TASH Presents at Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust

Pictured above, left-to-right, TASH’s Dara Baldwin, Carol Quirk, Anne Smith and Ralph Edwards attend the 2011 CBC Health Braintrust in Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust is known for its long-standing influence on policy decisions impacting African Americans and other minority populations. Each year, the braintrust provides an opportunity to re-examine health issues and the implications for racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. as well as identify policy goals for eliminating disparities. Along with policy-makers, the 2011 braintrust held Tuesday, April 12, involved opinion leaders and experts to discuss these disparities and the legislative goals to combat them.

As in years past, representatives from TASH were on hand to present a perspective of the disability community. In attendance were Carol Quirk, TASH Board President, Ralph Edwards, Board Member and Chair of the Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee, Anne Smith, member, and Dara Baldwin of the D.C.-based TASH staff. Carol, who has considerable experience on disparities for individuals of diverse backgrounds with disabilities, had the following remarks on the opportunities the braintrust had for TASH:

First, the conference has representation from many of the federal agencies that address health issues, key civil rights, health and social policy organizations, and legislative leaders. Second, the focus of the event is reducing health disparities in diverse communities, which is consistent with TASH efforts in recent years. A large focus of the TASH Board and of the Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee is not only to increase our internal cultural competency and sensitivity within the TASH membership, but also to advocate for and address the health, education and employment challenges faced by people of diverse backgrounds with disabilities. Most importantly, the participation of TASH in the CBC Health Braintrust enables us to expand relationships with civil rights organizations and share the message of TASH about disparate experiences for persons of diverse backgrounds with a disability.


Ralph Edwards, who has been a leader in elevating the public consciousness of disparities faced by individuals of diverse backgrounds with disabilities, was invited as a panel participant during the CBC Health Braintrust. The panel, Health Reform that Transforms, explored the successes and challenges of health care reform and how it has been implemented. During the discussion, Ralph noted the disparate experiences of people with disabilities of diverse backgrounds in accessing care and achieving positive health outcomes:

TASH has documented lower life expectancy, higher morbidity rates, and decreased quality of life outcomes for people with disabilities, particularly people of diverse backgrounds with disabilities. The CBC Health Braintrust can help raise awareness of this population to federal agencies, researchers, policy-makers and to all diverse communities.


By being part of this event, TASH was able to connect with a number of influencers about TASH’s vision for people of diverse backgrounds with disabilities. Below are a few TASH resources on diversity and cultural competency:

Learn more about the 2011 TASH Conference in Atlanta, Ga., November 30-December 3, which includes a focus on issues related to diversity and cultural competency.

Read this letter from TASH Connections guest editor, Ralph Edwards, from the recent issue on Eliminating Disparities for People of Color with Significant Disabilities and Support Needs. To inquire about a copy of the complete issue, send an e-mail to jriethmaier@tash.org.

The TASH National Agenda outlines our work in five core areas, including Diversity and Cultural Competency.

View the Diversity and Cultural Competency section of the TASH website.