18th Annual Western Regional Conference

Event Date(s): 
May 14 - 16, 2015
Denver, Colorado
Event category: 

Women In Government hosted the 18th Annual Western Regional Conference on May 14-16, at the Westin Denver Downtown Hotel. The meeting convened women state legislators from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming to discuss the most pressing policy issues facing the region.


See session detail below:

Higher Education in the States
Demarée Michelau, PhD Panel Table
Director of Policy Analysis
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)

Brian Sponsler, EdD Panel Table
Director, Postsecondary Institute
Education Commission of the States

An increasing proportion of Americans are not obtaining high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials, limiting their potential. This session will provide an overview of what the Western region has addressed during the 2015 legislative session, critical resources for legislators as they consider higher education policy, and state strategies to improve college readiness even before college.

  • Learn more about WICHE here
  • Visit the Education Commission of the State here.
    • Access the Blueprint for College Readiness 50 state policy analysis here.
    • Access the Blueprint for College Readiness policy page here.

Water Policy in the Western Region 
Senator JP Pomnichowski 
Montana State Legislature

This session provided legislators with a policy overview of the protection of key water resources in the western region. To find out more information, follow the link for Senator Pomnichowski's presentation, here.

Promoting Healthy & Safe Swimming throughout the US
Tom Lachocki
Chief Executive Director
National Swimming Pool Foundation

Michael Beach, PhD 
Associate Director for Healthy Water
National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Doug Sackett 
Executive Director
Conference for the Model Aquatic Health Code

Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. However, as summer months approach, it is important to focus on minimizing the risk of illness while engaging in fun pool activities. This session provided a basis for acheiving water safety. Access Mr. Beach's presentation, here. Access Mr. Lochocki's presentation, here. Access the Model Aquatic Health Code, here

The Importance of Vaccinations
Robert Haight, PhD
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions
Regis University, School of Pharmacy

Stephanie James, MBA, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions
Regis University, School of Pharmacy

American vaccination rates are down; they are lower now than in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Tanzania. The recent measles outbreak at Disney World brings to light the importance of vaccines in the US. This session provided a background and basis for the importance of vaccinations in the United States. To find out more information, access their presentation, here

Keeping Stable Patients on Their Medications
Amanda Chesley, JD
Executive Director
WJ Weiser & Associates, Inc.

Krystin Herr
Vice President, Government Affairs & Advocacy
Arthritis Foundation, Pacific Region

Jennifer Ziegler
Program Director
Arthritis Foundation, Pacific Region  

Achieving control of a chronic disease is often a difficult process, and this session highlighted the importance of protecting patient safety and the physician-patient relationship.

  • Access the Medication Stability Coalition (MedStaC) one-pager on medication switching here
  • Access the MedStaC Frequently Asked Questions here
  • Access the MedStaC Social Media How-to here
  • Access the MedStaC Sample Press Release here

Access to Care: Pulmonary Hypertension
Sandra Lombardi, RN
Clinical Care Coordinator
UC San Diego Pulmonary Hypertension Center of Excellence

Katie Kroner, MSW
Senior Director of Advocacy & Awareness
Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Pulmonary hypertension is a serious disease that raises the important issue of access to care for patients in need of centers of excellence. This session provided a basis for understanding and treating the disease in addition to potential healthcare options. For more information about the disease, access the Pulmonary Hypertension Handout, here. Read model legislation, here

Strong Sisters: Elected Women in Colorado
Strong Sisters is a documentary that tells the unique story of political women in Colorado. This was a brief screening of some of the compilation of oral histories from past and current female elected officials results in a film and a rich historical archive to be used for generations to come. Access the trailer, here

Domestic Violence: NO MORE
Rita Smith
National Football League

Launched in March 2013 by a coalition of leading advocacy groups, service providers, the US Department of Justice and major corporations, NO MORE was conceived to amplify the power of the domestic violence and sexual assault movement using a unifying symbol to drive awareness and break down the barriers of stigma, silence and shame that keep people from talking about these issues and taking action to prevent them. Access Rita's presentation, here

Substance Abuse & Mental Health
Representative Geran Tarr
Women In Government State Director                                  
Alaska State Legislature

This session provided the background, challenges and successes of Alaska’s Mental Health First Aid Working Group and Suicide Prevention Council. Read a full text of the bill, here

Addressing Pay Equity

Amy Parsons
Vice President for University Operations
Colorado State University
As a public university, Colorado State made a promise to tackle pay equity within its own system. By analyzing its structure and working to eliminate pay gaps, it has created an impressive model for other employers. For access to the results of Colorado State Universities study on pay equity, click here

The Evolving Landscape of Marijuana Policy

While marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, in Colorado it has been  legalized it for recreational purposes. Across the country, and particulary in the Western Region, this issue is moving in the direction of leniency. To learn more recreational marijuana implementation, watch the 60 minutes video, here

For Legislator or Registration information, please contact:
Johnathan Lozier, Manager Legislative Outreach
202.333.0825 ext. 214

For Sponsor information, please contact:
Sumeira Kashim, Associate Director, Development
202.333.0825 ext. 210

For Policy information, please contact:
Brenna Kehew Sculley, Associate Director, Policy & Programs
202.333.0825 ext. 211