Board Spotlight – Meet Susan

deversDSL Board Secretary

I 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

Woodford Reserve/DSL Bottle Pre-Order

Down Syndrome of Louisville and Woodford Reserve have collaborated for a truly unforgettable 2022 Holiday Season! There will be 75 exclusive bottles of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select engraved with the Down Syndrome of Louisville logo at two different Evergreen Liquors locations. (150 total!) You can use this form to reserve your bottles ahead of time. By filling […]

Read More

Down Syndrome of Louisville Members Featured in Times Square Video in New York City

Watch WDRB coverage of this event here. Phil Mason, Allen Norton, and Mabelle Holmes helped kick off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in annual National Down Syndrome Society video presentation NEW YORK (Sept. 19, 2022) – Local Down Syndrome of Louisville members Phil Mason, Allen Norton and Mabelle Holmes appeared in the bright lights of Broadway on […]

Read More

Meet our 2022 Annual Award Winners…

Congratulations to our 2022 Award Winners!  Joseph O. Thomas Volunteer Award goes to Tom Round – For extraordinary volunteer service to Down Syndrome of Louisville. “Tom’s son Brady was born in 2021 and he has hit the ground running for us! Videos, photographs, and any other media related content we need he has come through with […]

Read More

#GiveforGoodLou 2022 was GROOVY!

We had a GROOVY #GiveforGoodLou this week and raised $20,320 in less than 24 hours. THANK YOU TO OUR 94 DONORS and OUR GENEROUS $10,000 MATCH! And thank you to the Community Foundation of Louisville for hosting such a wonderful day of giving! We are so grateful to our Kindness Warrior Community!  

Read More

DSL Day at Churchill Downs!

Spend a day at the track celebrating Down Syndrome of Louisville! SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18th! Gates open at 11:30 and the first race is at 12:45. Our races are 4,5,6, & 7! You can purchase general admission tickets HERE!

Read More

18 Stories for 18 Stories: River

18 Stories for 18 Stories On October 22nd, dedicated members of our community will be rappelling down 18 stories of the Hyatt Regency of Louisville in support of DSL as a part of Over The Edge 2022. We’re sharing 18 different stories about what DSL means to our members, their loved ones, and our community […]

Read More

18 Stories for 18 Stories: Ankur Chandan

It’s time for another installment of 18 Stories for 18 Stories On October 22nd, dedicated members of our community will be rappelling down 18 stories of the Hyatt Regency of Louisville in support of DSL as a part of Over The Edge 2022. We’re sharing 18 different stories about what DSL means to our members, […]

Read More

18 Stories for 18 Stories: Emily Bush

18 Stories for 18 Stories On October 22nd, dedicated members of our community will be rappelling down 18 stories of the Hyatt Regency of Louisville in support of DSL as a part of Over The Edge 2022. We’re sharing 18 different stories about what DSL means to our members, their loved ones, and our community […]

Read More

DSL Member, Jill Wright, cast in Sister Act the Musical

Congrats to DSL Member, Jill Wright, on being cast in Redline Performing Arts Company’s upcoming production of Sister Act the Musical! “Sister Act is the feel-good musical comedy smash based on the hit 1992 film that has audiences jumping to their feet! Featuring original music by Tony- and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken (Newsies, Beauty […]

Read More

ATTENTION THRILL SEEKERS

You have ONE HUNDRED days until it’s time to go OVER THE EDGE for Down Syndrome of Louisville. – Anyone who raises $1,000 or more gets to send someone Over The Edge of Louisville Hyatt Regency in Downtown Louisville. – If $1500 is raised, you get to wear a GoPro to document the experience. – […]

Read More

Advocacy Alert: Take Action

TAKE ACTION ACTION ALERT: ASK CONGRESS TO FULLY FUND THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally passed in 1975, guarantees all students with disabilities the right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Along with the rights to students and families conferred by IDEA, […]

Read More

Board Spotlight – Meet Shelby

Hello everyone! My name is Shelby Young. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky along with my two sisters Lauren and Bailee who both happen to have Down Syndrome. I am the middle child, so I had a unique experience growing up and had the opportunity to see how services and supportive opportunities for those […]

Read More
Translate our Site »