New Strategic Initiative Advisors contribute to CLBC

The Editorial Board is excited to share that CLBC has created a new position called the Strategic Initiative Advisor. Strategic Initiative Advisors come with the lived experience of having a developmental disability and work on projects to help CLBC figure out how to do things better for those they serve. A big part of their job is to share their expertise, as well as gather ideas from others who also have diverse abilities, so that CLBC can continuously get better at supporting people to have “lives filled with possibilities in welcoming communities.”

Congratulations and welcome to CLBC’s new Strategic Initiative Advisors!

They are:

  • Shelley DeCoste (Kelowna)
  • Drew Derosier (Kelowna)
  • Michelle Goos (Victoria)
  • Elizabeth Hamilton (Vernon)
  • David Johnston (Dawson Creek)
  • Jerry Laidlaw (Langley)
  • Alexander Magnussen (Surrey)
  • Debbie Reece (Vancouver)

Below, you can read their thoughts about their new roles with CLBC.


Jerry Laidlaw:

“I have been volunteering on boards and for CLBC for many years. It is a dream come true to be a paid employee.

I’ve learned that my ideas are good and have equal value. I help teach CLBC staff about self advocacy and what it means to be listened to and treated with respect.”


Michelle Goos:

“I feel more meaning and purpose in my life. I’m doing something that will hopefully change something for the better.

I hope this job will open more eyes to see we have something to offer and it will open more doors for other people to be hired.”


Alexander Magnussen:

“Tokenism is when, a ‘special person’, who is usually on the low end of the totem pole, is magically placed higher in order to fit some kind of quota or to make someone else look good. Strategic Initiative Advisors are not token roles.

We are on level ground with other CLBC employees. Because of our lived experience we know what it’s like from the inside out. We come with valuable expertise that CLBC needs in order to do its job.”


Drew Derosier:

“This Strategic Initiatives Advisor Role with include Me! has been a very rewarding experience for me.

Having the chance to help people advocate for themselves is very close to my heart. I love the opportunity to give people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice, a voice.”


Shelley DeCoste:

“I want families to see their child in me. To see what’s possible when you have the right support. We’re for once doing the teaching, instead of being taught.

Many of us have had a rough time with money and not having enough. But this isn’t about the money. It’s about being recognized for what we CAN do.”


Debbie Reece:

“The role has been a great opportunity for me in many ways. I have been able to develop my skills, learn brand new skills, grow my network, and spread the word about the importance of quality of life.

There is a great sense of accomplishment and pride having worked in this role.”


David Johnston:

“I’ve always wanted to work with people with diverse abilities. Ask anyone. It’s been my dream. I present about inclusive employment in my community and how important it is to find purpose through your passion.

It is my passion to help people and now I work for CLBC helping to make things better for others.”


Elizabeth Hamilton:

“I love getting into conversations with others about quality of life and what quality of life means.

This advisor role has helped me become an advocate, helping other people to have a voice of their own.”


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