Published: November 5, 2021
Shannon Kaiser has joined the Bridgewell team as Director of Family and Community Services! Shannon is a passionate advocate for all families and brings a wealth of experience to her new role.
My proudest position to date is being a mother and wife. My husband Bryan and I have 4 children: Brenna, Jake, Sean and Brigitte.
Pictured Shannon’s Family: (Left to Right) Brigitte, Bryan, Sean, Shannon, Brenna and Jake.
Professionally, I started my career in law enforcement but left to start a family. Our daughter Brigitte was born with Noonan Syndrome and was later diagnosed with a TUBB2b gene defect and autism. It was initially because of my early experience in navigating the world of medical complexity and special education needs that I realized just how daunting the systems were.
In an effort to be part of the solution and effect change in this demographic, I became a LEND Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. From there, I worked my way up from a case manager supporting the medically complex program for the Metro Region of DDS. I quickly was further promoted to Program Coordinator. I then changed agencies and worked for Incompass Human Services for a few years as their Assistant Director of Family Support. In that role, I oversaw the AWC, DESE, Strive 2 Thrive, Medically Complex and the Family Support Center. I was able to have tremendous role models who taught me so much about Family Support.
The knowledge they provided me with as well as the opportunity to work with so many families with diverse backgrounds led me to apply for my current role here at Bridgewell. The progression of increasing responsibility in the different roles has given me a wonderful foundation in preparing me for this position. I am truly honored to hold the title of Director of Family and Community Services and I am excited to be a part of moving the Bridgewell mission forward.
I am most passionate about helping families truly understand what the differences are in the entitlement years versus what is able to be provided post turning 22. I have had the opportunity to see just how “broken” the system can be. I have watched some families fight for basic needs that so many take for granted.
Early on in my career I worked with a family in Chelsea who had a little boy who was the “mirror” neurological profile of my daughter. That, however, was where the similarities ended. The stark difference in the services provided to my daughter versus the services provided to this little boy were truly unbelievable to me.
I believe that my daughter is as successful as she is today because of all I have learned to advocate for throughout her life.
I continue to learn from so many that are forging ahead in front of me and want to continue to pass that knowledge along to those who walk beside me. I want all individuals with disability to have the same opportunities no matter where they live, what the color of their skin is or who their parent may be.
As far as we have come in the disability world, we still have so far to go. I think the pandemic has cast an even brighter light on what so many of us have been advocating in support of for years; appropriate educational settings, better wages for direct care staff, and meaningful adult programing. Despite our loved ones being more accepted in society, this is still a very forgotten population and I work hard every day to be a voice for those who may not have found theirs yet and for those who don’t have one.