President & Lobbyist
In October 2016, two mothers in Columbia, MO, met to discuss finding a legislator to file a bill which would expand the autism insurance mandate to cover all developmental disabilities. After asking questions at a couple public forums, a couple legislators took note and legislation was filed. To promote this legislation, the mothers created a Facebook group--Missouri Disability Empowerment.
It didn't take long for other parents and providers throughout the state to join these mothers advocating for an expansion of the autism mandate. During the first two years of lobbying, other disability concerns came up. As these parents and providers were gaining success with the legislation, the restroom, and the other special ed services, more people began sharing concerns with them. Two things became apparent.
They needed to organize and become an official group to more effectively lobby and advocate.
There were more disability issues to work on than the insurance legislation.
In June 2018, six parents and providers met in Columbia, MO, to form a disability advocacy non-profit, which works with people throughout the state of Missouri. It seemed a natural fit to name the group Missouri Disability Empowerment, after the Facebook group. To simplify things, they decided to call the group MoDE.
During MoDE's first year, MoDE Foundation was created to be the charitable branch of MoDE. The organization quickly realized that much of the work they were doing was not related to legislation. To be more effective and to grow their network of advocates, MoDE and MoDE Foundation decided to restructure. MoDE Foundation took most of the advocacy and educational efforts of MoDE. This has allowed MoDE to focus on legislative work and lobbying.