CCDC Logo: Nothing About Us, Without Us.
Sept. 2016 Issue

Letter from the Executive Director

At the end of August, I had the opportunity to spend a few days on southwest Colorado, thanks to a generous grant from the Anschutz Family Foundation.  In Durango and then in Cortez, I collaborated with our local partners at LaPlata Youth Services and the Southwest Independence Center to provide training and materials for youth and adults with disabilities to help local residents access resources, including accurate information about Medicaid, to help them to lead fuller lives.  This is part of a long-term commitment that CCDC has to advocacy in the health care world to ensure access for Coloradans with disabilities.

We provide individual peer advocates to assist people with various problems, particularly in the Medicaid program.  We work on both eligibility and service provision.  We do everything from educating and informing people of their rights, to attending meetings with case managers, and even represent people as non-attorney advocates at administrative law judge hearings.  

On a systems level, we have a veritable army of advocates, most of whom are Medicaid clients or family members.  They represent the disability community on a plethora of boards and commissions throughout the state.   When we do not have adequate community members appointed to policymaking boards, we show up anyway.   We are involved with both proactive and reactive policy work and currently serve on 21 health-related committees on the statewide level and another 10 that are local.  We have been involved in development, implementation and evaluation of Medicaid programs, particularly community-based long-term care programs, such as Community First Choice (CFC) expected to be implemented in the year ahead.  CFC is the long-term services and supports (LTSS) reform within the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

November 8 is Election Day!  You may have heard the segment on National Public Radio on September 4 saying that in some states people with disabilities who have a legal guardian lose their right to vote.  Colorado is one of 11 states where that is not the case.  In Colorado, people with disabilities who have legal guardians can vote. Voting is of vital importance this year! We hope you will sign CCDC’s Rev Up Pledge to Vote by clicking here.  And remember to vote all the way to the end of the ballot. Together we have the power to change our communities, not just in Colorado but across the nation.

Finally, in case you weren't able to attend, CCDC hosted a nonpartisan forum about Amendment 69 (also known as ColoradoCare) on July 21.  If passed, Amendment 69 would create a Medicare-like system for all of Colorado. Amendment 69 will be on the ballot this November. To learn more about the information shared at the forum or to watch the fully-accessible video of the forum, click here.

We look forward to continuing the conversation about advocacy and thank you!  It is our privilege to send you helpful information about subjects you’re interested in.  This e-newsletter is published on a bimonthly basis.  As with everything at CCDC, our members are very important and we want to hear what you think.  Privacy is also important to all of us at CCDC; we will not share your name and email address with anyone.  At any point, you can select the link at the bottom of every email to instantly unsubscribe.

Respectfully and onward to Election Day,

Julie Reiskin
Executive Director

Program Highlight 

Systems Advocacy Program
CCDC is a strictly nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy organization.  We take pride in having advocates of all persuasions taking stands on the issues that matter to them.  What follows is an essay by Michael Neil, titled, "They're Humans, Just Like Us." The views shared by Michael are his alone as an individual and CCDC volunteer advocate and do not represent the views of CCDC as an entity necessarily.

They're Humans, Just Like Us
by Michael Neil

Over the past year, I have been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time at the State Capitol Building, testifying for and against bills in front of various committees.  I suppose my first realization wasn’t really a shock, given that I’ve been involved in city and state politics within the Denver Democratic Party for a number of years now, but it’s always good to have a reminder.  The truth of the matter is that legislators are human just like anyone else.  Usually, they’re pretty accessible too, which would come as  a shock to many, including some of my own friends and relatives, who feel like they and their representatives are mutually disconnected from one another.  Admittedly, I’m lucky that I live in my own state capitol and travel isn’t particularly difficult, but, even so, getting a pat on the shoulder from a Representative or Senator who knows you by name can be pretty thrilling. 

The other, perhaps more cynical, realization I have come to is that everybody has an angle and a story.  Part of the reason I accepted the invite to be a Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition volunteer advocate is simply that I love politics, but I also wanted to push my boundaries.  In a swing-state like Colorado, one has to be bipartisan in order to get projects done for your community, and I wanted to see, as a Democratic activist and long-time Democratic voter, whether or not I could do it.  I won’t claim to know the Republican Senators and Representatives at the Capitol nearly as well as those from my own party, but I realized that a few, at least, had quite a good grasp on issues that face the disability community.  One is Rep. Lois Landgraf.  Time to admit my prejudice.  Before the session, if you had told me I would come to appreciate a Republican Representative out of El Paso County, I would have told you you were insane.  But, Landgraf is good on issues of disability.  Why?  She has family experience.  Others do too, especially Democratic Representative Dave Young.  If you want to get a bill passed or killed, know with whom you’re talking.  Which brings me to one last truth even I found hard to swallow.  Whether you win or lose, it isn’t personal.  You just couldn’t overcome their narrative.

The very first bill I testified on was the so-called “End-of-Life Options” bill.  The moment I saw the sponsor list, I cringed.  All people I liked and admired…one of whom I had helped put into office.  During testimony, it became clear that my Capitol friends, especially the sponsor I had volunteered for in college on his first run as a House candidate, were almost unanimously against me on this bill and those I dismissed and had “nothing in common with” were backing my opposition.  Why?  Co-opponents had a number of reasons to oppose the bill, many centered on faith, about which I could not have cared less, but they provided votes in this strange alliance.  Similarly, I had not known the story, but Senator Michael Merrifield, my old friend, had a family member recently go through a painful terminal illness.  Not knowing the story means it’s harder to relate.  Now, I know I said that legislation isn’t personal, but that doesn’t mean that if a proposed law directly affects you that you shouldn’t testify and get involved.  In fact, if you are affected, it might be that the whole disability community is similarly interested.  In that case, then I call upon you to join me at the Capitol to meet your legislators, let them know who you are, and eventually learn to testify as I have.

Michael Neil, graduated from Colorado College with a degree in History and Philosophy and a minor in Modern Revolutions, getting his PhD afterwards in International Studies from the University of Denver in 2013.  An avowed politics junkie, he began volunteering for political campaigns in high school, when he worked for Gail Schoettler’s failed gubernatorial campaign against Bill Owens.  His next political campaign was as a voter registration worker and volunteer in Colorado Springs for Michael Merrifield, who became the first Democrat to represent El Paso County in over a decade.  

Still active in Democratic politics, he is a member of Denver Young Democrats and Colorado Young Democrats, while working for various campaigns both issue and candidate-based.  Born with Spina Bifida and Upper Motor Neuron dysfunction, he rarely thought of himself as disabled, but his dissertation and work with CCDC has made him more aware of his membership in the community.  Therefore, it seemed natural to become a legislative intern for CCDC, which also has made him more able to know and work across the aisle on various issues of import to the disability community.

New Staff Member Spotlight

Michelle McHenry-Edrington
Picture of Michelle McHenry-Edrington

Our new Advocacy Coordinator, Michelle McHenry-Edrington, joined our team this past July. Michelle is a native of Texas and veteran of the United States Air Force USAFE. She was a researcher at the Burnes Institute on Poverty and Homelessness.  She is an active member of C-PAWW (Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors) and Veterans Voices, which is a mental health advisory board for the Denver VA. Listed among her credits is being one of the authors of the book, "Ending Homelessness." edited by Donald W. Burnes and David L. DiLeo.

Michelle’s favorite quote is from Genesis 4:9.  It reads:
Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keepers?"

We are proud to welcome Michelle to the CCDC Staff in 2016!

Support CCDC on Colorado Gives Day!

Picture of Colorado Gives Day 2016 logo with the text: Community First Foundation Colorado Gives Day 12.06.16 1st Bank Corporate Partner
Colorado’s largest one-day online giving movement, presented by Community First Foundation and FirstBank, is coming up and we need your support.
On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, thousands of donors will come together to support Colorado nonprofits like ours. Our goal this year is to raise $7,500 or about 50% more than last year's total of $5,000. Y
our support helps us to provide advocacy services in a multitude of areas including, but not limited to, protecting civil rights, guaranteeing access to health care, ensuring equal access to educational opportunities, upholding fair housing practices and even advocating for protecting the use of service animals for members of the disabled community.

Save the Date for November 1st, when you can get started here by scheduling YOUR 2016 Colorado Gives Day donation to CCDC!

About Colorado Gives Day
Colorado Gives Day is powered by, a year-round website featuring more than 1,900 nonprofits. encourages charitable giving by providing comprehensive, objective and up-to-date information about Colorado nonprofits and an easy way to support them online.
$1 Million Incentive Fund
Thanks to Community First Foundation and First Bank, Colorado Gives Day features a $1 Million Incentive Fund, one of the largest gives-day incentive funds in the country. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of the Incentive Fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated.
Thank you for your generosity.

Colorado Trust Health Equity Learning Series event from CCDC

Great news, CCDC is fortunate to have received a grant in June 2016 from The Colorado Trust to support health equity learning in Prowers County through the Trust’s Health Equity Learning Series! Join CCDC and other leaders in health care, education, human services, and government from across the county to live screenings of The Colorado Trust’s Health Equity Learning Series, followed by facilitated discussions about health equity in our communities. An educational program of The Colorado Trust, the Health Equity Learning Series aims to increase knowledge and awareness of health equity through presentations from experts discussing factors that increase disparities and solutions that advance health equity. The learning series brings experts from across different disciplines to discuss factors that increase disparities and solutions that advance health equity. 

For the October 19th event, the recorded presentation will be by Deliana Garcia, MA of the Migrant Clinicians Network in Austin, Texas. Ms. Garcia’s presentation will focus on migrant workers and homelessness, health outcomes, affordable housing access and more as they relate to health equity.

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dinner and child care will be provided courtesy of the Colorado Trust!

Location: Lamar Cultural Events Center
102 E Parmenter St
Lamar, CO 81052

FREE, but space is limited! Email CCDC Advocate Kenny Maestas at to reserve your spot.

Julie Reiskin To Be Honored with 2016 Governor's Service Award on September 15

In more great news, CCDC Executive Director Julie Reiskin will be presented with a 2016 Governor's Service Award in recognition and appreciation of her outstanding contribution to volunteerism and service throughout the State of Colorado this fall.  The ceremony will be held on Sept. 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on the 2nd Floor of the State Capitol in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Family, friends and co-workers are welcome.

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Upcoming Community Events (additional listed below)

September 27, 2016
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Justice for All Center
2525 W Alameda Avenue, Denver, CO 80219
Host Contact Info:

CCDC is part of the national Rev Up! voter mobilization campaign.

Getting out the vote is vital to fulfilling our mission to advocating for social justice for people with all types of disabilities, because when people vote with protecting disability rights in mind, those issues are more likely to get the attention they deserve from elected officials.   

To Like the 2016 National Voter Registration Facebook page, click here.  To learn more about the Rev Up! campaign, click here.

About the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

The mission of CCDC is to advocate for Social Justice for people with all types of disabilities.  We are a membership-driven 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and have nearly 2,000 Members today. 

Our 2015 Annual Report is now available.  To read it, follow this Bitly link:


Logo for



Consumer Direct Colorado puts caring into action by providing Colorado’s Medicaid waiver clients with the tools and knowledge they need to understand consumer directed service options. In Colorado, Medicaid waiver clients can qualify to direct their care under Consumer Directed Attendant Support (CDASS) or In Home Support Services (IHSS). In CDASS, the client is the employer and selects, hires, trains, and manages the attendants who care for them. IHSS clients refer potential staff they would like to provide their care to the IHHS agency. The IHSS agency is the employer and sets their care schedule. Consumer Direct Colorado (CDCO) is Colorado’s CDASS training and operations provider.

Picture Kady Hetherington, CDCO’s Program Manager(Picture of Kady Hetherington, CDCO’s Program Manager )

As the state’s training and operations provider, Consumer Direct Colorado guides Medicaid's Consumer-Directed Attendant Support Services (CDASS) clients through training on the program and help them develop their Attendant Support Management Plan (ASMP). We work collaboratively with financial management services (FMS) providers, case management agencies, and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to ensure individuals successfully enroll as CDASS clients. At least eight times a year, we travel across the state to train case management agencies on the programs to help ensure quality information is being shared across the state.  In addition to enrollment assurance, we also proudly assist more than 3,000 individuals with resources and tools to help them understand the roles and responsibilities involved with being employers under CDASS. 

Consumer Direct’s training program makes sure that no matter a client’s background, primary language, or ability, they are able to utilize our educational materials. Clients can choose between a variety of training delivery methods including face-to-face in their home or community, over the phone, or at their own pace via e-learning. For us, clients having control over the delivery of their training is a professional imperative because of our person-centered planning approach to providing services and commitment to self-determination. Our commitment to this approach was recently reflected in the free three-day training event we hosted in May called, “Person Centered Thinking Training: Tools to Help You Think and Plan for Life.” The event brought over 100 clients and industry professionals to receive training on the concepts of the person-centered approach and how to implement those concepts day-to-day. Consumer Direct Colorado, and the Consumer Direct Care Network that it is a part of, value the strength and ability of each individual as well as  affirming the individual’s right to be in control of their own lives and services.

Another way Consumer Direct Colorado has put these principles into practice, is by employing a group of CDASS clients as, “Peer Trainers.”  Peer Trainers are experienced CDASS clients who help train new CDASS clients.   As a result, 40% of our team has direct personal experience using the program. Our peer trainers’ contributions to the CDASS program and their participation in the community, help make new clients successful employers.

“I have the pleasure of working with people who inspire me daily. From being awe inspired by clients authentically living lives that stretch their minds and bodies’ abilities, to co-workers always managing to find the resources clients need to be successful, I can see a future where people of all ages and abilities are not just surviving, but thriving,” said Kady Hetherington, Consumer Direct Colorado Program Manager.

Consumer Direct tells us it is honored to be an Ally Level sponsor for the CCDC 2016 ADA Access Awards Luncheon for the second year in a row. They believe their support for our community is essential to the success of those it serves

As explained by Ben Bledsoe, Consumer Direct Care Network’s president, CEO, and former Montana caregiver, 
“Fulfilling our vision, ‘to be a respected and recognized national leader in full spectrum of in-home/home care services by providing outstanding services’ depends upon us fulfilling our mission, ‘to provide quality services to individuals and their families so they can remain in their homes and communities.’

To lead we must always provide quality care. Person-centered planning and thinking is a staple of high quality care because of how successfully it empowers clients to determine and articulate their needs. Isn’t it a wonderful cycle of quality care perpetuating client determination that we have committed ourselves to?”.

To learn more about Consumer Direct Colorado's story, please click here.

Picture of Consumer Direct Care Network of Colorado
(Pictured here is the logo of the Consumer Direct Care Network of Colorado.)

More Upcoming Community Events
  • Beginning American Sign Language and Culture course at the University of Denver starts again on Sept.13 and runs through Nov.15. This is an overview of American Sign Language (ASL), the third most common language in America. The course will focus on its basic vocabulary, structure, syntax and grammar. Students will also focus on mastering the basics of finger spelling, numbers, colors, facial grammar and sentence structure; students will also learn conversational/cultural behaviors necessary to hold a beginning-level conversation in ASL, with deaf/hard-of-hearing native users of the language. Introductory information about deaf culture will also be presented, along with deaf humor, to provide students with a broad picture of language and culture.  For details, click here.
  • The 2016 Public Health in the Rockies  Conference will be held Sept. 14 -16 in Breckenridge, Colo., with the theme, “Moving Upstream: Data, Policy, and Partnerships.”  CCDC is proud to be collaborating with the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO) and other members of the Colorado Trust's Health Equity Advocacy Cohort to present a field-building workshop titled, "Disability and Cultural Competency: Improving Access to Public Health Resources."  To learn more about the annual conference, click here.
  • Colorado's annual Family Leadership Training Institute Summit will be held this fall on October 15, from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm:

    “Improving Colorado Through Community Engagement” (theme)
    Children’s Hospital Colorado
    13123 East 16th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045
    Main Building, 2nd Floor Conference rooms
    Register at:

    Food provided: Continental-style breakfast and buffet style lunch (no child care will be provided)

    Who should attend?
    This summit is intended for all of you who lead on behalf of kids and families. This includes parents, families, youth leaders, family advocates, family navigators, professionals, and FLTI alumni who promote and encourage family engagement, support teams and child development professionals.

    What is the purpose?
    To experience a conference that is uniquely designed and implemented by family leaders that will enhance personal empowerment and also provide ongoing leadership development opportunities for parents and professionals who lead on behalf of children and families.

    What is the cost?
    $15.00 (grants available) - includes breakfast, lunch

  • And of course, Save the Date for the 2016 CCDC ADA Access Awards Luncheon.  This fall it will be held on October 21 from 11:30 to 1:30 at the Driscoll Ballroom at the University of Denver.  Tickets are on sale now for $40 each. Sponsorships are available and start at $500. Our keynote speaker will be the wonderful Felicia Griffin, Executive Director of FRESC who will speak to guests about Advocacy, Equity & Leadership. To get more details about the luncheon or to reserve your spot, call Laura Gabbay at 720-249-2208 or email her at
Picture of CCDC ADA Access Awards Luncheon logo

Become a CCDC Member today!

Membership in CCDC is free!  To sign up for our Member Alerts and to learn more about how you and your friends can get involved, click here.

Now when you become a Member, you can sign up for Email Alerts that are specifically tailored to the topic or issue that interests YOU.  Questions?  Email Dawn Howard at

In exciting news too, our Basic Advocacy Training Course is now online.  Stay tuned for more details about how you can enroll if you'd like to become a CCDC Advocate and prefer to take our course online from wherever in our state you live!

Photo of CCDC Advocate Douglas Howey at our annual Aug. 18 Re-certification Training at the Gill Foundation
Pictured here is CCDC Advocate Douglas Howey at our annual Re-certification Training at the Gill Foundation (August 2016)

Picture of CCDC Community Organizer Dawn Howard and Colorado Trust Advocacy & Policy Partner Noelle Melchizedek (on right)

Pictured here is CCDC Community Organizer Dawn Howard with Colorado Trust Advocacy & Policy Partner Noelle Melchizedek (on right), on their way to the most recent July Health Equity Advocacy Convening in Steamboat Springs.

Copyright © 2016 Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition All rights reserved.
1385 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite 610-A
Denver, CO  80222

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Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition · 1385 S. Colorado Blvd. · Bldg. A. Ste. 610 · Denver, Colorado 80222 · USA

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