The staff of the Amputee Coalition is growing. Here’s your chance to meet two new members who are also part of the limb loss and limb difference community.
Please describe your role with the Amputee Coalition.
Lucas: As the director of community engagement, my role is to cultivate an inclusive, exciting, and helpful slate of programs that will support the limb loss and limb difference community writ large. I oversee the Certified Peer Visitor program, support group leaders, hospital partnerships, and much more. As an amputee, my focus is to elevate the incredible and diverse skills of our community and create opportunities for all of us to learn from one another and thrive together.
Ryan: As a government relations specialist, I work to advance the policy agenda of the Amputee Coalition at the state and federal levels, along with educating policymakers about the issues facing the amputee community.
What have you done in your career and life that led you to this position?
Ryan: I have been politically active most of my life, so policy work is appealing to me. I have volunteered on local government boards and both partisan and nonpartisan political campaigns. I most recently worked as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives. This experience, combined with the fact that I am a congenital amputee, made the Amputee Coalition government relations team a natural fit for me.
Lucas: As a congenital amputee, I bring a lifetime of experience navigating healthcare, education, and career barriers. Before coming to the Amputee Coalition, I worked in disability education, advocacy, and healthcare. Most recently, I was the director of a disability support services office that focused on providing equal access to people with disabilities as they pursued their education. I worked with local hospitals, contractors, educators, and people with disabilities to create pathways to access at all levels. I participated in disability advocacy with the Amputee Coalition and served as a fellow for the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics. I have a master’s degree in critical disability studies from York University, where the focus of my research was on creating safe environments for amputees online. I am looking forward to infusing accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity into all aspects of my work here.
What appealed to you about the Amputee Coalition?
Lucas: Joining the Amputee Coalition for me was about representation and supporting our community. As an educator and amputee, I have seen firsthand that there is a gap in materials, programs, and supports created for people with disabilities. The AC has long been a leader in this space, providing tools where there are very few. It is my hope to further that mission by creating exciting opportunities, trainings, and materials for all.
Ryan: As a congenital amputee, I have been around the work of the AC in one way or another throughout my life. I have always been impressed with the ability of the Amputee Coalition to bring the community together, encourage advocacy, and provide vital resources for amputees. When I saw the job opening, I knew immediately that I wanted to bring my skill set to the AC, and I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an excellent team.
The theme of this edition of inMotion is UNITY. How do you see what you do here relating to that theme?
Ryan: Throughout my time working with the government relations team, I have been heartened by our ability to unify policymakers of very different ideologies behind finding solutions to problems facing the amputee community. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) might disagree on many of the news-making stories of the day, but we are extraordinarily grateful to them both for their leadership on the Triple A Study Act. Their support of this legislation was key to the Government Accountability Office agreeing to study access to prosthetic devices. We have excellent partners of every ideology and political persuasion because of the power that issues facing our community have to unify, even in a partisan political environment.
Lucas: Many in the disability community are familiar with the phrase “Nothing about us, without us.” I think my role is to be a facilitator for the community and support those who are new to the disability space. I want to listen to what people are struggling with and to find ways to create meaningful supports for everyone. I feel strongly that our Certified Peer Visitor program creates a sense of UNITY by providing those who are new to this space an opportunity to speak candidly with someone who has already been in their shoes. UNITY to me is shared knowledge, and I believe that is an area the AC excels in.
Please tell us a little about yourself, your interests, and things you like to do.
Lucas: When I am not working, you can bet I am doing something artsy. I love to act, sing, write, throw pottery, and even craft recipes. If I’ve had a long week, however, you may find me playing a new board game or video game with friends. My partner and I have a love of fantasy and reality TV, which means “Survivor” on Wednesdays and “Doughnuts With Anime” on Saturdays. Oh, and we have an adorable orange cat named Homer. He is missing two front teeth, so his purrs sound like a chainsaw. Feels like we live in a horror movie whenever he sneaks up on you.
Ryan: In May 2022, I received a B.A. in government with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin. In my free time, I like to garden, read, travel, and write about land value taxation for an online publication.
To give to the Amputee Coalition, please visit www.amputee-coalition.org/ways-to-give/donate-online-by-mail-or-by-phone/donate-online/