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WASHINGTON, DC -- Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs, was honored for Excellence in a State Issue Campaignat the annual Professional Women in Advocacy conference held here. National Grassroots Advocacy Director Shelley Hendrix was one of three finalists forExcellence In A Campaign For WomenServing Women.
Over 180 women were nominated in five categories for the annual awards which included finalists from organizations such as AARP, Google, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the ASPCA, MADD and other groups. Autism Speaks captured three of the nominations, with Shelley Hendrix nominated in two categories.
Lorri Unumb, an attorney based in Lexington, SC, led the fight for Ryan's Law, named after her son with autism, in 2006 in South Carolina to require coverage of autism therapies by private insurers. She later joined Autism Speaks and has helped manage similar successful campaigns in 34 other states.
She has broadened her work to advocate with employers who self-fund their health plans to voluntarily add autism coverage. Approximatelyone-third of self-funded employers now voluntarily provide autism coverage, often acting after their home states enacts lawsrequiring coverage by fully funded health plans.
Hendrix was a finalist for the Excellence in a Campaign For Women Serving Women, "an effort wherein women advocate(s) successfully impacted the outcome of a problem or opportunity on behalf of other women."Hendrix has built and mobilized Autism Speaks' grassroots "army" of advocatesthat has played a prominent role in the enactment of state autism reform laws and which turned the tide in Congress in 2011 when the Combating Autism Act was reauthorized.
PWIA provides professional development and leadership training to women in all areas of advocacy, including federal, state and local government relations, public affairs, community relations, public policy, legislation, Congressional relations, community activism, political engagement and campaigns.