2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Sydney Pickern

Sydney Pickern

Name of Host Organization: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
City, State: Berkeley, California
Issue area: Disability Rights
Sponsors: Pfizer Inc

The Project

Pioneer disability access "best practices" at the neglected intersection of health, benefits and legal aid systems to improve health outcomes for low-income people with disabilities in Alameda County.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Millions of low-income people with disabilities obtain health care from Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), eligible for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. They also overwhelmingly rely on government programs for critical cash and housing benefits, and on legal aid programs for access to justice. Skilled health care providers, benefits specialists, and legal aid lawyers work diligently to serve clients with disabilities who often come to them in crisis.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Sydney is the right person for the project because:
• She is a low-income person with a disability with first-hand knowledge of the importance of a person-centered approach to health access
• During law school, she worked with a local disability rights organization to address reasonable accommodations requests
• Post bar, she has continued her work with various legal aid organizations in the areas of public benefits for persons with AIDS/HIV and disability discrimination in education

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