Gwen Squire says she has been advocating for herself for her entire life. She was born with a neural tube defect called spina bifida and her family was told she would live past age 3, then age 11, then her teens…and so on. Gwen now is a half century old and still going strong! She lived for a time in a developmental center and her self advocacy there, even under the age of five, caught the attention and admiration of an employee who eventually became her adopted mother. Gwen holds a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and works at Self Advocacy Association of NY State and is a popular speaker in the Western New York area on matters pertaining to living your best life.
Mike Rogers has been an advocate for most of his life, and doesn’t think of himself as “disabled”. He has held numerous jobs, including with Americorps. Mike has been a grassroots organizer for Self Advocacy of New York State (SANYS) for many years and is a popular speaker on subjects ranging from the Olmsted Act and system change to disability rights. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Canisius College. His ultimate goal in life is to become professional
sit-down comedian and he has performed at several venues in Buffalo.
Marilyn Scattoreggio also is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities. A former Registered Nurse, she began her advocacy career in the 1980s when members of her extended family were diagnosed with neurobiological disabilities. She worked at a not for profit advocacy center for over 16 years, advocating for students with disabilities, primarily students who had been placed on county Probation programs. Appropriate evaluations and educational services that Marilyn helped the family obtain through their school districts kept these students out of court over 95% of the time. Since moving to the Buffalo area three years ago she has become deeply involved with the Self Advocacy Association of N.Y. State, writing a newsletter for one of the grassroots groups, and is also a group advisor–both volunteer positions. She has appeared in a well-reviewed play in Buffalo that also had people with developmental disabilities in the cast. At Outside the Box Associates Marilyn, Mike Rogers and Gwen Squire provide assistance and training to groups and individuals with regard to living your best life whether you’re neurotypical or differently enabled, the implementation of the Olmsted Act, and disability rights. In addition to being a co founder of Outside the Box Associates, she also is working with Aimée Levesque, Executive Director of Inclusive Theater of Western New York, a company whose primary raison d’être is to provide training and opportunities for employment in the theatrical arts–all people–people with disabilities, minorities, immigrants, and people of “all abilities”.