Helen Cochrane
Chair ISPO Education Core Committee, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics

Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?

The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics is a multi-faceted organization with global reach that impacts the quality and access to services for persons with disabilities. I’ve been a member since I was a student and have been volunteering since shortly after I graduated.

Over the many years I have volunteered I have seen the real-world impact of the work of the society. I can directly link my volunteer efforts to critical moments that have shaped the landscape of the disability sector.

ISPO teaches, collaborates and advocates in a highly specialized sector, coordinating efforts and advancing the quality and access to services. There is such profound need for meaningful solutions that once you are engaged its is difficult to see yourself doing anything less than all you can.

What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?

The old adage of ‘many hands make light work’ is realized through associations where passionate people choose to share their time and talents to advance important initiatives. No matter what is important to you or what your expertise is, you can find a way to contribute and make positive change in the world.

The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics is unique in that it brings together experts from every corner of the world to find solution to complex problem and overcome barriers. Our association is pivotal actor in global policy that advocates and acts for human rights for the largest minority group on the planet.

What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?

We still need to

  • challenge the status quo,
  • challenge people who do not benefit from our advocacy to be allies and
  • challenge people in power to eliminate the barriers they sustain.

How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?

Inclusion and diversity is always a challenge when trying to bring people together. It often requires a real and concerted effort to take steps to create an environment that allows people to fully engage and thrive.

In my experience pushing for change is never comfortable, it never easy and the more you invest the more meaningful your results. When genuinely included broadening perspective through building diverse teams bringing new perspective, improved problem solving, and insight that cannot be gain through teams that are homogeneous.