As a person who has sustained a disability through injury, Ellen Shackelford is well aware of the many challenges and attitudinal barriers people with disabilities face daily. She also knows people with disabilities are often overlooked and undeserved in social situations and not considered in economical statuses. It was not until she became disabled in a horrific auto crash which also caused the death of her youngest son Raymond in 1983, that she would realize how people’s attitudes are a hindrance in the lives of people with disabilities.
It was the voice of her grandson, “Grandma, if you don’t tell me, how am I going to know?” This was the spring board of her passion to do the work she is so dedicated in doing. Ellen sprang into action by educating and raising awareness about the 56 million Americans who live with a disability and who deserve the same rights, services, and opportunities as everyone. She believes education and sharing information are the key tools in assuring that all are recognized socially, and noted as viable citizens.
Ellen holds a Bachelors degree in Communications Studies from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, and an Associates degree in Marketing from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia. She holds a Personal and Executive Coaching certificate from the International Coach Federation, as well as in Partners in Policy Making (PIP), sponsored by Virginia Board for people with Disabilities. Ellen is recognized by The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services of the U.S. Department of Education Rocky Mount Technical Assistance & Consulting Center and Dan Hopkins & Associates, Inc., with a leadership certification.
She is active in the disability community and holds several leadership roles. She is the former Vice Chairperson for the Hampton Mayors Committee for People with Disabilities, where she is currently the Chairperson of Accessibility. Ellen volunteers for M.A.D.D (Mothers’ Against Drunk Driving) and as a tutor for The Peninsula Literacy Council. She also holds membership in several committees such as; The State Wide Independent Living Council (SILC), Toast Masters International, National Speakers Association, and the Citizens Unity Commission, as a liaison and facilitator for Diversity & Inclusion classes. Ellen received 1st runner up in the Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Pageant (2007-08) held in Fishersville, Virginia. She lives in Hampton, Virginia and has a daughter who has graduated from Fordham University in Bronx, New York as well as three grandchildren by her late son Jason R. Freeman.
The 2013 Citizens’ Unity Award Program Honors
Ellen Shackelford as Outstanding Citizen of the Year
Ms. Shackelford is a member of the National Speakers Association