Amidst the holiday glitter and shine, the Self-Advocacy community lost one of its brightest stars. Betty Williams passed away on December 4, 2018.
Betty was a true self-advocate and leader. During 2011-2012, AIDD held self-advocacy summits to gather information regarding self-advocacy activities and policies in each of the 56 U.S. states and territories. The purpose of these summits was to strengthen and enhance self-advocacy efforts in the states and nationally by learning what each state was doing around self-advocacy, helping each state develop and present a state plan to strengthen their activities around this area, and develop national policy recommendations for AIDD and its partnering organizations. She not only participated in the summits, but was also on the advisory committee.
Betty's self-determination, strength and power had a real impact on the self-advocacy movement. Her leadership provided a strong example for many other self-advocates across the country who also raised their voices.
Like all great leaders, Betty was a great listener. She listened to other self-advocates about issues that mattered to them like competitive employment. She also had the ability to communicate these issues to leaders at AIDD and other federal agencies. This communication ultimately contributed to the creation of the Self-Advocacy Resource Center.
Finally and most importantly, Betty was a great friend to everyone she knew. She always asked how you and your family were. Her smile fostered comfort and confidence to friends and strangers alike. We will all miss Betty’s strength, leadership, and friendship.