Iowa Advocacy Connection | 2021, Issue 2

Issue 30, 7/22/2021

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Articles in This Issue:

Partner Guest Article: Monica Stone, Deputy Director, Iowa Department of Human Rights, on the Talent


Have you ever wondered how you can have a voice in government to influence decisions that affect Iowans?  Have you wondered how to do that without running for elected office?


One important way Iowans can have their voice heard directly in decision-making is through service on appointed boards and commissions. In state government, there are about 180 different boards and commissions, each with a different type of influence over how government impacts our daily lives.  Commissions serve interests in the areas of professional licenses, economic development, arts and culture, environment, commerce, health, employment, education, volunteerism, finance, infrastructure, agriculture, taxation and much more.


Members of state commissions are appointed by the governor from a pool of candidates who have applied through the Iowa Talent Bank ( The state of Iowa developed the Iowa Talent Bank to enhance the opportunity for all Iowans to learn about appointed boards and commissions and to encourage Iowans to become a more formal part of the civic decision-making process. Many agencies, including the Iowa Department of Human Rights, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council have been instrumental in creating this innovative technology.


The Talent Bank allows any Iowan to examine how and where they can serve on appointed government boards and commissions and communicate their interest and qualifications. The Talent Bank is the link that can bring a qualified, and an overall more diverse, candidate pool into the public service arena. Many times, underrepresented Iowans have challenges accessing government. By having more citizen representation on boards and commissions who can speak to those challenges and develop solutions, we can improve government for everyone.


An evolution is under way, and leaders realize that having input from a wide range of perspectives is a benefit. The Iowa Talent Bank helps leaders reach into diverse communities to achieve that breadth of knowledge on boards and commissions. By submitting your profile through the Talent Bank and applying for boards and commissions that are interesting to you, you help leaders bring new people into the process, and you help build a future of transparency, representation and good decision-making. 


For more information or questions about the Talent Bank, please visit and choose "contact us."

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MYM! Conference 2021: “Be a Game Changer!”


Registration is OPEN! This year will mark the seventh annual Iowans with Disabilities in Action Make Your Mark! Conference. The last six conferences brought together Iowans with disabilities, direct care support professionals, parents and family members and other disability advocates to develop skills and find resources to live their best lives.


This year’s conference will be held at the West Des Moines Marriott in West Des Moines, Iowa, on September 15-16, 2021. The first 150 people to register will receive a FREE conference T-shirt — so don’t wait! Please look for more details on registration for this event here: This year’s conference will feature sessions focused on how you can be a game changer in your community and in everyday life.


We are excited to announce our keynote speaker for this year, Michael Kutcher. Throughout his childhood, Michael’s innate desire to thrive helped him overcome issues with eyesight, speech and motor skill development. Michael grew up in a loving and supportive family that taught him the value of the health he did have and to make the best of his circumstances. A second close brush with death at a very young age helped open Michael’s eyes to the fragility of life and inspired him to take control of the future he once thought he’d never have.


Michael’s story is profound. He has lived the successes and reached life milestones that many didn’t think he ever could. His experiences with and perspective on cerebral palsy have led him to work directly with Reaching for the Stars, A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy as an advocate and public speaker.


Michael’s message is one of inspiration, hope and appreciation. Having overcome unthinkable challenges against extraordinary odds, Michael is living proof that perseverance and unwavering positivity can surmount even the most seemingly impossible of obstacles.


We will also be joined by Adaptive Sports Iowa, who will facilitate group interactive games on Wednesday evening. You don’t want to miss this conference! Reach out to Iowans with Disabilities in Action at for help getting registered.

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DD Council Member Spotlight: Paula Motsinger

I wanted to join the council to be part of a group of people advocating for systemic changes for Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I wanted to hear, firsthand, from the council members what types of barriers they face in receiving the critical care they need. It is important for me to hear about the barriers so I can take this information back to my team to establish new policies to mitigate barriers to community-based care.


By far, my favorite part of being on the council is hearing how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are able to advocate for themselves to lead happy and successful lives in their communities. I also appreciate the cross-system collaboration that helps me understand how current policies impact community-based care. Over the next year I am looking forward to achieving the goals we outlined in our State Plan.


My hobbies include travel, camping, golfing, hiking, going to baseball games (go Dodgers) and taking long walks with my dog Reddington. I have been a strong advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for many years. I am very passionate about the work we do on the DD Council and truly believe our advocacy will make a difference in the lives of many people.


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New Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Offers Monthly Internet Discounts

Reliable and affordable access to the internet is essential for everything from scheduling health care appointments to ensuring students have the necessary tools for remote learning. Unfortunately, people in the United States pay some of the highest prices in the world to access the internet — and the COVID-19 pandemic has made access even less affordable.


The civil rights community pushed Congress to implement a new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to help more people stay connected to the internet during the pandemic. Learn more about the program here:


Eligible households can apply for this short-term program, which will provide up to $50 toward the cost of broadband service.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides:

  • Up to $50/month discount for broadband service
  • Up to $75/month discount for households on qualifying tribal lands
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet purchased through a participating internet service provider if the household contributes more than $10 but less than $50 toward the purchase price

Visit to find out if you qualify for this program.


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Iowa DD Council’s June’s Capitol Chat

Did you miss June’s Capitol Chat? You can watch the recording below and listen as the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council leads us in discussion about what's been happening in Iowa's Legislature and ways you can continue your own advocacy efforts. This is a great opportunity to hear our public policy manager, Bill Kallestad, and lobbyist, Amy Campbell, talk about the issues you care about. Stay informed and view the recording here: Please contact us at for details on upcoming Capitol Chats.


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Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute Webinars: Empowering Family Leaders


The Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute was developed to provide parents and caregivers of children and youth with special health care needs the opportunity to develop leadership and advocacy skills. This summer, the Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute is hosting a special leadership training for parents and primary caregivers of children ages 3 to 19 with special health care needs.


The goals of this training are to:

  • Understand how to work with partners
  • Become aware of one's own path to leadership
  • Discover strategies for advocacy
  • Prepare a community service project


The webinars will take place from 12-1 p.m. every Thursday from July 1-August 26.

Learn more and register here: Questions? Please contact Diane Brenneman at

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Iowa Summit on Disability Employment


The Iowa DD Council is a proud sponsor of the 2021 Iowa Summit on Disability Employment, taking place on August 19, 2021. The Iowa Summit on Disability Employment will connect Iowa business leaders, human resource experts and disability service providers to discuss ways to solve some of Iowa’s greatest workforce challenges, from hiring to engagement and retention.

Mark the date as an opportunity to consider innovative ways to embrace inclusivity that you don’t want to miss. Continuing education credits available.


Date: August 19, 2021

Price: $199


This is a hybrid event. Everyone is welcome to sign up and attend online. A limited number of seats are available for in-person attendees. The in-person event will take place at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa. The online event will take place on The Harkin Institute website and via Zoom. Register here:

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