Building pathways to sustainable, self-directed supportive housing for young adults with developmental disabilities.

Catherine Boyle is a commissioner of the Winchester Housing Authority, a member of the Winchester Housing Partnership Board, and has completed 60 hours of HUD housing counseling training. She is the recipient of two Margaret L. Bauman Awards: one for her work with Autism Housing Pathways, and another for the development of the St. Mary’s Curriculum for Students with Autism, a religious education curriculum. A former Foreign Service Officer, Catherine is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a certificate of graduate studies from UMASS Boston in adapting curriculum.

Interview with Cathy Boyle

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What called you to focus on improving an area of our community through your personal engagement?

We moved to Winchester in 1992. We moved here because the schools had good AP classes. Little did I know that I had two kids with disabilities who would never take an AP class…at that point, they were two and one at the time. Nonetheless, it did prove to be a good match for the school district anyway. I got involved when my kids were young in the Special Ed. Parent Advisory council and for a year I chaired the Inclusion Committee and then I became the PAC chair for three years. As my son got older, it became very clear that he was going to need residential services as an adult. It was also very clear that he would qualify for services, but he was such a complicated kid that we also knew that we couldn’t just rely on the normal things the state had to offer; we needed something more focused on his needs. As sort of a companion to that, it was also clear that most young adults with Autism do not get housing through the state when they reach 22. There are very few options out there for them and for other young people with developmental disabilities. So, we started Autism Housing Pathways in 2009. We just started as a group of parents that were getting together meeting to try to figure out “a house” for our kids who were going to age out of the Nashoba Learning Group.

What did you observe as a need/gap within our community that you hoped your civic involvement and leadership would begin to fill?
Look ahead a bit, or back a bit, and tell us how you see this calling of
yours enriching our common life. Any further dreams and visions?
When you started working in/with—Town government/ your classmates/ an organization/a cause— what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
What have been some of the biggest highlights so far?
What has felt like a success to you in your efforts, your contribution to Winchester?
Do you think being a woman has impacted how people view you as someone
involved in civic causes?
Since this is the month honoring women, who is one woman who has inspired you and why?
Any advice to share?