When lawmakers projected the federal disability trust would run out of money, they knew it needed fixing. But being Washington D.C., they couldn’t agree on how to do it. Some feared fraud, while oth-ers worried stringent restrictions could pre-vent those who need help from receiving it.
This type of complicated policy debate excites Christina FitzPatrick. She and other AARP officials led the effort on Capitol Hill to fund the trust. “It made a real impact in people’s lives. People who were getting disability insurance benefits and needed it were really suffering, and this was a way to make their life better. It’s [an example of how] public policy can improve people’s lives and the powerful role AARP plays in making those kinds of things hap-pen,” says FitzPatrick, the former director of economic issues at the AARP Office of Policy Development and Integration. In August, she became the state director for AARP NH.
FitzPatrick, a Harvard and Princeton grad with a BA in Social Studies and a Master’s in Public Affairs, Economics and Public Policy, wants to build on the orga-nization’s strong base. “We have a vibrant membership here with 215,000 members in New Hampshire,” she says, as well as a deep bench of volunteers and staff. And she knows she will need them to tackle major policy priorities.
Those include improving prescription drug affordability, improving access to high-speed internet and improving access to retirement savings, affordable health in-surance, paid sick leave and flexible sched-ules. “AARP is better known for helping people once they are retired, but we have a lot of resources for people still in the labor force,” FitzPatrick says.
AARP is also ensuring its members are informed about where political candidates stand on important issues as the November elections draw near. “We are [also] trying to make it clear to candidates what issues are important to people 50 and older,” she says.
When not taking on major policy is-sues, the Louisiana native enjoys cooking, hiking, getting to know the state and learn-ing to crochet. “I need to find some crochet buddies up here,” she says.