Katie Arnold, SLN Executive Director, and her sister Patrice

A Letter from the Executive Director of the SLN

Katie Arnold, SLN Executive Director, and her sister Patrice
Katie Arnold, SLN Executive Director, and her sister Patrice

Dear Siblings and Sibling Supporters,

I am thankful for the Sibling Leadership Network and the amazing support that it provides to siblings of people with disabilities and their families.  My sister, Patrice, has shaped my worldview and influenced my career path.  The needs of each member of my family has changed throughout our journey and the SLN has been there along the way.  I have seen the needs of families increase throughout the course of the pandemic and our network has been there to provide resources, peer-support connections, and advocate for the needs of families of people with disabilities.

Our Policy and Advocacy Chairs, Tiffany Banks and Nina Bihani, have led us through the pandemic with a focus on what matters for people with disabilities and their families.  We have signed on to letters of support, sent letters to legislators, and provided education and information to our network. We have built a passionate and informed community of advocates to continue to fight for better policies for people with disabilities and their families.

Our education and resources have grown around the needs of families during the pandemic.  We have partnered with organizations to share information with our network.  We have also reached beyond our network to new diverse communities that are underserved to share resources with those who need them most.  The urgency for families to plan for the future has become highlighted with COVID-19 and we have held trainings, shared materials, and provided discussion spaces for siblings to start these difficult conversations. We have more planned in the new year.

Connection is a key to the support we provide at the SLN.  We have had many virtual connections for peer support through our state chapters and national network.  A highlight of this past year was the National SLN Conference held virtually for the first time.  While we were disappointed to not be together in person, we were able to connect with and reach more siblings than ever.  Over half of our attendees were experiencing their first SLN conference and we were able to create a community of support and caring.  With over 275 people from 37 states and 16 countries, we had fun and interactive sessions.  Read the recap on our 2021 Conference Recap page.

We take equity and inclusion seriously and this year we created our Equity and Inclusion Scholarship Fund and we gave out 26 scholarships. Also, the SLN continued to partner with the Sibling Support Project and Special Needs Siblings to hold four BIPOC Sibling Roundtables to elevate the perspective of Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color who are navigating life as siblings of people with disabilities.  We are committed to continuing this work and plan to do more in the coming year.

In the New Year, we are excited about a few new programs we are launching!  Our Sib2Sib Mentoring Program will be launched nationally to provide peer mentorship for adult sibling caregivers.  We will hold monthly Sibposiums (ie symposiums for adult siblings) to connect virtually and chat about relevant topics. We also plan to continue to build  the SLN Podcast series  and share more siblings voices and perspectives.

I invite you to support the SLN by donating so we can do more to support brothers and sisters. Investing in siblings benefits people with disabilities, their entire families, and the larger community.  Your tax-deductible donation will have an important impact on our community.  You can easily donate online or by mail.  Visit the SLN’s Donations page for further details.

We are doubling every dollar we receive, up to $2,000, through the end of December,  thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor! Please give what you can and know your donation will be matched. Thank you!

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year!

Warmly,

Katie Arnold

Executive Director of SLN

Sibling Leadership Network

 

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