Thought Leaders? Yeah, I know some.

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About a week ago a friend via email introduced me to the term “thought leadership.” I had no clue what that was so I Googled it. There are almost 700,000 posts on the definition of a thought leader.  Wikipedia offered this definition– “a thought leader is a is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Wikipedia then proceeded to name only white men who make buckets of money. I have nothing against white men or money but women and people of color of both exist and not everyone gets buckets of money for their great ideas.*

The term seemed relevant to me because I know ‘thought leaders.’ The ones I know deserve more rewards and they don’t have buckets of money. My thought leaders wrote the blurbs for my book. I am forever grateful for their contribution. I am also humbled each agreed to help me. My aforementioned friend also mention the concept of ‘thought leaders recognition’ in his email. Here it goes and sorry it’s overdue:)

In chronologically order:

Bob Keyes, arts reporter, for the Portland Press Herald: Bob is an advocate of the arts and has always seen the value of my writing. I love his writing, too. I met with him years ago at at coffee shop- of course. He said, “You write social commentary as narrative. Good for you!” Bob has treated me as an artist in a state that if you threw a rock you would hit a couple of us sitting together at a coffee shop. He believes Not Always Happy is art that could change people. At our meeting long ago he told me he had fallen in love with a high school sweetheart. They’re married now. Good for them!

Lawrence Downes wrote the forward for my book and has long championed my mission and my writing– which if I let it, could go to my head. Lawrence is a great writer and someone who realizes that the underdog needs defending and that humor, when used well makes a point faster. I got to meet he and his lovely wife in June. I’m trying to get them to come to Maine. Hint-hint.

Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc, knows me because The Arc is the organization I choose to have Chuck Klosterman donate the $25,000 he offered as apology for using the R-word. I have never made that public because I didn’t want to cause decisiveness. The reasons I picked them is they are the oldest organization in the U.S. to focus on inclusion and mostly because they are committed to helping children with disabilities in the foster-care system. Peter thought my book was “at times hilarious…” that made me think he was a good choice to read it.

Ellen Seidman, award-winning-author of Love That Max, is the bomb as the kids used to say in 1996. She contacted me for an interview after I published the open letter to Klosterman. Ellen is community-minded offering a blog link-up weekly and sharing her process with her readers in a way I think is unusual. She strives to understand rather than dictate. She has three children including a toddler and writes several times a week. Does Ellen sleep?

Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, knows me because Lawrence Downes encouraged him to read me.  I reviewed Tim’s book, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most  –he re-posted it on his website. Sweet! Maybe best scene ever: His mother, Eunice Kennedy wrestling Jackie Kennedy to the kitchen floor. More of that, please! Here’s another –thought– I haven’t always publicly agreed with Tim on issues. He wrote a blurb for me anyway– Super Classy!

Meriah Nichols, 2017 BlogHer award-winner, is a force of nature! Just go to meriahnichols.com and see what this woman does in the course of a day. Meriah appears not to have a ego which is unusual in a advocate/activist community. COMMUNITY is her THING. She is a diplomat and a radical. How is that possible?! People listen to her as a result.

Catia Malaquias, founder and director of Starting With Julius, director of Down Syndrome Australia and the Attitude Foundation is also the recipient of many awards and acknowledgments. She is a global mover and shaker. She is also my sister from another mister. If I am confused I ask her advice and assistance– she always comes thorough. She is a brilliant person who doesn’t value brilliance but instead values humanity. She is also a well-respected lawyer which is like a totally separate thing from the other stuff.

Emily Ladau, has also racked up well-deserved awards and praise. She is author of wordsiwheelby.com, Editor-in-chief of Rooted in Rights Blog and host of The Accessible Stall podcast. Emily is a bad ass in a polka dot dress. She is funny, edgy, direct and adorable. I hope she forgives adorable:) She made an excellent point in her blurb which unfortunately was not included in the book:  “I wish for a world in which books highlighting the troublesome perceptions and lack of acceptance toward people with Down syndrome would not have to exist…”

Lin Rubright, mother of six including AnnaRose another reviewer is also the founder of Anna Foundation for Inclusive Education. Catia put me in touch with AnnaRose and Lin to see if AnnaRose would be willing to read the book. I found out during the whole process that Lin read and liked the book. Her response was almost identical to what had been my feelings about so many books on Down syndrome: “Other books about Down syndrome either made me want to kill myself with their list of all the terrible things about having a baby with Down syndrome or puke at the blessings of it all…” Our children came to us in different ways but we feel the same.

*FYI– David Sessions in The New Republic shares some concerns about who are the thought leaders. I also want to know what my friend, David, thinks. He’s a smart and good guy. He probably could have helped me with this post.