State Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester) will be honored with the Legislative Advocacy Award for her advocacy work on behalf of brain injury survivors, caregivers and family members at our 30th Anniversary Celebration.
Sen. Chandler says she first got involved with the brain injury community after she was approached by a constituent whose son suffered a brain injury as a result of a fall while living in Colorado. After the individual’s son moved to Massachusetts, he was unable to find any services to help him. Sen. Chandler looked into available brain injury services, and she realized there weren’t any. “My first thought was to get a commission together.” And that she did. The Brain Injury Commission was established in 2011 and it was made up of some “very experienced brain injury advocates” including professors, social workers and survivors themselves, says Sen. Chandler.
The Commission spent about a year touring the state, researching the needs of survivors and families and finding out what services were available. Since then, she has fought tirelessly on behalf of survivors and families. ” The symptoms (brain injury survivors experience) are hidden, but are so very real,” she explains. Now, in 2014, 100 percent of driving violation fees will go to the Head Injury Trust Fund (HITS), to benefit those impacted by brain injury. “As a result, we hope that will go to one of five clubhouses so brain injury survivors can learn skills and socialize” with one another, she says.
Senator Chandler has held several leadership positions during her time in the legislature. She currently serves as the Senate Assistant Majority Leader and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy. She is the second woman to serve as the Senate Assistant Majority Leader in Massachusetts history, after former Senator Joan Menard. Senator Chandler formerly served as the Senate Majority Whip, Assistant Majority Whip, Vice-Chair on the Joint Committee on Public Health, Assistant Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight, Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Healthcare.
When asked how she feels about being honored with the Legislative Advocacy Award, Sen. Chandler says she’s “extremely honored. … This is not something I would ever expect. … This is my job. It’s above and beyond anything I could ever anticipate.”