2020 PRA Annual Presidents Message

President’s Annual Message 2020

As we close out 2020, I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some of the great things that we have been able to accomplish this unprecedented year, along with some of the strategic plans for the upcoming year.  The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted so many families, organizations and business.  At the very heart of this pandemic are the healthcare workers that demonstrate exceptional skill, patience and compassion in the face of a global threat, and we want to take a moment to say “we see you, we appreciate you, and we thank you!” We also want to thank the frontline workers and the families of both the healthcare and frontline workers for their sacrifices.

Like every other year, 2020 began for PRA with the introduction of some new board members. We welcomed Tess Campbell, Garrett Huck, Kelley McKee and Crystal Stuck to the board. At the first PRA Board meeting, Amy Moore volunteered, and was approved by the board, to fill the role of Second Vice President for 2020. This opened another spot on the General Board and was filled by Teresa Mussano Hearn.

In February, the PRA was pleased to be able to celebrate the 100thAnniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which was the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities as a result of serving in the military.

Strategic planning has been ongoing, with much of our focus being placed on our Professional Development Institute, business diversity, student outreach, membership, social media presence, education, legislation, and website outreach. The PRA and the PDI Committee worked diligently to develop another exciting Professional Development Institute for April 2020.

As with so many other events and conferences across the globe during the pandemic, and acting in an abundance of caution, we had to cancel our 2020 PDI a month before the scheduled event. Our presenters, sponsors, and vendors all agreed with this decision, and have agreed to carry over their planned session and participate in the 2021 PDI instead. With that in mind, strategic Planning for the 2021 PDI began to take place as soon as possible, and with continued caution and safety in mind, the PRA Board and PDI Committee decided that the 2021 PDI will be held virtually over a 2-day period, combining the already planned 2020 PDI and the current one being planned. The PDI is such a wonderful networking and informational event—that while we were disappointed to not be able to provide this annual event for 2020, we look forward to all the all of the valuable information and networking that the 2021 PDI is sure to provide, especially in light of this unprecedented time in our field.

One of the goals of PRA is to continue our efforts to bring valuable resources and services to our members, in whatever mode possible. In light of the telework and telelearn environment that so many have participated in these past 9 months, the PRA has developed the Continuing Education and Virtual Learning Committee.  This Committee will always be chaired by the incoming Past-President for the next year.  This committee will be working to provide monthly virtual webinars that provide CRC’s/CEU’s to its members, for free. In preparation for this, the PRA has purchased a virtual online platform to carry out this goal and provide these monthly webinars in a manner that most people are becoming accustomed to.  Additionally, this will allow us to continue to prepare for the 2-day Virtual PDI in April 2021, in an effort to provide a seamless and successful virtual event.

Our Awards Committee continue to work hard on reaching out to secure nominations for various PRA Awards and PRA Student Awards, as they do each year. The 2020 PRA Student Awards were presented virtually to the award winners this year due to the cancelled PDI, while the 2020 PRA Awards will be presented at the 2021 PDI. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Bonnie Bluett, Judy Pena and the entire PRA Awards Committee on their diligent and hard work each year on behalf of the PRA.

Right on schedule, our past president, Tracie Maille, worked in partnership with the National Rehabilitation Association, and continued with our online voting system. At the last PRA Board meeting, Garrett Huck volunteered, and was approved by the board, to fill the role of Second Vice President for 2021. This opened another spot on the General Board, resulting in the election of 5 new board members to kick off the year 2021.  We welcome Ray Feroz,Yvelisse Gonzalez, Janetta Green, Tracie Maille and Jeff Seabury to the board!

As we end the year and move into 2021, I would like to invite you to continue to check out our website, Facebook Page and other Social Media pages to see all that PRA has to offer its members and community.  I invite you to join us at a board meeting—come and see the partnership, networking, strategic planning, and sense of community that comes from a room full of disability advocates from both the public and private sectors.  This year, more than ever, the disability community needs to have a voice. The PRA is committed to the advancement of rehabilitation to promote full inclusion of people with disabilities into the mainstream of our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested so many individuals this year, disabled and nondisabled. As the pandemic continues, there is hope in sight. Hope that life will return to ‘normal”, sooner than later.  Normal for some, however, still include challenges to being as independent as they can be.  The PRA believes that together, we can accomplish our goals of empowering individuals with disabilities to live full and meaningful lives—to live and work independently—to become productive members of our communities in traditional or virtual environment.

Wishing each of you the very best in 2021, and for a safe and joyful holiday season!

Jennifer Radick, M.S., CRC

2020 PRA President