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Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute

We will accept new applications for Partners in Policymaking beginning in March 2022 for the Fall 2022 class. Please sign up for our Council newsletters or check back here in March.


Do you want to make a difference?

  • Are you a person with a disability or do you have a family member with a disability?
  • Would you like to see people with disabilities as valued member of their community?
  • Are you interested in promoting and advocating for change within your local community and state?

Partners in Policymaking™ is the Council’s free leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities.

The Council established the Partners in Policymaking™ program in TN in 1993. Since that time, more 600 adults with disabilities and family members with disabilities have completed the intensive program. These graduates have gone on to advocate for themselves, their family members, and the disability community at large. They have influenced policies on the local, state, and national level.

This training provides the chance to learn from local and national experts about policies and practices that impact people with disabilities and their families.

Selected Partners will learn about:

  • History: independent living, parent movement, people first/self-advocates movement
  • Education: IDEA, understanding special education, best practices in inclusive education
  • State and local policy: services and legislative issues, preparing and giving testimony
  • Best practices: supported living, person-centered planning, family supports, employment and assistive technology
  • Federal policy and legislative issues: Americans with Disabilities Act, federal disability laws, effective communication with policymakers
  • Community organizing: working with community groups, media relations, negotiating, creating change to impact society

Selected Partners will:

  • Attend all information sessions by local and national experts in the disability field
  • Complete and report on homework assignments
  • Compose and present testimony for or against a legislative bill  
  • Tour the State Capitol and meet with a legislator
  • Network with other individuals with disabilities and family members

The 2022-2023 class will run from September 2022-April 2023.

We invite you to be a part of the next class in Fall 2023! ! We will start taking applications beginning in March 2022.  Applications due by end of April each year.

Once all applications are reviewed, chosen participants will be notified via email.

For more information, contact Cathlyn Smith, Director of Leadership Development, at or 615-532-6556.

Check out the videos below to hear from our Partners graduates about how going through this training benefitted them.