Alum Travels to D.C., Supports Rights of Disabled to Live Where They Choose Lianne Paterson '17 advocates for the rights of individuals with disabilities


U.S. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, left, poses with NLU alum Lianne Paterson as she advocated for residential choices for individuals with disabilities.

After Lianne Paterson ’17 became a mother to three children—two of whom have disabilities—she started testing her wings in advocacy. Paterson earned her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology in 2016 and her Ed.S. in School Psychology at National Louis University in the spring. This month, she leveraged her knowledge as a school psychologist and her advocacy experience to meet with senators and Congressmen in Washington, D.C.

Paterson works as a school psychologist in Schaumburg School District 54 (Illinois), and she started her advocacy by becoming a board director on the board of Little City, a nonprofit organization in Palatine, Illinois which serves individuals with disabilities, including developmental disabilities and those on the autism spectrum. She serves on the board’s Children’s Programs and Services committee, and has a son who lives at Little City and is doing well.

Earlier this month, Paterson traveled to Washington with a group called Together for Choice, comprised of nonprofit organizations which offer residential and other options for individuals with disabilities.

She told U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky and other Congressmen about her son’s positive experience at Little City, and why she believes the Medicaid statute should permit individuals with disabilities to live in residential facilities if they and/or their parents or guardians believe that is the best option for them.

She and other advocates are concerned that government rules and funding, as well as philosophical differences, may reduce the availability of residential facilities for individuals with disabilities. Thus, they lobbied for preserving choice in the types of housing, work and recreational choices for these individuals.

Representatives from Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago, Clearbrook in Arlington Heights and others organized and participated in the Washington trip.