GCDD e-news


A Digital Newsletter from the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities   •   September 2023

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities newsletter keeps you up-to-date on the latest news, from what’s happening with public policy in Georgia to COVID-19 updates to upcoming events. 

In This Issue:

A Message from GCDD Executive Director

When people ask me how I am lately, I say, “I’m all the things.”

I’m grateful, for so very much; grateful for the abundance of good things in my life, like my daughter having a good start to the new school year.

I’m lucky and happy to have a job that I love, working with a fantastic community of people to do work we all believe in. I’m proud when I look at all we have accomplished in the past year.

And at the same time, I am heartbroken at the loss of Kim.

Many of you reading this knew our longtime Office Manager & Membership Coordinator, Kim Person. Kim worked for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) for 18 years. In many ways, she was the backbone of the agency. Whether she was doing operations or fulfilling administrative processes, organizing events, and building relationships, Kim was often in the middle of it. She always handled her work with humility and grace. This past July, Kim’s time here on earth ended, suddenly and way too soon. 

I first met Kim over 10 years ago when I moved to Georgia to be the Public Policy Director for GCDD. It was a huge year for me – a big move, a new job, and a few months later, a baby on the way. I’m not too proud to tell you I cried at the office a few times that year. Kim was one of the only people I would let see me cry. 

While I admit crying in front of Kim a few times, I want to share that there were many more times that I laughed with her. A couple of other GCDD staff and I were talking about Kim recently, and what kept coming up was her laughter. In honor of her, as our treasured colleague and my beautiful friend, I’d like to share one of my favorite memories. 

You probably know that Advocacy Days is one of GCDD’s biggest events each year (and you should definitely come this winter!). At Advocacy Days, we provide refreshments for our attendees. Kim and I had decided this past January during Advocacy Days that the water and snack bars would be delivered to my home, and I would bring them to the capitol. 

Kim called me, “Hey D’! I got a message that the food’s there.”

I looked outside. “Where?”

The food was delivered somewhere, but not where I was. At the time, I was staying in a short-term rental and didn’t know any of the neighbors. I asked Kim to stay on the phone with me as I went out in the neighborhood to look for the delivered goods. 

“I need you for backup,” I told Kim. “It’s like a spy movie!”

With Kim laughing in my ear, I spotted some grocery bags a few doors down. I approached the house cautiously and knocked on the door. No one was there. I looked into the bags and did a double take. 

“K, did you order bacon and coleslaw for Advocacy Days?”

“No. But I need some!” she declared, before breaking loudly into laughter. I laughed right along with her, and just then, the homeowner showed up. The delivery person combined GCDD’s delivery with an unknown person's delivery and dropped it off at the wrong house. The person who got the delivery hadn't ordered anything at all. I got our delivery and the rest of the food I took to the food pantry because no one could figure out who’s it was.

I’ll treasure this memory forever, along with so many others. Kim, I hate that you had to leave us so soon. We will keep our heads up and our hearts kind and keep going forward. We will work to make you proud, and above all, we won’t forget to laugh.

D’Arcy Robb
Executive Director, GCDD

GCDD Welcomes New Team Members

Harry NelsonHarry Nelson is the new Deputy Director for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). He is from Carrollton, Georgia and has a bachelor's degree in music from the University of West Georgia and a master’s degree in music from the University of Georgia. He made a career transition after obtaining his first full time managerial position at the University of West Georgia, where he then focused on budget management. Soon after, he then obtained his doctorate in Public Administration from Valdosta State University.

Nelson and his wife have been advocates for over 20 years, as he has an adult son with autism. Additionally, he is a founding member of the West Georgia Autism Foundation, which was started in 2017. Before joining GCDD, Nelson managed post award services for all research and service grants at the University of West Georgia and assisted with the development of university policies and procedures. Learning the financial systems of a public institution, along with teaching public finance, and observing organizational behaviors was the crucial experience from Nelson’s previous work that has prepared him for the role as GCDD’s Deputy Director.

Nelson is a self-published author and was in a band when he was in high school. In 2022, he and his daughter sang at Carnegie Hall. He has always enjoyed nature and the country setting of rural Georgia.

Charlotte DensmoreCharlotte DensmoreCharlotte Densmore is the new Public Policy Director for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). Prior to this, her work touched almost all areas of policy, ranging from environmental, economic, and health policy, crisis leadership, and international relations. Densmore’s most recent positions were working with the world’s largest private peace mediation firm and co-authoring a textbook on extreme crisis management. 

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology, with the highest honors and also obtained a Master of Science in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England. 

Her passion for intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) policy was ignited during her time at Georgia Tech, where she participated in GCDD’s Inclusive Post Secondary Education (IPSE) program, EXCEL, as a coach and mentor. Beyond her professional pursuits, she enjoys indoor cycling, the New York Times crossword puzzle, and traveling. She is also a dual citizen of America and England.

Celebrating DSPs!

In September, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is proud to recognize and celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week by recognizing the dedication and accomplishments of outstanding DSPs and their contributions to the disability community across Georgia and the nation.

The importance of DSPs in supporting people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) cannot be overstated. They provide daily support and services that encourage individuals to live, work and play in their communities and to achieve success and live out their dreams.

Join us in celebrating the hard work and dedication of DSPs during DSP Recognition Week, September 10th – 16th, and throughout the year!

If you are a DSP, we want to hear your story! Share it here: https://vocalvideo.com/c/GCDDDSPstoryshare

Community Spotlight: Zoe-Rebekah Bostic & Nichole Bostic Grovetown

By Jacob Segura

The lives of 18-year-old Zoe-Rebekah Bostic and her mother, Nichole Bostic, capture the essence of what it means to be advocates for those with developmental disabilities. They live in Grovetown, GA, a town about two hours north of Savannah.

Copy of Zoe IEP RoadmapZoe was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, but neither Zoe nor her mother has let her diagnosis interfere with her pursuing her dreams and goals. According to Nichole, Zoe is driven by her desire to grow up, get married, have children, and have a life like other young women.

“I want to show everyone that even though I am autistic, I can still do amazing things,” Zoe said. “Plus, practicing and learning new things makes me feel proud of myself, and I like that feeling a lot.”

Zoe is an active member of her community, whether she is solving a Rubik’s Cube, serving as a certified teen counselor, bowling in two different leagues for the Special Olympics, working as a youth ambassador for I Decide Georgia, or participating in pageants for those with special needs. Her most recent accolade in the realm of pageantry is winning this year’s Miss Amazing Teen Georgia, which her mother says has allowed the pair to find and strengthen their voices.

“I have had to learn how to allow her to be independent, to know when to let go, and to know when to step in and help her,” Nichole said. “Overall, I have been very happy with what Zoe has accomplished as Miss Amazing Teen and as a self-advocate. She is learning how to be supported but also to use her own voice.”

The Bostics’ lives did not come without obstacles, as Zoe suffered from bullying in middle school, resulting in the difficult decision to continue her education at home.

“I was scared; I did not know if I had the skills or experience to do this,” Nichole said about homeschooling Zoe. “But I know my child.”

Nichole homeschooled Zoe through her junior year, which Nichole attests was beneficial, as it offered more availability for Zoe’s therapy appointments and allowed the pair to learn and grow together. However, Zoe eventually asked to return to public school for her senior year, receiving her family’s full support.

“I enjoyed homeschooling but decided to advocate for myself and return to public school. I wanted to meet different people and have new adventures,” said Zoe. “Every student should have the power to choose how they learn. Just like I stood up for myself to return to public school, students should follow their hearts and do what they feel is right for them.”

Nichole states that the family’s support and advocacy are essential. The daughter of two social workers and the youngest of three children, Zoe is often surrounded by advocacy in the home. Her brother and sister often advocate for her and encourage her to find her voice when the family makes plans. She now plans all the birthday parties for the household.

Nichole also emphasizes the importance of students being a part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings so they can carve out an education experience that sets them for a path of success.

“Every child can convey to their [IEP] team what is best for them. It may be pictures, a drawing, or mom or dad writing their goals for them,” Nichole said. “It allows that child to tell their own story.”

IEP meetings are also important to Zoe, who wants to enter an Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) program.

“College is where I can meet new friends and become even more independent,” Zoe said. "Being part of an IPSE program allows me to keep growing, gaining knowledge, and getting ready for the exciting future!”

Zoe is actively working with her IEP team to meet the prerequisites for UGA’s IPSE program, where she plans to study education. To gain experience, she is currently teaching kindergartners at a children’s ministry, where she continues to advocate for herself and her students. 

Calendar Spotlight

Disability Voting Rights Week: September 11-15, 2023

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Disability Voting Rights Week Rally – In-Person, Atlanta, Georgia

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET, 80 Walnut Street SW, Atlanta, GA, 30314




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