On behalf of the Community Engagement Conference 2022 Planning Committee we would like to thank you again for the wonderful keynote address that you presented on our theme of “Building Community” at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. The conference had over 300 people in attendance. The audience feedback on your presentation was outstanding! Out of approximately 50% of returned surveys, 100% of the respondents gave you the highest possible review on your presentation. We felt honored to have you as our guest in Northeast Missouri.
Russell, your presentation came at a pivotal moment for our community as we discuss and plan the development of the Greenwood Center for Autism in Northeast Missouri. To quote one of the key players from the conference, she said “Russell is saying exactly what everyone in this room needs to hear.” We appreciate your transparency in sharing your inspiring personal journey. Your willingness to discuss your story, identify what worked and what didn’t work for you as well as your balance in reviewing educational and community supports had enormous impact on our community leadership. We are confident that your message will be considered in the planning and providing services for the autistic community in Northeast Missouri for many years to come.
In addition, the participants were particularly appreciative of the round table discussion which you led following lunch. So many of the people receiving community services felt comfortable enough to speak up and share their thoughts. Many participants said that they have never seen that level of participation from the consumers of our services in the history of this conference. Together we all agreed it was because of your motivational speaking style and ability to connect on a deeply personal level with your audience.
Russell, your ability to communicate a positive and inspiring message to people with developmental disabilities has emboldened many to speak up and embrace self-advocacy. Following your presentation, several local citizens impacted by autism have come together and are beginning to share their stories in support of one another. You modeled for many what leadership and vision looks like. You demonstrated how that vision can help a community come together. We cannot express enough our gratefulness for all that you said and did during your visit. We look forward to continuing our communications with you as your message continues to change the world.
Thank you for all that you do
/// Crystal Aminirad – Executive Director