I Decide Georgia Logo

About I DECIDE Georgia

I DECIDE Georgia believes decision-making is a fundamental human right. We support people with disabilities, supporters, allies, family members, and other advocates to promote and enjoy this right.

I Decide Georgia Logo

Supporting dignity, autonomy, and self-determination.

I DECIDE Georgia is a coalition of advocates, organizations, and allies who believe in the dignity of every person.

In 2018 the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) and Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO) embarked upon a multi-year project to advance alternatives to guardianship. Central to the group’s efforts was the belief that every adult has the right to make life decisions, to direct their life as an autonomous adult, and that guardianship is restrictive and should be avoided.

An advisory council of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), parents, guardians, and legal and human services professionals was created. In 2021 Sangha Unity Network (SUN) joined our project as we were selected to participate in the Administration on Community Living’s Center on Youth Voice Youth Choice. This national project connects us to a network of state practitioners and other experts while training youth with I/DD to become Youth Ambassadors to promote alternatives to guardianship and work for change in their states.

Our Purpose

I DECIDE Georgia exists so that all Georgians, including people with disabilities, can make decisions, supported by people they trust, in order to live a life of dignity and autonomy.

Our Vision

I DECIDE Georgia’s vision is to be Georgia’s first and preferred option for decision-making resources, tools, and coaching that provides viable, sustainable alternatives to guardianship

Our Tenets

  • We will do this by engaging in compelling storytelling, offering quality training, and securing pathways to self-determination.
  • We will work to center and amplify the stories of people whose right to make their own choices and direct their lives is threatened. When we show that true support can be achieved despite barriers, it motivates others to consider decision-making options that do not undermine dignity and autonomy.
  • We will provide high-quality, accessible training by experts with lived experience and acquired knowledge. We will promote practices based on our values while  relying on evidence to create positive outcomes.
  • We will remove and redress the many obstacles to self-determination experienced by people with disabilities. Through our work we will inform people of their rights and the availability and variety of decision-making options. We will work collaboratively to create new laws and policies in support of autonomy.

Our Values

  • We believe in the dignity of every human being.
  • We affirm that everyone learns, grows, communicates, and makes choices.
  • We honor people’s voice; we listen and trust people as the experts in their own lives, regardless of age or ability.
  • We believe everyone has the power and the right to make their own decisions.
  • We respect the right of people to choose the supports and supporters that work best for them.
  • We understand that we all benefit from opportunities to fail safely and learn from those experiences.
  • We believe our communities are at their best when everyone belongs, and their gifts and talents are celebrated.

Meet Our Team

Photo of Dana Lloyd

Dana Lloyd

Dana Lloyd has been an advocate alongside people experiencing injustice on both a personal and professional level for over two decades. Dana currently serves as director of the Developmental Disabilities Program at the Georgia Advocacy Office and leads Georgia’s Supported Decision-Making Coalition, including the CYVYC Community of Practice. Her professional career began providing direct support to people with disabilities to live in their own apartments and have access to the good things in life through valued social roles and contributing to their community. Later she supported and trained other direct support professionals in key principles of person centeredness and community building. Before joining the GAO she spent several years working with families combating poverty and homelessness and refugees navigating the resettlement process. Dana is passionate about justice work and committed to building communities where we all flourish.

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Michelle Schwartz

Michelle Schwartz, M.Ed., CCC-Sp began her career as a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and focused her skills on developing functional communication systems for individuals who use non-traditional communication methods. Michelle is the owner and Executive Director of Creative Consulting Services and the Executive Director of a non-profit organization, Sangha Unity Network. Michelle has decades of experience in individual and systemic advocacy for people who are marginalized and she has worked as an expert in designing and teaching person centered approaches and individual support planning. She has provided numerous workshops in developing communication opportunities and person-centered services for individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities across the state of Georgia. She has been integral in supporting individuals to transition to the community from institutions and hospital settings by facilitating person-centered plans, securing service providers and assisting families within the transition process. Michelle believes that all individuals who experience disability have a right to pursue their hopes, dreams and visions, to communicate and be heard and to be contributing and valued members of their communities.

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Kate Brady

Kate Brady, PhD ABD has worked in the field of disability policy, service, and systems advocacy for nearly two decades. She is currently Deputy Director at the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, where she brings experiences from work across multiple systems including Vocational Rehabilitation, Medicaid, Social Security, and Workforce Development. The current work GCDD is doing in partnership with the Georgia Advocacy Office and Uniting for Change to advance Supported Decision-Making in Georgia ignites Kate’s passion which stems from her early experiences with her own disability in coordinating Federal Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy Customized Employment initiatives intended to support marginalized people in reaching customized and competitive integrated employment outcomes. Kate thrives leading organizational, team, and individual change through the development and implementation of complex research and endeavors and is skilled at problem identification, process improvement, program design, implementation, and evaluation. Kate has consulted for University Centers of Excellence at both the University of Georgia and the University of Massachusetts and worked as Director of Research at the National Organization on Disability. She looks forward to the powerful impact this collaborative work will have in interrupting guardianship and protecting the rights of people with disabilities through Supported Decision Making.

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Ruby Moore

Ruby Moore is the Executive Director of the Georgia Advocacy Office, the designated Protection and Advocacy system for people with disabilities in Georgia. Ruby is nationally known for her work in the disability field over the past 47 years, particularly in the areas of the ADA, employment, rehabilitation, augmentative communication, and the design and implementation of settlement agreements.

Ruby has decades of experience in individual and systemic advocacy and has worked as an expert in dozens of class action lawsuits, including landmark cases in the disability field. Her work has taken her throughout the U.S. and several other countries to bring people out of exile and to develop policies, practices, relationships, and services to support people with disabilities to have good lives. She has given testimony before U.S. Senate committees, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. EEOC, federal court judges, and was an invited speaker at a United Nations conference. Ruby is the Co-Chair of the International Initiative for Disability Leadership-US Advisory Committee.

Ruby continues to work at the local, national, and international level, to improve disability policy and practice and the opportunities available to people with significant impact of their disability, to live and work in the community.

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Photo of Katie Chandler

Katie Chandler

Katie Chandler, a Project Consultant with Sangha Unity Network, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field as a direct support professional, advocate, supervisor, and consultant. In each role, Katie worked to ensure people with disabilities had their rights respected, their needs met, and access to multiple and varied opportunities to contribute and belong in their communities. Her background is in advocacy, focusing on who people are and what they need. She uses the principles of Social Role Valorization to support people with disabilities to have full, meaningful lives and to teach and mentor human service professionals. She develops and leads values-based trainings and supports people with disabilities to have more autonomy and expand their own self-advocacy skills and capacities.

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Gabby Melnick

Gabby Melnick is a trained Graphic Recorder & Illustrator, who currently serves as a Project Consultant with Sangha Unity Network. With a background in art, Gabby uses drawing as a tool for capturing & communicating ideas, breaking down concepts, and supporting folks to discover what more is possible. Gabby has used graphics to support a wide range of individuals and organizations from across the globe. She enthusiastically believes that every single person has the capacity to be creative & will be there to help them tap into it. Gabby continues to use her graphics for building connection, forging collaboration and creating a sense of belonging where everyone’s gifts are acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated.

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