Our family is made up of Patrick, Rebecca, Jackson and Kaya Cokley.
Rebecca's family has three generations of LPs in it, going back to her parents Billy and Joan, who met at a Little People of America Conference when they were teenagers. She was raised in the SF Bay Area Chapter of LPA and her mom remained active in LPA as a national board member until shortly before her death. Rebecca was an only child, but her parents had lost multiple babies with double dominant dwarfism prior to her arrival. Joan and Billy really instilled the importance of public service in Rebecca, Billy running a Center for Independent Living and Joan as the director of a Disability Student Services office at a Community colllege. Rebecca went to UCSC and graduated with a degree in Politics and got bitten by the bug when she worked for Congressman Tom Lantos and moved to Washington DC in 2004 to work on improving employment outcomes for young people with disabilities. She at Patrick met working at a non-profit in 2004 and got married in 2008. In 2004 Rebecca also met soon to be Senator/President Barack Obama and 3 years later was invited to serve on the first ever disability policy committee for a Presidential campaign, when the Senator ran for President. Her mentor through LPA, Paul Steven Miller, was involved in the campaign as well, and recruited Rebecca to work first in the Office of Special Education, and then to replace him in the White House, working to recruit people from diverse communities to join the Administration. Since 2013 Rebecca has been running the National Council on Disability, the chief advisors to the White House, Congress, and the American people on all issues tied to Americans with Disabilities.
Patrick was born and raised in Columbia South Carolina. Patrick's parents both spent time as public servants and as small business owners owning the first Black-owned travel agency in Columbia South Carolina. His dad Clarence worked for former Governor Richard Riley and Patrick saw firsthand how good policy could improve the lives of marginalized people, and what hard work it took. He moved to Washington DC in 1996 to attend Howard University where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. He worked on Leadership Programs at the Institute for Educational Leadership in 2003, where shortly after he met Rebecca. He left IEL in 2005 to go work for the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy where he worked to increase employers knowledge and competence hiring people with disabilities and then to recruit college students with disabilities for jobs in the federal government. Currently he works as the Disability Outreach manager for Anthem Healthcare.
Jackson is six and his favorite things are Hot Wheels cars, going to baseball games, and playing guitar. He loves LPA and has a strong community of friends in our local chapter. Kaya is three and loves superheroes and climbing on and jumping off anything she can find (she's the daredevil). Both Kaya and Jackson have Achondroplasia and it's talked about regularly and treated as part of their cultural heritage, just as them being African-American is. The family talks about Billy Barty, Lee Kitchens, and Launa Shelton along with Justin Dart, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Harvey Milk. Jackson participated in his first 504 plan meeting this year in Kindergarten and the kids love the fact that they have a second family within their local LPA chapter. As a family the Cokley's love traveling, having dance parties and karaoke nights, and story times that rarely result in less than 2 books being read.