Every year the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by holding an annual fundraising gala. The gala is typically held in Washington, D.C. at embassies or interesting places at the U.S. Capitol. This year, we held a virtual gala on Zoom.
I’ve worked for Quantum for over 14 years and it has been a blessing for me. Attending events with my colleagues and friends, even if they are virtual events, is one of the highlights of being part of this community, which is full of amazing people.
Disability leadership and advocacy becomes a kindred friendship for many of us who work for different organizations. Seeing or conversing with your colleagues or friends is helpful when we’re subjected to restrictions during the pandemic.
I was so honored to attend the USICD Gala on behalf of Quantum. My longtime friend and Congresswoman Dina Titus from Nevada was honored, along with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Former Senators Bob Dole and Tom Harkin attended this event and presented Senator Casey and Congresswoman Titus with the Harkin Dole Award. It was special for me because I adore and respect all these amazing people.
Senator Casey and Congresswoman Titus are leading the way as champions for people with disabilities and architecting policy on their behalf. They have introduced the Office of International Disability Rights Act, located at the U.S. State Department and requires that they increase the hiring of persons with disabilities at the State Department. This act requires that disability rights are part of foreign policy and that the United States returns to serving as a reliable disability policy leader worldwide.
The Office of International Disability Rights Act also requires that U.S. Foreign Service integrates disability inclusion policies. Foreign Service officers are required to have disability inclusion training. This act ensures that U.S. embassies abroad are accessible and compliant because one billion people live with disabilities worldwide.
About Madonna Long: Madonna works as a disability advocate to educate policymakers and congressional leaders on disability issues. She is a mother to four children and lives life on her terms, despite a spinal cord injury. Click here to learn more about Madonna.