“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Anne L. Henry of Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be one in the first group of inductees to the Public Interest Hall of Fame, created by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Watch in 2003 as part of its 20th Anniversary celebration to be held in Washington DC on October 9, 2003, to highlight those people who have made incredible investments in issues about which OMB Watch cares—government accountability, citizen participation, and social justice to name a few.
During it’s first 20 years of existence, OMB Watch has broadened it’s focus from simply concentrating on the OMB as an agency, to becoming more deeply involved in the processes it oversees and tracking substantive causes that it reviews. The five main areas on which OMB Watch now focuses are:
- budget and government performance issues;
- regulatory and government accountability
- information for democracy and community;
- nonprofit advocacy and other cross-cutting nonprofit issues; and
- nonprofit policy and technology.
Henry works for the Minnesota Disability Law Center, where, for more than two decades, she has evidenced an ongoing commitment to protecting the liberties of disabled citizens. She has been a forceful legislative advocate as well as a plaintiff’s attorney. Her achievements have been noted and her counsel has been referenced and used outside of Minnesota.
In years past she has handled a variety of cases for persons with developmental disabilities, including zoning issues for community residences, social service issues, financial assistance cases, guardianship, commitment, special education, discrimination, deinstitutionalization and health care. She is currently focused on the areas of law and community services issues for individuals with disabilities and legislative work at the state level, including composing, assessing and affirming on legislation and administrative rule making. Her responsibilities also include speaking and training for parents, professional groups and people with disabilities.
Henry’s ongoing, 25-year legacy includes all these areas. Her vast knowledge of federal and state laws and policies regarding persons with disabilities has allowed her to fight budget battles again and again.
Henry is widely respected by state officials and employees, legislators, people with disabilities and their families and friends. She is the one to whom they go for the answers. She has testified before state legislators on many issues. She has been a keynote speaker for organizations such as ACT (Advocating Change Together) and the Institute for Community Integration of the University of Minnesota. She authored an analysis of the changes in Health and Human Services as they related to the disabled for the 2003 Legislative Session, and she’s drafted countless other legislative amendments over the years. She has also been instrumental in contributing and coordinating information for Access Press. It is this devotion, her cognizance, her elemental integrity, savvy, ebullience and dedication that make her exactly what is needed as an architect of state policy for improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. As for what colleagues have to say about her, “Anne has been for years an extraordinary advocate, truly committed to the persons she represents. She is effective because of the breadth of her knowledge, her common sense, her patience working with the powers that be, and her insistence that they act to protect the rights and meet the needs of persons with disabilities.”
Anne Henry is steadfast in the fight for disability rights. Her convictions are deep and her will is solid. She will not rest until her visions are made reality. That kind of heartfelt dedication is rare in today’s fast-paced, self-oriented world. Only once in a while do we come across an individual willing to go the extra mile, sacrificing her own time and energy for the freedoms of others. But, “no single one of us has brought about this achievement,” says Henry. “It has been a combined effort. The light should shine on all of us.” And the light will shine on us all. With Anne Henry on our side, victory is sure to be ours.