Accessibility, Inclusion, and Outreach Honorees

Activist of the Year Award 2017

Activist of the Year Award 2017 Rhonda Shouse
(awarded posthumously)

Woman with dark red hair, narrow rimmed black glasses in a black dress holding a small back puppy wearing a red bow
Rhonda Shouse

Earlier this year, we lost someone who worked to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated as second-class citizens – especially with regard to access to healthcare. A fighter for Medicaid recipients and a champion for those struggling with mental illness, Rhonda Shouse was not shy about standing up for those people who were overlooked and ignored by bureaucracy and policies indifferent to those left out in the cold.

A fixture on the Iowa Mental Health Planning Council and other advocacy bodies, Rhonda fought tirelessly for the rights of Medicaid beneficiaries to legally guaranteed services. As a Medicaid beneficiary herself, she knew the importance of advocacy. She organized multiple trips to Des Moines so that beneficiaries could express concern directly to their elected officials. Rhonda worked towards educating those with and without disabilities and broke down barriers created by stigma and misinformation.

Rhonda’s leadership of a Facebook group designed for Medicaid enrollees transformed MCO Watchdog into a valuable resource for individuals to express concerns and report problems. She advocated for those without a voice many times through passionate and informed testimony before state legislators. She was a champion for those disenfranchised by a system too often content to ignore its obligations to those with mental illness and other disabilities.

For her unwavering commitment to the cause of social justice through her fight for the rights of Medicaid beneficiaries and others with mental illness, it is with great respect that the Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party award the inaugural Activist Award posthumously to Rhonda Shouse. Accepting the award is her daughter, Alexandra Moelle.