Hello. My name is Karen Koch. I am a Disability Rights Advocate with the Center for Independent Living of North Central PA (CILNCP), located in Williamsport, PA.
I began my career in human services completely by accident. In the mid 1980’s, I was looking for flexible employment while attending college in Williamsport. I interviewed at Hope Enterprise and was soon working in an Intermediate Care Facility / Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ ID) that was home to eight children. By the end of the first week, I realized this line of work was not a temporary career at all. At the end of the first month, I realized that the community was a tough place to live with a disability. Prior to this job, I believed that accessibility was only a physical concept. Spending time in the community with the kids that I worked with taught me that physical accessibility is important. It also opened my eyes to one of the greatest barriers that still exist in society: The attitudinal barrier.
When I learned of a vacant position at the CILNCP, I did not hesitate to update my resume. Having spent nine years in the facility as a PCA, I knew this was a good fit for me. I could support the shared values, culture and philosophy 100%. I was hired at the CILNCP in February of 2018 as an advocate. I am reminded daily of the ongoing need to assure access, inclusion and independence for people with disabilities. I am a member of NCIL (attended 2018 march and did legislative visits) and the Mid Atlantic ADA Leadership Network. In my spare time, my fiancé Bill and I enjoy camping, fishing, gardening and trap shooting.