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Putting People with IDD First

IDD Advocate Corps

People with IDD, care partners and caregivers, and healthcare professionals working together to make healthcare better by pushing for change from inside the healthcare system.

Making Change Happen by Working with the Community

The IDD Advocate Corps is a strong community group that joins people with IDD and healthcare workers. Together, they work to make healthcare safer and more welcoming for everyone.

Healthcare workers can use their knowledge of the system and their connections to make positive changes. People from the IDD community bring important insights from their real-life experiences. This helps make sure the solutions we push for are meaningful.

Members work together to bring about real change across the healthcare industry.

Why This Matters

Changing in the US healthcare system is complicated. It requires carefully coordinating work between many groups:

--Healthcare professionals
--Healthcare institutions
--Insurance companies
--Policymakers

This is to make sure everyone is working towards the same goals. There are also things that make change happen slowly:

--People resist change
--There are habits and practices that are hard to change
--The healthcare world often avoids risk and isn't open to new ideas

These factors make it challenging to innovate and transform healthcare.

Working inside the healthcare system is key to making lasting changes. People within the system can:

--Be allies
--Support change
--Influence others they work with
--Help create a culture of trying new things

Support from healthcare insiders is important, but it's not everything.

People with IDD are often left out when decisions about healthcare are made. The healthcare system will only fully meet the diverse needs of people with IDD when their experiences and opinions are asked for, valued, and used to make decisions.

IDD Advocate Corps Highlights

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Join the Movement. Be a Changemaker.

We need people like you to join this effort. By bringing together knowledge from inside the healthcare system and personal experience with IDD, we can overcome challenges like resistance to change.

Together, we can create a healthcare system that is safer, more inclusive, and better at meeting the needs of people with IDD.

IDD Advocate Corps Members

The IDD Advocate Corps includes people with IDD, their caregivers, doctors, and other healthcare leaders. This diverse group works together based on listening to the real-life experiences of people with IDD and healthcare professionals. They use these perspectives to create practical solutions to improve healthcare.

Click on each to expand

  • Elyse Pegler, Lead Director, National Value Based Solutions Development, Aetna
  • Madelyn Bahr, Senior Program Specialist, IEC
  • Laura Coleman, Clinical Research Coordinator, SPARK Atlanta, Marcus Autism Center, Emory University
  • Jensen Caraballo, Accessibility Specialist, Regional Center for Independent Living; Board Member for SPM, Disability Justice Fund
  • Sherri Eldin, Family Medicine Resident, writer
  • Howard Haft, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, independent consultant, former Executive Director Maryland Primary Care Program 
  • Sue Hingle, Professor of Medicine, Associate Dean for Human and Organizational Potential, Southern Illinois University
  • Adam Hjerpe, Board Chair 2026 Special Olympics USA Games, Business Advisor and Investor 
  • Nicole LeBlanc, Consultant, Peer Advocate at Liberty Health, Self-Advocate Advisor at TASH
  • Sharon Levine, Associate Executive Director, Permanente Medical Group
  • Emily Metzger, Director of Payer Strategy and Engagement, Aledade Inc.
  • Mai Nojima, Medical Student, Kaiser Permanente
  • Colleen O’Rourke, Vice President of Network Contracting and Provider Engagement at Optum
  • Donna Perlin, Tristar Centennial, Board of Autism Tennessee
  • Rebecca Anhang Price, RAND Corporation 
  • Robbie Singal, Director of the Science and Technology Platform at Ariadne Labs
  • Dodie Turcotte, insurance and benefit consulting executive 
  • Yolanda Vargas, student at California State University, Chair of the Working for Inclusive, Transformative Healthcare Foundation (WITH) former Board Member for Disability Rights California

IEC thanks the following funders for supporting the IDD Advocate Corps:

WITH Foundation logo

Making Healthcare Better and Safer for People with IDD

IEC works with people who have personal experience living with IDD and healthcare professionals. Together, they create new programs focused on patients' needs to change how healthcare is taught, provided, and paid for.

We’re hiring a Communications Manager! Learn more and apply by 7/24.