President, Autism Family Network, and operator of a licensed child care center for 30 years.
Graduated from UNL in 1993, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology;
Past Board of Directors member, Arc of Lincoln;
Active in the Autism Society and Autism Speaks;
Former member of Meadow Lane and Mickle PTAs, past president of St. John’s PTA;
Current leader of a church group for young moms in financial crisis;
Renovated the playground at St. John’s school;
Serving on Lincoln Parks and Rec inclusive playground planning committee;
Partner with LPD to bring project lifesaver to Lancaster County;
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Partner with Lincoln Arts Council to provide art lessons for kids with disabilities;
Partner with Josh the Otter to have swim lessons specifically tailored for kids with disabilities;
Optimist Club member;
TeamMates mentor to two LPS students;
Lector at church;
Kicking cancer’s ass (lol).
Who has inspired you?
My mom inspired me to be the best mom I could be. My daughter inspires me with how accepting she is of her role as stepmom and primary caregiver to Finn, who has cerebral palsy. My fellow special needs moms inspire me to show up every day. My son with autism inspires me to advocate for vulnerable marginalized people like him.
What book or podcast is currently inspiring you?
I’m currently reading “Radical Saints: 21 women for the 21st century.”
The Inspire Women’s Leadership platform has launched Inspire Girls. What advice would you give them?
Believe in yourself. Believe you are capable. Always help others when the opportunity presents itself. That’s God putting people in your path for a reason.
How can we better inspire, include and invest in others in our community?
People often make excuses why they can’t do something to help. We need to look for the reasons why we should. Make the time. If not you, who?
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means inspiring others to follow your lead. Be the hardest-working person in the room. Show people what can be accomplished with a little effort. Soon you will have a pack of like-minded people who want to be part of what you’re doing.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or motto?
I have a few. I love a quote from St. Catherine, my patron saint: “Be who God intended you to be, and you’ll set this world on fire.” I think of this quote daily. What is my purpose?
Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And, of course (lol), Tina Fey: “Bitches get stuff done.”
How would you describe a great day?
It would start with breakfast and coffee with my husband. Making time to go for a walk. Doing some gardening. Having margaritas with my friends. Reading books to little kids! Seeing my TeamMates. Raising some money for my favorite nonprofit. Dining with my children and grandchildren.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?
My mom and dad gave us advice all of the time. Most likely I didn’t listen to it as much as I should have. My mom and dad led by example. They would’ve given you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. My mom always said we didn’t have to like everyone we met but we had to love them. I carry that with me always.
What’s the biggest challenge or adversity you have faced in your life – professionally or personally – and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been faced with adversity throughout my life. Abusive first marriage, raising a child with special needs, cancer. In all of these instances, I overcame the adversity by my faith in God and my willingness to work hard. I left my first marriage and was extremely poor raising five kids alone without child support. I worked hard and saved, and my life changed for the better.
I had a son with severe autism. When I soon realized I couldn’t change that no matter how hard I tried, I poured myself into the Autism Family Network to make positive change for the special needs community. The Serenity Prayer helped me a lot during this time of my life.
When I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was scared out of my mind. I told my first oncologist I would fight like hell. He didn’t believe in me. So I found an oncologist who did. That was the best decision I ever made. I had faith in myself. Today, my medical team is discussing the possibility of remission for me.