New Hampshire has achieved national recognition for its innovative approaches to supporting people with disabilities and family members within their communities and fostering communities where everyone belongs.
Substantial positive changes have taken place in New Hampshire and many of these changes are a direct result of work by leaders who have graduated from the New Hampshire Leadership Series.
The series, which began in 1988 at the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability, was modeled after Minnesota's Partners in Policymaking Series with later input from the Colorado Partners in Leadership Training. The eight-session long series is held from September through April, and provides parents with nonpartisan, state-of-the-art information and strategies to effectively impact local and state organizations on issues related to individuals with disabilities and their families.
More than 1,000 family members and adults with disabilities have graduated from the NH Leadership Series. These leaders advocate with service providers, use the legislative process to achieve change, and organize communities to support inclusion at every level.
Leadership graduates serve on school boards, family support teams and councils, judicial benches, local and state government, and other community boards. Nearly 100 graduates have served as state representatives and senators in the New Hampshire Legislature, and one graduate became the governor of NH and is now US Senator Maggie Hassan. When asked about their entrance into the world of leadership positions, many graduates point to the NH Leadership Series as a pivotal experience in their lives.
The NH Leadership Series and its graduates:
- Create positive change by educating individuals most directly affected by laws, policies, supports, and services for people with disabilities
- Pave the way for people with disabilities to speak for themselves and direct their own lives
- Successfully advocated for bills that were passed into law by the New Hampshire Legislature by:
- Creating a comprehensive system of family support
- Reducing and eliminating the waiting list for adult services
- Reducing the use of seclusion and restraint in schools
- Working to create a new statewide organization, ABLE NH, devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities and their families through grassroots community organizing
The Institute on Disability, in collaboration with the Developmental Disabilities Council, People First, the New Hampshire Bureau of Developmental Services, the NH Department of Education, and other organizations, sponsors the Leadership Series.
The New Hampshire Leadership Series was originally based on the Minnesota Partners in Policymaking model, with later input from the Colorado Partners in Leadership. The Leadership Series coordinator provides a set of readings and handouts for each session, as well as fieldwork assignments throughout the seven session Series.