The Vermont Center for Independent Living has added three new members to its team. Two of them, Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie and Cara Sachs, will devote a significant amount of time to COVID-19 response and the third, Laura Siegel, will serve as VCIL’s Deaf Independence Program coordinator.
Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie of Colchester began in early August as VCIL’s independent living coordinator. In addition to COVID response, her main roles will be helping with VCIL’s Youth Transition Program, racial justice and intersectionality work.
The teacher and disability rights activist, who grew up in Ghana, has deep connections to VCIL, having served as an intern in 2012 and as a former board member. She recently obtained her PhD in the Educational Leadership and Policies Study Department at the University of Vermont. Komabu-Pomeyie is the founder of Enlightening and Empowering People with Disabilities in Africa, a nonprofit organization that seeks to effect positive change for people with disabilities in Africa. She speaks four languages.
VCIL Executive Director Sarah Launderville said, “We are thrilled to have Sefakor join our staff. She is an internationally recognized advocate who brings great knowledge and enthusiasm to our movement. I admire how committed she is to helping foster passion for self-empowerment and leadership opportunities for people with disabilities and other disadvantaged communities.”
Komabu-Pomeyie said, “My values align very well with the mission and vision of VCIL and I like VCIL so much for its unique reputation. As a person with physical disability, it is always my greatest pride to work with my fellow people with disabilities and that is exactly why I am here. All that I know is, this is the doing of the Lord and I thank God for touching everyone’s heart to make this dream a reality.”
She added, “I promise to work passionately and diligently to push the name of VCIL to another level. With my expertise joined with that of the other staff, we will make the changes that we want to make for posterity.”
Sefakor can be reached at email@example.com.
Cara Sachs of Winooski joined VCIL on Aug. 10 as a disability justice advocate. Her main focus will be systems advocacy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sachs is a certified life coach specializing in thriving with chronic illness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, two certifications from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and is also a former ASL/English interpreter. Sachs’ passion stems from lifelong severe chronic pain and other issues from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Tracheobronchomalacia. She shares that passion through blogging, workshops and public speaking.
Sachs said, “I’m thrilled to be joining VCIL at this particular moment in time. The world is experiencing major perspective shifts in multiple ways. Many people with chronic health issues have never felt connected to the term ‘disability’ — until now.”
She added, “We’re at a pivotal moment. As devastating as the pandemic is, it’s also revealing extraordinary new opportunities to improve the lives of disabled and chronically ill folks. I believe we can come out of this period of crisis with greater connection, power and resilience, and I’m excited to help our community on that journey.”
Launderville said, “Cara brings a lot to the table, including superb communication skills and a wealth of experience on living well with a disability. I am so happy to have her on staff!”
Cara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Siegel began working at VCIL in late June. She replaces Missy Boothroyd, who retired as VCIL’s Deaf Independence Program coordinator after 15 years of service. The job involves working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and groups statewide in Vermont and advocating for changes in state laws and policies to improve equal access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.
Siegel moved to Vermont from Florida in 2001 to attend the University of Vermont, where she earned a degree in English/Theater. She got a second degree in ultrasound technology at George Washington University. Siegel spent a few years in that field before returning to Vermont and working with the Deaf community. Last fall, she obtained an MBA in health care management from Southern New Hampshire University.
“I am honored to be a part of VCIL’s Deaf Independence Program,” Siegel said. “I really look forward to working with all of my Deaf and Hard of Hearing peers. I will do my very best to educate, empower and reach out to the community in our state.”
Launderville said, “Laura is doing a great job settling into her new position here at VCIL. I know she will do fantastic work as she strives to make Vermont a better and more equitable place for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.”
Laura can be reached at email@example.com.