CIL Staff Spotlight: Karen Koch, CIL NCP

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.

In 2003, I left Hope Enterprise to assist with the family business.  It was not long before I made the choice to return to human services.  It was then that I became aware of the Medicaid Waiver Program.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work one on one with a person in their home.  I soon began working as a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) for a young man that just graduated high school.  He
volunteered at CILNCP.  The concept of a place where people could receive services, socialize, and most importantly, be given the opportunity to control their own lives, was a major change from my residential services days. I worked with the young man for nine years, visiting the CIL four days a week.
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.
My favorite quote is by Henry David Thoreau, “If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.”