March is Women’s History Month ✨

In recognition of the importance in raising the voices and contributions of women with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the RRTC would like to highlight the women of the DEEP and their projects.


Red Youtube Logo Png Xl Visit Christine’s YouTube Channel: Disability Twenty Four Seven


Christine Brown (Co-Chair, Disability Experience Expert Panel [DEEP])  

Christine Brown joined Nisonger Center staff in 2017 as a self-advocate and Clinical Research Assistant. Her duties include supporting and increasing the collaboration among child and adults with IDD and Nisonger researchers. She also works on assisting Nisonger Center faculty and staff with issues related to cognitive accessibility.

Ms. Brown is one of the founding members of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities Self Advocate Advisory Council and Chairs the Central Region of Ohio Self Determination Association. She also serves on various committees through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Brown has agreed to co-chair DEEP and has met with the research team on numerous occasions to discuss the research studies and identify other self-advocates who will contribute to the quality of research by participating in DEEP. Ms. Brown is uniquely qualified to coordinate DEEP, as evidenced by both her work and volunteer responsibilities.  


Ashley Poling (DEEP Member) 

Hello, my name is Ashley Poling. I live in Dublin, Ohio. I graduated from Dublin Scioto High School in 2014. I have been involved with DEEP since 2018 and also help with various other projects within the Nisonger Center. I am a member of the Consumer Advisory Council since 2020, and I am also a self-advocate LEND trainee, who graduated in 2023.  I have also been part of best buddies for over eight years now. I am one of the State Ambassadors. I speak at various events when needed. I was part of the Ohio State Chapter and now currently a member of the Citizens Chapter. 

I have worked in retail off and on for over ten years. Currently, I am working at Target in the beauty department. My hobbies are spending time with my family, reading, watching tv, listing to music, going out in the community, and going on walks. 


Follow Kelsi’s Blog: Powerfully Disabled 

Kelsi Weaver (DEEP Member) 

Kelsi Weaver is 22 years old and is a disability advocate with cerebral palsy. She currently serves on the Ohio Self-Determination Association (OSDA) board and the Council Of Ohio Leaders (COOL). Kelsi is also a full-time student currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at The Ohio University Eastern Campus. Kelsi has two passion projects: the first is that she is currently a fellow with the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC). Her Project is called Liberty and Justice for All Means All: A look into Disabled Women and Girls Involvement with Civic Engagement. With this project, Kelsi will create a guide with resources on how women and girls with disabilities can participate in civic engagement from voting all the way to running for office! The other passion project is Kelsi’s blog, titled Powerfully Disabled, where she writes about disability issues and her own story.






Kristy Stepp (DEEP Member) 

Hi, my name is Kristy Stepp, and I’m from Madison County. I graduated high school in Morrow County at Northmor High. After I graduated, I attended college for business management. I was able to obtain 65 credit hours but wasn’t able to complete due to increased difficulty to understand the class work. Along with being a member of the research team for Nisonger Center’s DEEP, I’m also: (1) a Statewide Project Stir trainer [8 years]; (2) a board member for the Council of Ohio Leaders (COOL) [8 years]; (3) an Ohio Self-Determination Association member [1 year]; (4) a past member of the Human Rights Council [1year]; and (5) a past trainer for Speak Up, Stay Safe [1 year]. My employment experience includes: (1) a consultant for Altarum; (2) Spirit Horse Of Ohio – Just Ink T-shirts [1 day a week]; and (3) Spirit Horse of Ohio – Day Habilitation [2 days a week]. In my spare time, I like to paint, crochet, and hangout with family and friends. 


Follow Marci’s Facebook Page: Marci’s “Keep It Cookin” Cookbook! 

Marci Straughter (DEEP Member) 

Marci Straughter lives in Franklin County but is originally from California, where she attended acting classes at the Performing Arts Studio West before moving to Ohio. She has represented the Franklin County Board of DD’s Self Advocate Advisory Council with former Superintendent Jed Morrison and made history by being the first individual with developmental disabilities to help lead the agency through an appointment to the FCBDD governing board by the Franklin County Commissioners. She is also an Ohio Tech Ambassador and host of the Ohio DD Talks podcast 

A strong believer in advocacy, she is a Project STIR Statewide Trainer and has trained over 130 people across the state of Ohio to speak up for themselves and has helped them become Ohio leaders. Marci was appointed by Governor Kasich to the Ohio DD Council in April 2014. She is the Self-Advocate Consultant for her provider, Ohio at Home, and is a member of the board for the Council of Ohio Leaders (COOL). COOL serves as an advisory board for the Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA). She also serves on the OSDA Board. Marci was asked to be a part of the APSI and We Thrive Together boards. She has also been asked to serve on the I am Boundless board, a larger provider in Ohio. Marci is also excited to be a part of the ISP workgroup that is working to create a standard ISP for the state.  

Marci greatly enjoys cooking and has a Facebook page called Marci’s “Keep It Cookin” Cookbook! 

Megan Ryan (DEEP Member) 

Megan is a volunteer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She comes from a large family of eight brothers, two sisters and 15 nieces and nephews. She graduated from the T.O.P.S. Program at The Ohio State University and loves being a Buckeye. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, listening to music and watching movies. Megan loves performing in the Dancing with the Stars Gala and enjoys the Special Olympics. 

Regarding self-advocacy, Megan is good taking care of herself and feels that she can be a good example for others. She feels that speaking up is important in being able to help yourself. In the healthcare setting, she feels that self-advocacy is key to being able to tell someone what is wrong with you.  

On a personal note, Megan likes to knit hats and make fleece blankets. Her personal interests are being a singer, but she doesn’t like when people are looking at her. She is also artistic. Megan is a lay minster at St. Catharine.  

Rosie Lawrence-Slater (DEEP Member) 

Rosie Lawrence-Slater was born and raised in Cincinnati. She has a 9-year-old nephew named AJ and a service dog named Moose. Rosie has lived in her own apartment for eleven years. Rosie is very pleased to be invited to work on another five-year grant with the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University. In addition to her work with Nisonger, Rosie also works as a Project S.T.I.R. trainer. Also, she was recently honored to be appointed to the OSDA C.O.O.L. Board Rosie is an experienced advocate. She fought for eleven long, hard years to end an unjust guardianship. On September 17, 2019, the magistrate set Rosie free after two doctors said that she was fully capable of managing her own life. Rosie uses Supported Decision-Making whenever she needs advice, but Rosie always makes the final decisions.   Rosie values self-advocacy because she feels that if she does not speak up and say what is important to her, others will take control of her life. Self-advocacy is especially important to Rosie in the healthcare setting because she is the only one who knows how her body feels and how it works.   In Project STIR, Rosie teaches others to stand up for themselves by remaining calm, taking a deep breath, and using assertive communication techniques instead of being angry and aggressive or passive-aggressive. She also teaches others how to de-escalate and resolve conflict.  On a personal note, Rosie is a valued member of the Norwood community, and she is active in several community organizations. She is the first person living with a disability to serve on the Board of Directors of Starfire Council. Her interests include fuse beads and other crafts. She also likes to bake and cook and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also loves to travel and has visited Israel.   

Samantha Perry (DEEP Member) 

Hi! My name is Samantha Perry. Here are some things to know about me! I like working with OSU and I’m also an artist with Open Door Art Studio. I like baking. I have a dog that is my emotional support animal. Her name is Miss Lady Ann. I like being as independent as possible and don’t let my disability stand in my way. 

Taylor Richardson (DEEP Member) 

Hello, my name is Taylor Richardson. I am a new member of the DEEP. I am from Columbus, Ohio. I am 22 years old. I love writing and reading. I have a passion for wanting to help others, like as an assistant teacher, then maybe a special needs teacher. I love going to the movies, too. I hope to learn from this group and find out information on everybody else’s disability, which will be very interesting. This can help me teach in different ways.