In the past year, I have had a lot of successes. As the first registered lobbyist, I go to the Capitol Hill and speak to many members of Congress and Senators about the critical issues that we are facing today.
I have been very fortunate to travel and speak at many events over the last year. I was honored to attend conferences, media interviews and legislative meetings. I am going to try my best to list them in chronological order.
- I attended the New York City Gala as a proud employee.
- I was fortunate enough to win a Ruby’s Rainbow scholarship fund. They featured me as the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome on Facebook, showing everyone my abilities.
- Buddy Walk on Washington where I proudly awarded two self-advocates the Self-Advocate of the Year award. Following this was the Adult Summit where I attended the breakout sessions, learning from all different presentations, meeting new families and self-advocates.
- The Washington Post featured me in their publication.
- Disability Scoop featured me as the first registered lobbyist.
- We also had our summer staff retreat where we learned the style of influence.
- NDSS was asked to exhibit a table at the National Council of State Legislatures in L.A. We met many people, talked about our vision, our mission statement and what we do as an organization.
- I was invited to attend Neil Romano’s swearing-in ceremony; he was inducted in the Disability Council. I was very honored to participate.
- I attended the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities where I spoke about my role with NDSS and as the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome.
- I was asked to speak at George Washington University on a panel about the principals of lobbying.
- I did an Op-Ed piece on The Americans with Disability Act and its importance.
- The British Broadcasting Company piece on me was aired, they followed me on and off for a few months.
- I was asked to be a keynote speaker as well as host a breakout session for teen self-advocates about self-advocacy at the National Association for Down Syndrome conference in Chicago.
- I interviewed with CNN Spanish.
- I was interviewed by Steve Hartman, the host of CBS “On the Road.” He followed me around the Hill. He was amazed that I had my driver’s license that he came over and interviewed my parents then gave me the opportunity to drive him around.
- I went to the Helsinki Commission hearing and testified on equality.
- As you know, October is World Down syndrome month, so I traveled quite a bit.
- C21 is a pop-up restaurant where individuals with Down syndrome run the restaurant entirely. We serve, cook and bartend. This took place in Atlanta, Georgia, where I served as one of the greeters and said a few words on the behalf of NDSS.
- Sara Hart Weir, the President and CEO of NDSS, and I were asked to speak at the Society for Human Resource Management conference; we co-presented on the programs NDSS offers as well as sharing my story.
- Colleen Hatcher and I were asked to attend the Cape Fear Buddy Walk in Wilmington, North Carolina. I was asked to speak about the Buddy Walk and why it is essential to host them. In Wilmington, they have a famous coffee shop, called Bitty and Beau’s, run by individuals with different abilities. We got a cup of coffee where I met some of my family members and the workers.
- I was featured on NowThis Her story, which has over 2.5 million views so far.
- NDSS featured me on change.org petition for the TIME Act.
- Sara and I were asked to do a phone interview with the Today Show; it was published on their website.
- In Syracuse, I was awarded the Laura Lee self-advocate leadership award at the State of the Art Conference. I was also the keynote speaker.
- I was invited to the New York City Stock Exchange with Voya to serve on a panel discussion with Sara discussing equality in the workforce. We talked about NDSS and my life story. They showed the CBS feature with Jean Pauley as our introduction to the stage.
- I was interviewed and published by Climbing the Hill.
- I was part of a panel discussion with a friend of mine about the film called “Intelligent Lives.” We were asked to discuss the film and how it applies to us today.
- The Lucky Few invited me to do a podcast for them, they had questions about my job, what I like to do for fun and many other topics. It was a fun interview.
- I was so honored when The Mighty listed me as one of the 16 people with Down Syndrome Changing the World.
- Anthony Messenger magazine interviewed me about my job, my faith and involvement in my church. They questioned my dad and then interviewed my pastor, Father Prior.
- I went to the staff retreat in D.C. We learned more about where NDSS is heading for the New Year and the goals we want to reach for the Down syndrome community.
- I put this list in chronological order to the best of my ability. I don’t want to offend anyone if I missed a group or event.
- The past year, was a fascinating year and honestly very humbling. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings for all of us, our hopes, dreams and for more individuals with Down syndrome to get meaningful employment and overturn the old antiquated laws!