Tell us about yourself and siblings.
I am the eldest of four siblings with two younger brothers and a younger sister. My sister experiences an intellectual and developmental disabilities.
When is the first time you got involved in sibling support and advocacy?
This is somewhat difficult to pinpoint, but it was probably when I was young. As a sibling you often do not recognize that what you are doing is “advocacy;” you are simply trying to help your sibling and your family have the best quality of life.
What made you want to get involved in the SLN?
The sibling experience is very unique. As siblings of individuals with disabilities, we can offer a perspective to the disability community that has been underrepresented in previous advocacy efforts. As a sibling who happens to work in the disability field, I knew was fortunate to know other siblings and know how to support my sister. However, I am also aware too many siblings are struggling to feel connected to other siblings, understanding the complex disability service system, and acknowledging that their voice is important to the advocacy of their siblings and others with disabilities. Recognition of these circumstances has been a key reason I chose to become involved in the SLN.
What role do you play on the SLN board?
I participated in the early development of the Sibling Leadership Network dating back to the first conference in Washington, DC in 2007. Since that time, I have served as the first chair of the SLN’s Policy and Advocacy Committee. I was then elected as Secretary of the Board of Directors and served three two-year terms ending just last year. As Secretary of the Board, I also served on the SLN’s Executive Committee for six years.
What do you want SLN members to know about the SLN and the board?
Participating in the SLN is a unique opportunity. The SLN’s partnerships with other national disability groups who are focused on the advocacy of individuals with disabilities such as Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, sibling support initiatives such as the Sibling Support Project, and parent oriented organizations like Parent to Parent have networked the SLN to national disability organizations that support the whole family.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The SLN is an incredibly committed group of individuals seeking to enhance the lives of their brothers and sisters with disabilities while advocating and bring awareness to the sibling experience. Participating in a truly grassroots, volunteer organization can be so rewarding. Each person who participates is deeply committed to sibling movement and advocacy for their brothers and sisters. In a very short time, the SLN has grown. This growth is the result of the time, energy, and passion of its members. I fully expect the SLN will continue to evolve while reaching new members (siblings, individuals with disabilities, and sibling supporters) and addressing a large set of issues important to siblings and their families.