Message From Our Executive Director | What TASH Means to Me!

[clickToTweet tweet=”What TASH means to new executive director @TASHRuthie” quote=”What TASH means to new executive director @TASHRuthie”]Author: Ruthie-Marie Beckwith, TASH Executive Director

It’s hard to believe that two months have passed since I came on board as the new executive director of TASH. After 35 years, I’ve picked up my Tennessee roots and replanted them in a new apartment in Alexandria, VA. I’m navigating the Metro system to make my way to the TASH office in the heart of DC. I’m reaching out to TASH’s strong network of allies while slowly mastering a new computer system.

And, in the midst of all of these changes, I’ve spent sometime pondering what TASH means to me. Having done so, I’d like to share some initial thoughts about why I’ve launched myself into what is, by far, one of the biggest adventures of my life!

Our tag line says TASH is where people can find “Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion for People with Disabilities.” Clearly, TASH means all of those things to me. A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to our chapters on their various Facebook pages and found a rich and vibrant network of people with disabilities, family members, advocates, and professionals who are hard at work making TASH real in their everyday lives. Several members responded with their thoughts about what TASH means to them:

What does TASH mean to me? I’ve been involved with TASH from about five years old since my dad was the NJ TASH president while I was growing up. I remember going to conferences as a child and feeling the acceptance at each conference. Even today, after leaving a TASH conference I am rejuvenated. TASH shows me how to be a better teacher, mentor, friend, advocate, and person. I will forever be a part of this amazing family, which embodies the important skills we need to grow and flourish as a society. — Maureen Powers

The TASH that has meaning for me is the one I was first invited to by Marsha Forest, Jack Pearpoint, and Judith Snow. It’s the TASH that walks the talk, “ALL MEANS ALL,” and, along with my daughter Erin, has inspired me to work so hard for inclusive neighborhood schools and communities. It’s the TASH that values our stories and the power of all of us learning and working TOGETHER! — Barb McKenzie

I will second Maureen’s statement about acceptance and rejuvenation however, the other piece that sets TASH apart for me is that we get things done. The Inclusive Education Committee and the state chapter have created so many opportunities for research and advocacy work that really makes a difference at the federal, state, classroom and student levels. It is powerful and exciting to be a part of it. — Debbie Taub

Well, regarding what TASH means to me, as MasterCard says, “Priceless.” And I’ll add invigorating, insightful, powerful…. — Rochelle Ghose

Yes, I thought, TASH means all of these things to me as well! And, I’m sure that TASH means all of these things and many more to you, our dedicated members and supporters. So, what else could TASH possibly mean to me?

Well, I joined TASH in the early 1980’s while I was a graduate student at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. I joined TASH because it was the only organization that was committed to making sure that people with significant disabilities were afforded the same opportunities for a full and meaningful life as everyone else in their communities. I joined TASH because TASH had a vision that people could successfully claim their right to full citizenship in our society. I joined TASH because I believed that making those opportunities happen would take extra effort on the part of the people, their families and committed allies. So, what does TASH mean to me after almost four decades of being part of helping TASH’s vision unfold?

At its core, what TASH means to me is high expectations. It means having high expectations for the lives of people who in the past were devalued, dehumanized, and discarded. It means not only having high expectations for them, but for those of us who have been called to be part of their lives—their families, their teachers, their friends, their allies, and their fellow citizens as well. It means communicating those high expectations to others who have the power and responsibility to set policy and direct the resources needed to turn those expectations into real outcomes. And, finally, it means holding one another accountable to keeping those high expectations first and foremost in our minds when we set about helping people with significant disabilities find and direct their own path through life.

As the new executive director of TASH, I hope you will continue to support the work of equity, opportunity, and inclusion for people with disabilities. I look forward to learning more about what TASH means to you and to working in partnership with you so that TASH will continue to have high expectations in all we do on behalf of people with disabilities.