SD Network

Category: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Anna Gouker


By SD Network, 2021-01-04

Anna outdoor photo.jpgMeet Anna. This coffee-loving author believes anything can be done by taking one step at a time. She has many outstanding achievements that she’s proud of and continues to strive to do more. We’re so fortune to have Anna as a member of the Network! 

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 Anna is originally from a small town in northern Illinois; she moved to the Madison area for grad school nearly 10 years ago. She explains that her ultimate life goal has always been a two-parter—1. to work (preferably) in a job she finds meaningful and she feels she’s uniquely gifted at and 2. to live independently in the community.

“Living in Wisconsin has been an exciting journey, one characterized by many moments of achievement as well as quite a few learning experiences (a.k.a. failures!),” Anna says. She’s proud to say she graduated with she master's degree in rehabilitation counseling and has had the privilege of working in social services. She has worked in a couple different positions over the years, but all having the common thread of assisting people with disabilities in reaching their employment goals.

Anna shares that she’s grateful to have accomplished some of her goals and she has learned a lot. While she has been able to continue living in the community, she’s not currently in a situation she would call "independent." After 10 years, she now has the benefit of a better understanding for how to make strategic progress towards the future she envisions. “It's not always possible to achieve everything all at the same time, but slow and steady wins the race. Anything can be done one step at a time,” she says. 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Anna was able to attend and present at the Wisconsin SD Conference for her job a couple of years ago. She’s excited to be a part of this Network to learn about all the possibilities for future growth and to assist others with their goals. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms of self-determination?

Anna recently wrote a book! She explains that it's a collection of essays about her experiences, observations about the world, and the people who have influenced her the most. This is something she has been working on for a long time and she’s really excited to share it. You can learn more about it here. 

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

 YouTube and Audible are both essential resources for Anna and have really helped her get through quarantine. “There's so much information out there and cool people to learn from,” she says. She likes watching interviews of people on YouTube that she finds motivating like Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift. Sometimes, she will have videos of them playing in the background while she’s working on other things. Right now, on Audible, she’s starting to move through a list of books written by and about US Supreme Court Justices. 

What are some of your hobbies?

Anna enjoys drinking coffee and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coco. When she’s not working, those are her two main priorities in life. She’s also hoping to downsize her belongings, so she will probably be spending much of her time cleaning in the early part of 2021. “Wish me luck,” she exclaims! 

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Emily Gollmer


By SD Network, 2020-11-19

unnamed.jpgMeet Emily. As a self-advocate, she is involved in and works for the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin. She helps plan a networking conference for people with Autism. Between working and volunteering, she doesn’t have much spare time, but when she does, she enjoys hiking and biking. She wants to encourage people to be confident and stick to who they are. We’re so fortune to have Emily as a member of the Network! 

What’s your story? Tell us a little bit about yourself

Emily is originally from Darlington, WI. Her family moved to Stevens Point, WI her junior year of high school. She graduated from Mid-State Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in 2010. She shares that around that time, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism).She worked in assisted living facilities and then moved to Madison in 2017. She has been recently working in an office doing clerical work.

How are you involved with Self-Determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Since moving to Madison, Emily has been involved with the Autism Society of South Central WI. She is the Administrative Assistant for the Autism Adult Support Group. She is also on the planning committee for INTEGRAL Autism Conference. “INTEGRAL means Interactive Networking, Talks & Education for Growing Autism Legitimacy. This conference is geared toward young adults on the autism spectrum. However, everyone is welcome to participate,” she explains.

Emily worked at and now volunteers for Prosperity Pathways and Onward and Upward. She shares that Prosperity Pathways is the ultimate work-at-home source with guaranteed employment positions for remote and onsite jobs. They share the tips, tricks, and techniques to be successful in getting hired. We are growing and getting more job-ready training programs underwritten by sponsors leading to immediate employment in different industries. Onward and Upward helps people who do not have a home and do not have access to a computer.

Tell us some good news: What’s the most exciting thing happening for  you (or in Wisconsin) in terms of Self-Determination?

Emily is excited that they were able to hold the INTEGRAL conference virtually on October 24th, 2020. She’s also excited that she recently moved into her own apartment.

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

Emily encourages people to be confident and to stick up for themselves. She says, “use available resources and know who you really are." 

What are some of your hobbies?

Emily enjoys doing such things as reading, biking and hiking. She also loves to read, color, do puzzles, and play cards and board games.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Anastasia Wilson


By SD Network, 2020-11-09

stasia.jpgMeet Anastasia. This talented artist doesn’t let her limitations get in the way of pursuing her dreams. She views her disabilities as side notes, and she loves being an advocate. She encourages people to not only to stay calm and speak his / her mind, but to also use humor whenever possible to lighten the mood and put people at ease. We’re so fortune to have Anastasia as a member of the Network!

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Anastasia views herself as an artist first, and she views her disabilities as just side notes. “They are issues that I need to handle so I can follow my passion for art and hopefully become a well-known artist,” she explains. To help us to have a deeper appreciation for her art, she shares some information about her disabilities.  When she was born, she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and chest--cutting off the oxygen to my brain. The doctors were afraid that she wouldn’t survive. Luckily, she was a fighter even way back then. The lack of oxygen caused a brain injury resulting in her Cerebral Palsy.

Anastasia uses the latest assistive technology to help her lead an active life. “My mom says I have the coolest toys,” she exclaims! Her communication device tracks her eyes to select the buttons. She explains that when her first physical therapist in grade school noticed that she has the most control over her neck and head, her father started to make her headsticks so she could create 2d arts. “There were many modifications to the headsticks over the years to assist me to pursue my dreams,” she says. 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Anastasia joined the SD Network because she enjoys being an advocate for children with disabilities, and seeing them shine in the community.  

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Anastasia has opened a business to sell her works and to enter into art exhibitions.  She has a webpage, HeadStrongArt.net, where people can buy her works or ask for a commission.  She runs her business at home. She explains that working from home is the perfect situation for her because when she needs something, her aides are right there to help.  She has a drafting table that she drives her wheelchair underneath when she’s creating art.  Usually, she leaves her art supplies set up so she can just pull up underneath the table when she’s ready to work. After her aide places her headstick on her head and gets some paints, she paints independently. She shares that often when she paints, she enters into a meditative state; she can take a break from the world for a while. Right now, she’s working on a new body of work about her life and disabilities. She shares that when she tells people about this idea, often they express that she should paint about a happier subject matter. However, she doesn't view her life and her assistive technology negatively. In these works, she wants to celebrate the assistive technology that helps her to live a full life. She’s also painting portraits that illustrate the whole person showing their disability because she wants to show the humanity of having a disability. “If young people with disabilities would see some more images of people who are similar to themselves, they will be more likely to grow up believing in their potential.  I am hoping by painting portraits of myself and friends who are disabled, I am helping to fill that need in our society,” she says.    

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

Anastasia’s tip for people who want to be self-determined is to stay calm and speak your mind even when people might disagree.  Additionally, she suggests to use humor to lift the mood and to put people at ease.  She also suggests that a great resource for people with disabilities who want to become a leader is the LEND program at the Waisman Center. The class teaches how to be a self-advocate and an advocate for children with disabilities. The main requirement is college experience.  

What are some of your hobbies?

Anastasia enjoys listening to books or music while she paints. She also plays around with writing.  She likes to write short stories and poems. Her other hobbies are being in nature and playing with my dogs.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Dean Choate


By SD Network, 2020-10-06

dean.jpg

Meet Dean. This fun-loving grandpa loves to volunteer and help people in any way he can. He’s been involved in disability advocacy for many years and doesn’t let his health conditions stop him from living life the way he wants to. We are so fortune to have him as part of the Network.

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Dean has had disabilities most of his life, but he doesn’t let them stop him from living  life the way he wants to. He shares that he was diagnosed with orthopedic problems and fibromyalgia when he was young. He also has type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. He has survived three strokes, two heart attacks and several other medical problems as he got older.  He’s losing his hearing and uses a TTY phone. He explains that he is learning to read lips and is planning on learning sign language. Some of his conditions are chronic and may never get better, but he knows giving up isn’t an option. “I am very motivated to do things I’m told I can’t do or may not be able to do. I love to prove people wrong when I can,” he says.

In 1985, Dean started business college hoping to study electronics, but ended up taking a slight detour into small business management and then supervisory management. “A very good example of where my life took several detours along the way on my journey in life. I never considered the detours I have taken any type of problem, but a great opportunity to grow and learn so much more,” he says. He thinks he learns so more from living his crazy life everyday than any classroom lesson could ever teach him. He considers himself a lifelong learner.

Dean is a very creative, spontaneous and adventurous person. He has a married daughter and two wonderful grandchildren. He also has several other people’s children who call him dad and grandchildren who have adopted him as grandpa.

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Dean has been involved in disability advocacy for many years. He got involved with the advocacy with his involvement with People First in the 80s, then with Systems Change Network in Iowa, and then with several other organizations. He’s currently a participant representative on the IRIS advisory committee for the last seven years. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Dean is excited that he was recently reappointed to the IRIS Advisory Committee for another year until December 2021 by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.

What are some of your hobbies?

Dean has many hobbies that he loves to do. He believes in volunteering and giving back to my community and other organizations. Currently, he helps manage and operate a church and several non-profit organizations. He enjoys doing photography and videography which are things that he learned in high school.  He’s also an amateur radio operator for KC9TMG.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Jane Bushnell


By SD Network, 2020-08-26

Jane picture.jpgMeet Jane. When she’s not busy serving on multiple boards or working to provide various supports to people with disabilities, this Grandma loves spending time with her kids and grandkids.  She full-heartedly believes in self-determination and strives to bring choice to all people.  She’s very involved in the effort to make caregiving better in Wisconsin. We’re so fortunate to have her as a member of the Network!  

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jane is the Vice-President of Knapp’s Development, which is the management arm of Lori Knapp companies. They provide a variety of supports to self-directed individuals throughout Wisconsin that include fiscal agent supports and the purchasing of authorized products. 

Jane resides in beautiful Prairie du Chien with her husband of 42 years. She has three children and eight grandchildren. She’s on the Governor’s Taskforce for Caregiving, serves on the Wisconsin Workforce Alliance Board, and is a member of the Wisconsin Personal Care Services Association. She also serves as the President for the Futures of Prairie du Chien which is a scholarship program for graduating High School Seniors. 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Jane explains that 13 years ago their company began fiscal agent services for those who self-direct. “We quickly saw how self-determination brings autonomy and choice to people’s lives in so many different ways.  Their lives are richer, fuller, and more enjoyable. I strive to bring self-determination initiatives forward for the greater good,” she says.  About five years ago, she and another co-worker brought forth the work comp insurance initiative for those who self-direct which resulted in lower cost premiums and an avenue to ensure that caregivers were covered in case of injury.

She joined the SD Network because it is a great way to connect to like-minded people, share ideas and hear the many success stories.

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Jane shares that being on the Governor’s Taskforce for Caregiving, they are developing proposals to attract more caregivers to this workforce so they can provide assistance to those in need of supports. Ever possible avenue is being explored. Caregivers play such a vital role to Wisconsin residents and their role in an individual’s daily life is so important. Self-determination and the value it brings to people is widely recognized by the Governor and Department of Health Services. “This is exciting,” she exclaims!

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

Jane says, “don’t be afraid to ask for help.”  She explains that there is so much information out there and so many services being offered. It can be overwhelming so it is helpful to connect with experts in this field or those who have gone through similar experiences. The Aging and Disability Resource Center in your area is a great way to start. She also suggests that people connect with others like himself/herself for support and ideas. 

What are some of your hobbies?

Living on the Mississippi, Jane enjoys boating and biking where there is beauty all around.  She and her husband spend a lot of fun times with their kids and grandchildren. “They tend to keep us very young and active,” she says. She also enjoys time with her lifelong girlfriends and taking some quiet time to read a good book.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Evelyn Azbell


By SD Network, 2020-07-30

profile pic 919.pngMeet Evelyn. Being in the education field for 22 years, she has a wealth of knowledge about different types of services for people with disabilities. She loves helping people with person-centered planning and finding employment opportunities. She believes the key to becoming more determined is to try to change things that might be obstacles into opportunities. We’re so fortunate to have Evelyn as a member of the Network!

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Evelyn has been involved with education for twenty-two years. She worked with the Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative as a Family Engagement Coordinator in northern Wisconsin from the time the grant started in January of 2000 to June 30th of 2020. She explains that in the position she worked with families and educators of students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to ensure good outcomes for students. In that capacity she had the opportunity to work with other agencies that provided different types of support services for families.

In April of this year, she accepted the position of Business Developer with the Red Apple Center in Phillips, Wisconsin. “Red Apple is a private non-profit organization that has been providing employment opportunities and person-centered planning for adults with disabilities in Price County and the surrounding region since 1971,” she shares. In her new role, she works across private, public and corporate sectors to improve awareness of the Red Apple Center, manage their brand, build networks within the local and statewide community, and most importantly work to increase opportunities for Red Apple Center clients.

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Whether being part of an IEP team, serving on a committee or facilitating a conversation Evelyn’s focus is always on an outcome that recognizes an individual’s capabilities. She explains that too often we build plans with the intent to minimize deficits. Although that approach is done with good intentions, she believes building from the perspective of strengths allows better outcomes for all. She joined the SD Network to stay informed and involved with current best practices.  

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Evelyn thinks Wisconsin has been and continues to be a leader in the self-determination arena. “I am excited to be learning more about groups like Wisconsin Employment First and InControl Wisconsin and the projects they are undertaking,” she says. She’s also becoming more informed about the supports offered through our state agencies. 

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

Evelyn shares that she believes the key to becoming more self-determined is to try and change things that might be viewed as obstacles into opportunities to try something new.

What are some of your hobbies?

Evelyn enjoys cooking, spending time with family and friends, and hanging out with two American Water Spaniels.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Duane


By SD Network, 2020-06-25

Meet Duane. When he’s not biking, kayaking, or playing hockey, he strives to assist people with disabilities have choices through the help of technology. He’s a strong advocate of self-determination and believes it’s the best practice for people with disabilities to live the best life possible. We’re so fortunate to have Duane as a member of the Network! 

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Duane began working with people with disabilities as a junior in high school. He started as a Direct Support Provider at St. Francis School for Exceptional Children in Freeport, Illinois and eventually became the residential director there. He went on to be a Qualified Mental Retardation Professional for an agency in northern Illinois and while attending graduate school at the UW-Madison, was hired by the Waisman Center to assist in the design, development and implementation of the Sound Response Program. He explains that Sound Response was the first documented Remote Supports service in the United States. The Sound Response program would evolve into Night Owl Support Systems, LLC and he is one of the owners of that organization. He spent the first part of his career helping students/children by teaching skills that would foster their independence and allow them to live in the community when they became adults. “Choice has always been a big part of my value system and it’s integrated into the way I think. The latter part of my career has been involved with providing technology to people with disabilities to empower them to make choices and the technology allows for more self-direction,” he shares. 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Duane was a part of the self-determination movement in Dane County when most people receiving waiver services shifted from the legacy waiver to self-direction. That being said, he explains that as people shifted to self-direction, they were offered more choices and could utilize Remote Supports as one of their options. His involvement was from the perspective of a Remote Supports provider. This would allow people more independence by not having staff 24-hours a day.

He joined the Self-Determination Network to stay connected with the self-determination movement. He’s a strong advocate for self-determination and recognizes that not all places offer self-determination as an option for people. He wants to be able to continue to advocate that self-determination is best practice for people with disabilities to live their best life. Joining the SD Network allows him to keep updated on the latest activities and advocacy. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Duane says that there are a lot of exciting things going on right now. He explains that the last couple of years have shown an explosion in the awareness and use of enabling technologies. There are new technologies offering more sophisticated Remote Supports, there are many new devices people use day-to-day and new apps for making life much easier. From residential supports to vocational supports and transportation, the technologies are more readily available than ever. Wisconsin, like some other states, is promoting the use of enabling technologies through technology conferences and technology fests.  “I believe the push for technology will only enhance self-determination” he tells us.  

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

"Technology,” Duane exclaims! Having been a part of the technology evolution regarding enabling technologies and Remote Supports, he has been able to see the benefits that technology has provided to people with disabilities allowing more self-determination. “Many people do not have a choice of where and with whom they can live. Technology offers that opportunity,” he says.    

What are some of your hobbies?

Duane enjoys bicycling, swimming, kayaking and playing his guitar. He also can often be found playing hockey in Sun Prairie, WI.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Julie Turkoske


By SD Network, 2020-06-04

em.jpgMeet Julie.  This awesome mother strives to help her daughter have control over her life. She strongly encourages other parents to do the same. She is always looking for ways to help her daughter make her own choices. We’re so fortunate to have her as a member of the Network! 

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Julie is the mother and legal guardian of Emily who has different abilities. She joined the Self-Determination Network to see if she could get ideas for Emily to be more self-determined.  “Given that she is quite challenged in terms of using her mind and body, I wanted to learn whatever I could to work around limitations,” she explains.  When she obtained guardianship, she felt a strong obligation to help Emily have control of her life.  This weighed heavily on her, and she tried to find more ways to help Emily make her own choices.  One way that she does this is considering Emily’s response to an activity.  If she doesn’t want to do something, Julie will give her five minutes and then try again.  She says, “many times, she just doesn’t like change and is comfortable where she is.”  Julie explains they don’t always have a way to communicate the new activity to Emily, so she doesn’t know that it will be fun (or necessary).  Julie shares that Emily is deaf and blind.  They use some hand-under-hand signing with her.  “If she doesn’t want to “hear” what we are telling her, she puts her hands behind her back and emphatically shakes her head no” Julie adds. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Julie is excited that the weather is finally warming up. This allows Emily the opportunity to do what she loves best—go for walks in her wheelchair and sit in the screened porch and enjoy the outside. 

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

To help other parents help young adult children with self-determination, Julie suggests to offer options and wait times when possible. She encourages parents not to just “do things for them” without explaining what you’re going to do and why.  “When Emily doesn’t want to put her coat on, I sign “It’s cold outside.  Coat on.” Instead of just pushing her arms through the sleeves.  Sometimes, that’s all she needs to decide that she will wear her coat,” she explains. 

What are some of your hobbies?

 When we are not quarantined, Julie shares that Emily goes to an adult day program.  There, they offer opportunities to socialize, practice skills and be in the community.  Emily joins activities like a trampoline park, swimming, shopping, and outdoor walks.  She is well-loved there, and we have found awesome caregivers who can provide respite for parents.  They take her to restaurants, clay class, and other activities.  Julie adds that Emily loves to be outdoors, when it is nice out.  She enjoys the sun and breeze on her body.  She has a hot-tub (from MakeAWish) that she really loves.  “She has special water wings that help her float independently and I can tell that makes her happy,” Julie says.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Ashley Mathy


By SD Network, 2020-05-07

ashley.jpgMeet Ashley.  When she is not busy participating in Special Olympics or dancing with her friends, this vibrant young lady is out self-advocating!  She encourages others to get involved also.  We are so fortunate to have her as a member of the network. 

What’s your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ashley is a 24-year old self-advocate diagnosed with PDD-NOS which is on the autism spectrum.  She has a passion for advocacy especially in the area of employment.  She does a lot of public speaking around the state of Wisconsin and has been featured on the TV, the radio and in the newspaper.  She was diagnosed when she was in kindergarten and had to deal with extensive bullying in elementary and middle school.  Ashley says that, “High School was a little better for me in the area of friends.  There was less bullying but it was a huge challenge to fit in and manage the school work”.  For that reason, she understands first-hand the challenges and painful experiences for people with special needs.  She sees the great value in self advocating and leading a self- determined life.  

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Ashley is on the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and Executive Committee for People First.   She first learned about self-determination when she attended the JumpStart! Program at Nicolet College.  She took several classes in this program and learned how to advocate for herself. During that time, she started Partners in Policy Making and started developing a network. She indicates that Disability Advocacy Day, in March, and the Self Determination Conference are both great opportunities to meet people who are self advocates and learn more strategies about living a self-determined life.

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

The most exciting thing happening for Ashley right now is the Self-Determination Channel. She says, “I love making the videos and educating our audience.  I encourage everyone to subscribe to this channel.” 

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined? 

Ashley has several tips to share:  

  1. You are going to have people tell you in life that you cannot do something due to your disability....you need to prove them wrong every time.  Anyone can do anything they put their mind to.
  2. You own your journey and your limits so, put your best effort in on everything you do.
  3. Don’t let your disability define you.  For example, she is not Autism....she is Ashley Mathy. Be proud of who you are.
  4. You need to have the dignity to fail which means you are going to fail at some things but its important to get back up and learn from your mistakes.  It’s ok to fail.  

What are some of your hobbies?

Ashley loves to be in Special Olympics in her spare time.  Her favorite sport is track, but she also participates in bowling, bocce, and snow-shoeing.  Also, Ashley love to go horseback riding and takes advantage of every dance she can go to.  She loves to dance with her friends.

 We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

Member Spotlight: Mary Clare Carlson


By SD Network, 2020-04-08

D84E80F4-4BB2-4041-9C8D-7ABEAFEC0300.JPEGMeet Mary Clare.  She’s a life- long Wisconsinite, from the south-eastern part of the state.  She has worked as an advocate for individuals with disabilities for most of her career.  She has seen self-determination grow for people in our state over the years and looks for this trend to continue upward.  We’re so fortunate to have her as a member of the Network! 

What's your story? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mary Clare loves telling stories but struggles when asked to talk about herself. She has lived in Wisconsin her whole life. She grew up in rural Kenosha County, moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University and then made Milwaukee her home ever since. She has worked in disability advocacy, person-centered planning and grassroots community building for most of her adult working career. She feels blessed to have had many amazing teachers along the way like John and Connie O’Brien, Beth Mount, Pat Beeman, Herb Lovett, and Cindy Bentley to name just a few. She also loves connecting people, resources and ideas.  She has been doing this work around Wisconsin for a very long time. She loves what she does and still finds that she is learning something new everyday along the way.

In the spirit of self-determination, she is going to share something with you and all the readers that she has not shared widely before, She says. “I am a person who has struggled with mental health for much of my adult life. Self-Determination then is not only something that I feel passionately about in my work, it’s something I need to own personally.” 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Mary Clare believes that self-determination needs to be at the heart of everything we do in long term care in Wisconsin. She feels that being involved in the Self-Determination Network is a great way to stay ‘heart-centered’. She has been involved with People First Wisconsin since it’s founding in 1999, first as a staff person and now as an ally. In her current position at My Choice Family Care Wisconsin, which is an MCO, she works to connect their members with opportunities and resources to help them explore self-determination. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Mary Clare explains that there is lots to be excited about when it comes to self-determination in Wisconsin.  She just mentions three ideas for our readers here:

  1. Mary Clare explains, “The recent development of the Self-Determination Channel on YouTube is her first bit of exciting news.”  She loves it and is a big fan!
  2. Secondly she loves watching established self-advocacy leaders like Cindy Bentley mentoring and passing the leadership baton to younger leaders like Ashley Mathy.
  3. Finally, she sees self-determination moving ever closer to becoming the ‘default setting’ of everything people are trying to do in Wisconsin.   She feels that we are starting to see people with disabilities no only be welcomed to the planning table, but often taking their rightful place at the head of the table.  

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to more self-determined?

Mary Clare shares that, “Everyone has gifts. Everyone has something to contribute and offer. Everyone has things they care about deeply that motivate them to act.” She wants you to discover what your unique gifts are. She indicates that if you are not sure where to start, ask some one you trust to help you with your discovery process. Be bold and put those gifts into action! It will not only help you to live a more self-determined life, it will help build community and encourage others to live a more self-determined life as well. 

What are some of your hobbies?

Mary Clare loves exploring art of all kinds but is especially passionate about her digital photography.  She enjoys walking and hiking. She also loves thrift shopping and up-cycling. She explains that up-cycling is the art of creative reuse where you transform old, discarded and unwanted items into something new, useful, and beautiful.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.

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