Elizabeth Zirker


Elizabeth Zirker graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall) in May 2004. Elizabeth earned an MFA in painting from the California College of the Arts in 2000. In 1995, she received her undergraduate degree in art and English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a Chancellor’s Scholar. Elizabeth grew up in Bloomington, Indiana.

During law school, Elizabeth worked with The Authors Guild in New York City and with Protection and Advocacy, Inc., in Oakland, where she served as a summer intern in 2002 and continued part-time through her second year at Boalt Hall. Protection & Advocacy, Inc. (PAI) is a federally mandated and funded non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the human and legal rights of people with disabilities. During her time with PAI, Elizabeth worked primarily on Davis et al. v. California Health and Human Services Agency et al. In Davis, PAI, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, AARP, and other organizations brought suit against the City of San Francisco and the State of California, alleging that the city and the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Nursing Home Reform Act, and other statutes by failing to provide residents of Laguna Honda Hospital with information about and assessment for community-based living alternatives. A partial settlement was reached in March 2004.

As a 2005-2006 Borchard Fellow, Elizabeth will provide individual advocacy for class members to ensure that assessments and discharge planning adhere to the terms of the Davis settlement. Her goals are to improve transitions from the institution to home and community-based settings and to facilitate service access and crisis assistance. Ms. Zirker will also act as Clients’ Rights Advocate at the hospital. Her services to residents will include direct individual representation in administrative hearings or mediation and resolution of complaints about the denial of rights. She will provide training to residents and their families on such issues as Medi-Cal, Social Security, alternatives to conservatorship, abuse and neglect, and personal autonomy.

In addition to direct service activities, Elizabeth will devote her Borchard Fellowship year to working on systemic change. She will develop proposals for the city of San Francisco to consider as it undertakes planning to meet the needs of current and potential residents of Laguna Honda Hospital; she will advocate for the extension of State Medicaid waivers to allow residents of Laguna Honda and other nursing homes to apply the Medicaid payments that fund their institutional placement to home and community-based settings; she will research and analyze “Money Follows the Person” projects in California and other states to promote further development of such projects here and across the country.

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