Upon the birth of her second child, Janise became the parent of a baby with developmental disabilities. She was new to Asheville, and it was challenging for Denise to quickly learn about all of the available resources here. This began her almost 29 year legacy of advocating to meet the needs of her son.
Early in his life, Janise served as the parent representative on several community-based committees addressing the needs of persons with developmental disabilities. She became familiar with FIRST and its resources and support programs when her son was in high school. It was here that she became interested in supporting FIRST and eventually became a member of the FIRST Board of Directors. She served as a member of the Board for 6 years.
In December 2014, Denise was the third parent to be trained and to participate in the Employer of Record (EOR) Program developed by Vaya Health (then Smoky Mountain Center). She is a strong proponent for self-determined/self-directed services and budget management, and is committed to supporting this model. She now works for FIRST as a Community Navigator, to support these services.
I moved to Asheville from Detroit, MI over 28 years ago. I have my Masters in health care policy. In addition to raising 2 children I worked full time in health care in the areas of quality and regulatory compliance for 27 years.
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