Parenting Without Pity
Parenting Without Pity is a storytelling project where disabled parents draw from our own experiences of disability to help non-disabled parents be better allies for their disabled children.
On this page you’ll find biographies of our Parenting Without Pity families, along with links to their stories in podcast or blog post form.
Karen and Anita
Seattle and Portland
Karen Braitmayer is an architect, accessibility consultant, wife and mother living successfully with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
Anita Erskine is a University student, planning on a career of classroom teaching in the early years of Elementary Education.
Keith Jones is the President and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experiences. An organization aimed at bringing a perspective to the issues of access inclusion and empowerment, which affect him as well as others who are persons with a disability. Mr. Jones is also extremely active in multi-cultural, cross-disability education and outreach efforts and, conducts trainings (including train the trainer) with the purpose of strengthening efforts to “provide services and information to people with disabilities.
Carrie Basas is a civil rights lawyer. She has been a mom for about 6.5 years. Her daughter, Dasha, is 10 and enjoys art, unicorns, and her Kindle.
Ellen and Emily
Long Island, New York
Ellen Ladau is the creator of the Larsen Syndrome Resource Center.
Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist and digital communications consultant whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. A native of Long Island, New York, Emily graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013. Her writing has been published on websites including The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Salon, Vice, and Huffington Post. Alongside her work as a writer, Emily has spoken before numerous audiences, ranging from a panel about the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the U.S. Department of Education, to the occupational therapy program at New York University. All of Emily’s activism is driven by her firm belief that if we want the world to be accessible to people with all types of disabilities, we must make ideas and concepts surrounding disability accessible to the world. For more on Emily’s work, visit her website, Words I Wheel By.
Heather Watkins is a Disability Rights Advocate, author, blogger, mother, graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in Mass Communications. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, loves reading, daydreaming, chocolate, and serves on a handful of disability-related boards. Her blog Slow Walkers See More includes reflections and insight from her life with disability.
Dr. Steve Singer is an Assistant Professor of Education of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students and Deaf Studies at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). He was formerly a Teacher of the Deaf, focusing on transition to adulthood and Family and Consumer Sciences. He earned a BS.Ed. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a MS.Ed. at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and a Ph.D. in the Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. He serves as a board member of the National ASL Honors Society/American Sign Language Teacher’s Association, as a reviewer for three national journals, and is presently editing a special series for Critical Education about ableism in higher education. His publications range from culturally responsive research methodologies, to disability identity development, to contemporary Deaf acculturation. At TCNJ, Singer instructs honors ASL coursework and Deaf instructional methods.
Julie Petty works at Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas and has worked in the violence prevention and intervention field for ten years. She has been a national leader in the self advocacy movement having served for two years (2006-2008) as Chair of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, a national organization that works to ensure that people with disabilities are treated as equals and develop self advocacy skills. From 1998 until 2006, she was the state coordinator of Arkansas People First. She has also been utilized as a national trainer by many organizations and entities. In 2011, she was appointed to the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities, then appointed Chairperson in 2013 to 2016. She is active in the self advocacy movement nationally and contributes a passion for the civil rights of people with disabilities. Julie has keynoted many national and state conferences to spread the word about self advocacy. She is married to Brian Petty and they have 2 sons, Logan and Warren.
Jenelle and Joy
Leavenworth, Washington and Orange County, California
Jenelle (the oldest by 4 minutes) lives in a small yet vibrant mountain town in Washington State. She love the outdoors – hiking, skiing, paddle boarding and playing in the river with her two young children, Cora and Benny. She is involved in her local community as a crisis line advocate at a domestic violence and sexual assault agency. She is currently pursuing a Master degree in Social Work at the University of Washington with a concentration in integrative mental health. Her attempts to stay grounded amidst the chaos of daily life include yoga, reading, and quality time with friends and family.
Joy (who will always be younger!) is a teacher, writer and speaker who moved from Chicago to SoCal 3 years ago with her husband, two daughters and guide dog Roja. She currently works for one of the largest charter schools in California, leading intervention meetings for students who are struggling academically, behaviorally and/or emotionally. She strives to find balance in a fast-paced world through reading, writing, meditation and yoga. My favorite fictional character is Anne of Green Gables, and I am a huge fan of Brene Brown’s research and writing. Connecting with friends and family, laughing and eating delicious food (not usually cooked by her) are some of the main activities that bring extra joy to her life.
Dominick Evans is a trans queer crip director/writer, activist, dad, and nerd. He has a BFA in Film. Dominick’s work delves into inclusion in media, sex education for Disabled/LGBTQIA youth, marriage equality for Disabled people, institutional bias, and LGBTQIA/Disabled reproductive rights. In 2014, he founded #FilmDis, a Twitter chat about Disability in media.
Dominick is a prolific public speaker who has spoken at places around the world. He does social media and helps businesses become more inclusive of all disabled people. Dominick is also a part of the ADAPT media team, and on the board of Not Dead Yet.
Robin is a passionate advocate for disability rights and is currently working on a book which will highlight people with disabilities in positions of sovereignty and power. She is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Mindfulness Instructor and has a BA in Communication with minors in Arabic and Sociology. She is crazy about yoga, good vegan food, new places, her dog and her son.
Abdullah has worked in audio production since he was 13 years old when he landed a summer job as a production assistant at the University of Bridgeport’s WPKN radio station. It was there that he discovered his gift for audio. He continued to perfect his craft during six years of undergraduate and graduate work at Hampton University. After college, he spent nearly 12 years at National Public Radio, learning with some of the best newsmakers in the business, working as a news team, meeting deadlines, producing quality audio during tense situations with tough deadlines. When he left NPR, he started my own business, producing podcasts for media giants like The Washington Post Interactive, including their on-line magazines Slate and The Root, as well as for smaller, yet equally important organizations like The Interactivity Foundation, The Journey For Justice Alliance, Solidarity Is This, National Association of School Nurses, and The Communities for Just Schools Fund. After thirty-two years in radio and 1000s of programming hours behind me, he still love audio.
Bassendean, Western Australia, Australia
Sandi Parsons lives and breathes stories, as a reader, writer and storyteller. Having spent eighteen years working in educational libraries, she is passionate about diversity in storytelling and engaging readers with stories. Sandi considers her guardianship of gifted lungs one of her many victories in her on-going battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She believes that a teetering stack of books waiting to be read is an essential component of every household.
Sheila Northrop is a disabled parent who says that choosing parenthood is the most politically and culturally powerful activity she could ever do as a person with a disability. She lives with her family in a suburb of Seattle, WA. Sheila has a PhD in Conflict Studies specializing in disability studies. She teaches in higher education and works as an advocate to help make disability seen as an integral identity in the human family.
Jacqueline Crawford is a legally blind wife, mom, teacher, and writer. Living in Alexandria, VA across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., she and her husband homeschool their seven kids and struggle to keep two hound dogs quiet in suburbia. She also co-hosts the upcoming podcast Blind Like Us, a podcast for blind people, about blind people, written, produced, and staffed by–you guessed it–blind people (hooray!).
Milton Keys, United Kingdom
Amanda is a freelance trainer and motivational speaker specialising in the delivery of soft skills: Presentation and Interview Skills; Assertiveness; Study Skills, Disability Awareness, Diversity; Safeguarding Training. With a background in both social work and probation she has extensive knowledge, skills and experience in producing innovative training and project management for those traditionally on the margins of society including young people, offenders, women, people with disabilities and carers. Currently the Director and Founder of Pandora Inc CIC, she believes passionately in the company’s ethos – Promoting Awareness Nurturing Diversity Openly Respecting Ability. As a woman with a disability herself she has a commitment to ensuring that people have the opportunity to achieve their potential whoever or wherever they are.
Columbia, South Carolina
Kimberly Tissot proudly serves as the Executive Director of Able SC (www.able-sc.org) where she guides the staff in applying the philosophy of Independent Living to real situations. Kimberly believes in the value of individualized and community-based empowerment as she wants people to recognize their full potential. Kimberly became a self-advocate at an early age, after having her leg amputated from a rare childhood cancer. Kimberly began deciding her style of mobility, becoming the first soccer player with a disability in her town, and speaking up anytime she was treated differently. Kimberly has years of experience advocating for disability rights on a local, state and federal level, and also internationally! She also led the efforts of passing groundbreaking legislation, SC Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act in 2017, legislation that protects the rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilities. Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from Boston University, Wheelock College of Education and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. In 2018, Kimberly was recognized as The State’s “20 under 40” Leaders. Her special interests include: parenting with a disability, leadership, youth transition and disability awareness. When Kimberly isn’t at Able SC, she is spending time with her sweet kiddo and husband.
Jessica Roberts is a t6-t8 paraplegic injured from an auto accident in 1999. She and her husband have been married for three years. They have a two year old son. Jessica is a research steering member for the department of Physical Rehab and Medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Ivanova Smith is activist advocate for Atwork and UW LEND faculty. Ivanova is passionate about disability civils rights. Ivanova is Married and mutti of her one year and half old daughter, Alexandra.
Lisa Ferris, with partner Niklas Petersson, founded Miles Access Skills Training (MAST), which teaches and promotes the use of technology and alternative skills to people with disabilities, as well as consulting with organizations that want to become more accessible. They are Deafblind and blind, respectively, which they feel is an asset in their line of work. When not working, they enjoy spending time outdoors with their guide dogs and 3 children. Find out more at lisaferris.net or blindmast.com.
Cierra Reid is a proud African-American resident of Atlanta, Georgia. She’s a mental illness survivor and the single mom of two beautiful children.
Debra Kahn is a DeafBlind mother of two grown hearing children. She’s lived in Seattle since 2015. She does contract/consulting work with a focus on DeafBlind topics and teaches ASL on the side.
Rooted in Rights is a program of Disability Rights Washington. Click here for more information on the DRW Staff, Boards, and Advisory Councils.