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Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute

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, nearly 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, and to influence policies on the local, state and national level. 2019 was the 25th class of Partners to graduate from the program!

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

Selected Partners will learn about:

  • state and federal legislative processes
  • inclusive communities and classrooms
  • proven practices in housing and employment
  • assistive technology
  • strategies for advocates and self-advocates

Selected Partners will:

  • Attend 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
  • Attend the Partners Annual Reunion Conference [all graduates invited]

This program takes place over seven weekends throughout the year (September-November and January-April).

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 and why they recommend the program to other Tennesseans with disabilities and family members of people with disabilities!