Ellen Shackelford, President

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 underserved in social situations. It was not until she became disabled in a horrific auto crash that also caused the death of her youngest son Raymond in 1983 that she realized how people’s attitudes can be hindrances to people living with disabilities.

Her grandson’s question, “Grandma, if you don’t tell me, how I am going to know?” was the springboard of her passion to do the work she is dedicated to. 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 else. She believes education and sharing information are the key tools to assure that all are recognized socially and noted as viable citizens.

Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, and an Associate’s degree in marketing from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, VA. She also holds a Personal and Executive Coaching certificate from the International Coach Federation as well as in Partners in Policy Making (PIP) sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

Ellen has been recognized by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services of the US Department of Education Rocky Mount Technical Assistance & Consulting Center and Dan Hopkins & Associates with a leadership certificate. In addition, she worked as a Peer Counselor for Insight Enterprises, Inc., Peninsula Center for Independent Living (IEPCIL), in Hampton Virginia.

She is active with disability-related issues and holds several leadership roles. She is the former vice chairperson for the Hampton Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, where she is currently the chairperson of Accessibility. Ellen has volunteered for years at MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving) and as a tutor for the Peninsula Literacy Council.

She holds membership in several committees including the StateWide Independent Living Council (SILC), ToastMasters International, and National Speakers Association, Citizens Unity Commission as a liaison and Facilitator for Diversity and Inclusion classes, and has served on the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) sponsored by the Department of Defense, as a Consumer Reviewer.

Ellen received first runner-up in the Ms. Wheelchair Virginia Pageant (2007-08) held in Fishersville, VA. In addition, she has been awarded the distinctive honor as Outstanding Citizens of the Year for 2013 by the Hampton Citizens Unity Commission. She lives in Hampton, VA, and has a daughter who graduated from Fordham University in Bronx, New York, as well as three grandchildren and two great-granddaughters by her late son, Jason R. Freeman. Ms. Shackelford may be contacted at 757-570-0422 or . You may also reach her on the web at .

Marguerite Edmonds

Marguerite Edmonds is coauthor of three books, Disability Etiquette Matters (2011), Beyond Disability Etiquette Matters Workbook, Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Useful Tools to Educate Yourself (2014), and Words Matter, Using appropriate words and communication with meaning (2020).

Marguerite is also the Training & Education Coordinator for Connections Access Consulting Service, LLC, where she does research and helps provide disability etiquette, sensitivity training, and education regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to businesses, schools, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.

She consults regularly with persons from a variety of fields to help create synergistic solutions to world-impacting issues in the disability arena.

Prior to her current position with CACSLLC, she worked with Newport News School system (adult continuing education) as a computer instructor. She has worked as a peer counselor for people with disabilities with Insight Enterprises Inc., Peninsula Center for Independent Living (IEPCIL). Marguerite also sat on the IEPCIL executive board and joined in their quest to raise awareness and educate the public on diversity in the disability community.

 As a military dependent, she spent her childhood in Fort Benning, Georgia, and at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. She received an associate’s degree in travel tourism, and business administration from Commonwealth College in Hampton, VA. She has served her country honorably in the US Air Force. Since fulfilling her duties to her country, she has been actively involved with the American Legion fulfilling all positions including Post Commander for over two decades.

Marguerite resides in Newport News, VA, in the Great Oak Senior Citizens Community for Disabled Persons, where she has a leadership role in their activities by serving as President of their Resident Council Board.

 She is the proud parent of one adult daughter, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Marguerite may be contacted at: or .