September 2015

Featured Emerging Leader

Transition and Employment Projects

One of the goals of the Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects is to expand the vision of what is possible for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities to learn, live, work and play in their communities. We have been capturing stories of Montanans who have a developmental disability according to the Montana definition and who have creatively organized their supports to:


  • Live in the community (on their own or with family or friends) and/or
  • Work in the community (including owning their own business) and/or
  • Access inclusive education (high school, college, community classes) and/or
  • Participate in recreation and leisure activities that are inclusive (that is, alongside people without disabilities)

As we receive them, we share these stories with Listserv members. You may also read about Montana's Emerging Leaders in our Featured EL Archives, 2009 EL Showcase [PDF] and 2010 EL Showcase [PDF]. To nominate yourself or someone else as an Emerging Leader, visit the Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects web site.

Photo of Danielle
An Emerging Leader Update
By Danielle Dorman, Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council Member   

Hello! My Name is Danielle Dorman and I am an independent 25-year-old. I was featured as an Emerging Leader in the
October 2009 Emerging Leader Showcase [PDF]. That article described my high school and community activities in Columbia Falls, including Recycling Club, the Wildcat Warehouse (a student store), Key Club, and cross country. It mentioned that I attended the Montana Youth Leadership Forum in 2007, and I took classes at Flathead Valley Community College. I was also working for the Child Development Center out of Kalispell, assisting a child with a disability who lived in Columbia Falls.
Since my last article, I have been very busy and had a lot of exciting changes happen in my life. I'm currently a member of the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council (formerly the Montana Transition Training, Information and Resource Center Advisory Board). I have served on the council and numerous work groups since 2008. I have attended (and often presented at) the Montana Youth in Transition Conference every year since 2009. I'm the official photographer for the Consumer Advisory Council, which means I take pictures at our meetings and the conferences. I created and am the administrator for the Consumer Advisory Council Facebook Page.
I recently decided to find my own apartment in Kalispell. I chose to move to Kalispell instead of finding an apartment in Columbia Falls because I had been riding a commuter bus to Kalispell to attend my Wednesday group and also to go to my practices for Special Olympics. I had to ride the bus back home to Columbia Falls each time, so I went to Kalispell and started looking for an apartment. I had my case manager look around for me, too, and she told me that if I waited for a little while a company called Flathead Industries would help me to find an apartment. So I waited. I had a meeting with Flathead Industries, my case manager and my parents last July. I asked Flathead Industries what they could do for me. They said they could help me find an apartment I could rent for a reasonable amount. In September 2014, I moved into my apartment with the help of my parents and family. My favorite parts of having my own apartment are that I have more independence, I can have who I want over when I want, and I can eat whenever I want.
Photo of Danielle's living room and kitchen

In the spring of 2015, I had an interview for my dream job - working with children with developmental disabilities. I was hired to work three days a week, but that was increased to five days a week on April 13, 2015. I earn more than minimum wage. I have lots of different responsibilities at work, including eating lunch with the kids; setting up the nap rooms; cleaning the lunch room; and washing all the lunch dishes while the kids are taking their naps. After naptime, my coworkers and I watch over the kids to make sure they behave. Before the kids go outside to play, I put sunscreen on them and feed them a snack. I LOVE my job!!! I love working with children...they make me feel happy. 

For fun, I hang out with my friends who don't live very far away from me, ride my bike, go shopping, and go to movies.
My next goals are: I want to rent (or even own) a house in Kalispell; I want to have a roommate so I can have help with the rent and other things; and at some point I really want to get my driver's license.  

My advice for young people who are transitioning out of high school is: If you want to move out on your own and have more independence, don't be afraid! Set your mind to it and just go for it because life is too short to be afraid. At first, I was scared of being out on my own but I have been on my own for almost a year and I LOVE it!


Kim Brown
MT Transition Listserv


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This project is funded in whole or in part under a contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The statements herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Department.