From parent to advocate to leader: Elena Hung to deliver 23rd Mayers Lecture

Jessica Haasz
February 21, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Elena Hung, co-founder and executive director of Little Lobbyists, will deliver the 23rd Annual Stanley P. Mayers Endowed Lecture, “Empowering Families and Improving Outcomes for Children with Complex Medical Needs and Disabilities,” at 6:30 p.m. on April 1 in the Ruth Pike Auditorium, on the University Park Campus. The lecture, hosted by the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, is free and open to the public.

Little Lobbyists is a family-led organization that advocates for children with complex medical needs and disabilities.

“Those who are directly affected by health care policies have been historically and consistently left out of the decision-making process, and we must urgently work to change that," said Hung.

Hung’s daughter, Xiomara, was born with a number of serious medical conditions and, said Hung, “is thriving today as a result of quality care (and a bit of luck)."

“In the Congressional health care repeal fight of 2017, the visibility of our medically complex and disabled children on Capitol Hill helped communicate what was possible with access to quality, affordable health care and what was at stake without it,” said Hung. "There is not a single thing I would change about my daughter, but there are a million things I would change about this world so that it would be worthy of her. I want her to grow up and thrive in a world that is accessible and inclusive."

Hung and families like hers have been visiting Capitol Hill and offices across the country to speak about their children with lawmakers and their staffers to help put a face on this health care issue. Her lecture will discuss the founding of Little Lobbyists; the power of speaking up and working together; the importance of normalizing disability and accommodations in health care policy; and more.

Hung's opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, HuffPost, Baltimore Sun and other publications. Additionally, she was honored with the inaugural "Speak Up For Better Health Award" by the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst and recognized as "Ally of the Year" by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in 2018. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and has testified before Congress twice on health care matters. Hung is also one of the national co-chairs of Health Care Voter, a campaign to mobilize voters and hold elected officials accountable for their votes on health care.

The Mayers Lecture was created in honor of Dr. Stanley P. Mayers Jr., co-founder of Penn State’s undergraduate program in health policy and administration, who retired after a distinguished 26-year career with Penn State. Mayers served as the head of the Department of Health Policy and Administration for nine years and also in roles as associate dean for undergraduate studies and associate dean for academic studies in the College of Health and Human Development.

Last Updated February 23, 2020