Initially connecting with the Amputee Coalition to help her patients, Kristine McGuire has since stepped into an even larger volunteer leadership role as inaugural Regional Ambassador for the Prairie Region. Although not an amputee herself, Kristine works with the limb loss community daily as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. It was through this work in orthopedic clinics that she’s learned directly from amputees what barriers they are facing and what is needed to improve their quality of life.
Created in 2022 to strengthen advocacy efforts, the Regional Ambassador role serves as the “voice of the advocate” of the Amputee Coalition. Along with the other newly installed Regional Ambassadors, Kristine began her two-year term in January 2023 and represents advocates in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas. Just as Colorado has recently celebrated the passage of So Kids Can Move legislation (HB23-1136), Kristine’s goal is to help others advance similar policy in their own states.
Kristine’s career as a social worker began in 2008 in forensic social work, but she was always interested in exploring healthcare policy and orthopedics. Gravitating to the hospital setting, she began searching for resources to help the patients she served and ultimately discovered the Amputee Coalition. “I decided to get more involved [with the AC] because I was tired of complaining about the access and equity issues that were really impacting the patients I work with,” she said. “Helping people get connected with what they need to have a better life and helping shape the policies to make that happen is what really drives me to do this work.”
Advocacy is a pilar of social work and in tandem with her profession, Kristine is leveraging her expertise to help community members better advocate for themselves to policymakers. Recently participating in the Amputee Coalition’s Advocacy Education and Hill Day during Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month was also a powerful experience she won’t soon forget. “One person’s actions have the ability to change a greater system and seeing how great it was in Colorado really invigorates me to get this going in other states as well,” she commented. “Advocacy is bigger than us. It’s helping to shape policy for generations to come and breaking down the barriers that people are currently faced with to help pave the way for things to be a little bit easier for others in the future.”
Although just 6 months into her volunteer role, Kristine’s overarching goal is to create a larger community of advocates and give them the tools to drive legislation in their states. As a resident of Colorado, she was part of the group of advocates who helped So Kids Can Move become law and this experience is valuable for other states trying to accomplish the same achievement. Throughout her time as Regional Ambassador, Kristine will be available to advise the advocates in her region as grassroots efforts move forward. As a person who spends a lot of time outdoors and traveling, Kristine is an ally who understands the importance of making sure prosthetics for physical activity are accessible to all.
If you’d like to connect with Kristine you can reach out to her on AC Connect.