I have been working in the disability field in Ohio since 1991. I started working as an intern at Goodwill Rehabilitation Center on Edgehill Drive here in Columbus that fall and I have been around ever since. I eventually moved on and worked as a social worker in the mental health field for a community mental health center in Columbus. I also spent several years working as a rehabilitation counselor in the workers’ compensation field, including running my own business for a few of those.

Upon coming to Ohio State, I was fortunate to be appointed by Govenor Bob Taft to serve on the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. I spent six wonderful years on the Council. I wound up being the chair of the Employment committee and, in the last two years, the chairman of the Council at large. It was an amazing experience. In all of the experiences I’ve had in my career, none was more valuable than the time I spent on DD Council.

What is DD Council? When I worked in other areas, I could not have answered this question. But it is an amazing group of people (31 in all), made up of people with disabilities (or family members), providers of services to people with disabilities, and professionals from state agencies that touch the lives of people with disabilities. They serve on this Council that is charged with sending out grants into the community to try and establish innovative programs to improve the lives of Ohioans with developmental disabilities.

They are brave. They will try things on a local level no one has tried before, without fear of failure. Througout the years, so many statewide (even nationwide) initiatives that have been implemented to help Americans with developmental disabilities started with a small DD Council grant. They pursue the art of the possible. They are an indispensable part of the disability community, but one that many people may not be aware of.

Today we share the first part of a 3-part interview with Carolyn Knight, director of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. In this first interview, Director Knight talks about what a DD Council is, who is eligible to serve on it, what the mission of the Ohio DD Council is, and what they hope to accomplish with the grants that are established by Council.

Parts 2 will be published on December 17 and Part 3 on December 18. We thank Carolyn for her time and her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of Ohioans with developmental disabilities.

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