We Welcome Naomi Brickel, SDMNY’s New Project Director!

On [12/30/2022, GN] we noted the coming transition of leadership at SDMNY and introduced you briefly to our new Director, Naomi Brickel. Now that she’s actually begun, we thought you might want to hear from her directly, and understand why we are so thrilled that she’s taken the job! Here’s Naomi, in her own words…

Changes in our lives extract us from the everyday unconscious motion and routine and offer opportunities for reflective resets. The transition from my former work at WIHD into this new position as SDMNY Project Director has percolated some valuable insights into my role in such a critical human rights initiative.

Much of my career focus has been upon self-determination and self-advocacy for people with disabilities, and it’s absolutely primary here. Over the last few years, through collaboration with many amazing people in my organization and network, we scaled up the work of my department and built a comprehensive array of programming to support the self-advocacy, inclusion, and empowerment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism, led mostly by those individuals themselves. My passion, and subsequent expertise, was inspired initially from personal experiences as a mom, witnessing how when my kids with special education IEPs were involved in their own planning and decision-making about the support that could help them, how much more successful they were. The impact was real – visible and measurable – success above my expectations, and because I’d imposed mine onto them, even their own.

The experiences with my kids and my career thus far have also taught me something even more critically important and valuable: a genuine appreciation for the dignity of each person. I no longer see my work as doing good, helping others who are somehow less, limited, beneath me in their need in some way. Instead, I consider my professional efforts and achievements thus far to be the creation of a space or platform facilitating people with a powerful unheard message to share it. I’m thrilled to be here at SDMNY! This is the time, and New York is the natural place to offer leadership in this powerful movement to recognize, inspire, and empower the voice, rights, and intrinsic human dignity of our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s going to be quite a ride!… Join us!

Naomi and her kids