A Higher Level of Advocacy
By Leslie M. Leslie, MassPAC Project Director
When I first met Lisa Nelson, I could tell she had that “drive”, that she was someone who would make a difference. Seeing her July testimony at the Massachusetts Statehouse in support of proposed dyslexia legislation confirmed my instinct. Not only did Lisa testify before the panel, she also stood in the back of the room quietly encouraging others to step forward. In fact, a room full of professionals, educators, parents and students gave testimony for over 4 hours to encourage the adoption of legislation for the early screening for dyslexia. The conviction of the need for change was strong in that hearing room, and Lisa was smiling.
Lisa was recently selected by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as a 2017 Unsung Heroine for her outreach and advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals living with dyslexia. In his nomination of Lisa for the award, State Senator Michael Moore said, “Lisa is an energetic, engaged citizen… instead of sitting idly by, she has sprung to action to spread awareness and to propose public policy changes…”
What causes some individuals to rise to a higher level of advocacy, to find the time and energy to take on a cause? Parents of children with special needs face daily challenges, often spanning both work and home life. Yet some parents are stepping forward – serving as SEPAC officers, running for School Committee, or even championing legislation. They have decided that there is a need for change. Lisa co-founded Decoding Dyslexia Massachusetts as part of a national network of grassroots groups in all 50 states.
Lisa, thanks for your advocacy and inspiring example. Congratulations and well done.