If you opened your own business, what would it be?
My business would be a think tank that focuses on determining what is needed to mobilize nonvoters to engage in the political process.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I was completely disengaged from politics until I became a parent at 34.
I don’t think anyone should be ashamed for not voting- it’s not something that discussed, or even encouraged, in our society, after all.
But I would tell my younger self to get into politics- and I’d point out that the moneymakers in this country are moneymakers because normal, everyday people are checked out of the political process.
I am generally acknowledged as a subject matter expert on autism and employment; I speak throughout the country about the role of disability within the civil/human rights movement.
What makes you feel fulfilled?
Everything I do, I do on my own terms. I make my own rules.
And I’ve worked incredibly hard and done some serious gambling to create a life that would allow me to be in such a position, including a recent run for office in a district that everyone told me was “not appropriate” for me because of the color of my skin.
When asked to describe yourself, what’s the first word that pops into your mind?
Journal of a Solitude, by May Sarton
What makes your heart race?
Watching my daughter- who will be four on October 1st- hit developmental milestones and blossom into an amazing little person.
Organization or cause near to your heart-
I am on the autism spectrum and seek out every opportunity to bring visibility to actually autistic people- especially those that are adults.
What keeps you up at night?
In the midst of grappling with the same social issues we’ve been grappling with for generations (a woman’s right to exist on equal footing as a man’s, for instance), we are standing at the precipice of catastrophic environmental calamity.
And, yet, individuals who either are ignorant about science- or actively disregard it- keep getting elected/appointed into positions that give them the ability to thwart the protection of the environment.
That’s not what keeps me up at night, though. What keeps me up at night is the fact that (the collective) we aren’t alarmed about this and keep staying home on election day.
What is a belief you once held but no longer do?
I used to believe that my vote didn’t matter. It does- so much so that many politicians work extremely hard to suppress my vote.
And yours, too.
What are you interested in connecting with other women about?
I want to connect with other women to have real conversations about things that are difficult to talk about- shifting feminism to a more intersectional vantage point, where women of color, women with disabilities, and other women who are living in the margins are no longer viewed as auxiliary but are seen as the necessary drivers to a truly equitable society, for instance.