2022 National APSE Board Election Winner: Gwendolyn Brown, Alabama
2022 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Election Winner!
Gwendolyn Brown, Alabama
The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
Person with a Disability; Family Member of a Person with a Disability; University Staff
Describe your history/nature of involvement/interest in promoting competitive integrated employment in your state. Additionally, explain why you are passionate about competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities (no more than 500 words):
As a past professional advocate with a disability rights organization, I was heavily involved with advocacy efforts that involved, the promotion of competitive integrated employment.
Correspondences would be mailed to our state officials and we also visited during a legislative session.
I am passionate about the cause which is critical for my adult son and many others. I continue to find myself taken back by the outdated mentality of providers and even some service providers who refuse to integrate an individual into a workplace whereby they have the skillset to do better and do more than people who don’t have a disABILITY.
If our voices are not raised with an expectation to be heard then how can change take place?
Not only our voices but alongside people with disABILITIES which includes me, a person living with disABILITIES, and pushing past the naysayers.
What relevance does/should APSE and its chapters/members have in national and state conversations regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion (no more than 350 words)?
To help cause visible changes to not be heard only, but seen and put into action.
To continue to share the lived stories of people with disABILITIES seeking to be treated equal and included. Share how effective diversity is when a person is seen for their portrayed skills and not the focus of a how the person lives, looks like, etc.
Bombarding our leaders at national and state levels with conversations that can be seen, hearts can be reached, and the passion is heard.
What skills, knowledge or lived experience do you have that will contribute to strengthening and growing the financial health of APSE and promoting its mission to advance employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities (no more than 350 words)?
My advocacy skills can certainly be utilized by raising awareness concerning the purpose of APSE and without the financial health in place, it could stiffen the voices that need to be heard.
My name is Gwendolyn Brown, mother of three, married for 25 years, and finally beginning to step forward in my purposes.
For years, I have been a parent advocate on behalf of my son who is 23, a graphic design artist, owner of his own business, and has autism.
For over 5 years, I served as a professional disABILITY advocate for DRR.
For 2yrs and 3 months, I worked as a paralegal which helped me to realize the need for me to return back to my passion. My passion to work with families/caregivers/providers/self-advocates, etc. on behalf of people with disABILITIES.
As of now, I am thankful for the door that opened to hold a dual position at UAB as a UAB RAN(Regional Autism Network)-Family Navigator and UCEDD} LEND-Family Faculty.
My passion never left me and if anything, I began to see a stronger self within me as I prepare to lead more instead of following. Fear no longer leads.