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Local MS Activists go to Washington

Local MS Activists join advocates nationwide at Public Policy Conference

When more than 400 MS Activists from across the country converged on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. last month, the Greater Washington Chapter was well represented and well prepared to let federal lawmakers know where we stand on issues aimed at improving the lives of people with MS.

“Our volunteers did an amazing job of educating every member of our state’s Congressional delegation about the implications of policy issues on everyday life for people with MS and their families,” reported Debra Maas, the Chapter’s client services coordinator.

Debra, three other Chapter staff members, and 11 volunteers attended the National MS Society’s Public Policy Conference in May, which included two days of issues education and advocacy training culminating in a third day of Capitol Hill meetings.

“During the two-day training, we learned about important issues, the obstacles that stand in the way of legislation to address them, common questions lawmakers might have, and how to respond,” explained Debra. “Then, we were prepared to speak with one voice and to be better and more confident advocates for the MS Movement.”

Among the issues the MS Activists addressed were:

  • The establishment of a permanent national MS disease registry system to measure the incidence and prevalence of MS in the United States.
  • Repeal of a 1972 rule that established a 24-month waiting period for disabled individuals to become eligible for Medicare benefits.
  • Securing a specific appropriation to fund MS research through the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Among the Chapter volunteers who attended the Conference were three experienced local MS Activists - Holly Hawker, Bill Luria and Lisa Ursino-Pavitt - who earned an expense-paid trip to the conference after writing winning essays on their personal role in and vision for MS advocacy. Other volunteer Activists included Barbara Bernbaum, Susan Brock, Walt Corneille, Dr. Lily Jung, Dr. Eugene May, Bruce Pavitt and Joe Piper.

Bill Lauria“(After being diagnosed with MS), instead of feeling sorry for myself, here was an opportunity to overcome this challenge by getting involved in the MS movement, using the skills I’ve acquired over 40 years of public service. I realize now that I am on a life long journey with MS... If it’s a journey that is personally rewarding and meaningful, and in the process one that can help make a difference, then it’s a journey worth taking.”


Holly Hawker“I have access to quality health care, but am daily overcome by stories of people all over the country who struggle for the most basic care. Health care has become one of my top political issues and has been something that I have supported and advocated for since the 90’s… I am committed to developing relationships with our state and federal representatives in order to promote the National MS Society’s agenda.”
Holly Hawker  RENTON


Lisa Ursino-Pavitt“Because I work with a doctor that has many patients on DSHS and Medicare, I am rapidly learning their plights in regard to quality and affordable health care. I would like to attend the Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C. in order to continue to broaden my advocacy and bring back what I have learned”
Lisa Ursino-Pavitt  REDMOND


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