As a person with a disability, I grew to learn that I had rights, and that law and policy were critical to allowing me to have the opportunity to have a full life. Not only was my life affected, but also the lives of my children, grandchildren, family and friends. I realized that what I had learned during my life allowed me to influence others to understand why compliance with the laws was critical. I had the opportunity to participate in the ADA Training and Implementation Network, Phases 1, 2, and 3, and have spent the years since that wonderful training spreading the word about the importance of the ADA and other disability related laws. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to become involved with the Fair Housing Act, and serve on the founding board of the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, with three years as President and now Vice President. I attended Fair Housing School, presented by the National Fair Housing Alliance, and now am able to advocate for compliance with that law as well. I work with the Southeast DBTAC doing technical assistance, course moderation and serve on their expert training team. In addition, I contract with the Independent Living Program in Mississippi, LIFE, doing training and technical assistance. I believe that my extensive, real world experience with people in all arenas gives me a unique perspective to understand what is really happening in our country and what is needed in the area of policy.
For many years before Katrina, I advocated on the Gulf Coast for accessibility in shelters. Following the storm in 2005, I was faced with severe damage to my home. I personally encountered the lack of access in temporary housing and the frustration of not having accessible emergency services available to me. I believe that this gives me a unique personal understanding of the problems associated with emergency management issues for people with disabilities and uniquely qualified for the FEMA National Advisory Council.