Ohio Advisory Board Formation & Collaboration.
We have taken a large step forward in Ohio. On November 7, the Ohio Cure Advocacy Network (CAN) met with the Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education, Randy Gardner, and his staff to discuss setting up the advisory board which will approve disbursement of the $3 million our CAN advocates helped pass there in July.
The goal of the meeting was to recommend names and to introduce people who have been vetted by U2FP to sit on the advisory board. We moved quickly and were able to secure and confirm the following members for Ohio's Advisory Board:
SCI Community Members
Jeni Belt, Toldeo
Allison Leatherman, Toledo
Jeremy Bigelow, Holland
Donna Sullivan, Dublin
Ian Burkhart, Columbus
Peter Nowell, Dublin
Jerry Silver, Case Western Reserve University
Dennis Bourbeau, Case Western Reserve University
Kim Anderson, Case Western Reserve University
Phil Popovich, Ohio State University
Dana McTigue, Ohio State University
Lique Coolen, Kent State
Yu-Shang Lee, Cleveland Clinic
Ching-Yi Lin, Cleveland Clinic
Kristi Henzel, Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs
Since then, Drs. Phillip Popovich and Dennis Bourbeau (both of whom have presented at Working 2 Walk) have already helped draft the grant structure targeting Request for Proposal's (RFP’s) for January.
Finally, and maybe most significantly, we were able to broker the first of what looks to be many collaborative calls between the Minnesota and Ohio Higher Education Offices to share info with each other and explore collaborative potential. We're hoping this leads to an interstate consortium between these states (and future states) that have received legislative funding. This would allow for more connectivity and hopefully faster results!
Our $10M proposed Bill in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Spinal Cord Injury Research Grant Act - sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Anderson, who has an SCI) has remained in the same step of the legislative process as it has been for the last few weeks. It is in committee in both the House and Senate. It needs to be given a Public Hearing for it to be officially able to be voted on and confirmed by the respective committees, before moving onto the House and Senate floors.
When the Wisconsin Cure Advocacy Network met with the committee members in both houses in October, they received a verbal commitment by both committee chairmen that the chairmen would schedule the Bill for a public hearing. In order to pressure the chairmen to keep their word, I asked all the advocates across the country, not just the Wisconsin advocates, to please call and email the chairmen and ask them to schedule a public hearing for the Bill. Many advocates let me know that they did reach out, and a few got back to me that they did receive messages from the chairmen saying thank you for calling and telling their story of SCI. However, the Bill has still not yet been scheduled for a public hearing, and there is no word that it will be. We are going to continue keeping pressure on legislators to give this bill a public hearing. Keep an eye on our Facebook page so you'll know when to contact lawmakers again. And remember - you don't have to be from Wisconsin to call and express your support for this Bill.
Next Steps - New States.
We had our first conference call with SCI advocates in Colorado and Texas - both of which were great. We've got some real momentum to get the ball rolling and we'll continue to explore opportunities and timing in both states in the next few months. Stay tuned!
Working 2 Walk Reflection.
Finally, I just published a reflection on Working 2 Walk (read it here!), exploring my thoughts, feelings, and takeaways as both a staff member AND a first-time attendee of the Symposium.