Advocacy Forum

APRIL 26 – 28, 2020

In this current environment of social distancing, your voice matters and can still be heard!

While the current situation prevents us from conducting the in person portion of the Forum, join us for our Virtual Advocacy Forum, April 26-28, 2020.  We have put together a series of interactive virtual sessions with advocacy experts who will lead discussions and training sessions and answer your questions.

Find out ways to engage and make a difference not only during Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month but all year long.  Understand the policies affecting the limb loss and limb difference community.  Learn how to tell your story in an impactful way that will make Congress considers issues important to you – healthcare, insurance, research, disability rights, and others – they need to know what is important to our community.

Your insight, expertise, and personal experiences are key to making sure Congress understands what they can do to improve access to care and the lives of people living with limb loss and limb difference.


Sunday, April 26

1 – 2:30 p.m. Learn About Being An Advocate; Goals for 2020 Policy Advocacy
In this interactive session, we’ll provide an overview of the Amputee Coalition’s policy and advocacy goals for 2020. We’ll talk about the news ways in which advocates can get involved in educating lawmakers. Through interactive polling and other online discussions, we’ll help educate attendees about what it means to be an advocate and how you can make a difference.

Monday, April 27

1 – 2 p.m. Policy Training and a Deep Dive Into the Issues
This session will provide attendees with a behind-the-scenes look at the public policy issues most important to our community right now. We’ll also talk about what Congress is doing with regard to COVID-19 relief and what we can advocate for in future funding packages.

5 – 6 p.m. Making the Ask and Telling Your Story
In this session, we’ll talk about how to tell your story, and make it relevant to the “asks” we’re making of Congress. We’ll share tips and tricks about how to craft a short, relevant story about yourself that is compelling and shows your Member of Congress and their staff that you care about our community.

Tuesday, April 28

Today’s the big day! It’s the day that we, as a community, review our policy priorities and how we ask Congress to support the limb loss and limb difference community.

11 – 11:45 a.m. The Government’s Role in Supporting People with Limb Loss and Limb Difference
Hear from HHS about their engagement with the community and things they are doing to impact people with limb loss and limb difference, and learn more about how to engage with policymakers to support the limb loss community today.

12 – 12:30 p.m. Take Action with the Amputee Coalition
It’s time to reach out to Members of Congress and ask them to support the policy issues most important to our community. Doing this together creates momentum and buzz, and we’re excited to be coming together as a group to make these asks.


Carol Blymire, MS
CEO, Blymire Communications

Carol is the CEO of Blymire Communications where she provides thought leadership, positioning, strategic communications, and personal branding counsel to Fortune 100 corporations, national non-profits, celebrity foundations, and everything in between. In addition to her public policy and PR business, she writes about food and pop culture media for The Washington Post, volunteers with The Smithsonian Institution as a transcriber of historical documents for their digital files, and serves as a NASA citizen-scientist. Carol got her BA in Communications and Psychology from The George Washington University and earned her Master’s in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University. She also completed two professional certification programs: the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes program (crisis communications and reputation management) and the U.C. Berkeley Science of Happiness at Work program.

Raissa H. Downs, JD
Founding Partner, Tarplin Downs & Young LLC

Raissa cofounded Tarplin, Downs & Young, LLC 15 years ago after spending nearly a decade on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch in senior staff positions.  Downs served as Subcommittee Staff Director and Healthcare Policy Advisor to Senator Mike Enzi on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee before leaving the Senate.  She then joined the legislative team at the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation, finishing her tenure after a promotion to Principal Deputy.  While her portfolio captured all programs under HHS’ jurisdiction, she spent a significant amount of time on implementation of the Medicare Part D program and other major regulatory matters before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Prior to the creation of the firm, Downs was a vice president at the firm Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers.

Dan Ignaszewski
Chief Policy and Programs Officer, Amputee Coalition

Dan is the Chief Policy and Programs Officer for the Amputee Coalition.  Dan is responsible for providing strategic direction for program development and implementation and oversees government relations, support and outreach, and education and research.  He also serves as the principal investigator for the Amputee Coalition’s cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living to operate the National Limb Loss Resource Center®.  Dan also develops strategic partnerships to further the reach and impact of programs to support the limb loss and limb difference community and the organization’s mission.

Mary Richards
President and CEO, Amputee Coalition

Mary is the President and CEO of the Amputee Coalition, the nation’s leading patient-advocacy and service organization for people affected by limb loss and limb difference, with a mission to empower the community to achieve their full potential through education, support, and advocacy.

Before joining the Coalition, Richards was the executive director of Partners for Better Care, a coalition of patient-advocacy organizations advocating for the next generation of healthcare based on key principles of patient-centered quality care, availability, transparency and affordability. Mary’s leadership experience includes policy, lobbying, and advocacy for people living with neurodegenerative conditions as the senior director of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association and the founding executive director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM). Mary also worked as the deputy CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), which is now part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Mary also worked for two Members of the House of Representatives as a senior legislative aide focusing on health policy, working on the Patient’s Bill of Rights and creation of Medicare Part D, as well as participating in the Congressional Democratic Health Care Task Force.

Laura Trueman
Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Laura Trueman serves in the Office of the HHS Secretary as Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington D.C.  IEA is the “front door” of the Department, with teams devoted to facilitating communication with state, local, and tribal governments; nongovernmental entities including patient, provider, insurer, and employer groups, as well as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers; and faith-based and other non-profits working to help people in need.  In addition to the IEA staff in Washington D.C., Trueman oversees 10 regional offices doing similar stakeholder engagement, representing the Secretary and the Administration at the state and local level.  Trueman joined HHS in January 2017, coming from Capitol Hill, where she worked for then House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), as his senior policy advisor and outreach coordinator to external groups.  Laura’s Capitol Hill experience also includes six years as legislative director to a U.S. Senator.  In the private sector, Laura worked for The Heritage Foundation, where she focused on health and entitlement reform, and at UnitedHealth, where she worked on Medicaid managed care innovations. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Laura worked as Executive Director of the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage – a cross-section of healthcare stakeholders representing hospitals, physicians, insurers, small businesses, and PhRMA companies. Laura has a Master’s Degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Matthew Zablud, MA
Partner, Beekeeper Group

Matthew is a founding Partner at Beekeeper Group. He previously worked on the e-Campaign team at the national headquarters of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign and, before that, was a lawyer and campaign manager in Melbourne, Australia. For the past 15 years, he has worked with advocacy clients to boost stakeholder recruitment and empower their supporters to become high-quality advocacy champions. Matthew holds a Masters in Political Management from The George Washington University where he also worked as an adjunct professor teaching Online Political Strategy.