Alena Vazquez

Alena Vazquez

Policy Associate

Alena is a policy associate with a long history of advocacy and work on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Alena attended the first inclusive pre-school in the state of Missouri, so she saw from a very young age the importance of diversity and equitable opportunity, and she brings this passion to her work. In recent years, Alena has focused on working with public agency staff to assert the rights of people with disabilities into realistic and sustainable policies. Alena brings previous experience with Oregon’s Protection and Advocacy agency, case management and brokerage services, and direct support, rested on a background in law. Currently, she manages a number of projects focused on broad systems change in Idaho, Oregon, Georgia, and Prince Edward Island; in the past she provided similar guidance to New Mexico and Mississippi.

Prior to joining HSRI, Alena was a mental health advocate at Disability Rights Oregon, where her work focused on advocating with and on behalf of people with disabilities through a legal framework. Her experiences working with and for people with IDD prior to this span over a decade: as a direct support professional, independent living specialist, day program specialist, personal agent, and as a community educator coordinator at Wild Bill’s Coffeeshop in Iowa City, Iowa, a coffee shop created and operated by adults with disabilities.

When not at work, Alena continues a years-long attempt to assure her two dogs that they are not personally responsible for controlling Portland’s squirrel population.


  • JD from the University of Iowa College of Law
  • Master of social work degree from the University of Iowa School of Social Work
  • Bachelor of arts degree in English, women’s studies, and ethnic studies from Cornell College
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