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Twenty-Five Years of the Partners in Policymaking® Leadership Institute: A Longitudinal Survey of Tennessee Alumni

Partners in Policymaking® is a leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities. The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities began implementing this intensive seven-weekend program in 1993. Objectives: The lasting influence of such a training program on the advocacy practices and leadership activities of graduates once they have completed the program has not been examined; this was the aim of the study. Methods: A follow-up survey seeking to quantify graduates’ current levels of advocacy, community involvement, accomplishments, and overall satisfaction with the training experience was created and sent to 361 graduates across a variety of formats; one hundred and thirty-five individuals completed the measure. Results: The findings suggest that program completion had a lasting impact on participants’ disability-related knowledge, advocacy, and self-assessed ability to create change in disability-related policy. Specifically, a majority of the graduates affirmed increases in leadership skills, leadership ability, and sense of empowerment. In addition, graduates reported increased feelings of connectedness to others with similar life experiences, with a majority even reporting increased quality of life due to participation. Conclusions: Use of a structured training program in leadership and advocacy to increase perceived self-efficacy in disability policy advocacy and leadership is supported. Graduates’ qualitative comments reveal enduring community activism and engagement in systems change, including statewide and national disability-related policy advocacy, years after completing the program.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Leadership Development, Advocacy, Community Inclusion, Partners in Policymaking

Bruce Lane Keisling, Robert Zach DeBerry, Alexandra Marie Vohs. (2021). Twenty-Five Years of the Partners in Policymaking® Leadership Institute: A Longitudinal Survey of Tennessee Alumni. American Journal of Health Research, 9(3), 72-81.

Copyright © 2021 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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