Strategies for Supporting Families to Chart a New Life Course:

supports for families with family members with

intellectual and developmental disabilities


Michelle "Sheli", Reynolds M.O.T., Ph.D.

Job Title

Director of Individual Advocacy and Family Support




Foster and/or Adoptive Parents, Biological Families, Service Providers, Case Managers, Judges/Lawyers, Students, Advocates, Policy Makers

Presentation Summary:

Over the last century, the provision of services and supports to individuals and families has undergone a rapid transformation. Systems originally designed to ensure health and safety are now focusing on supports that foster self-determination, build social capital and have access to opportunities to build assets that ensure self-sufficiency. As this transformation continues, it is important that individuals, their families and the systems that support them work together to create opportunities and to connect to possibilities for the future. This session will provide an overview of this transformation and how, by working and dreaming together, starting early and continuing throughout the life course, anything is possible.

-       Explore strategies to assist families in creating a vision and charting a course on their journey to a meaningful life.

-       Gain a greater appreciation for partnerships that foster connections in relation to families, caregivers, individuals and professionals.

-       Discover how family experience and expertise can be put to work to influence change at the organization/agency level and at the systems/policy level in order to make a brighter future for all children and families.




Ms. Reynolds’ passion, knowledge and experience come from growing up as a sibling of a brother with developmental disabilities. She serves as the Director of Individual Advocacy and Family Support at UMKC Institute for Human Development, a University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, where she has worked for over 15 years. In this role, she is responsible for projects that directly impact the lives of self-advocates and their families such as the Missouri FamilytoFamily Disability and Health Information Resource Center, Disability Inclusion within Missouri Volunteer Commission and the HRSA Integrated Community Services Grant. She recently has transitioned from providing direct support to People First of Missouri and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, the state and national self-advocacy movement for adults with developmental disabilities, to now focusing specifically on policy and systems change at the national and state level centering on the supports for families with family members with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She received her doctorate in Public Administration and Sociology from the University of Missouri, Kansas City with a focus on family support research and policy for families of

individuals with developmental disabilities across the lifespan.