Frontline Initiative: Advocacy and Voting

Editors' Notes

Julie and Chet, two women stand close to each other and look directly at the camera smiling. They are standing in front of a window with a large blue pillar behind them and a snow-covered building and tree branches. Julie Kramme on the left, smiling, shoulder length brown wavy hair, brown eyes, and wearing a plaid pink, orange, green, and tan top, with a collar open and zipped down a few inches. Chet Tschetter is on the right, smiling, with short brown and white hair, black-rimmed glasses, a blue oxford button-down shirt, with a blue tie, with "Peanuts: characters in small circles: Snoopy, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty, and Charlie Brown, with a black collar-less jacket with a white logo M, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

Editors Julie Kramme and Chet Tschetter

Direct Support Professionals on Advocacy and Voting

Advocacy is likely a regular part of your work as a direct support professional (DSP) in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. You likely speak up with the people you support quite often to ensure they have what they want in life. But relevant issues at hand right now that require DSPs to speak up for themselves and your profession. The NADSP Advocacy Symposium, happening April 30–May 1, 2024, provides a ready-made opportunity for you to gather with other DSPs to speak directly to your elected officials. You can register for the NADSP Advocacy Symposium here .

In this issue of Frontline Initiative, Joseph Macbeth explains the NADSP Advocacy Symposium in detail and the implications of the issues at hand. In another article, DSP Megan Russell reflects on participating in the NADSP Advocacy Symposium in 2023. You can also hear more reflections on the NADSP Advocacy Symposium from Megan Russell on A Closer Look at Frontline Initiative podcast. While you listen, you can follow A Closer Look to get alerts when new episodes are released.

In this issue, we give you the tools to develop your message to speak up and ask for changes to support your professional practice. For many years, advocacy efforts that impact the direct support workforce have been left to your agency administrators and advocates from provider trade organizations. But now is the time for direct support professionals yourselves to speak up for the profession. Amy Hewitt urges DSPs to reflect on your message. She provides a template that DSPs can use to communicate with your elected officials about what you do. You can improve your community by getting involved. DSP Tammy Delfun uses the template to lay out her message. Representative Tina Spears encourages DSPs to take the time to reflect on what you need to do your job with the people you support. Serena Lowe also provides a strategy you can use to think about making your elected officials hear your message. We also include stories from DSPs, self-advocates, family members, and others about speaking up and affecting change. These stories can help move us all to action.

This year, and every year, you have an opportunity to vote. Casting your vote is an opportunity to support people with disabilities. We also include resources designed for you to have conversations with the people you support as they make a plan to vote, and overcome any barriers to voting. Aaron Madrid Aksoz and Brian Dimmick highlight resources to plan and overcome barriers that stand in your way. Heidi Smith and Derek Vladescu highlight how important it is for people with disabilities and supporters to cast your vote.

A Closer Look at Frontline Initiative Podcast

Listen to A Closer Look at Frontline Initiative where host, Chet Tschetter talks with authors from the latest issue of Frontline Initiative about their experiences and best practices for supporting people. A Closer Look is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and many places where you access podcast content. Please follow A Closer Look to receive alerts when new podcasts become available.

Frontline Initiative • Volume 20, Number 1 • 2024

Editors: Julie Kramme and Chet Tschetter

Marketing and communications: Jerry Smith

Graphic design: Connie Burkhart

Web developers: Shawn Lawler, Jonathon Walz, and Kristin Dean

Institute on Community Integration Director: Amy Hewitt

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Editorial board

  • Tony Anderson, Executive Director, Valley Mountain Regional Center
  • Wesley Anderson, Director of Employment & Community Services, National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services
  • Lisa Burck, Project Director, The Arc of Mississippi
  • Janet Wilson, Manager of Certification and Accreditation, NADSP
  • Rachel Jacob, E-Badge Reviewer, NADSP
  • Mary Lawson, Executive Director, PAKS Developmental Services
  • Colleen McLaughlin, Associate Director, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Pediatrics
  • Diane Potts, Adjunct Professor, Tulsa Community College, NADSP Accreditation Review Team Coordinator
  • John Raffaele, Director of Educational Services and Editorial Board Chair, NADSP
  • Robert Schier, III, Down Home Ranch, Elgin, Texas
  • Eryn Starck, Executive Assistant, Oregon Resource Association


If you wish to contribute to Frontline Initiative, please contact:

Julie Kramme or Chet Tschetter, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, E-mail:

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Frontline Initiative is supported through a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education (#90RTCP0003) and the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), University of Minnesota, and the University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (#90DDUC0070). This issue is also supported through a cooperative agreement between the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#03-8818-22), and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the RTC-CL, ICI, University of Minnesota, NADSP, or their funding sources.

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