Tag Archives: advocate

Bob Michaels

Bob Michaels receives Spirit of ABIL Award

ABIL---WhiteOutlineAs an advocate for the disabled for more than 30 years whose passionate commitment to independent living has taken him from board rooms to the halls of Congress, Bob Michaels has lived on both sides of disability.

When he served as Executive Director for Arizona Bridge for Independent Living (ABIL) from 1984 to 1991 and in the same role with the Philadelphia-based Liberty Resources, a Center for Independent Living, from 1991 to 1995, he advocated for those with disabilities, but was not affected by one.

Today, at 67, he is.

“I didn’t have a disability when I first started out,” Michaels said.  “I developed it later on.  I never thought I had one.”

Michaels, who lives in Tempe, has Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 (SCA-1), a brain disorder affecting coordination, primarily of fingers, hands, arms, speech and eye movement, and most often a result from damage to or atrophy of the cerebellum, the part of the brain controlling coordination of movement.

But with or without SCA-1, Michaels has always been driven to stand up for those who can’t, both literally and figuratively.

“I think that advocating for the disabled community was just always part of me,” he said.  “I grew up and was raised believing that you always assist people with the greatest need.  That’s what a person is supposed to do.  This was the perfect job for me.”

And, certainly for the thousands of men, women and children his efforts have benefitted over the years.  For those contributions, Michaels received the 2014 Spirit of ABIL Award on March 24.

“Bob’s style as an advocate is to motivate consumers to participate in public policy advocacy,” said Amina Kruk of ABIL who nominated Michaels for the award. “He makes a difference by training others, believing in the power of individual action and encouraging teamwork, but he does not hesitate to challenge decision makers, policies and programs that fail to promote advocacy and true independence for persons who have disabilities.”

Michaels, who may be better known on a national scale than in Arizona, has worked in the field of independent living and disability since 1972 as a private consultant and trainer for the National Council on Independent Living as well as to centers for disability living.

He also has turned his disability blog into a book, Strong Medicine…A Roadmap for Creating or Improving Your Independent Living Program.

“It’s really a field manual for those who want to start an independent living program,” Michaels said, adding that if he had one message to deliver it would be that “people can live independently. They don’t need to move into institutions.  They can live on their own. Everyone should strive to be as free as they can.”

Now fully retired, Michaels is where he wants to be:  Arizona.

“I lived in Pennsylvania originally and moved to Arizona in 1975.  When we first lived here, I used to tell people all the time that I lived in Arizona but I was really from Pennsylvania,” he said.  “When I moved back to Pennsylvania, I realized something. I told people there that I live in Pennsylvania, but I’m really an Arizonan.  And that’s how it really is.”

Rodolfo “Rudy” Parga Jr. was named chairman of the Board of Directors of Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.

Parga Named Chairman of the Board for Chicanos Por La Causa

Rodolfo “Rudy” Parga Jr. was named chairman of the Board of Directors of Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. Parga, a managing shareholder at Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, had previously served as vice chair of the organization.

“Rudy has been one of the driving forces behind successful initiatives that have helped Chicanos Por La Causa become Arizona’s leading community development corporation,” said CPLC president and CEO Edmundo Hidalgo. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work together. We anticipate only great things under Rudy’s leadership.”

Said Parga: “I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity for an organization that does so much good in the community, the state and the nation. CPLC is a benchmark, culturally proficient organization whose unifying voice and advocacy builds alliances, bridges borders and empowers communities.

“At a time when things can seem divisive, CPLC goes about doing great things and making our world a bit better, and bringing people together. I have been privileged to be involved for several years with this dedicated group of diverse individuals, and the growth and strength of their reach is an incredible success story.”

CPLC is a statewide community development corporation, committed to building stronger, healthier communities as a lead advocate, coalition builder and direct service provider.

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Sonja Bochart ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Sonja Bochart, SmithGroup

Sonja Bochart, SmithGroupSonja Bochart, a green design advocate, has more than 15 years of experience as an interior designer and is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the International Living Building Institute.As an associate at SmithGroup, she actively promotes holistic design approaches and healthy work environments for commercial design projects and is NCIDQ Certified and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Ms. Bochart is knowledgeable on how green design affects clients’ biggest bottom line—their employees—as well as the benefits of green design, the biggest obstacles faced for “greening” interior spaces and identifying resources to streamline change.Striving to expand the boundaries of conventional design practices, she strives to send a message that well designed projects respect and support their surrounding environment, and in turn these projects promote the health, wellness, productivity of their occupants and nourishes their spirits.

To continuously expand her insight into the latest developments in the field of design and share her knowledge, Ms. Bochart actively participants in several industry organizations, publishes and speaks frequently on related topics, and teaches at Arizona State University. Her portfolio includes educational, community and international medical facilities as well as corporate spaces and mixed use structures.

Through her efforts to synthesize the latest research into her designs and teaching, her contribution has helped to shape happier, healthier and more sustainable interiors.

Topic: An informative presentation on Biophilic Design, nature-inspired architecture, and how it is the next great design journey of our times.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Tanya Wheeler is president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association.

Arizona Bankers Association Continues To Advocate For The Banking Industry

One thing that hasn’t changed at the Arizona Bankers Association since it was founded 105 years ago is its dedication as an advocate for the banking industry. The cornerstone of the association has always been advocacy of bank-related issues with elected officials, state legislators, members of Congress and regulators at the state and federal levels.

“It’s the most significant service we offer,” says Tanya Wheeless, president and CEO of the ABA. “We serve as a clearinghouse when those decision-makers are considering new legislation or regulations. We can weigh in on behalf of the industry on anything that might have an impact on banking. And we do it with a single voice. That’s why we started and that’s what we still believe in.”

The association’s Grassroots Advocacy Resource Center focuses on communicating with state and federal lawmakers and arranging meetings between bankers and local legislators and in Washington with members of the Arizona congressional delegation.

“When we need to communicate on a bill,” Wheeless says, “we provide our members with contact information. Nearly 1,000 letters from Arizona bankers were sent to our congressional delegation opposing a farm credit bill earlier this year, and we were successful. It didn’t pass.”

But the association doesn’t overdo its use of the grassroots program.

“We only pull the trigger when we need to, when it’s really an important issue,” she says.

Wheeless characterizes banking as being different from other businesses.

“They compete viciously in the market, but they all offer basically the same products and services,” she says. “Where banks set themselves apart is in customer service and convenience. Even though they are great competitors, they recognize that when it comes to laws and regulations, we’re all in it together. A law that’s bad for one bank is bad for the bank next door.”

By the same token, a good law helps all banks. For example, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill this year that requires loan officers to be licensed and to undergo continuing education. Sponsored by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican, the measure was supported by the Bankers Association and the Arizona Mortgage Brokers Association.

“It passed in the final hours,” Wheeless says. “Mortgage brokers were largely unregulated. They had to have a license, but little could be done to revoke a license and communicate problems to others — like don’t hire this person. This law provides that they have the same oversight and training that banks have to provide. There was a time when you had people doing mortgages in Starbucks. They had passed a test, and that was all they knew about the mortgage industry.”

The bill was a good way to provide some uniformity in education and licensing requirements, regardless of who the employer is, Wheeless says.

In collaboration with the governor’s office this year, the association produced 50,000 cards containing resource information for people feeling financial pressures, Wheeless says. Printed in English and Spanish, the cards were distributed through grocery stores, nonprofits and social service agencies.