Lucia Rios has been a lifelong resident of West Michigan. Born with spina bifida, she has used crutches and a wheelchair since childhood. Lucia has never seen her disability as something that limits what she can do, but it has given her many opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise. She feels having a disability is not the barrier, but it’s the attitudes and physical structures around her that create a disabling environment.
It was while attending college that her awareness of discrimination and disability issues took place. Having a physical disability prepared her for challenges, but it was not until she had to maneuver through an older campus that access played a key role in her life. While advocating for herself on campus, she found herself advocating for others with disabilities. Her passion for making others aware of issues people with disabilities face on campus was so strong. As a Journalism major, Lucia was able to use her writing assignments as a way to reach her peers and professors without disabilities regarding the disability experience.
For 15 years she worked as a Community Access Specialist at Disability Network/Lakeshore. She educated the community about disability etiquette, accessibility, and employment barriers, as well as provided training to youth with disabilities. She is an active freelance writer for a local online publication and coordinates social media efforts for a small business. Lucia landed her dream job five months ago working for Salesforce in the Office of Accessibility as a Workforce Navigators Program Associate. She is creating an external mentoring program for people with disabilities.
Lucia encourages everyone to look past the exterior of someone and truly get to know the person for who he or she is. She encourages you not to let assumptions or fear prevent you from meeting some awesome individuals.
Lucia joined Family Hope Foundation’s Board of Directors in January. We are excited to see how Lucia’s many skills add strength to the organization. Lucia is also a Trustee for the Community Foundation Holland/Zeeland and a founding member of Women of Color GIVE.
Says Lucia about joining the team, “I was drawn to Family Hope Foundation because the mission resonates with me on a very personal level. Growing up I had many therapies, which helped me as a child to increase my independence. Even with insurance, my parents struggled to pay out of pocket. There was not a resource like Family Hope Foundation. I love that this organization exists! It gives families financial support, but also resources and community.”