Her father is a retired occupational therapist and her mother worked for the Iowa Department for the Blind. Like both of her parents, Paulette and one of her older sisters, Amy, is legally blind; but the trait that defines this family is their passion to work directly with people living with disabilities to make an impact on their lives. Paulette grew up immersed in activities and events for people with disabilities. So when it came time to decide what she wanted to do for a career as an adult, she felt a calling to be involved in social work.
At IndependenceFirst, she developed an extensive network of partnerships among local and national services for people with disabilities. As executive director of the Center for Deaf-Blind Persons, she expanded the center’s services and the public awareness of the deaf-blind population. She founded the Midwest Resource Network on Vision Loss and Disabilities, a web-based referral program for services and resources for individuals with disabilities. But what brought her to Outlook Enrichment was her desire to work one-on-one with program participants and families.
Paulette, Outlook Enrichment’s first legally blind executive director, brings more than 25 years of program management for vocational rehabilitation and disability services to the role. Paulette joined Outlook Enrichment as program manager in 2020 before being named executive director in 2021.
Under Paulette’s direction, Enrichment implemented new, inclusive programs to help people with limited vision live more fulfilled lives. New programs include virtual monthly independent living skills classes, advocacy 101 educational sessions and peer support groups. In addition to leading the execution of programs, Paulette fosters relationships with Outlook Enrichment’s many participants, collaborators and supporters, inviting them to empower their blind and visually impaired neighbors in their journey beyond vision.
Paulette earned a bachelor’s degree in social work, specializing in disability law from the University of Iowa. She also earned a master’s degree in public administration from Bellevue University. She has participated on numerous boards and committees serving the disabled, including the Wisconsin Governor’s Rehabilitation Council. She currently serves on the following boards and committees:
- Nebraska State Independent Living Council
- Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition Public Policy and Funding committee
- Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition Access to Quality Services Committee
- Nebraska Adaptive Technology Partnership Advisory Body
- Nebraska Deaf-Blind Service Provider Work Group
- Nebraska Deaf-Blind Education Project Advisory Body
Paulette is a mother of five and grandmother of three. In addition to being an executive director, she will also carry the unofficial title of “resident botanist” at Enrichment because of her love of gardening. She devotes her extra time to care for nearly 180 indoor plants!