When Anna Landre (SFS ’21) began her first full-time summer internship after her first year at Georgetown University, she was greeted with a fun and educational summer experience. Instead, she nearly lost the disabled services she could rely on to live alone.
In 2018, Landre received Medicaid insurance through her healthcare provider in her home state of New Jersey. However, the state eventually revoked their access to personal care services, which provided the resources and support Landre needed to live independently of home.
Landre wasn’t the only New Jersey resident to suffer from these restrictions. She ruled that the only solution to the state’s unjust disability rules was to push lawmakers to change it, she said.
COURTESY ANNA LANDRE | Anna Landre (SFS ’21) was named 21-under-21 by Teen Vogue for her work with people with disabilities.
“I brought together disabled New Jersey people with the same problem, contacted local reporters, and worked with my local representatives. Eventually the state resolved my individual situation, but I requested that they do the same for everyone else, ”Landre wrote in an email to The Hoya.
In November, Landre was named one of Teen Vogue’s 21-under-21s for her disability rights advocacy and law-making work. The annual 21-under-21 list rewards girls who have worked against the opportunities for innovation, creation, connection and inspiration, according to Teen Vogue.
In addition to advocates of police reform, COVID-19 therapies and mental health, Landre was celebrated for her commitment and work to changing the physical, legal and social barriers that disabled people often face.
“A lot of these spaces – college, workspace, or something else – weren’t built for us,” Landre said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “That means that many of us go our own way and have to pass many ‘no’ on the way. It’s frustrating, but this is the work that needs to be done in paving the way for people to come after us. Its a lot to do. “
In February 2020, Landre’s hard work came to fruition when the New Jersey State Senators introduced a legislative package that included five bills developed by Landre to help disabled students receiving Medicaid assistance to meet their living expenses. If passed, the legislation will provide disabled people with full Medicaid government health insurance regardless of whether they qualify for Medicaid programs based on their earned income. The bill, introduced in January 2020, has yet to be passed and is pending in the Senate for Health, Human Services and Seniors, one of the subcommittees of the New Jersey Senate. It is part of the agenda for the 2020-21 legislative period.
Medicaid currently covers up to 40 hours of personal care per week for disabled people, according to a press release from New Jersey. This program benefits disabled people who can live at home with family support more than students who must live independently Senator Vin Gopal, a representative who is involved in legislation to better serve disabled residents of New Jersey.
Landre has also taken her activism beyond her New Jersey community. She is currently the neighborhood advisory commissioner for District 2E in Washington, DC, and co-chair of the Youth Disability Council of the Democratic National Committee. She also works with The Inclusive Disaster Strategies Partnership, a disability-led nonprofit that helps individuals develop measures to support pandemics with disabilities before and after natural disasters or other emergencies.
Landre is pleased that her work has been recognized by Teen Vogue and hopes it will create greater awareness for disability activists, she wrote.
“It is a great honor to be among so many young women and women doing important work to break down barriers and fight for our communities,” Landre wrote. “Teen Vogue has had great coverage of disability issues over the past few years, and I hope this makes it even better. I would love to see several disability activists in the next iteration of 21 Under 21. “
In Georgetown, Landre is a founding member of the Georgetown Disability Alliance, a campus group founded in 2019 to help disabled students socialize, learn and support one another.
Kiki Schmalfuss (NHS ’22), a GDA board member, said Landre played a crucial role in the development of the organization.
“Anna somehow does everything. She knows everything; She is there to help you with anything. And as the oldest board member we currently have, she has been instrumental in guiding and advising us, ”said Schmalfuss in a telephone interview with The Hoya.
According to Angelene Leija (COL ’23), a GDA board member, Landre’s recognition in Teen Vogue is an important moment for the disabled community in Georgetown and beyond.
“We are all very proud of her. I’m not surprised because she’s really inspiring and has worked really hard not just for herself but for every member of the club and the community in general, ”Leija said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “She works for future generations of college students in Georgetown because that type of work is not just for today’s students, but also for future students.”
A senior in Georgetown, Landre will continue her work on a number of research and advocacy projects this year before attending graduate school, where she will be one of 62 recipients of the Truman Scholarship, a graduate school fund for students devoted to life public service.
“I’m working on several exciting research projects to create and implement disability policies around the world. I am writing an honors thesis on the implementation of disability laws in Brazil and an academic article on the rise of disability policies in Latin America, ”Landre wrote.
Advances in disability rights require overcoming the stigma of disability, Landre wrote.
“We have to make it clear to people that disability is a universal experience. Almost everyone will be at least temporarily disabled for at least some time in their life, and it is estimated that 15 to 20% of people around the world are disabled, ”Landre wrote. “We must also destroy the myth that disability is inherently a bad, tragic and restrictive way of life. Most people with disabilities face far more challenges from discrimination and social barriers than our own bodies. “