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APSE is an organization devoted to the power of advocacy. We believe that it’s important to make your voice heard –that effective advocacy goes beyond just finding your voice. To be effective, your voice must be present at the right time, in the right manner, and directed at the right audience. That’s why we have launched an advocacy literacy program, starting with last month’s blog post on how a bill becomes law.

Once you have the basics, it’s time to level up. The key features of an effective advocacy strategy are an informed, engaged grassroots base, an advocacy and education operation targeted at key policy makers, and an on-the-ground core of experts to guide implementation.

It all starts with knowing the landscape. You need to know what is happening at the national level, as well as at your state level, and why. There is a range of issues that impact our stakeholders. What’s happening with the healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act? How will Medicaid funding be impacted? What does healthcare have to do with employment for people with disabilities?  Is repealing the subminimum wage off the table?

Then, you need to know whom to target for your advocacy, and how. If you’re dealing with a federal Senator, know the best way to contact them. That might be a phone call, an in-person visit, or, as we saw this winter, a fax or a pizza delivery.

Once you have the ear of your Representative, you need to activate your base. An effective email campaign can do the trick. Or, if your users are technologically savvy, a well-timed Tweet storm might be the way to go.

Each of these actions is easily doable – even with limited resources – if you have a good game plan and the right templates.

Check out the breakout sessions at the APSE 2017 Annual Conference, this June 20-22 in Portland, Oregon.

This year’s conference sessions feature top-notch, experienced advocates who have affected change at the local and national level.

Not sure where, exactly, we are in today’s political landscape? APSE’s Public Policy Efforts: What’s New, What’s Next, How to Get Involved, can help you find footing. At this session, members of APSE’s Public Policy Committee will provide the latest updates on national public policy issues, including repercussions of administration changes in Washington, DC, and the opportunities and challenges these present.

If you’re searching for more guidance on how to target your policy leaders, Effective Legislative Advocacy for Employment Services at the State and National Level will help attendees create an action plan for advocacy at the local, state, and national levels.

The Importance of Grassroots Advocacy for APSE Chapters will provide time-efficient strategies to build awareness and outreach for APSE chapters, using examples from Oregon APSE members’ successes.

And finally, if you’re wondering how to maintain the marathon pacing this work requires, check out Maintaining the Employment First Momentum: Social Change is Not a Straight Line. At this session we will take lessons from other social change efforts and apply the core principles of social change to the work of just and equitable employment for individuals with disabilities.

This work has always been about the steep uphill climb of social change. Now we’re living in a world of uncertainty and rapid-fire shifts.

This year’s conference will also offer more than 100 additional break-out sessions, presented by local and national advocates and experts. If you have an issue related to building an inclusive workplace, we have a session for you. Our discussions this year range from the nitty-gritty on policy changes to leveraging LinkedIn. We encourage you to check out all the options and begin planning the ones you want to attend now.

Although general conference registration is sold out, there are still spaces available to attend the PreConference and Students & Families for APSE, which both occur on June 19th.

PreConference: During the six breakout sessions you will have the opportunity to engage with thought leaders and experts in the field and hear first-hand what’s working to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to succeed in the workplace.

Students & Families for APSE: This event is open to transition-age high school students, parents and families, and transition teachers. Join APSE for a full day of breakout sessions, networking events and engaging keynotes to ensure inclusive employment post high school. This is a low cost, unique opportunity for local parents, students and teachers to participate in a National conference as it will not be back on the west coast for 3 years.

Both these events are exclusive opportunities to gain meaningful information. Register today while there is still time.

APSE is looking forward to seeing you at the 2017 Annual Conference!