middle Row: Amita Sirnivasan, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Divya Goel and Danielle Burton ; Bottom Row: Marian Burroughs, Yvette Rivera, Nicole Zeitter, Daniel Rodriguez, Mark Rickert, and Christine Grosso.
The DBYAA Mentors and Mentees are joined by DOJ and DOT staff: Top Row: Katherine Inman, Zachary Fox, Kelvin Crosby, George Stern, Mussie Gebre ; Middle Row: Amita Sirnivasan, Hunter McGowan, George Stern, Divya Goel and Danielle Burton ; Bottom Row: Marian Burroughs, Yvette Rivera, Nicole Zeitter, Daniel Rodriguez, Mark Rickert, and Christine Grosso.