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Marsha Blanco chapter 9


Chapter 1: Background
Chapter 2: Early Career, Parent Reaction to Conditions at Polk State School and Hospital
Chapter 3: Creating Community Supports
Chapter 4: Marsha Becomes Executive Director of Allegheny County ARC
Chapter 5: Advocating to Close Institutions, Pennhurst Lawsuit
Chapter 6: Closure of Western Center
Chapter 7: Federal Mandate for Early Intervention, ARC Becomes ACHIEVA
Chapter 8: Working to Continually Innovate
Chapter 9: Reflections on Career (you are here)

transcript - entire interview

Marsha Blanco Interview (Word)

transcript - current chapter

Chapter 9: Reflections on Career

09:41:43:15 - 09:43:53:16

Lisa: Is there looking back any particular contribution or accomplishment you take particular pride in?

Marsha: I don't like the word pride there are a couple of things that I've done that I wouldn't use "I". I mean, you work with extraordinary people. You know what, I will. I'll give you one that is reflective. For many, many years I don't know if the name Dr. Norman Mulgrave has come up but Norman, a Trustee of ACHIEVA many, many, many years and he worked hand and glove with Ginny Thornburg and Pat Clapp and Jean Isherwood. Norman was a professor and head of the Senate, actually, for years at the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Mulgrave has a booming voice and it was that professorial type of thing that I'm sure you are familiar with at Temple but Norman and I had been lobbying in Washington DC one time years ago and we were having dinner and at one point he sort of leaned across the table and he said "Marsha I believe you have but one great talent" and I'm sitting there and I'm working my butt off and I'm thinking maybe two or three little things, Norman, you know? What he said was you manage to surround yourself with the most talented people in this field and you make them loyal to the values of the organization, and despite my initial offense at Norman, I reflect upon that over the years and yeah, maybe the thing that I'm most proud of is that I have had some part in bringing other people into this movement and mentoring and nurturing others to carry on.

09:43:57:15 - 09:46:54:10

Lisa: Earlier in our discussion you talked about being aware that you were a part of a Movement; this wonderful Disability Rights Movement. Where do you see this Movement headed now?

Marsha: Do you mean what do we still have to do? Is that...

Lisa: Yeah, I guess. Maybe that's too big of a question.

Marsha: I mean we still have tons and tons of things to do. I love the fact that some of the founding members of our organization, some of whom have now passed away or of course are older, that their sons and daughters are stepping up to the bat. We have, among our trustees, some extraordinarily talented people with big, big jobs in Pittsburgh who happen to be second generation folks of the ARC and you know who share their tales of their father and mother being away for the weekends and missing that but knowing that the work that they were doing through the ARC was important work and now brothers and sisters stepping up. I think one challenge is that families, younger families, some younger families take it for granted that the supports that they receive; early intervention, education, transition services, a job coach that they think those things were always there and I work to help younger families appreciate that the family members who preceded them left really, you know, their blood in the street to great sacrifices to their families, to work to create the great community support system that they have; not that it won't improve because it will improve. I think that a lot of families don't appreciate the work that was involved and that they need to commit to working to both keep these things in place as well as to take the next steps toward improvement. A couple of big things that were out there as well as the things that we've already discussed in terms of making supports I wanted to say it that way because that confers that they have to be created but listening to individuals and then providing what supports they need based on the individuals needs as opposed to the staffing in the group home and that sort of thing, you know. A lot of work here yet.

Lisa: Thank you.

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