Redwood Falls resident Jaclyn Ferrier is a recent graduate from Partners in Policymaking, an eight-month, comprehensive training program that teaches disability law and policies and advocacy skills.

The next training class starts in September, and applications are due July 8.

Ferrier is raising a daughter with down syndrome who needs daily medical, speech and self-awareness attention. She was impressed with the resource tools and information presented to the class, and that is one reason why she recommends it to others. Meeting with the Minnesota Department of Education was most valuable to Ferrier. She is getting certified with the National Special Education Advocacy Institute that will allow her to help others as well as her daughter. 

Minnesotans with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities are encouraged to apply for the upcoming comprehensive advocacy training course. The training is free to participants.

“Our goal is that graduates gain a clear understanding of disability law and policies. The training increases their self-confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Dr. Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “As they have learned to speak up for people with disabilities, many have become leaders in their own communities.”

The Minnesota-inspired program is also offered in most states as well as in several foreign countries. This highly acclaimed and finely tuned leadership training taps into national experts and utilizes group participation.

Described by many as life-changing, in its 32-year history more than 1,000 Minnesotans have become leaders in their own communities. Participants become effective advocates for themselves, their children and others with disabilities.

Costs for the program are covered by a federal grant. Childcare and respite allowances are given, and overnight accommodations are provided for those who travel from outside of the metro area to attend. Mileage is reimbursed, and meals are provided. Sessions are held at the Crowne Plaza Aire in Bloomington, near Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Each class is limited to 40 Minnesotans, and participants are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. The first session for the 2019-20 program year is Sept. 13-14. Applications are due by July 8.

“This program is based on the belief that systems’ change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” said Wieck.

Those selected to participate in the program must attend all sessions and complete homework assignments.

For further information, or to get an application form, go to, or contact Brenton Rice at or (651) 242-6589.

The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities introduced this program in 1987, and, through expansion, it has trained more than 27,000 people worldwide.