Kaaren Londahl Named Self-Advocate of the Year

Recently named Self Advocate of the Year by Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition (OSAC), Kaaren Londahl is known throughout the community for the important work she does to advocate for the rights of individuals with a developmental disability in Oregon.

 Photo of Kaaren Londahl in northeast Portland.

Photo of Kaaren Londahl in northeast Portland.

Within minutes of meeting with Kaaren, it’s clear why she’s been named Self-Advocate of the Year. Her experience and network are as robust as her enthusiasm for self-advocacy is infectious.

Kaaren is an active board member at OSAC and Independence Northwest, and a member of the PHAME Arts Leader program. She also works at OCDD and PHAME.

“I am a strong leader,” Kaaren states matter-of-factly, smiling as she hands me her OSAC business card and points out her title: Advocate at Large.

Self-determined but not self-important, Kaaren recognizes that by sharing her story she is able to encourage more people to become advocates—“and strong leaders too.”

What or who motivated you to become a self-advocate?

“My mom,” says Kaaren. "In the 1970s, my mom noticed there weren't services for people with disabilities." Kaaren's mother, Pauline Londahl, responded to the lack of support she encountered by establishing an organization called Exceed Enterprises in Milwaukie. “She started a workshop for people [with disabilities] to learn life skills,” Kaaren says, explaining that her mother wanted individuals with a disability to have an opportunity to learn life skills, like cooking and cleaning, as well as to participate in creative and social activities, like playing music and going bowling. Sharing more about her mother's advocacy work, Kaaren notes: “Mom was on the board that closed Fairview.”

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Why is it important to be a self-advocate?

“We don’t want programs to go away,” she says, noting that funding for support services can change.

Aware of this possibility, Kaaren emphasizes that, "people need to speak with their legislators," to advocate for the services and programs that assist them in living a full life in the community.

When asked what topics she and other self advocates address with legislators, Kaaren shares that, "we attempt to educate legislators about issues that matter to us," including: housing, employment, relationships, and transportation.

In her call for more self advocates to attend Legislative Sessions in Salem, Kaaren points out that some people who would like to attend these sessions are unable to because of limited access to transportation. “If anyone from [Community] Pathways wants to drive people to Salem, that would be great,” Kaaren says, using her network to attempt connecting people with the support they need to achieve their goals.

As Advocate at Large, what are your main responsibilities?

Kaaren shares that she recently joined the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) on a trip to Pendleton, Oregon where they met with individuals to learn about their experiences with support services. Their trip, she explains, is a part of a statewide effort to learn about support services from the perspective of individuals with a developmental disability in Oregon.

What have you learned from individuals about their support services?

"A lot of people find it difficult to ask for help," Kaaren says. “You have to ask to get ahead.”

She explains that when asked about their experience with support services, individuals expressed that they do not always know what questions to ask in order to receive the support they are seeking. With this observation, Kaaren pinpoints a frustration many people, regardless of their abilities, face when seeking help: Not knowing who to ask for help, or what questions to ask, in the first place. Kaaren says that more clarification about what to expect from support services would be helpful to individuals and their family members.

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What other obstacles do individuals receiving support services face?

"Parents," Kaaren notes. “Parents can sometimes get in the way of their kid.” Even when the 'kid' is an adult, Kaaren explains, a parent or family member can become an obstacle to the individual's support services, “because they think their kid isn’t able to do certain things.” 

When asked what advice she has for parents and family members of individuals with a developmental disability, Kaaren says: “Let your kids do what they want to do.” She pauses before adding, “In a safe way. But let them do it.They have to learn."

From meeting with individuals across the state, Kaaren notices that the number of individuals who attend these meetings is quite small. Asked why this might be, Kaaren says that individuals do not show up to events because they either do not know about them, their providers do not take them, or they lack accessible transportation.

What would you suggest be done to address these concerns and help improve services?

Kaaren notes the following ways brokerages can help improve the experience of support services for individuals and their support networks:

  • Host Brokerage 101 events to educate people about brokerage support services, so they learn what questions to ask.

  • Educate providers about support services, as well as self advocacy groups and events.

  • Promote programs like RideWise, which trains individuals to ride public transportation.

How would you describe the support services you get through Community Pathways?

“I like my services. They're great. They help me. They really help me,” Kaaren says. "You have to navigate things," she continues. "They help me grow. They help me learn about what's out there in the world."

When asked what she values the most about her support services, Kaaren says it's the communication she has with her PA. “It’s nice having another person to talk to,” she shares.

“If you complain,” she adds, “[support services] won’t work. You have to speak up. I may not get everything I want, but I have to work with [Community] Pathways, with my PA Sarah, to get what I do get. It’s important to speak up.”

 Photo of Kaaren Londahl standing next to an orange biketown bicycle in northeast Portland.

Photo of Kaaren Londahl standing next to an orange biketown bicycle in northeast Portland.

How would someone interested in self-advocacy learn more about it?

"They should contact me,” Kaaren says with a smile, pointing to her business card.

"OSAC is seeking new members," she adds. [Learn more at www.askosac.org]

What would you say to individuals who want to get involved in self-advocacy, but are shy or anxious about attending meetings and events?

“They should contact me,” Kaaren says, pointing to her business card again. “Joining a group gives people a chance to get to know more people who have self-advocacy experience," she adds. "We will cheer lead them on to use their own voice."

Of course, some individuals may still find it difficult to attend self-advocacy meetings for different reasons. When asked if individuals can attend meetings and events with the support of a family member, friend, or provider Kaaren says, "Yes, that's fine," but stresses that, "self-advocates need to speak up for themselves. The provider or parent should not speak up for them. We need to speak up."

What is your advice for self-advocates preparing to speak with legislators?

  • Stick to one question or topic per speaker.

  • Stay on topic.

  • Only speak for a few minutes. "If you speak for too long, people will stop listening."

  • Meet with your team afterwards to discuss what went well and what did not go well, and make the necessary changes to improve.

[Join the 2019 DD Advocacy Days to gain more information, training, and support. Learn more at www.oregoniddcoalition.org]

Recently named Self-Advocate of the Year, what are you working on now?

With the midterm elections on November 6th drawing near, Kaaren says she is busy volunteering with Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) to help educate individuals with a disability about their right to vote and the supports available to help them fill out and cast their ballots. [Easy Voting Guide]

“We want people to live an everyday life like anyone else without a disability,” Kaaren says about her experience volunteering with DRO to get out the vote. “I want to follow in my mom's footsteps, because I’m a strong leader.”

Throughout our interview, Kaaren makes the mission and motivation underlying her work as a self advocate clear: “I want people to live the way they want to live.”

Kaaren lives independently in Northeast Portland with her dog. Her sister Dolly and nieces are an important source of support in her life and motivate her to advocate for her own rights and the rights of all people who experience a disability.

Congratulations on being named Self-Advocate of the Year, Kaaren!

-The Community Pathways Team

2018 TASH Conference is Coming to Portland

The 2018 TASH Conference is coming to Portland on November 28-30. Community Pathways is glad to be serving on the Local Host Committee, along with our Seven Corners Collaborative partners: Community Vision, FACT Oregon, and Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities.

We invite self advocates, educators and students, professionals in the field of developmental disabilities, and community leaders to join us in being a part of this wonderful opportunity.

Register to be an Attendee, Volunteer, and/or Sponsor. A few Registration Scholarships are still available to Oregon residents (self-advocates and family members).

Questions? Email Kristine at kolson@communitypath.org

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CPI Celebrates 10 Years of Service

Ten years ago this month, our executive director, Jennifer Santiago, and a small team of dedicated employees set out to establish a support services brokerage: Community Pathways, Inc. (CPI) We are fortunate to have leadership and staff who have been with CPI since the very beginning.

CPI first got its start as a program under the auspice of the Arc Multnomah-Clackamas. With Jennifer's leadership, CPI has grown into the brokerage it is today, serving over 450 adults living in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon.

Our mission is to assist people with disabilities to live empowered, self-determined lives through community connections.


Guiding our growth, and the work we do on a daily basis, are a set of values centered around upholding the principles of self-determination for all people. We practice and promote person-centered thinking and planning, collaboration, compassion, support, advocacy, and empowerment.

We are proud of the support services model we deliver to individuals with developmental disabilities--fellow Oregonians. We look forward to serving our community for many more years to come!

If you are interested in supporting Community Pathways and its continued growth, please connect with us. We'd love to hear from you.

Follow and like us on Facebook and use #FriendsofCPI #Support #Advocate #Empower

2018 Division/Clinton Street Fair & Parade

Community Pathways is a Support Sponsor of the 2018 Division/Clinton Street Fair & Parade being held on Saturday, July 21st.

As new kids on the block, Community Pathways is excited to join our neighbors in celebrating this annual event. We look forward to connecting with our neighbors and community in SE Portland. Be sure to stop by our booth. We'd love to say hello!

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As a sponsor of the street fair, Community Pathways is glad to help promote Division/Clinton as a great place to live, play and work for people of all abilities. We are grateful for this opportunity to spread the word about who we are and what we do to assist people with disabilities to live empowered, self-determined lives in the community.

You don't have to be a resident of the SE Division/Clinton area to join in on the street fair activities. We hope you'll join us for this fun community event! 

If you'd like to learn more about CPI's involvement in the street fair, or would like to volunteer with us, call our development specialist at (503) 935-5228

We Moved!

It's official. We moved to Seven Corners Collaborative in SE Portland. Now our team is in the process of settling into our new office space. We are grateful to be in a space that's more accessible to the individuals we serve, and to be sharing it with our partners Community Vision, FACT Oregon, and Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities.

If you're unfamiliar with Seven Corners Collaborative, it is a wedge-shaped building located on the southeast corner of Ladd's Addition, at the intersection of SE Division Street and 20th Avenue across from New Seasons - Seven Corners. The entrance to the building is on SE Ladd Avenue, and our office is located in Suite 220 on the second floor.

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The building is easy to access by car, bike, and public transportation--buses 4 and 10 stop on our block, and the nearest Max Station is at Clinton St/SE 12th Ave serving the Orange Line. Street parking is available, and we encourage people visiting our office to give themselves 10-15 extra minutes to find parking. To help plan your trip using TriMet visit https://trimet.org/

We are grateful to share this new space with our partners Community Vision, FACT Oregon, and Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. Not to mention: Nossa Familia Coffee is opening a shop on the ground floor. (Hooray for coffee!) To learn more about Seven Corners Community Collaborative, visit http://sevencornerscollaborative.org/ You can also learn more about our partners here.

Come visit us soon!

If you have any questions about our new location, and how to find us, please call our main line at (503) 935-5243

Reminder: We're Closed for the Move

Community Pathways' office is closed today and tomorrow, June 14th and 15th, while we move. Our office will re-open at our new location in SE Portland on Monday, June 18th at 9 AM.

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Please note that our phone numbers, email addresses, and fax number will all remain the same. The only major change to note is the location and physical/mailing address of our office!

Please remember to use our new address when mailing paperwork to Community Pathways. Our new address is:

2475 SE Ladd Avenue, Suite 220, Portland, Oregon 97214

We're Moving to SE Portland

In case you haven't heard, Community Pathways is moving to Southeast Portland. Our new address will be: 2475 SE Ladd Avenue, Suite 220, Portland, Oregon 97214

Our current office, located on NE Oregon Street, will be closed on Thursday and Friday, June 14th and 15th for the move. We re-open our office at our new location on Monday, June 18th at 9AM.

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We are re-locating to Seven Corners Community Collaborative, a brand new community space and building we will be sharing with our partners: Community Vision, FACT Oregon, Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Nossa Familia Coffee. The building is universally accessible to individuals and families of all different abilities. It includes an Assistive Technology (AT) Lab.

We are excited to be a part of this collaborative effort to create an accessible hub of support and resources for people who experience disability, their support networks, and providers living and working in the Portland Metro area. We look forward to seeing you there.

To learn more about Seven Corners Collaborative, visit http://sevencornerscollaborative.org/

For more updates on our move, follow us on Facebook

Our New Website Launches Today

Today is the day! After months of planning, gathering feedback, and creating and editing (and re-editing) content, Community Pathways is launching its new-and-improved website!

We are excited to be sharing more information about our team, the brokerage process, community-based resources, and more with you all. This site has been created with the individuals we serve, their family members, providers (PSWs and agencies), and fellow community members in mind. We hope you find the site useful!

We invite you to connect with us to share your stories and feedback, and to let us know what other information and resources you'd like to see on our site. We value your feedback. It helps us to improve our services and further our mission of assisting people with disabilities to live empowered, self-determined lives.

Another great way to connect with us and receive the latest updates is by liking and following us on Facebook.

We look forward to connecting with more of you soon. Thank you for checking in!

-Community Pathways Team