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rotahaler machine price Blakemore, Catherine, Board member, 1998-2001

"While IDEA (and its many predecessors) have always had a clear vision and wonderful tools for ensuring that students with disabilities received equal educational opportunities; too often the law is merely a glimmer of possibilities without the strong advocacy of students, parents and their advocates. The advocacy, training and support provided by COPAA and its members is a wonderful means of helping students and families turn that vision into reality."

Dobel, Kathryn, COPAA Chair, 2001-02, Board Member, 1998-2003

"How can I best describe the early days of COPAA? "Inspiring" and "exhilarating" are the first words that come to mind, and yes there was also a large complement of "frustration." But, for the first time we had available all in one location a committed cadre of individuals from across the nation focused only on the educational rights of students with disabilities. As a side benefit, we would also have a more comfortable alternative to the usual special education conference with school district orientation. No shared podium with, or seat in the audience to listen to, someone talking about the dangers of the holding in your case. No argument over the importance of inclusion and services providing intensive intervention.

Our first national parent advocate and attorney conference and the creation of our dedicated national non-profit Board happened at once over a brief few days. Of course Jim Rosenfeld, our first Executive Director, had long worked on the vision of a national group with parent orientation before the initial Board first met as a group. But, what were we thinking? This sounds like an endeavor calling for many years of preparation to first raise funds for the support staff required to take on this large-scale national effort. Surely this was the job of more than one person or an all-volunteer Board. Instead it was the adrenaline from within and the incredible dedication of our planning group of committed individuals volunteering their time to COPAA that carried us forward.

We soon established an important email list where members could quickly access and share information across the country. This was fairly novel at the time!

I was the second COPAA Chair, beginning my tenure in March of 2001. I had no idea how formidable and exhausting that task would be before I signed on to the job. At the beginning of the 2001 conference, we met in teams at the Capitol to discuss the need for change during the reauthorization process. Of course the reauthorization would be delayed after September 11th, as would our next annual conference, and the reauthorization would take its toll on all of us for the next several years. However, the seeds of COPAA's national presence were planted in Washington in those early days, and the formation of COPAA's committee structure during my tenure provided the forum for a more focused national presence.

I want to acknowledge Matt Cohen, Joyce Ginsburg, Pat Howey, Judith Gran, Bill Dussault and Pete Wright (Sonja Kerr was out with an injury) for their support and assistance on the steering committee we convened at (and after) the 2001 conference, as we met and worked to create the committee format that has helped to carry COPAA forward with strong member support.

I am awed by the many accomplishments that COPAA has worked hard to achieve since that time on behalf of disabled students, especially in the legislative and amicus arenas, and the important allies that COPAA has gained in the process. Over these ten years, individual members have contributed greatly, but it is the collective strength of the membership that has always kept COPAA strong, effective and forward moving. I do not know of a more dedicated membership and all volunteer Board that accomplishes at the level of COPAA.

It is hard work to build a diverse organization, with a national base and a national network, based on the overriding principle that what the collective membership can do for COPAA is critical to the operation of the organization. The COPAA experience has not been easy for all. As with any organization, there are always individuals who find it easier to work in a group format, and there are individuals who can contribute more toward the day-to-day work. The sum of all contributions over these ten years has helped COPAA to grow in a positive way. As a result, COPAAns are now able to come together to celebrate the achievements of the first ten years with a commitment to carry on the mission of COPAA, so that no child with a disability is ever left behind.

It is with fond memories of Diane Lipton and Beth Goodman, who fought hard with us to keep COPAA going during the early formative years, even when they were critically ill, that I celebrate COPAA."

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