Getting to Know You
Your name: Loren Steinberg
What’s your connection with disability?
I was born with a disability called Arthrogryposis. It means that my joints don’t bend very much, and I use a power chair to get around.
Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Trek…definitely Star Trek. The Next Generation to be precise, I was indoctrinated at the tender age of 5.
If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go? I would love to live in Ireland for 2 years.
What dish would your bring to our community picnic potluck? I would bring mac n cheese with the super crunchy, baked on topping.
Now That We’ve Been Introduced…
What do you do:
For the moment, I work at the Center for Independent Living as a Systems Change Advocate. I get to network with folks from my community as well as all over the state who are engaged in disability advocacy. This position has offered me an incredible chance to not only develop a more well rounded understanding of the systemic barriers that people with disabilities face, but to also figure out how we can work together to change them. My next adventure is grad school. I was just accepted into a PhD program in Clinical Psychology, so I’ll be leaving CIL in late July to go back to being a full time student.
How did you come to doing what you do? How has your career trajectory flowed?
I started working at CIL right out of college. My undergrad degree was in Biopsychology and I was pretty involved in campus disability organizing while I was a student. When I finished school I knew that I wanted to find a job with a focus on the disability community, so I applied for a summer internship with CIL’s Youth Services Program. After the summer ended, the internship opened up to the position that I’m in now and I’ve been at CIL ever since. It feels a bit like I’m coming full circle now: I’m going back to school to study Psychology, but having had the opportunity to work at CIL I’m fairly certain that I want to continue working in the disability community in one capacity or another for a long time to come.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Ideally I will be finishing up my grad program within 5 years. After that, I’d like to either use my degree to direct a DSP program or provide mental health services to people who are adjusting to new disabilities. It would also be amazing to live abroad for a year or so, as well.
Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone?
I want to be remembered as someone who died without regrets.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who don’t give a crap about what everyone around them thinks, and who do what they know is right even if they are being told that they can’t or won’t succeed. I’d love to be able to say that the person who embodies this for me is a figure like Gandhi or Amelia Earhart, but the huge nerd in me immediately thinks of Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones.
If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?
I would tell myself that there are a lot of idiots in the world, and I will meet a decent number of them. But to remember that when people act like idiots it’s a reflection of their own lack of understanding and not a reflection of something being inherently wrong with me. And I would also say that it is not my responsibility to educate all of the misinformed people out there, at some point they get to take that on themselves.
What do you like about your particular disability?
I like the fact that I’m small. I can save money by buying kids sized clothes, I don’t spend much on groceries, and my friends can carry me up to their inaccessible houses.
Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability?
That disability is probably the least interesting thing about me.
What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
My power wheelchair, I would be seriously stuck without it.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.