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Governor's Committee on Disability Issues & Employment projects

Resources on this page include: Legislative Workgroup | Accessible Communities | Awards | Community Outreach | Membership | Youth Leadership Forum |


We have general membership meetings three times a year. Between those meetings, established subcommittees meet to work on special projects that were recommended by each subcommittee and approved by the general membership.



We network with disability advocates and advocacy organizations in Washington to increase awareness of proposed legislation, state agency policy and issues that could be addressed by state-level legislation and policy, impacting the lives of Washingtonians with disabilities, and to help create a united voice in the disability community when feasible; research issues, legislation and policy to make recommendations to GCDE and its leadership regarding stances on them; and provide resources for educating advocates on how to be heard by the legislature and state agencies.


  • Bill Kinyon, Workgroup Lead
  • Clarence Eskridge, GCDE Member
  • Damiana Harper, GCDE Co-Vice Chair
  • Julian Wheeler, Friend of GCDE
  • Kevin Frankeberger, GCDE Member
  • Megan Mason-Todd, GCDE Member
  • Pat Bauccio, GCDE Chair
  • Patti Dailey-Shives, GCDE Member
  • Reg George, GCDE Member
  • Laurie Schindler, GCDE Member
  • Warren Weissman, GCDE Member
  • Yvonne Bussler-White, GCDE Member
  • Staff: Elaine Stefanowicz, Program Coordinator
  • Staff: Elizabeth Gordon, Executive Director

Priority bills:

SHB 1069 - Adopting the mental health counselor compact.

SHB1106 - Concerning qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work.

SHB 1109 - Providing funding for school districts for special education.

2SHB 1134 - Implementing the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system.

SHB 1222 - Requiring coverage for hearing instruments.

2SHB 1305 - Improving access to and provision of a free appropriate public education for students with disabilities.

HB 1479 - Concerning restraint or isolation of students in public schools and educational programs.

SSB 5300 - Concerning continuity of coverage for prescription drugs prescribed for the treatment of behavioral health conditions.

Project-focused subcommittees


The Accessible Communities Subcommittee of the GCDE comprises a group of GCDE members and a Program Coordinator. The AC Subcommittee is responsible for:

What we do:

  • promoting the establishment of County ACACs throughout Washington State;
  • assisting counties with the actions required to establish an ACAC, and reviewing/approving the documentation presented by counties in that regard;
  • providing technical assistance to county ACACs in respect of accessibility matters;
  • supplying ideas and examples for projects that will improve accessibility for people with disabilities;
  • reviewing and approving funding from the Accessible Communities Account for accessibility project proposals presented by county ACACs.

(see more on the Accessible Communities page - coming soon)


Recognizes and promotes the achievements of employers and individuals who have improved employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  

View the recording of the 2021 program or read the announcement about recipients

The Governor’s Employer Award’s Nomination Process is live!

The GCDE is proud to present the new Toby Olson Lifetime Impact Award, honoring an individual who embodies the qualities and characteristics of the late Toby Olson, and has made a lifetime commitment to addressing the inequities those with disabilities face in their community and at the state and national levels and can demonstrate specific, direct actions dramatically changing the lives of those in the disability community!

GCDE is implementing a two-step process for this Award.  The first step is a Letter of Intent prepared by the nominator and an Endorsement Letter prepared by a current, former or emeritus GCDE Member.  GCDE will review the information provided in the first step to determine if the nomination should proceed.  The nominator will be advised by telephone or by email whether the submission will be approved to move forward.  Following approval, the second step requires completion of an official nomination packet and supporting material which will then be reviewed by the Judging Panel.  A link to the official Toby Olson Nomination will be included in the GCDE approval letter.

Use the forms below to complete Step 1 of the process:

Letter of Intent (to be submitted by the Nominator)

Letter of Endorsement (to be submitted by a Current, Former, or Emeritus GCDE Member).

(See more on the Awards page - 2022 information now posted!)


Conducts outreach, information and advocacy events in communities throughout the state. The committee gathers information and then makes recommendations to elected officials, local service providers and leaders in the disability community.

Our upcoming event will be held for the Clark County Community in Vancouver, Washington, on November 2-3. For more information about our public Town Hall meeting on November 2, including time, location and registration link, please see our flyer below. Transportation information to come shortly, stay tuned for more here.  

Download the flyer

The first public Town Hall Forum last year was held virtually for the Colville community in the Spring of 2022. We are pleased to announce that the report about the meeting is now available to read here!

Our last event was in Port Orchard in early December of 2022. Report now available! 

What we discuss:

  • Transportation

  • Guardianship

  • Community access

  • Affordable housing

  • Educational services

  • Employment

  • Local resources

  • And more

For questions or to invite the Community Outreach Subcommittee to your community, contact Program Coordinator Ryan Bondroff.  


Recruits and evaluates applicants, makes appointment recommendations to the Governor, and supports the development of the potential of the committee's members.  

See more about becoming a GCDE member or view current members. Deadline for 2022 applications closes soon!


Youth Leadership Forum (YLF)

The 20th Annual Youth Leadership Forum was held on August 7-12, 2022 at the Dumas Bay Center in Federal Way, WA. Report coming soon!

About YLF:

WHO? Students 16 years of age ­­­­prior to the start of YLF and under the age of 22.

WHAT? The Washington State Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is an innovative, intensive, six-day leadership training program for upcoming high school juniors and seniors with disabilities. Delegates are selected from around the state of Washington to cultivate leadership, and citizenship skills while having fun and making friends.

WHY? It is critical that young people with disabilities growing into adulthood learn to identify themselves with pride as individuals and members of the very accomplished disability community. 

COST?  The YLF is free to attend.
These services are made possible by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The 21st Annual Youth Leadership Forum will be held on July 30-August 4 at the Dumas Bay Center in Federal Way, WA. See below for more information. 

2023 YLF event flyer

2023 initial YLF student application (Survey Monkey) Deadline extended to June 15, 2023!

Follow YLF on Facebook.

For more information about the Youth Leadership Forum, contact Elaine Stefanowicz at elaine.stefanowicz@esd.wa.gov or 360-890-3774.


(back to GCDE home)