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2012 CalABA Award for Leadership in Advocacy
Lorri Unumb, JD
Friday Luncheon, Feb. 17 • 12:00 p.m. (more info.)
CalABA's Leadership in Advocacy Award is presented to an outstanding individual who has exhibited exceptional leadership and advocacy skills in promoting behavior analysis by affecting policy, regulation, and/or legislation aligned with CalABA's mission and goals.
CalABA is proud to honor Lorri Unumb, Vice President of State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks and an Adjunct Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. Lorri Unumb is a lawyer and the mother of three children, – Ryan (10), who has autism; Christopher (7); and Jonathan (4). In 2005, she wrote ground-breaking autism insurance legislation for South Carolina ("Ryan's Law") that passed in 2007 and served as a catalyst for the national movement toward autism insurance reform.
In 2008, Unumb became employed by the New York-based non-profit Autism Speaks, where she advocates full-time on behalf of individuals with autism. As head of state government affairs, she has testified 75+ times on health insurance issues in state legislatures around the country. For her advocacy efforts, Unumb has been recognized with the Jefferson Award for Public Service; the Autism Society of America 2008 "Parents of the Year" award (along with her husband); and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's Michael Hemingway Award. Unumb's work has been profiled on CNN, on NPR's "Morning Edition," and in Town&Country magazine, from whom she received one of three 2009 "Women Who Make a Difference" awards.
Unumb teaches a law school seminar at George Washington University called "Autism and the Law." In 2011, she and her husband Dan released the first-ever comprehensive textbook on legal issues related to autism, also called "Autism and the Law." Unumb has recently helped establish the non-profit Autism Academy of South Carolina, the only ABA-based, one-on-one school for children with autism in the state.
Unumb's efforts helped contribute to the passage of SB 946 in 2011 which mandated coverage by California health plans of evidencebased treatment for individuals diagnosed with ASD; it also recognized BCBAs as qualified providers. Unumb's collaboration with professionals, parents, lobbyists, legislators, and regulators across the U.S. has significantly improved the futures of many, many thousands of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.