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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.


  • Amy Cloud - Chair
  • Patti Dailey-Shives - Vice Chair
  • Dave Carl
  • Marsha Cutting
  • Kristin DiBiase
  • Lucas Doelman
  • Clarence Eskridge
  • Steve Lewis
  • Kristina Sawyckyj
  • Angie West

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.

More information:

Criteria for ACAC Project Funding

Proposed projects should focus on improving access for people with disabilities, as well as promoting awareness, inclusion, or acceptance of people with disabilities within the local community.

Proposals should address the following:

  • What is the county proposing to do?
  • Why did the county select this proposal?
  • What is the timeline for this project?
  • What outcomes or performance measures does the county hope to achieve?
  • What is the proposed budget for the project, how does the county propose to apply the funds it is requesting, and why is each proposed expenditure necessary for the project?
  • Matching funds are not required for these projects; however, if a project is expected to generate a local match, including in-kind contributions such as volunteer hours, the nature and value of any such local match should be described in the proposal.


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

See more on the Awards page - 2024 information now posted!

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).


The Community Outreach subcommittee advocates for and with the disability community by conducting outreach events to facilitate, encourage, and celebrate community involvement in the development of overarching action plans to improve and promote solutions for self-identified community barriers. We provide information on available resources to individuals with disabilities and to the local community.


  • Develops and hosts activities to engage rural and/or underserved communities throughout Washington;
  • Engages with leaders to build effective relationships within their community.

Latest event:

Our last event was held for the Clark County Community in Vancouver, Washington, on Nov. 2, 2023. 

The first public Town Hall Forum was held virtually for the Colville community in the spring of 2022. The report about the meeting is now available to read here!

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

GCDE maintains information about our Community Outreach events from 2008 to present. To read the reports, click the links below.

Past reports:

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 GCDE Staff at gcde@esd.wa.gov.  


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 2024 applications is Oct.13, 2023!


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 was July 30 to Aug. 4, 2023, at the Dumas Bay Center in Federal Way, WA. See below for more information. 

We won’t be having YLF this summer, but stay tuned for information about YLF 2025.

We are taking this year off to make changes and improvements to our program. Thank you for your patience!

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.


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