Meet Our Board
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In 2009, I was part of Student First of Washington, where I became one of the first Student First presidents. During my time as president, I took my very first trip to Olympia Washington to talk to legislators for Advocacy Days. While there, I spoke in front of 1,000 people with disabilities to learn about what kinds of changes they wanted to see from their legislators.
During the past years, I have attended disability conferences and have learned about what the disability world is all about. And I met new friends from all over the world! I have also attended community summits in Wenatchee.
Throughout this journey, I became the People First official DJ and photographer, and then for the last four years, I was the Historian.
Now, 2022. Have courage and just go for it! I became board president. And now I’m ready to accept this position to help us get back on the right path together. Think smarter, not harder. One day at a time!
When you’re having a rough day, give someone a call, go out to eat, have a good laugh, and smile it up a little bit! Give some hugs and cuddles!
Remember, don’t give up this fight!
I came to the United States from Cambodia when I was 5 years old. I have cerebral palsy. I attended Highline Community College. I am an advocate for people of color who have disabilities. I like to take the bus, act in plays, and Special Olympics soccer.
I am on the board of Open Doors for Multicultural Families, Allies in Advocacy, Developmental Disability Council, Self-Advocates in Leadership, Cambodian Cultural Alliance of Washington, and now am the Vice-President for People First of Washington.
Hi, my name is Alan McElhenny. I am a self-advocate and I live in Olympia Washington. I am a member of my local chapter of People First of Thurston County and have been a member of People First of Washington for a long time.
I am passionate about closing the institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers), because I believe
we all deserve to live free in our communities. I want to get my local King 5 News involved and share
my story why the institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers) need to be shut down. I am very proud
and honored that I got elected as the Secretary for the Washington state board of People First for
2021 to 2024. I want to be the voice of our members. If you have any questions or requests to the
state board, please don’t be shy. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for electing me to serve our great organization for the next three years.
Hi, my name is Mark Sitler. I am a good person. I like to help people and I am a self-advocate. I live independently in my own apartment in Olympia Washington, in the west side. I am the Vice President of the Thurston County chapter. My passion is that I want to close down the institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers). They do not belong. We deserve to live free like everyone else. I love meeting new people and making new friends. I am very social and I love learning new things.
I am excited and honored to be serving the People First of Washington family for the next 3 years
from 2021 to 2024 as Treasurer of the state board of directors of People First of Washington. I want
to be the members voice. If you have any questions or requests for the state board, you can email me
Thank you for your votes. I will do my best to serve the membership.
Hey! My name is Robert M. Wardell and I live in Tacoma Washington. I am a self-advocate and am passionate on closing institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers). I am involved with People First and am a member of the Pierce County chapter. I wear many hats! I am the vice president of my local chapter and I am also a member of SAIL (Self-Advocates in Leadership). I served on the board for Passport for Change and am now the Historian for the state board of People First of Washington. I am honored to serve as one of the state leaders of our great organization.
If any member of People First of Washington wishes to give ideas or request
something from the state board, you can email me at:
Thank you and God Bless.
Region 1 Representative
Hi, my name is Kieran. I am now the Region 1 representative after serving as the first-ever elected Student First rep who served on the People First of Washington State board. I heard of People First through my school and I was inspired to join my local People First chapter in Spokane. Now I am representing my region.
I am a community leader and I am here to make sure your voice is heard. If you wish to contact me,
please email me at email@example.com.
Region 2 Representative
I became involved with the disability community during the 20 years I lived in Eugene, Oregon. The group I belonged to there had twice monthly meetings, and I also traveled to Salem to talk to legislators there. I believe very strongly in taking action and educating Congress on the wishes and needs of disabled people. I like the group aspect of working together with others in the intellectual and developmental disability community. We are stronger this way, and the more people who make their voices heard, the better. We have lots of issues to solve!
My biggest desire is to see the law changed that prohibits people with disabilities from keeping their disability benefits if they marry a non-disabled person. Lots of people don’t know this, and I would like to educate others on this, as well as ultimately get that law changed.
I joined People First in 2022, and was elected as Region 2 Rep at the Convention in Ocean Shores. I look forward to being there for the disabled community and taking your thoughts and issues to the board, so that we can focus on solutions and move ahead in making our lives better.
People outside of the disability community need to know we are regular people like they are, and come from all different backgrounds, and deserve to live independent lives just as they do. We need to educate them on what services we need that will allow us to have better jobs and training that will lead to more independence.
I am a friendly and caring person, and want everyone to feel comfortable reaching out and letting me know what is on their minds. I would like to help people get better in expressing their needs, and would like to encourage others to also speak to their legislators to make real change.
I live in Clarkston, Washington with three dogs (a husky, border collie, and a Labrador) and one cat. I enjoy camping and reading.
I look forward to being the voice of Region 2. Please reach out to me and let me know your thoughts. If you email me your phone number, I'd be happy to call you. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Region 3 Representative
I have lived in Washington, and Whidbey Island in particular, off and on my whole life. I have been a member of People First since about 2014 or so. I have been president of my local Island Chapter in the past, and currently serve as the Vice President.
The conventions are very memorable for me. I have met a couple of my best friends at the Conventions. I consider my People First friends as part of my family, and talk with some of them almost daily. I live on my own, but like to hang out with friends. We do things together on a regular basis like watch movies, bowl in a weekly league, participate in the Special Olympics, and have a twice-monthly Circle of Friends get-together.
People First is very important to me because I like to help out others where I can.
I can talk over email at email@example.com
Region 4 Representative
My name is Eric Matthes. I’m a member of People First of Washington, and the Chapter president of the King County Champions Chapter. I’m also a member of Self-Advocates in Leadership.
I love my job working for the Arc of King County as a Community Advocacy Coordinator. (12 years with the Arc!) I am also a Board member of People First of Washington and Disability Rights Washington.
I enjoy having my own apartment that I call my home, watching movies, playing video games and walking in my neighborhood. I also have a good healthy lifestyle. I’m interested in having a good, meaningful life and cooking my own meals. Connecting with friends by phone, FaceTime or zoom for my pleasure. I love my life.
Region 5 Representative
Hello, I am Justin Maxwell, a man of invisible and visible disabilities. I have been very much involved in the community for six years, starting as a member SAIL, then People First chapter President. I want to close every RHC, and get the transportation with ADA act updated, even the marriage penalty dealt with, among many issues in our wonderful community. In my spare time, I love to read and write and spend quality time with my loved ones and watch movies. As representative, I will answer all your wants and work to bring anything you have on the table to the board!
Region 6 Representative
I'm Courtney Thom. I have been with People First Of Washington for 12 years and am still going strong. I'm a member of SAIL (Self Advocates in Leadership) and I'm the President of the Lewis County Chapter, and I'm an officer on the National Council of Self Advocates (NCSA). I am involved in the Special Olympics advocacy committee, and the Athlete leadership program. My hobbies and interests are competing in Special Olympics. The sports I do are Powerlifting, Swimming, Golf, Cheerleading and Bowling, and I love volunteering for Special Olympics.
I am very outgoing and I love meeting new people and making new friends. I love learning new things. I am very passionate about ending the marriage penalty and shutting down the institutions (Residential Habilitation Centers). I would like to see the caps on SSI and SSDI increased. I want to be the voice of our members. I am honored to serve as the Region 6 Representative of our great organization. I'll stand by you always.
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can call or text me at (360) 970-0490)
Student First Representative
Hi! I’m Aaron, and I'm excited to be on the board as the new Student First representative. I am in my second year with Student First, and also serve as the Vice President of the People First Lilac Chapter. I enjoyed attending the convention in Ocean Shores last year.
I ran for Student First representative because I’ve been told that I work well with other students, and that others look to me for taking action on things. I feel people with disabilities often don’t have a real voice, and it’s my desire to help them get their voices heard more loudly and more often. I live with my sister and our four dogs in Cheney, and enjoy taking walks and playing video games. I am a communicative person and want students to know they can come to me if they have any problems or if they need someone to talk to.
You can reach me at: email@example.com.
I am in my 21st year with the DSHS Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, where I work in an office support position. I believe in giving back by volunteering with Olympia Police Department, the Community Kitchen within the Salvation Army, and Furniture Bank of Thurston County within Olympia Christian Reform Church. The reason I volunteer is because it’s an opportunity to make a difference. September 11th, the horrible attacks on our land, were a sign in my opinion to make a difference in my community. This is the other reason why I volunteer. My heart was broken and shattered because of some thugs who decided to attack our country. The terrorists attacked our country because of what we stood for and what we believed in. Freedom is the main necessity of what keeps our country strong and why so many immigrants come to this country to become citizens.
The second reason I give is because it’s given me the reminder that it’s important to give to those who are less fortunate than I am. My parents also instilled in me the importance to demonstrate GOD’s love to those who need it. I figured the best way to demonstrate GOD’s love is to volunteer my time by giving to those who need a smile, love and support.
My story starts off with me being adopted at age four. I don’t remember a lot about my birth parents. My adopted parents, Hank and Mary Doelman adopted roughly 20 siblings with 10 countries representing the Doleman family. My parents decided to adopt because they felt it was a calling from GOD. My family and I are Christians and believe in Jesus Christ. My parents owned several different farms throughout Mason and Thurston Counties throughout Washington State. They have now decided for personal reasons to only keep one farm, which is located in Thurston County.
My interests include Toastmasters, where I am currently working towards completing the Pathways Dynamic Leadership Program in Toastmasters.
I love politics, soccer, as well as track and field events. I have a strong sense of family where I have been blessed with a large family of 23 making up the Doelman Clan. Countries that represent this family are the Netherlands (Holland), United States, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Brazil, Haiti and Colombia. I count my Toastmaster club members, workmates and long time friend and mentor, Laurie, as my external family. The reason why I love politics, soccer and track is because it all started in the fourth grade. Mr. Gordon Luecke was my social studies teacher. Mr. Luecke was teaching civics during this time and I was learning about the US Government. I guess you could say that is how my interest in politics all started.
My Faith, volunteering, and interests are a simple glimpse of who I am.