This guest Q&A is with Kiwa Nadas has been working for Northwest Center for almost 2 years and has been in her current role of Philanthropy Manager for over a year. With a background in nonprofit work around the country, Kiwa has dedicated her career to serving others.

Hi Kiwa! How did the idea for Northwest Center first come about?

Northwest Center was founded by a group of revolutionary parents in the early 1960s. The parents of children with disabilities, they refused to follow the status quo and deny their children an education. At the time, the common life for someone with a disability was in an institution. Our founders refused to believe that their children could not learn and be contributing members of society. Janet Taggart, one of our founding mothers, best describes the thought process:

“A group of us embarked on a mission to develop a way to keep our children at home and part of the community.”

Starting off in the basement of a church, Northwest Center was a preschool that quickly grew into so much more. Our founders quickly moved into the political arena, helping to create and lobby for Washington State’s House Bill 90, “Education for All”. This law, the first in the nation, guaranteed education for everyone, including children with disabilities, and was the landmark for the national act: IDEA Act.

Your team truly seems to embrace inclusion from work with and hiring people with disabilities? How important is inclusion in today’s day and age?

Inclusion, no matter for whom, is important. Everyone deserves not only a seat at the table, but a voice in the conversation. People deserve respect and understanding. You also never know where the next great idea will come from. To limit your options, hinders progress.

We love following all the special events your team does? Any favorites?

My personal favorites are the ones in which we interact with the community at large. I love talking to people one-to-one about all the great things Northwest Center does. They are always surprised by how much we do in the community.

What would be some advice you’d give to centers that are just starting off who hope to become pioneers for the disability community like Northwest Center has become?

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Be true to your mission. It is important to never forget why you are there, what you are working towards. As a nonprofit, we measure our success in lives, not necessarily dollars.

What’s a misconception out there in the disability community that you’d like to see debunked?

That their disability defines them. That it is all they are and guides every action of their lives. The disability community is a diverse group of individuals just like every other community of people. Not to be cliché but don’t judge a book by its cover or a person by your first impression.

How could our readers learn more about you and the terrific work you are doing out there in the community?

Call us, visit our website, come to our events. Our next, large event, Golden Hearts Luncheon is a great way to get to know who we are and all the wonderful programs we offer. Myself and several other advocates composed of Northwest Center’s employees, clients, and families would love to discuss how we can create a more inclusive community.

Any final message you’d like to share?

Change doesn’t occur overnight and takes more than one person. It takes discussion, actions, and conscious effort to want to make a difference. Northwest Center is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and independent community and create opportunities for everyone to succeed.