Grande Ballroom A

Self-Advocacy Symposium: Innovations in Employment – Navigating Systems for Success

Thursday, November 2
9:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Location: Grande Ballroom A

Sponsored By: 

Target Audience: Self-Advocates

Keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Shore, internationally known self-advocate, educator, and author will share his perspective on how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can find success in education, employment, effective self-advocacy and meaningful engagement in your community.

The symposium will include a self-advocate panel with individuals sharing their challenges and victories related to community employment.

In addition, the symposium will host an open dialogue between self-advocates in attendance and the Board of Directors of The Arc of the United States.

Pre-registration is not required.

Stephen M. Shore

Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education
Adelphi University
Garden City, New York


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Nicole C. LeBlanc

Regional Advocacy Specialist
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Nicole LeBlanc has a keen ability and interest in public policy and excels at communicating the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to public officials. Nicole is a natural leader, chosen by her peers due to her unwavering commitment to speaking the truth to power. She has presented keynotes on the dignity of risk at statewide self-advocacy conferences. In August Nicole moved to Silver Spring MD for the Paul Marchand Public Policy internship at AUCD, where she interned from September 2016 - March 2017. During her 6 months at AUCD she attended numerous CCD policy meetings, hill visits and researched the Trump administration on where they stand on various issues such as IDEA, civil rights, Medicaid etc. From May to August Nicole served as a part-time Transit Organizer for Americans for Transit, where she collected petition signatures opposing bus/rail service cuts.


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Clarence Garner

Lunch Room Attendant
Rady Children’s Hospital

Clarence Garner works as a Lunch Room Attendant in the cafeteria at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. He has been employed there for 14 years. Among his many job responsibilities Clarence assists with general cleaning and maintenance of the lunch room, wrapping food for display, as well as stocking and re-stocking the coolers, racks and salad bar.

Clarence takes great pride in providing Rady Children’s Hospital with quality services to ensure the effective operation of the hospital’s food services. Clarence works closely with the hospital staff and other team members and has been commended for his friendly approach with cafeteria patrons, which not only positively impact his own life, but those of his employers, staff and patrons.


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Eric Matthes

Program Coordinator, Community Change Champions
The Arc of King County

Eric works for The Arc of King County in Washington state as the Community Change Champions Program Coordinator and is a civil rights activist. Community Change Champions is a peer mentoring and learning group for emerging activists. The program is led by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who promote disability awareness, organize advocacy activities and promote civic engagement. The program is a resource for people with I/DD and the community at large. In Eric’s work at The Arc, he promotes disability awareness and supports various advocacy activities, including weekly Advocacy Days during the state legislative session, advocacy efforts of People First, Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) and Allies in Advocacy.

Living an inclusive life at work, in the community, at home and at play is important to me. It gives me self-respect and it helps me to earn the respect of others.

Eric is a apart of:
• National Council Self Advocates (NCSA)
• Association of People Supporting Employment at large board member (APSE)
• Disability Rights Washington – Disability Advisory Council member
• People First of Washington – Past board president
• I’m also one of the foundation members Allies in Advocacy

Eric’s motto and statement is:
I’m not going after my dream I’m living it. Do not work on me, work with me.
• I’m not your inspiration
• I’m a man
• I’m not special


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Nigel McCarty

Home Depot

Nigel lived in Georgia for four years before deciding to return to San Diego. He had hoped to attend college, but soon realized this was not the route he wanted to take and instead wanted to find a part-time job.

Nigel faced some challenges with obtaining employment and sought assistance from The Arc of San Diego. With The Arc’s support he secured an interview with Home Depot and was hired! In his current role at Home Depot, he loads and unloads vehicles, offers assistance to customers when in need and takes the initiative to seek out most of his tasks.

With ongoing support and training, Nigel achieved a score of 100% on his required Home Depot Knowledge Test. He also received the “Homer Award” for Excellent Customer Service. Nigel has begun hosting a weekly Kids Workshop at Home Depot and received several “Bravo Awards” in which his co-workers had nominated him.


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Krystian Fish

Miss Kansas 2017

On June 10th, Krystian Fish, a resident of Wichita, KS, was crowned Miss Kansas 2017. A life
changing moment, as Krystian will make over 400 appearances during her year-of-service as
Miss Kansas.

Krystian was a preliminary Lifestyle in Fitness winner and the 2017 Quality of Life winner for
her work in her community and her personal platform. Krystian’s platform is “Remove the
Labels: Be Unstoppable”. There are over 56.7 million individuals in America living with a
disability. They have been labeled by what they cannot do, instead of what they can. Krystian’s
platform challenges all people, with disabilities or inabilities, to not let anything stop them from
reaching their goals. Through her #BeUnstoppable social media campaign, she will educate
everyone about disabilities and why we must change our perceptions.

Throughout her year-of-service, Krystian will also connect her personal platform with the Miss
America national platform, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She will serve as an
ambassador, representing the hospitals who serve millions of children with disabilities each year.
Her message of being unstoppable applies to everyone. As Miss Kansas, she will promote
“Remove the Labels: Be Unstoppable” and advocate for the millions of individuals with a
disability who need a voice.

As well as efforts in the state, Krystian traveled to Washington D.C. and met with The Arc
National, National Down Syndrome Society, Special Olympics and the American Association of
People with Disabilities establishing relationships and learning more about the individuals of all
ages that she will advocate throughout her year as Miss Kansas.

In addition to Krystian’s work with her personal platform, she has earned close to $13,000 in
cash scholarships at the 2017 Miss Kansas Pageant competition to pursue her education and
complete her degree in Psychology from Wichita State University.

The Miss Kansas Organization is a state franchise of the Miss America Organization, one of the
nation’s leading achievement programs and the worlds’ largest provider of scholarship assistance
for young women. The Miss Kansas Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization makes
available academic, community service, STEM, and other scholarships to women between the
ages of 17 and 23. Annually, the Miss Kansas Organization provides over $3,000,000 in cash
and in-kind scholarships assistance.


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Self-Advocacy Symposium: Innovations in Employment – Navigating Systems for Success

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