Interview conducted by Liam Dougherty, Liberty Resources, in November 2020.
Vicki Landers (she/her) is the President & CEO of Disability Pride Philadelphia Inc. Vicki has over 30 years of experience in retail and nonprofit management, finance, marketing, fundraising, event planning, networking, and customer service. Disability Pride makes space for disabled people to show their PRIDE by having FUN, accessible, inclusive events, while educating others on accessibility and inclusion.
Vicki is the Grant Program Director for Disability Equality in Education which is currently working on legislation to teach disability rights, accomplishments, and history in Pennsylvania's schools. With support from PADDC, Vicki will host "What is Disability Art" workshops and work with disabled artists to build "One Person Exhibitions" for ages K-12.
Vicki self identifies as a disabled, bi female that advocates for her communities. In her free time, she loves to hang with family and friends, watch movies, advocate for women's rights, hunt for vintage Halloween items, drink margaritas, eat tacos, and spend time with her cats.
LIAM: Vicki, can you introduce yourself?
VICKI: I'm Vicki Landers. I am a President and CEO of Disability Pride of Philadelphia. I go by she/her.
LIAM: So, you are the head of Disability Pride?
LIAM: And did I hear you are on the board of Miss Wheelchair Pennsylvania?
VICKI: Yes, and the Disability Pride advisor for Miss Wheelchair PA.
LIAM: Describe a typical day in your life before COVID-19 and describe a day now. What is different and what is the same?
VICKI: So, before COVID hit I was extremely active. I was out and about. Honestly, the week before COVID hit I was in Pittsburgh at a huge disability conference. I am usually out at least four times a week just going to talk to people seeing what's going on, talking to sponsors and vendors and all kinds of things. You know, I would go out with friends and go out and have coffee or whatever, I mean it was...I realize now it was really nice [laughs].
Since COVID, I think I can count on my two hands how many times I've actually been out. I thankfully can work from home. I have learned how to use Zoom in every way possible so I can keep in contact with the disability community that I service. It's very stressful. You end up putting in so many more hours doing online than you do in person. I've had some medical stuff that's going on that is up in the air because I don't want to go near the hospital or one of the doctors' offices to find out what's going on which makes me even more stressed out. I have been, you know... I'm bipolar and I have anxiety disorder so that has its good days and its bad days. A lot of anxiety with everything that's going on with COVID. I've never really had a really good handle on anxiety, so it's definitely upped its game on what is going on in my bi-polar stuff. You know. It is mostly controlled, but I still...like there are days when you're like "I can't believe I'm in this house one more day." [laughs]
LIAM: How is being confined to your house?
VICKI: It is nerve wracking. It is depressing. It is scary that this is the way life could be. It's also terrifying for me that where I live – I live right, basically on Temple campus, and you know the kids [students] are around and they don't care about COVID. They're wandering around no masks and things on and I feel like you can't even go outside and get a breath of air because they're everywhere. [laughs] They were supposed to go home and they didn't.
Liberty Resources, Inc. is the Center for Independent Living in Philadelphia, which advocates for and works with Persons with Disabilities to ensure their civil rights and equal access to all aspects of life in the community. Liberty Resources provides five core services: Advocacy, Information and Referral, Peer Support, Skills Training, and Transitioning/Youth Services. Click here to read more about the core services. Liberty Resources is one of the first Centers for Independent Living in Pennsylvania
This project was made possible with generous support from the Independence Public Media Foundation.
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