Congratulations to our CPA Board President Sharon Gomez for being honored by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)'s National Historic Recognition Project!
AAIDD has recognized Sharon as one of the key individuals who have contributed to the transformation of the IDD field within the U.S. over the past 20 years. You can read more about the Historic Recognition Project and AAIDD here.
In addition to serving as CPA Board President, Sharon keeps busy at her "day job" as Chief Compliance & Privacy Officer for Evergreen Life Services. We caught up with Sharon to learn more about her long-standing work with individuals with disabilities and what this award means to her.
Tell me a little about yourself, your background, and how you ended up working in the IDD industry?
I became involved with people with disabilities at the age of 13 when I joined a youth chapter of the Arc. From that time on, it has been my life’s passion and calling to support people with disabilities to experience life to the fullest, to have opportunities to share their gifts and talents, and to be fully included in their communities.
I have worked for provider agencies in Louisiana professionally for the past 37 years.
how did you get involved with the CPA?
I became involved with the predecessor to the Community Provider Association (CPA), the Community and Residential Services Association (CARSA), many years ago because advocating for providers is a natural extension of advocating for people.
In order for people to have good lives in the community, the providers that support them have to be strong and grounded; that’s the providers that belong to the CPA.
What does it mean to you to be honored by AAIDD with this award?
I was very humbled to be honored.
To have been able to serve and support people for all these years has been an honor and a blessing enough for me; to be recognized by my peers and colleagues for doing so is a double honor and blessing.
What are some of your accomplishments you are most proud of during your professional career?
Having worked with my colleagues in Evergreen to downsize and close a number of institutions and create optimal living arrangements for people in the community.
To have served as the President of the National Chapter of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). AAIDD is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals and others concerned about intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization has more than 5,000 members in 55 countries.
To have served on the Board of Directors and President of the CPA.
where do you see the IDD field going in the next 20 years?
While there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of institutional settings over the last 20 years, that reduction will continue.
More and more families of people with disabilities will demand that services for their children be provided in the community; increasing the need for quality community providers.
what role can the CPA play?
The CPA will continue to ensure that providers have the tools and resources they need to provide quality services.
To that end, the CPA will continue to be that strong advocate for providers in the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana Legislature, and the United States Congress.
The voice of the CPA will continue to be a viable source of credible information for providers and a force to be reckoned with on the State and National levels.
We are so proud of you, Sharon!
As always, the CPA, Louisiana's leading trade association, is comprised of members who are dedicated to providing quality services to people with developmental disabilities. Our mission is to secure necessary public funding and to pursue initiatives through advocacy, collaboration and education.