Emily is a fiercely independent young writer who lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is 23 years old, has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and enjoys living in her own apartment. In fact, Emily believes that having her own place is “the best thing ever,” although she doesn’t mind sharing it on a part-time basis with an adorable puppy named Riley that she co-parents with a close friend.

Emily’s determination and ambition are definitely key factors to her success. Other contributing factors include her custom power wheelchair she uses for independent mobility that was mostly covered by Medicaid, as well as Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services. Emily gets her self-directed PCA services through The IRIS Program, which is a Medicaid funded Home and Community-Based Services waiver. By managing a team of eight to 10 PCAs, Emily has the support she needs to achieve her many goals. Still, hiring a PCA is no easy task, between coordinating with the IRIS program, interviewing and training.

Having these supports in place allowed Emily to begin actively pursuing her employment goals back in 2013 when she interned for New Horizons Un-Limited Inc, a non-profit grass roots organization that supports the positive personal journeys of people with disabilities and their caregivers by providing a wealth of programs and resources. She did such an excellent job that in 2015 she went from intern to employee! Currently, some of her responsibilities include coordinating fundraising events, providing administrative assistance and running all the organization’s social media accounts.