Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) and the leadership of the AIDD Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) are pleased to announce the 2019-2020 SARTAC Fellowship Award recipients.
Six Fellows were chosen through a competitive application process to carry out independently designed self advocacy leadership and policy-related projects. This is the third of four groups of SARTAC Fellows. Fellows are listed below with their hometown, brief biography, title and summary of their project, and Host organization.
To learn more about the SARTAC Fellowship, these outstanding self advocates, and the previous class of Fellows, click here.
SARTAC Fellows 2020-2021
Chris Blake: SARTAC Fellow from Wallingford, Connecticut
Fellowship project: “Choosing, setting up and using an ABLE account in your state”
Chris Blake is a graduate of Partners in Policymaking and LEND. He serves as an advisor to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)and sits on several boards. He is also on the Consumer Advisory Council of the University of Connecticut UCEDD and past member and Vice Chair of the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities. He mentors young self-advocates, testifies at the legislature, and is active with People First of Connecticut. He speaks at conferences and workshops and works with Disability Rights Connecticut on Supported Decision Making. Chris constantly seeks new opportunities to improve the lives of people with disabilities in his state.
Chris believes having an ABLE account gives you more freedom and independence, and increases your ability to learn, grow and be your own person. He also thinks it is too difficult to find easy-to-understand information about setting up an ABLE account. Chris became frustrated setting up his own. This was true even on websites that were supposed to help people learn about and set up their own accounts. Chris’ project will create tools to make the process of setting up an ABLE account easier and more accessible. The tools will give more people information they can use to choose the best options for themselves and guide them to better understand their account. He hopes many self advocates will use this important resource to achieve better lives..
William C. Brewer III: SARTAC Fellow from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
Fellowship project: “Everyday Artist”
William is an artist and long-time fighter for self advocacy. He has been a Power Coach at Self Advocates United as 1 since 2008 and served on advisory boards for Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Center for Independent Living of Central PA Criminal Justice. William is a self-employed artist at Utility Works, an open art studio shared with artists with and without disabilities. He runs an online shop selling his clocks and paintings. His work has been featured in Philadelphia City Hall and has been Artist of the Week at the Lansdowne Farmers Market since 2017.
William’s project, Everyday Artist, focuses on helping people like himself achieve their dreams. William will be working with Utility Works to plan his art show. Everyday Artist will focus on creative adults, self advocacy for making services better, and working with organizations and politicians. William will teach art workshops that focus on helping people like himself find their passion and build their business. The workshops will end with helping the attendees apply for the art show.
Timotheus Gordon, Jr.: SARTAC Fellow from Chicago, Illinois
Fellowship project: “#DisabledIAM: Digital Media Campaign”
Timotheus “T.J.” Gordon Jr. is an autistic self advocate in Chicago, IL. As a member of Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP), a racial/disability justice group within Access Living, Timotheus supports and helps lead campaigns on combating police violence and mental health within the Chicagoland disability community. He is the creator of the Black Artist, a blog and social media outlet that promotes autism and disability acceptance in the African Diaspora. Timotheus uses writing and social media to discuss topics on disability in media, disability pride in marginalized communities, and caregiver violence against people with disabilities.
Timotheus’ project, the #DisabledIAM digital media campaign, will empower people to own their disability identity. The project stems from issues related to communities of color not being accepting of the disability community and anti-ableism ideas. The campaign will spark broader discussions on the intersections of race and disability, including disability identity in ethnic communities.
Grace Hart: SARTAC Fellow from Washington, D.C.
Fellowship project: “An Autistic Person’s Guide to Hillternships”
Grace Hart is a federal relations specialist for the University of Illinois System. She previously worked as a legislative intern for both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. As an intern, she worked to include people with disabilities in the legislative process, studied the effects of accessibility barriers on Capitol Hill, and worked to remove outdated information about autism from Congressional publications. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a degree in political science, where she spent time time studying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Grace’s project is titled, “An Autistic Person’s Guide to Hillternships,” will create a guidebook for autistic people interning on Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is where the laws that influence everyone’s lives are made, and it is critical that people with disabilities become a larger part of the legislative process. Increasing participation in legislative internships is one of the fastest ways to do that. The guide will be available online and distributed free of charge to interested students, Congressional staffers, and universities.
Ashley Mabry: SARTAC Fellow from Colorado Springs, Colorado
Fellowship Project: “The “I” in IEP”
Ashley Mabry loves to speak in public and tell all people with disabilities about the importance of being a self advocate. She was the president of a local self advocacy group and is active in her community. Ashley is one of the first students in Colorado’s Inclusive Higher Education Program, attending University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) and majoring in Self Advocacy and Human Services. She will graduate in May 2020. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys praise dance at her Church, going to movies, and hanging out with friends.
Ashley’s project will focus on teaching students to be self advocates in their own Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. Te project will create videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other accessible media for students to learn about the IEP process, strength based IEP’s, the parts of the IEP, and practical tips for students of all ages to participate in their meetings. The project will also educate IEP team members in schools about the importance of student participation in their own IEP meetings. Finally, students in elementary, middle, and high schools will be trained to use the materials created, which will be available through a YouTube channel.
Darcy McCann: SARTAC Fellow from San Jose, California
Fellowship Project: “Inclusive Housing Self-Advocacy Project”
Darcy McCann is a powerful advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). She has cerebral palsy and uses her voice to advocate for herself and others. Darcy is active in the community and will complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University in 2020. Darcy has served in many leadership roles and was the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the San Andreas Regional Center, which serves 17,000 people with I/DD. She has testified locally and statewide to improve the lives of others.
Darcy’s project will focus on access to affordable and accessible housing. Without it, self-advocates are held back from their goal to live independently. In the midst of a housing crisis that affects people at all income levels, local housing officials, including City Councils, make plans to address their community’s housing needs with little knowledge of the housing needs and aspirations of people with developmental disabilities. Darcy will help others learn to tell their housing story to elected officials and other decision makers and become more confident in describing the benefits of creating inclusive affordable housing. The project is important to the self-advocacy movement overall because housing is the foundation for people to live independently and thrive in their community.
If you would like to contact the SARTAC Fellows, please email Teresa Moore (email@example.com).