Patricia Blake Advocacy Award: Elaine Gabovitch
Elaine Gabovitch is always happy to talk about the power of telling one’s story. As the parent of a young adult son with ASD who is the inspiration for her work, she’s used her family’s story and others at every opportunity to influence positive change for people with disabilities and their families. Since late 2016, she has gotten to listen intently to the community’s collective stories in her role as Director of the Title V Division for Children & Youth with Special Health Needs (DCYSHN) at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Prior to that and continuing in an adjunct role, Elaine served on the faculty at UMass Medical School as Family Faculty at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program and as an Instructor in the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health. She has held a number of disability awareness roles as well, among them as the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador to Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Act Early State Team Leader and the co-founder of the First Signs campaign. Her earliest years were spent as a manager for the Stride Rite Corporation, Agfa-Geveart Film Company, and Appleseed’s Catalog. Throughout all of these experiences, she has learned that the lived experience parents bring has the greatest value of all in change the world for the better for our kids and families.