Bernadette Franks-Ongoy, executive director of the Helena-based advocacy organization Disability Rights Montana, has been named by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, to a six-year term on the Social Security Advisory Board.
The seven-person panel was created by Congress to advise the president, Congress and the Commissioner of Social Security on issues related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs.
“I think it’s really important to have an external group advising Social Security … in terms of how its policies impact the lives of older Americans and the lives of people with disabilities,” Franks-Ongoy said Friday
She said the board studies issues, asks questions about Social Security and can help it keep up with the needs of the public and changing knowledge about certain disabilities — traumatic brain injury, for example.
“Bernie will bring a Montana perspective to this influential national position. She has dedicated much of her life to breaking down barriers and empowering people with disabilities,” Baucus said in a statement. “Bernie’s tremendous determination and commitment to serving others will make a real contribution to the Advisory Board.”
She’ll also bring it to a quorum. The panel has only three members, one short of the number required to conduct business.
Franks-Ongoy is replacing Marsha Katz of the Rural Institute at University of Montana on the board.
It meets in person once a month in Washington, D.C., with lots of work to do outside the meetings.
By law, Baucus is able to appoint one of the board positions as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.