With grant funding from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), the Family to Family Network has selected Ricardo Atkinson as their TCDD Policy Fellow. Over the next two years, Ricardo will work alongside mentors from the Family to Family Network to develop a deeper understanding of government agency regulations and legislative policies that affect people with developmental disabilities (DD). The fellowship will help Ricardo enhance his skills to promote self-determination and self-advocacy in the policy environment, which will include facilitating collaboration with decision-makers, self-advocates, and family members.
Ricardo calls his older brother, who has a severe disability, his hero. Witnessing first-hand how his parents provided his brother unconditional love and support through many difficult and challenging times has had a huge impact on Ricardo’s outlook and his desire to improve the lives of people with DD in Texas. Through this fellowship, Ricardo will increase his knowledge and skills in advocacy and policymaking so he can improve opportunities and supports for all individuals with DD. As a former member of the United States Marine Corps and a retired school principal, he plans to combine the passion he acquired during his military service with his experience in education to become a strong advocate and to achieve policy-related goals.
The Family to Family Network provides information, training, and support to help families of children with disabilities. By providing on-site community-based supports, the Family to Family Network offers the opportunity to connect so families can learn from and help each other.
The goal of the TCDD Policy Fellows program is to increase the number of people employed in public policy positions that address issues important to individuals with DD. In addition to the Family to Family Network, TCDD is currently funding fellowships with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Disability Rights Texas, Easterseals Central Texas, and The Arc of Texas.