It must be fate

The newest addition to the DSAGSL family talks about her past, present and the bright future she sees ahead

With the New Year well under way I can’t help but reflect on where I am, how I arrived here, and what I hope to accomplish in the future.  What a wonderful time to celebrate great accomplishments and set new and exciting goals!

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to serve my community and work in an environment where I could provide support to others. I wasn’t sure what that kind of job would look like or how exactly I would get there, but I pursued my dream first by getting my degree in public health and then by volunteering and working in the nonprofit sector. I have been fortunate enough to work with and for amazing individuals managing community programs in Colorado and Arizona; however, throughout all my time in school and the workforce, there was something missing. That something was my family.

I had been away from my hometown St. Louis for over a decade and I missed my family! So, I decided to come home last year to live and work. Family has always been the most important thing in my life especially because of my brother, Andrew. Andrew is 26, has Down syndrome and is absolutely the most amazing person I know. So much of what I have learned about life, patience, empathy, humor, love, and perspective has come from Andrew. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was when the position of Director of Programs and Services at the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis became available. I have told so many people that I think this must be fate. This is what I am meant to do.

I began working at DSAGSL in December and have loved every second since. I have been blessed to have the continued support of the amazing Linda Kronmiller, former Education Program Coordinator, as well as the rest of the dedicated staff, board and members.  So many wonderful programs and services are already in place at the DSAGSL such as our annual conference, Down Syndrome Education Specialist Program, Lydia Cox Memorial Bike Camp, holiday party, family picnic, new parent support, community groups and resource library. The most exciting part of my job is that not only do I get to keep our already successful programs running, I also get be creative and collaborative in order to take them to even greater heights!

There is such a great foundation at DSAGSL – one of trust, reputability, integrity and service – that forming new partnerships and expanding our programming should be nothing short of thrilling. My plans include hosting more programs and special events for adults with Down syndrome, expanding our health care professional outreach, increasing our number of community presentations, cultivating new partnerships, and growing our community groups.  I have so many goals for 2013 and beyond, but in short, it is to make sure every greater St. Louis community member – from family member to educator to health care professional to business owner – has the information and resources they need to join with the DSAGSL in ensuring all individuals with Down syndrome can reach their full potential.

I am here for you, so please contact me at erin@dsagsl.org if you have questions, concerns or ideas. I am thrilled to be here and cannot wait to work with all of you to make our goals a reality!