Since 2005, Shameka Andrews has lived in her own apartment and worked as a self-advocate. In 2013, she became state coordinator of Ms. Wheelchair NY. "Asking for, and accepting help is a very important part of being a leader," she writes in Impact. "There are all kinds of advocates and all kinds of leaders. We all have a role and there is room for all of us. That being said, part of being a leader is knowing when to step up and lead, and when to step back and make space for others."
Advocating for people with disabilities, opening doors for others, displaying grace under pressure, and her camaraderie with coworkers define some of Beth Fondell’s greatest contributions to ICI, which she joined in 2009, and to the field of disability advocacy, colleagues said. Fondell retired from ICI this month to become her mother's caregiver.
ICI’s Barbara Kleist,who has known Fondell since they both started working at The Arc in 1996, said her colleague helped lift the MN-LEND program – along with the reputation of ICI – over the years. “I suspect a significant portion of our reputation growth is due to Beth,” Kleist said. “She brought a depth to ICI by working collaboratively behind the scenes. Internally, she had a way of asking researchers what our work will really mean for people with disabilities, not to cut off their passion, but to really challenge them to do their best work.”
Rejected by an employer due to an access issue at age 14, Samuel R. Mattle went on to create the Center for Self Advocacy in Buffalo. Read a Q&A with Mattle in the new issue of Impact.