CO3 Voyager Leadership Award for Political Impact
In 2010, Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE (Former CEO Autism NI) received the Voyager Award for Political Impact on behalf of work with Autism NI. The independent CO3 judging panel had commended Autism NI for its consultation with and empowerment of a regional network of families to promote a cause and to address a great inequality within the disability sector.
The skill of the organisation in building its campaign on researched models of innovative legislation and political action worldwide was recognised. Additionally, there was mention of Autism NI being the author of a range of influential strategic publications and a founding member of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership within the UK and Ireland. This was felt to have been very effective in establishing Autism NI's credentials and reputation as an effective, active and innovative agent for real change.
In particular the Judges noted the leading role of Autism NI in the signing of an agreement between the NI Assembly and the US Congress leading to the creation of the All Party Group on Autism and its commitment to the introduction of the Private Members Bill on Autism.
She comments, "Receiving the CO3 Political Impact Award was a very proud moment not only for me but for all the staff and volunteers at Autism NI, who were part of the lobby campaign. The political journey I embarked upon involved a lot of persistence, energy and self-belief and at times the goal of attaining Autism specific legislation, seemed so out of reach. Therefore, to be acknowledged for all the hard work that was involved during that 10 year campaign, was a great moment of recognition within my career."