Like many staff at FRN, Eileen did not plan on working with families but is glad that life brought her to FRN. Eileen intended to be a college professor in international politics, and was on a fellowship in the Bay area when she had her first child (she is originally from New York, which is why she talks so fast!). It became clear when her son was very young that he had a disability, and Eileen and her husband made the choice that she would stay home with him for a few years to help get him to his doctors’ appointments and therapies. Happily, a younger sister arrived during that time – bringing more laughter and chaos to their small family.
Eileen was a stay at home mom, but she found herself going more and more into advocacy for her child and other children in the community. One day she gave up the idea of returning to the academic world, and started to work as an advocate. She worked at DREDF as a special education advocate answering IEP questions, as a community advocate training county workers supporting children in the dependency system and for community based organizations providing services to people with disabilities. Eileen also joined the Board of the national advocacy organization COPAA, and has served as the lead instructor for the Special Education Advocates Program (SEAT) and as chair of the training committee.
About 10 years ago, the position of Executive Director opened up at FRN – and Eileen jumped at the chance to work with the Alameda County community. Eileen’s work at FRN has focused on developing and expanding leadership trainings and opportunities for parents, because she believes that knowledge is power – and that knowing what makes the system tick is the key to getting what you need for your child. Working at FRN has allowed Eileen to learn from and give back to the community, and work toward making systems serve children and families better. Simply put, she lives by the credo that disability rights are civil rights and she is proud to one of the many working to change the way the world see families with children with disabilities.
Eileen has also worked with state and county organizations to expand FRN’s services, both in the numbers of families served and in the variety of languages. Eileen is very proud of the high quality work that FRN does in supporting and educating families, and that FRN itself is made up completely of family members of children with developmental delays and disabilities. Most of all, Eileen is happy to work at a place where laughter is common, every child is celebrated and families are all welcome.
(510) 547-7322x 116