As you may know, UCP Oregon’s Family Support Director, Susan Cushman, is retiring this July since taking that role 2006. Susan will be missed more than we can say.
Susan says that that she has “been privileged to have a job I truly love.” She started in her position as Family Support Director in 2006, but she’s been connected with UCP since 1992… that’s when her daughter, Marie, was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of four months.
As Susan says, “That day was one of the most traumatic I’ve ever lived through. At that point, I didn’t even know what CP was. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this, parenting a child with a disability I knew nothing about. Luckily, the doctor who diagnosed her was a UCP board member. She gave me the card for UCP’s Family Support Director.“
Susan called UCP the next day, and has been connected ever since, attending parent support groups, family outings, and every Family Support Conference. She also took advantage of UCP’s “Respitality” services to get overnights break from caregiving.
Susan's favorite part of the job has been talking with other parents, especially the new moms who call right after their child gets a diagnosis. As she says, “I’ve never forgotten how hard that is, and I’m grateful that I have become a source for reassurances, resources, and helping parents make connections with other parents.”
Susan says that parents know best. “Only another parent knows what it’s like to wade through IEPs, therapy appointments, DD services, stares from strangers, rude questions, and well-meaning but hurtful comments. Parents joke that we belong to a club that no one asked to join.”
Susan says that, after thirteen wonderful years, she is now ready to turn the baton over to the next Family Support Director. Susan is looking forward to spending a lot of time in her ceramic studio.
Susan, you will be missed! Thank you so much for all that you have done for UCP in your time as Family Support Director.
Learn more about Family Support here.
After a rigorous recruitment process, UCP Oregon is pleased to announce the selection of our new Family Support Director, Katherine Ball.
Katherine will begin training June 3rd. She will be supported to succeed in her new role with training provided by Susan Cushman, UCP’s current Family Support Director, and UCP’s Family Support Assistant, Jan Shellenberger. Katherine will also participate as a member of UCP’s Leadership Team.
Katherine comes to UCP with nearly 20 years of experience working effectively within the intellectual and developmental disabilities service system in three states. She is a mother, caregiver, and advocate. Katherine is a natural at identifying and securing resources for families who are raising children experiencing disabilities. She has demonstrated exceptional values, ethics, compassion, commitment, and joy in her effort to ensure people with disabilities discover avenues to thrive. As Katherine shared, she enjoys bringing people together, finding solutions, and being a force in her efforts to support an accepting community for people experiencing disabilities.
Please join us in welcoming Katherine to the UCP family. UCP is very excited to name her as a teammate and leader!
The Family Support Department supports 850 families statewide who are raising children who experience cerebral palsy, or very closely related conditions. Learn more about Family Support here.