The NH Leadership Series: 30 Years of Training Leaders in Disability

by Ann Dillon
May 25, 2018

NH Leadership Class of 2018

I didn’t know a soul when I slid into my seat during the very first session of the NH Leadership Series (NHLS). As the mother of a 3-year old who had disabilities and someone who was brand new to the state, I hoped to just listen and take in information. The sessions were charged with energy and the speakers, brought in from all over the country, were experts in their fields. Although the first Series was only three sessions long, the impact was felt almost immediately -- our hearts and brains were stirred up in tornado-like winds! We found immediate support among the group and leaders, and met people who could help us bring about change for our children, aged three to 35 years.

Over the 30 years since the original series in 1988, the core values and teachings of NHLS have remained the same –the history of disabilities ;setting a vision where everyone is welcomed and well supported in their families, schools, and communities; ; and how to achieve the vision through community organizing and using the legislative process to create positive change. The addition of new content has expanded the Series from three sessions to eight.  New topics and activities include: person-centered planning, home groups, action groups, and many opportunities to practice what is learned.

The impact of NH Leadership over the years continues to be strong and deep. At the recent 30th Anniversary Celebration at Fratello’s in Manchester, Linda Quintanilha, leadership graduate, community organizer and former executive director of ABLE NH listed a few accomplishments as she glanced at graduates around the room.

  • Jennifer Bertrand spearheaded restraint and seclusion legislation and subminimum wage legislation in New Hampshire that is now being replicated by other states across the nation.
  • Larry Lutton credits Leadership with changing his expectations entirely for his son who now goes to sleep overs and speaks six languages.
  • Bonnie Dunham, the goddess of special education rules, is responsible for creating laws that protect our kids every day and support inclusion for all children in their neighborhood schools.
  • Lisa Beaudoin is taking ABLE NH to place that I never dreamed possible is protecting NH’s premiere, grass roots community organizing body.
  • John Fenley, Beth Dixon, Kathy Bates, and so many more have brought the Granite State to new heights in how we support all people to have valued lives in their community and home.

Each new wave of graduates creates new possibilities for improvement and change in NH. The Class of 2018 is already advocating, supporting, and reaching goals they have set as they  join the ranks of nearly 1000 graduates whose impact in NH remains strong and keeps us all pushing for more opportunities to live, learn, work, communicate, play, and enjoy full lives!