MPH Alumna & Instructor Attends White House Briefing

Jessica Howell, Master of Public Health alumna and part-time instructor with the Center for Healthy Development, recently attended a White House Community Leaders Briefing as a board member of The Arc of Georgia, a non-profit organization committed to serving those with developmental disabilities. The Arc is a chapter of The Arc of the United States, which has chapters in each state and is one of the largest community-based organizations in the world serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

The briefings are held weekly on a variety of subjects to give leaders of community programs an opportunity to discuss with the White HoHowell-at-White-House_rdax_220x164use issues affecting their communities and citizens and to learn ways in which the federal government can provide resources to their causes. During the briefing, White House officials brought The Arc advocates up-to-date on budget negotiations impacting the disability community, particularly the issue of protecting Medicaid. The Arc advocates also participated in breakout sessions, where they explored the issues of community living, education and family caregiving for those with developmental disabilities.

In addition to taking a tour of the East Wing of the White House, the participants received an unexpected visit from President Barack Obama, who expressed his support for those with development disabilities to the advocates.

Howell felt the experience was valuable to her fellow advocates and herself.

“The Community Leaders Briefing provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for members of The Arc to interact with senior policy advisors in the Obama Administration. We were able to voice our concerns and give our suggestions to the very individuals crafting the policies that impact people with disabilities,” says Howell. “The highlight of the briefing was a surprise visit by President Obama — I got to introduce myself and shake his hand!”