SD Network

Category: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Jordan Anderson


By SD Network, 2021-08-19

IMG_0897.jpegMeet Jordan. This recent high school graduate has found his love for advocacy. He loves attending different events and connecting with others. He encourages people to get involved in disability advocacy. It’s a great way to connect with others. We’re so fortune to have him as a member of the Self-Determination Network.  

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

Jordan is from Auburndale, Wisconsin and he just graduated from Auburndale High School. He will be attending Project Search in Marshfield this fall. He loves connecting with other advocates.

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

Jordan joined the Self-Determination Network to meet others. “I want to meet other people that are like me and have the same needs and wants as me,” he tells us. Jordan is active in several different disability advocacy boards including Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, and the Wisconsin Supported Decision-Making Team. He has also attended many disability conferences, and is scheduled to present at a few upcoming events.

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

Jordan is looking forward to speaking at the Self-Determination Conference this year. He does a lot of work with the Disability Vote Coalition to make sure that people have the right to vote and he's happy that the governor recently vetoed the bills that would have made it harder for people to vote.

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

Jordan explains that he got into doing more disability advocacy things about a year ago. He loves attending conferences and connecting with other self-advocates. He encourages others to get involved with various types of advocacy. He explains that one opportunity could lead to many others.

What are some of your hobbies?

Jordan is an avid sports fan and loves to watch Wisconsin sports. He also enjoys talking with family and friends over zoom about politics and current events. He likes discussing policy issues as well.

***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: Sydney Badeau


By SD Network, 2021-07-31

Meet Sydney. This animal–loving self-advocate keeps busy by participating in various advocacy organizations. She thinks it’s so important to have a voice and speak up for what’s right. She encourages others to get involved in some sort of advocacy. We’re so fortunate to have her as a member of the Self-Determination Network!

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

Sydney is a disability self-advocate in Southern Wisconsin who lives on a farm out in the country. She serves on multiple disability advocacy boards including the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum Inc Board, and the National Council of Self-Advocates. She’s also a Crisis Counselor for Crisis TextLine.

How are you involved with self-determination? 

Sydney involved with self-determination by participating in activities with different disability advocacy organizations and making her own choices in life. She tells us that the best part of being an advocate is having a voice and being able to speak up for what’s not right. She also enjoys doing policy work.

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 Sydney is that she’s starting her own vlog on the Self-Determination YouTube Channel. She also recently became one of the hosts on the channel.

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

Sydney encourages people who want to be more self-determined to be aware of the different advocacy organizations. “If you aren’t already involved with them, to reach out to them,” she says.

What are some of your hobbies?

Sydney enjoys doing photography. She likes to photograph things like flowers and animals. She also loves taking care of her pets. She has 18 chickens, two cats, and a dog! 

***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: Kristi Scheunemann


By SD Network, 2021-07-13

Meet Kristi. This up-and-coming self-advocate has found her passion--disability advocacy. She has recently realized that her voice does matter and that she can make a difference in the world. She encourages others to “just go for it!”  We’re so fortune to have her as a member of the Network!       

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

Kristi is 30 years old and was born with Spina Bifida.  Due to this, she is paralyzed from the waist down. “Even though going through all of the medical issues associated with Spina Bifida hasn’t been easy, I feel like it has made me a stronger person and really what led to my calling to become a self-advocate,” she says. She has started joining different advocacy groups and is a Self-Advocate Leader with the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD). She’s passionate about making this world more accepting and accessible to people with all different abilities.  

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

While Kristi is new to the Self-Determination Network, she has been in a few videos for the Self-Determination YouTube channel.  She joined the SD Network because she saw a post on Facebook from a friend, asking if anyone would be interested in answering some questions for an upcoming Member Spotlight.  She jumped at the chance because she wanted to get out there and share opinions on disability related topics. “Again, I feel like bringing awareness to different abilities and helping individuals overcome the obstacles that may arise is my purpose in life.  Everyone has a story and I want to help people tell theirs from a position of power and strength rather than a position of pity and others feeling sorry for them,” she explains. She points out a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Why blend in when you were born to stand out?” 

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

The best thing happening for Kristi is that she’s building up her self-determination skills.  She explains that she’s gradually learning how to make her voice heard and that the value of what she has to say. She tells us, “before joining all of these self-advocate groups I was shy and reserved.  I didn’t really give my feelings or opinions because I felt like no one was listening to me anyway so why should I bother?” In terms of self-determination, she’s learning that she does matter and she has the right and responsibility to get her thoughts and feelings recognized. “I’ve become more aware of the thought that if I don’t share my story, thoughts, and feelings, who will?” she says.       

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

The advice that Kristi would give to others who are looking to become more self-determined is; even though it will be scary and you’ll have doubts, just go for it!  She explains that if you don’t like how something in your life is running, let someone know who can help you make the changes you want.  “Yes, you may not solve the issue or get the exact result you wanted, but you will make it known that you do have an opinion and need to be asked about different choices rather than having someone just make the choices for you.  It’s your life, live it how you think is best for you,” she exclaims!

What are some of your hobbies?

Kristi likes going out with friends and scrolling through Facebook.  She also enjoys attending a Pound fitness class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

***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: Renee


By SD Network, 2021-05-29

unnamed.jpgMeet Renee. This self-proclaimed “Benefits Nerd”  loves helping people with disabilities navigate their benefits and making them realize that they can work. She believes Self-Determination has multiple meanings in the Benefits Analysis world, and she has a multitude of knowledge about navigating the system. We are so fortune to have her as a member of the Network!

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

Renee has been working in the Disability field for about 13 years. She has been a Certified Work Incentive Counselor and Benefits Analyst and a Social Security Administration partner since 2013. She currently works with IBA Resources, LLC. in Wausau, WI and works with people of all ages and disability types.  She explains that she is a partner with the Social Security Administration and is trained by them to counsel individuals with Social Security and other Federal Benefits who also want to go to work. 

She loves talking with individuals and families who receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, FoodShare, Veterans, and other benefits about how they can get a job in the community even if they are receiving those benefits! “I call myself a "Benefits Nerd" and am here to help if you are worried that getting a job will mean you will lose your benefits,” she exclaims!  

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

Renee shares that Self-Determination is so important in her field--being able to make good financial choices when you want a job and receive benefits is all about Self-Determination! Everyone should have input on what type of employment they want. Self-Determination can also mean having a goal of working off of Social Security or other Benefits. It is okay to want to work full time and there are many ways that goal can be achieved. To her, Self-Determination can also mean having all the tools and information you need to make the best choices in your life. She explains that knowing what type of Social Security or Health Care you have as well as knowing any other benefits you receive (for example FoodShare or Managed Care) and how these benefits are used is empowering information that can only help you with whatever goals you have. “That is the reason I joined the SD Network: Benefits knowledge helps tremendously with Self-Determination steps and goals,” she says. 

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

One of the biggest tools Renee seen created in the last couple of years to help with Self-Determination is the creation of the MYSSA accounts on the Social Security website (www.ssa.gov). She explains that creating one of these accounts can give the ability to report wages from work, request a new Social Security card, check your earnings record, change your address or phone number and many other things. This website saves everyone time, transportation, and phone calls to your local Social Security office. 

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

Renee encourages people not to be afraid to ask the big life goal questions if you receive Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid: Do you want to get married? Do you want to go to college? Or own your own business someday? Or work a full-time job? She says, “if you have a family member or loved one who is worried you will lose your Healthcare or Social Security, let's talk about how to keep those and reach your goals!”

She explains that everyone's Benefits puzzle looks a little different. What you can earn with work might be very different from a family member who also receives Social Security. Find out what the rules and safety nets go along with your own benefits!

What are some of your hobbies?

Outside of work, Renee is involved in the local Community Theater. She likes to direct plays and musicals. She also likes to play board games and travel around the U.S. She also has two very fluffy and naughty cats that she takes care of.

***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: Felicia


By SD Network, 2021-04-30

received_410324783524909.jpegMeet Felicia. This self-advocate has been proving doctors wrong since she was born. She has been involved in multiple disability advocacy boards and recently accepted a position as an Outreach Self-Advocate for an organization. She believes we can all make a difference in our communities and that it’s important to be a positive influence for others. We are so fortune to have her as a member of the Self-Determination Network.  

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

When Felicia was born, the doctor told her mom that she wouldn’t walk, talk, see, or hear, through therapy and hard work, she can walk, talk, see a little bit, and hear.  She shares that she was diagnosed at an early age with Autism. She was bullied throughout my schooling until she got into senior high school which led to having suicidal thoughts. However, she’s pleased to share that she battled through and graduated high school with a very high GPA. She no longer has suicidal thoughts either. After high school, she attended Milwaukee Area Technical College for awhile, but she had problems with Financial Aid. She then pursued a degree in Medical Coding and Billing from Milwaukee Career College. She finished the course, but due to financial issues, she never got her certificate.

From 2011 to 2014, Felicia was on a board called Transit Plus Advisory Council which is a council/board that advocated for people who were riding the paratransit program in Milwaukee called Transit Plus. She was the Chair for the Public Relations Committee of that board. In 2014, she helped out a friend get his online college and fellowship off the ground. She explained that she started out as a leader in the women's group and then she switched over to the foreign missions. She was made the CEO over North America and South America. In 2018, her friend passed away and that bumped her up to being the President and Chancellor of the online school and fellowship. She explained that the online school is a Christian oriented driven for people pursuing their calling.

In June 2013, Felicia started going to Wisconsin Lions Camp where she enjoys activities and help encourage other campers to go. In 2014, she went with a travel group out of Dane County as a travel chaperone.  She shares that she received a call from the founder of the group telling me that I could not come on anymore tours because she was disabled. So, from July 2014 to March 2017, she did research and started organizing her own travel group. In November 2016, she worked as an Intake Clerk for a friend’s her personal care agency until June 2017. In April 2017, I started founded Abilities Travel Club. Abilities which is a travel tour business that helps the community, travel lovers, people with disabilities, and seniors enhance Independent living skills while traveling. In 2019, she was a part of a board called Dreamability where we would help people with disabilities fulfill their dreams and goals; however, this group was disbanded due to the lack of participation and other issues.  In 2019, she was voted as the president of Across The Way - Christian Resource Center (ATW - CRC) which is a Christian Resource Center that gears children and families to provide Christian education. In March 2021, she was hired as an Outreach Self-Advocate for People First Wisconsin.

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

Felicia got involved with self-determination was she kept hearing the phrase “self-determination.” She wondered what was, so she attended some conferences related to self-determination and disability employment. At those conferences, she also kept hearing the phrase, “pursue your purpose,” and she asking herself how she could pursue her purpose. A green light went on for her when she realized she could use self- determination to help her do it. She joined the SD Network because she wanted to be around people who were self-determined like she is. She also wants to help others who don’t know what self-determination is so they can be like her.

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

Felicia wants to share that, even though people may have multiple challenges in life, there is still hope. In July 2019, she founded a Christian oriented interview podcast entitled, “Kingdom Hope Connections Radio Show,” and in October 2019, I presented using technology to be healthy at the Self-Determination Conference. She also presented at another conference about substance abuse. In October 2021, she will be a presenter again at the Self-Determination Conference.

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

Felica shares that, “you can make a difference in your community and be a positive influence to people around you.” A resource Felicia would like to share is the is Abilities Travel Club. Abilities Travel Club is a travel tour business based in Milwaukee, WI and provide travel services in the State of Wisconsin.  We have traveled to camps, conferences, restaurants, hotels and museums. She explains that they’re looking forward to traveling to various places in the Midwest and the United States. There’s no cost to join and the meetings are held via conference calls. To find out more information, you can email abilitiestravelclub@gmail.com or like Abilities Travel Club on Facebook.

What are some of your hobbies?

 Felicia says her hobbies are boating, bowling, cooking, fishing, singing, traveling, writing, and volunteering.

***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: Cynthia Sook


By SD Network, 2021-04-17

Meet Cynthia. Working to support people with disabilities for over four decades, she has seen many positive changes in the community. She encourages people to make use of the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). We’re so fortune to have her as a member of the Self-Determination Network!

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

Cynthia is an Information and Assistance/ADRC Specialist for the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Sheboygan County with a focus on serving adults with intellectual and development disabilities. She has been supporting people with disabilities for over 40 years. She explains that she remembers the days before the repatriation of individuals from ICFs-MR (now called ICFs-IDD) back to their home communities and nearer to family with work opportunities being mostly restricted to “Sheltered Workshops”. She worked at a camp during a summer during college that catered to people with I/DD and after college worked at two different privately owned ICFs-IDD in Milwaukee, a pre-vocational program then known as a Sheltered Workshop in a Milwaukee suburb, then a Case Manger for Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Developmental Disabilities Services (which included two years contracted to an MCO) and finally the ADRC of Sheboygan County for the past almost 12 years. “If someone asked me when I was 20 what my career would be, I NEVER would have thought, let alone answered, “to be a Social Worker focusing on people with I/DD”, she shares. She changed my major after the summer working at the camp.  

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

Cynthia joined the Self-Determination Network for a few reasons.  She doesn’t work in a major metropolitan area, so our resources are not as extensive as in other areas.  She explains that it can also be very insular since many employees from the different local agencies have been collaborating for at least two decades.  It is helpful to find out what other communities are doing that is positive or innovative and that maybe we can incorporate on a local level. Her work currently focuses on emerging youth with disabilities and assisting in the transition to adulthood. She shares that it is wonderful to see the generational differences. They have gone from trying to convince people that it is ok to make their own decisions and work towards their own goals to younger folks knowing that it is their right to do so. She also manages their agency’s social media, so she’s always looking for resources to share with others, even if they have to drive to access it.

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

Cynthia has seen many changes in the past 40 years from the attitude and actions of service providers and family caregivers, language and terminology, types of service provided, Long Term Care Funding and an almost total disregard of self-determination to the embracing of self-direction.  It’s not universal, there is still learned dependence amongst some people with I/DD and a tendency for some family caregivers to lean towards trying to block all risk for their loved one which is an obstacle to self-determination. 

She explains that she had to evolve as well and she clearly recalls participating in meetings in Milwaukee County where the county staff and residential providers made decisions about who had empty beds, who needed to move to make room for someone else and basically moving people around to make the system work rather than addressing individual preferences. She realized that the people she worked with in the ICF-MR and had referred for residential services had little to no chance to achieve their dream of moving out to a something more independent.

At the request of her then employer, she had also spent a few weeks with a journalist from a national magazine who was doing a series of articles about people in Wisconsin who lived with disabilities and how their wishes/needs/wants were or were not being met.  She introduced him to people with I/DD who wanted to tell their stories and helped him make connections in the community with involved agencies.  In reading his series, it was eye-opening for me to read things from the perspective of the interviewees. There were things that she thought were positive or showed progress that from the perspective of the person were not. 

“These were some of the events that helped me evolve as well as being able to observe the positive changes in lives of people who had been able to express their wants and needs and, in some cases, self-direct their funding,” she says. When she was a case manager, she really enjoyed helping people (and their families) realize and embrace their lives outside of large institutions when ICFs-IDD across the state were closed. “People moved from fear of the unknown and fear of risk to more fully embracing what the world had to offer,” she explains. 

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

Cynthia encourages everyone to use the network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers across the state. She explains that they are underutilized and ADRCs have or can find information about all kinds of resources. ABLE accounts and Special Needs Trusts are also underutilized.  She also firmly believes that when working with Long-Term Care funding, it is important to work with staff who have a knowledge base and experience in working with people with I/DD; although some skills are universal, it is a specialty and people should request a case manager or ICA who has this kind of experience.

She would also like to mention the movie, “Crip Camp.”  It’s a great documentary that really shows how a group of people living with disabilities started the self-determination movement in the 1970’s.

What are some of your hobbies?

Right now, Cynthia’s main hobby during the pandemic is contemplating and planning for her life after retirement. She really enjoys being by water.  “If you live in a part of the state that is not on a Great Lake, you really need to visit one because it is unlike anything else………except maybe the ocean,” she tells us.

***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 Burish


By SD Network, 2021-02-23

View recent photos.pngMeet new InControl Wisconsin board member, Julie! As a strong parent advocate, she’s involved with many various advocacy boards. As one of the founders of the Save IRIS movement, she’s a huge advocate for self-direction. She encourages everyone to remember the word “self” in self-direction and to get involved in some sort of advocacy. We’re so fortune to have Julie as a member of the Network!

How are you involved with self-determination? What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Julie is the parent of an amazing young woman with a disability and since the day she was born they wanted her life to be as much like that of her brother's as possible. Julie explains they believe that having a disability should not hinder her ability to live the life she wants. “Just like anyone else, she should be able to pursue her goals and dreams and to make the choices that are right for her.  I've devoted much of my energy over the years to clearing a path for her to succeed,” Julie says.  When her daughter was approaching 18-years-old, they found that the IRIS program perfectly embraced their values. She shares that self-direction was what they envisioned for her from day one!  “Because why wouldn't the best option for a person (with or without a disability) be to decide what support they need, choosing who they would like to help them and deciding how they want to live their life,” she exclaims!

Julie was always very active in school and in the community around disability issues, but it wasn't until 2014 when she enrolled in Partners in Policymaking that she truly found her "tribe".  “Partners in Policymaking brought me to a place where I was no longer an "army of one" but rather, part of a "force of many,’" she enthusiastically says!  It changed her life in the most wonderful and empowering way!  Her Partners class led the charge to create the grassroots organization Save IRIS that successfully did just that...they saved IRIS!

Currently, she sits on the IRIS Advisory Committee, the WI Rehabilitation Council (DVR), she’s a new member of InControl Wisconsin board and she sits on a DHS Long-Term Care Stakeholder committee. She hopes that the work that she’s involved in and the voice that she adds contributes positively to improving and increasing self-direction not only in state programs but in the lives of people with disabilities! 

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

Julie shares that the fact that Wisconsin has the IRIS program is, in itself, good news. She says, “our IRIS program is one of best examples of what self-direction should look like in long term care.”  

She explains that the challenge that we all need to be aware of is that most of the people who administer government programs and who legislate policies that affect self-direction, well-meaning as they may be, are usually not people with disabilities nor do they have people with disabilities in their lives.  “So, often many of the finer points of their decisions just don't come with a complete understanding about how it is to actually try to live a dignified, self-directed, community-based life when you have a disability,” she exclaims!  

It's up to all of us to know what's going on that affects us and our lives and to give voice to our needs and concerns. She’d like to challenge everyone reading this to attend at least one of the following meetings.  She explains that they all deal with decisions that directly affect your lives and your services and all of them have a time for public comment where you can give input, voice a concern, express appreciation or ask that a topic be considered.  Also, she encourages everyone to consider making an application to be appointed to one of them. “Remember "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu!". Let's make sure we're the ones helping to make the decisions that affect our lives,” she says!  

IRIS Advisory Committee

Long Term Care Council

WI Rehabilitation Council (Deals with DVR and Job issues)

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

Julie thinks that the most important thing for anyone to remember is the "self" in self-direction!  “It's your life and you are the person who should be driving the direction it takes,” she tells us. She explains that the people you choose to help you (parents, guardians, supported decision makers, family, friends, support brokers...) are there to listen and to HEAR what you want and to help you achieve YOUR goals!  “Always remember!  It's YOUR life,” she exclaims!

What are some of your hobbies?

Julie loves to gardening, cooking and traveling (not much of that lately!).  However, her real  passion is disability advocacy. “And since all of the advocacy I do is voluntary, I guess it also qualifies as a hobby,” she 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: Lynndale


By SD Network, 2021-02-15

Meet Lynndale. As a dedicated self-advocate, she encourages people to follow the path to look forward. She has been involved in things like People First, and she’s currently the president of her local People First chapter. We’re so fortune to have Lynndale as a member of the Self-Determination Network!

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

Lynndale was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. She attended public school and was in Special Education. “I overcame my disability,” she says. She was also involved in Special Olympics, etc. She has been living on her own since she was 18 years old. Her dad, who taught Special Education, found her her first job. She worked at a grocery store for 32 years. Unfortunately, her dad passed away from two brain aneurysms in 1996—she was 25 years old.

Lynndale shares that she had a bad incident at work last year and she has been on medical leave since.

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

Lynndale has been involved with People First for 17 years. She currently serves as President of her local chapter. “It’s been rewarding, challenging, and fun,” she explains. She has attended the Self-Determination Conference in the Dells where she has learned to not only stand up for herself, but also for others who might not be able to.

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

Lynndale recently turned the big 5-0! Every year, she goes to mass and renews her baptism promises. “God has definitely blessed me,” she says.  

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

Lynndale shares the Special Olympics oath with us:

Let me win
If I cannot win
Let me be brave in the attempt

We all can’t win all the time
We all have to be brave and trust
In this oath

She explains that she repeats this to herself. It helps her stay motivated and keeps her faith. She encourages people to go to meetings and conferences to learn how others are being self-determined. “We all have a voice—we need to stand up for ourselves. Let’s follow the path that we need to look forward,” she 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: 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.

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