Board Spotlight – Meet Susan

deversI have a 30-year-old son with Down syndrome and have been involved with this group before it was established as Down Syndrome of Louisville. Back then all we had was Jean Bryson and the Early Intervention Program which served individuals with Ds from birth to 5 years of age. Jefferson County provided her with a classroom, and she was responsible for raising her own salary and benefits. I remember our first conversation like it was yesterday. Drew was 3 weeks old and Jean called to introduce herself and tell me about the program. Back then there were no HIPPA guidelines and when a baby with Down syndrome was born, the hospital staff called Jean. When I asked her how many children with Ds are born a year, she said around 8. It was then that I went through the “Why me?” phase. Of all the fat bellies walking around, I had 1 of the 8!  Jean became my teacher, counselor, advisor, and pretty much my angel in disguise. My family jumped right in and helped with Bingo’s and any other fundraising activities needed to raise Jean’s salary.

I graduated from UofL and worked for AT&T in customer service for 17 years and volunteered for a buyout since I had two young children. I did not work for a total of 11 months and then began consulting for AT&T and training sales reps off and on for about 3 years. Not sure of the exact year, but around 1996 or so DSL hired their first Executive Director who was part-time. She moved out of state, and I was offered the job. I had a lot of people who jumped in and helped. My mom knew some realtors who had office space they donated for years, adding more space as it was needed until we purchased our 1st building. I was only the ED a few years because AT&T called and offered me a great position I could not turn down. It was a harder decision to go back to work there than it was to leave, because I loved being ED but I needed to make sure my son would be taken care of for life. I wish I could make sure all Ds individuals are taken care of and no parent would have to worry about their child. 

During my time as ED, we changed the Buddy Walk from an awareness walk to an actual fundraiser, (nothing like it is today), started Halloween at the Zoo, and got the Teen Group off the ground. If you were a member of my family, you had no choice whether or not you volunteered, and they were always there to help out. When my dad passed away 20 years ago, DSL named the Volunteer of the Year Award after my dad, Joseph O. Thomas. He was always only a call away. As we all know, it takes a village. We then hired Dianna who took it to the next level and now Julie who is taking us to the moon! We are so blessed as an organization!

I am in my second term on the board and my husband serves on the Foundation board. He started the golf tournament and the gala which are both great fundraisers. As you can see, as a family we are very invested in this organization and know-how blessed we are to live here and have the support we need for our child. 

I retired from AT&T this past August after 37 years to watch my 1st grandchild who was born in July. We plan to do some traveling in retirement and take some time to just chill!

Tagged Items:

Similar Articles

A Derby Double for DSL!

Win a piece of Derby 150 History While Supporting Down Syndrome of Louisville   Nonprofit Benefits from Raffle of Winning Jockey’s Oaks and Derby Pants Click here for DSL’s Press Release Louisville, Ky. (May 5, 2024) – Following their attendance at the Down Syndrome of Louisville (DSL) Gallop Gala in April, jockey Brian Hernandez and […]

Read More

2024 Gallop Gala Recap

    View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Jonathan Cullen (@joncullen_video)   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Jo (@uraveragejo) Download your 360 photobooth videos

Read More

New DSL Committees

DSL Families, We are launching NEW DSL Volunteer Committees and we are excited to have our families participate. Please scroll through these photos to see the new committees forming and if you are interested in any of them fill out the form below. These committees will meet 4-6 times a year (some in-person/Some virtual) but […]

Read More

Glamming for Gala 2024 Recap

Read More

DSL Visits the Capitol!

Three members of the Adult Developmental Academy got to go to Frankfort to participate in the Sunny Pages program. They also got to make an informational video about World Down Syndrome Day, and the Rock Your Socks movement.  Sam, Joe, and Connor got to be honorary pages on the Senate floor for the day. They […]

Read More

DSL’s David DeSanctis Honored in New York

A star-studded event was hosted in New York City and it was a night of celebration to raise funds to support the Down syndrome community. This impactful evening will honor trailblazer and Life Goes On actor, Chris Burke, and others who have helped expand representation for our community in film and television.     Follow […]

Read More

Board Staff Support Spotlight – Meet Cameron

Cameron Fontes DSL Staff—Executive Assistant DSL has been part of my family’s life since my brother Bailey was born in August 2002. I didn’t know what Down syndrome was at the time, I was just irritated that whoever was in charge at the hospital wouldn’t let my brother come home right away. I thought his […]

Read More

Board Spotlight – Meet Dwight

Dwight Newton Reason for Being Part of DSL: Since I was 9 years old I have had the amazing experience of spending time with and around individuals who help me understand compassion and caring. These are not natural traits of mine. When I was 9 I got introduced to a class at the Stewart Home […]

Read More

Board Spotlight – Meet Jennifer

Jennifer Schinke Kendrick “[She] was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand. She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things. Without giving up dignity or identity. She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and […]

Read More

Board Spotlight – Meet Chad

Chad Hennessey I’m a lifelong Louisvillian (aside from my 4.5 years in Bowling Green attending Western Kentucky University).  I’m a proud partner at Insuramax, a locally owned independent insurance agency. I’ve been at Insuramax since August of 2000. My wife Cindy and I are high school sweethearts and will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this […]

Read More

DSL Setting the Standard!

DSL leadership spent this past week/weekend at the annual Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Leadership Conference in Dallas! The conference is an opportunity to learn and grow by sharing best practices with other Down Syndrome Associations across the country. DSAIA’s Accreditation program helps organizations achieve excellence in nonprofit management and honors best practices. The DSAIA […]

Read More

Welcome Suzanne!

Please welcome the latest member of the Down Syndrome of Louisville team, Suzanne Johnson! Suzanne joins DSL as a new Academy Teacher. Suzanne was born and raised in Louisville.  She is a former elementary school teacher who found DSL at the perfect time in her career.  “I couldn’t be happier to be working in such […]

Read More
Translate our Site »