21 & Change, Inc. Appoints 10 Florida Leaders to Advisory Council

 In National, News

TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 17, 2022/PRNewswire/ — 21 & Change, Inc. President John Bodor, Officers, and the Board of Directors announced today the appointment of 10 Florida leaders to the nonprofit’s Advisory Council. The organization champions inclusion, education, and human rights for children and young adults with developmental disabilities in the state of Florida.

The following industry and community leaders were unanimously approved by the 21 & Change Board of Directors at the organization’s monthly board meeting on February 10, 2022:

  • Sylvia F. Diehl, Ph.D., President of Knowledge Counts
  • Rep. Jackie Toledo, Florida House of Representatives (District 60)
  • Mayor Jane Castor, City of Tampa
  • Paul Anderson, President & CEO of Port Tampa Bay
  • Jorge Santeiro, Vice President & Co-Founder of Lawyers Autism Awareness Foundation
  • Councilman Luis Viera, Tampa City Council (District 7)
  • Rep. Allison Tant, Florida Houseof Representatives (District 9)
  • Commissioner Ken Hagan, Hillsborough County (District 2)
  • Arthur F. “Chip” Diehl III, Brig. Gen. USAF Ret., Diehl & Associates
  • Rob Kriete, President of Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and everyone at 21 & Change, it’s our sincere pleasure to thank each one of these phenomenal leaders for taking the time to support our mission and champion people with developmental disabilities. Your leadership and knowledge will be a great asset to our organization, our vision and mission, and we appreciate and respect your commitment to our community and great state of Florida,” said Bodor.

21 & Change champions inclusion, education, and human rights for all people with developmental disabilities. The organization believes in the value of all human lives and that all should have the opportunity to discover their full potential while in the Florida public school system and after.

21 & Change Vice-President Clayton Clemens said, “The overwhelming support and guidance from many of these leaders has been and will continue to be invaluable to our board, officers, partners and most importantly, our benefactors; all people with developmental disabilities in the great state of Florida.”

Yani Bodor, Co-founder of 21 & Change and Director of Advocacy said “The collective knowledge of the Advisory Council will provide missing expertise, spur innovation, and will add a necessary level of checks and balances to always ensure our vision, mission and position is true to our objectives. And as a parent of children with developmental disabilities, I can’t express my gratitude enough to these individuals who help make our programs a reality by not just educating people but creating bipartisan change on a statewide level.”

One of the driving forces and most successful services provided by 21 & Change has been the IEP Advocacy Scholarships. IEP Advocates, also known as Special Education Advocates, assist parents of children with developmental disabilities to obtain special education services and accommodations in their public schools.  Although not attorneys, the advocates help the parents represent the child’s legal rights to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment under the current federal and state laws. This scholarship program benefits parents and their children who could not otherwise afford the professional services of an IEP Advocate. Many of our scholarship recipients are single mothers with limited or no income who have one or more children with developmental disabilities.

Clemens, the Director of Public Affairs at Florida Internet & Television also said, “21 & Change is working with the State of Florida and Florida legislators to push for public policy change that improves the quality of life and education access for students with disabilities. Having partnerships with progress-minded thought leaders, state legislators, and community stakeholders during the current legislative session will benefit policies that address student and individual needs are enacted and upheld.”

According to Bodor, last year’s legislative priorities for education policy issues included a national-level push for special education funding, and the state-level Students with Disabilities in Public Schools (S.B. 192 & H.B. 149) legislation that prohibited the practice of seclusion, strictly limited physical restraint, and initiated a pilot program for cameras in our Florida ESE classrooms. This successful push resulted in Governor DeSantis signing S.B. 192 / H.B. 149 into law on June 22, 2021.

21 & Change fundraises throughout the year for the “IEP Advocacy Scholarship Program.” The goal for 2022 is to increase scholarship awards to 25 or more for Florida families experiencing financial distress to offset, or fully cover their needs. The organization’s annual flagship fundraiser, Champions for Change, will take place in downtown Tampa at the Tampa Movement Lab on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Interested sponsors, donors, volunteers, and participants may learn more at www.21andchange.com.

About 21 & Change: 
21 & Change is a 501(c)(3) Florida – based nonprofit organization built upon the values of selflessness, courage, shared understanding, and partnership. The nonprofit champions inclusion, education, and human rights for all people with developmental disabilities throughout Florida. 21 & Change works in partnership with other nonprofit and disability rights organizations for state and national public policy. The organization strives for individuals with disabilities to engage in full and meaningful lives, and community support of this vision.

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