Weidner Will Build on Federal and State-Level Efforts to Improve Access to Care, End Epilepsy-Related Discrimination, Promote Public Health & Education, and Fuel Research
BOWIE, MD, October 30, 2023 — The Epilepsy Foundation today announced that Laura Weidner, Esq., has been promoted to Chief Advocacy and Government Relations Officer for her ongoing work to elevate advocacy for the 3.4 million people — and their families — in the U.S. living with the epilepsies. Since she joined the Foundation in 2018 as vice president of Government Relations & Advocacy, Weidner has spearheaded the organization’s strategy on federal and state-level policy, as well as legal advocacy and grassroots engagement. In this new role, she will build on those efforts to improve access to care, end epilepsy-related discrimination, promote public health and education, and fuel research through advocacy efforts.
“Since joining the Epilepsy Foundation, Laura has embodied the essence of our mission by advocating for policies that effect systemic change and address challenges that come with living with epilepsy,” said Bernice Martin Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Epilepsy Foundation. “She has achieved many remarkable milestones which have made a significant impact on our community. Her relentless pursuit of progress and passion for making a difference are an inspiration to us all.”
Weidner’s leadership at the Foundation was instrumental in securing a $3 million annual increase for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Epilepsy Program and tripling the annual funding for the Veterans Affairs Epilepsy Centers of Excellence. In addition, under her guidance, the Epilepsy Foundation’s advocacy team, together with a network of offices, grassroots advocates, and partners have achieved key milestones:
- Enactment of Seizure Safe Schools laws in nearly half the states
- Launch of the first-ever Congressional Epilepsy Caucus
- Protection of Medicare’s Six Protected Classes policy
- Launch of the Epilepsy Advocacy Champions program
- Connecting more than 1,000 individuals annually to resources to fight epilepsy-related discrimination as part of the Jeanne A. Carpenter Legal Defense Fund
“Advocacy propels positive change in the lives of people with the epilepsies,” said Weidner. “Maintaining the hard-won rights to be free of stigma and discrimination and have access to health care requires constant vigilance. Every individual who shares their story to raise awareness amplifies the collective power and impact of our community. I am humbled to work alongside epilepsy advocates from across the country, the Foundation’s network, and partner organizations to continue fighting this fight and ensure that every person with epilepsy has what they need and deserve.”
Prior to joining the Epilepsy Foundation as vice president, Weidner led federal policy efforts related to access to care and disability rights for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Public Policy Office for nine years. Before that, she worked in government affairs at the Child Welfare League of America for three years. Weidner’s leadership extends beyond the Epilepsy Foundation. She served as immediate-past board chair and is currently a board member of the Consortium for Constituents with Disabilities, the largest coalition of national organizations working together on federal disability-related policy. She also plays critical roles in several other coalitions, including the Partnership to Protect Coverage, the Epilepsy Leadership Council, and the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC).
Laura earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University and a law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of partners throughout the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy. The Foundation connects people to treatment, support, and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding epilepsy research and supporting epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. In partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 600,000 people in seizure recognition and first aid. The Epilepsy Foundation continues to focus on serving the epilepsy community through advocacy, education, direct services, and research for new therapies. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000; in Spanish at 866.748.8008 or laepilepsia.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube.
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