Dear SLN Members and Supporters:
Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that another year has passed. 2017 is a big year for the SLN, this year is our 10th Anniversary. With this year, we celebrate a decade of support, information, and advocacy for siblings and families. It is a momentous year, a time to reflect on how far we have come, but also to dream about where we want the next to go with the next 10 years.
This year we will also come together in Hartford Connecticut for the National SLN Conference to be held June 24th-25th. We are working hard to bring in a diverse and experienced set of speakers and presenters to share information, ideas, and approaches that we can all use, discuss and engage with to better our futures and those of our siblings.
As the 2017 Board Chair, it is my role to ensure that we continue to grow, advocate, follow our mission: to provide siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support and tools to advocate with their brothers and sisters and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families. In addition to the Board Chair, I am also leading the conference planning committee and work to seek fundraising and sponsorship for the SLN and our events.
I am fortunate that I do not have to do this alone and have a wonderful team. Sara Hansen our previous secretary was recently elected to Vice Chair, Emily Holl was elected to Secretary, Jaime McGeady to Treasurer and David Horton steps into the Past Chair position. In 2016, we brought on Amy Halm as the Project Director to work with our Executive Director Katie Arnold. We also have a host of other folks that work as chairs, co-chairs, and members of our committees through the SLN organization. It is with the dedication and support of our membership we have grown to where we are now in 10 years. I am amazed and humbled to be able to work with members today that were at the table 10 years ago, when the SLN moved from an idea to an organization.
Like many siblings, I found myself naturally gravitating towards a “helping field” and have spent my career working in education specifically with at-risk and “risked” populations. I recently transitioned into a new role where I will lead the Northeast Alternative Education Center (NEAC) in San Antonio for students in 6-12th grades. I also teach graduate education courses on how to effectively work with children with disabilities.
For the SLN 2017 is a big year, it is our 10th birthday! It is time for celebration which we will do in Connecticut at the National Conference, I sincerely hope you can join us to make it the best and largest conference we have had. It is a time to set the course for the next 10 years as an organization, seek opportunities to get involved, to connect, find information, resources, and support, our network is vast and there are numerous opportunities to help the SLN.
Let us make 2017 the best year the SLN has ever seen. Let’s make our 10th anniversary a truly standout year as an organization, please get involved, come spend time with us in Connecticut. I look forward to getting to know all of you over the next 12 months.
Happy Holidays and welcome to 2017!
Edward O’Neill, PhD
SLN Board Chair