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

DSL launches new App!

We are so excited to launch our new app for our families, friends & supporters! Here are some things to know: ANYONE can download the app to learn more about Down Syndrome of Louisville. There is an array of options at the click of a button! WHO CAN LOGIN? Registered DSL Families. This includes parents/guardians, […]

Read More

Meet our 2023 Annual Award Winners…

Joseph O. Thomas Volunteer Award goes to Pam Taylor – For extraordinary volunteer service to Down Syndrome of Louisville. “Pam has been dedicating her time and talents to DSL for many years She unselfishly gives of her time. Her hours devoted behind the scenes would be impossible to add up!” “Pam is always willing to help […]

Read More

DSL Executive Director Named 2023 “Most Admired Woman”

We are thrilled to announce that Julie Torzewski, Executive Director at Down Syndrome of Louisville, has been honored as Today’s Woman Magazine’s “Most Admired Woman” in the category of “Community and Sisterhood”! Julie’s  dedication and passion for advocating for individuals with Down syndrome and their families have made her an inspiring leader. She has transformed […]

Read More

Celebrating Love and Generosity: Tommy and Jennifer Lankswert’s Wedding Donation to Down Syndrome of Louisville

Love has the power to bring people together and inspire acts of kindness. In a heartwarming gesture, Tommy and Jennifer Lankswert recently celebrated their marriage by making a remarkable decision. Instead of asking for traditional wedding gifts, they chose to support a cause close to their hearts: Down Syndrome of Louisville. This selfless act not […]

Read More

Kindness Warriors Training at Amazon Fosters Inclusivity

Recently, Down Syndrome of Louisville visited Amazon to conduct Kindness Warrior Training for some of their SDF9 leaders. The Kindness Warrior training is a unique and inclusive etiquette program aimed at fostering empathy, respect, and kindness. Kindness Warrior Training: Cultivating Empathy and Inclusion Kindness Warrior Training is an innovative program designed to equip individuals from […]

Read More

Embracing Diversity and Empowering Voices: Actors Theatre’s Commitment to Inclusion

In the pursuit of fostering inclusivity and giving voice to underrepresented communities, Actors Theatre of Louisville has taken a significant step by hiring disabled teaching artists to work with a diverse group of students. Among these exceptional individuals are Madeline Franklin and Megan Mudd, who bring their unique perspectives and talents to the forefront, creating […]

Read More

Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day with the Lucky Few Tattoo Event

World Down Syndrome Day is a special occasion that brings together communities worldwide to raise awareness, celebrate individuals with Down syndrome, and promote inclusion. At Down Syndrome of Louisville (DSL), we wanted to mark this significant day in a unique and meaningful way- and this year marked the first annual Lucky Few Tattoo event. In […]

Read More

With help of DSL Board Member, Danny Slaton, Kentucky Passes Nondiscrimination Organ Transplant Bill (HB238)

May 1st: The Bill is signed and it’s now official! Thank you Governor Andy Beshear, #TeamKentucky, and Danny Slaton for this HUGE step forward! DSL advocated for this legislation to prevent discrimination based solely on disability in the organ transplantation process for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities should they experience discrimination. Governor Beshear said […]

Read More

Grant Gupton and Macy Knights Honorary Captains at Racing

🎉 We are thrilled to share that two of our own, Grant Gupton and Macy Knights from Down Syndrome of Louisville, were recently named honorary captains for Racing Louisville women’s football team! 🏆 As honorary captains, they were featured on the jumbotron and  given the incredible opportunity to attend the team’s training and experience the […]

Read More

Gary Palmisano, VP of Racing at Churchill Downs, 2023 Gallop Gala Friendship Award Winner

Each year our Friendship Award is presented to an organization or individual who has shown an exceptional level of support for DSL. This year’s recipient doesn’t have a family member with Down syndrome. But he has a can-do attitude, a kind personality, and a big heart, especially for our amazing members. He has been unbelievably […]

Read More

Down Syndrome of Louisville Raises $270,822 at 12th Annual Gallop Gala

Photo by Bill Wine Photography   LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Down Syndrome of Louisville’s (DSL) 12th Annual Gallop Gala commenced Friday night at the Galt House Hotel with $270,822 raised to help support the world’s largest and most advanced regional Down syndrome community that serves 24 counties throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana. The funds raised will benefit DSL’s mission […]

Read More

DSL Advocating in Washington, DC

Down Syndrome of Louisville members, Lucas Fortwengler and Chris Payne are attending the 2023 NDSS Advocacy Conference on March 17-19 in Washington DC along with Board Vice-President, Danny Slaton, and Executive Director, Julie Torzewski. They will be learning about all of the legislative priorities on the Down syndrome community on the hill and then advocating […]

Read More
Translate our Site »