Occupations, Education, Careers
In the past, myths and misconceptions limited the scope and talents of persons with dwarfism to certain occupations. Often this is what catches the public eye. Today, beyond that stage, there are countless ways we earn a living and contribute positively to society.
Julie R. - New York, Graphic Artist
With a lifelong passion for both art and science, I graduated in 1973 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Art. I encountered the same employment difficulties as my classmates due to a recession of that time with the addition of proving my capabilities as a person with dwarfism. My approach was to first volunteer in fields of art and science. I was hired as Executive Director of a local county-wide arts council (Putnam Arts Council) and Medical Laboratory Technician in the Dept. of Pathology at New York Medical College. During this time I developed my own successful freelance medical graphics business, Graphics for Science. Dual careers for over 25 years.
Clinton B. - New York, Business Analyst
A graduate of Hofstra University, Clinton specializes in workforce management and business planning for a New York area telecommunications company. As an advocate for disability rights, Clinton has lobbied the MTA regarding accessibility at their Citifield LIRR stop, founded the Beyond The Rim disability awareness program, and has helped the Little People of America in numerous volunteer capacities. Clinton got his first job in high school as the database administrator for their library and remembers how the introduction of microsoft office changed the way the book catalog was maintained. During Clinton's Hofstra years, he worked at the school as a freshman orientation counselor and was the first ever person with a disability to be a Hofstra Peer Counselor. As a working professional Clinton has helped his current company become more aware of how to make their workplace environment more friendly for their employees with disabilities.
Gary A. - Chicago, Public Relations Coordinator
Gary works as the public relations coordinator for Access Living, a Chicago-based disability non-profit. With Access Living, Gary serves as the lead person responsible for organizing and implementing internal and external communications strategies for Chicago’s leading disability rights organization. Gary has served on the Executive Committee for Little People of America for five years. In 2006, Gary stepped into the role of Vice President for Public Relations. In that capacity, Gary served as the spokesperson for nation’s largest support and resource organization for people of short stature and their families. Gary is the current President for the Little People of America organization.
Aaron C. - New Jersey, Disk Jockey
A 2004 graduate of Rowan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, in Law and Justice, Aaron "DJ Shorty Rock" Chain was an On Air Personality for Philly 103.9, a station that then played an Urban and R&B format. At the same time he has been a DJ and Party Host since 1996. After graduating, Shorty tried the corporate scene for a while. Now he's back full time and bringing it though out the area. He's professional and reliable at all his hired events.
Amber J. - Georgia, Stay at home Mom
Born to very young average size parents when doctors new very little about dwarfism, for about the first 6 months of life I was an experiment child. Poked and prodded, test after test, the doctors finally were able to reveal to my parents that I had Achondroplasia dwarfism. Honestly, my parents were devastated. Through the coming months they realized I was going to be ok and life was going to be different! My parents and I grew up together. We faced challenges together. Through my growing up, my parents did teach me importance of education, will-power and self-confidence. Graduating from high school, I moved away from college naturally to be closer to my boyfriend, now husband. My husband and I married a year and a half later and started a family. I fulfilled my life long dream career of being a mother of 5, a stay-at-home mommy at that!
Joe S. - Michigan, Philosophy PhD Student and University Instructor
I graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut with honors in 2004, majoring in Philosophy with a minor in European Civilization. I remained in Hartford for the next few years, working as a career advisor at my Alma Mater and earning a Masters Degree in Public Policy Studies. At this time, I was also appointed by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell to serve as Vice Chair of the Connecticut State Independent Living Council, an organization that promotes the independence of people with disabilities. In 2007, I left Connecticut to study philosophy full time at Michigan State University, where I am currently working on my doctoral dissertation. Currently, I teach healthcare ethics at MSU and the University of Michigan at Flint. I have presented about bioethics and disability theory at conferences across the United States and Canada and have published peer reviewed articles in the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics and Social Philosophy Today.
Marie- Josee P. - Ontario Canada, Assistant to a Director for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
I am born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario - Canada to a mother with dwarfism also. Graduated from High School and went off to College to study Esthetics and Interior Designing. Currently working as an Assistant to a Director for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Government of Canada. My dream career would be to be a Makeup artist or something in the Fashion industry and do things that gives back to society. My other full time work is being a single mom to a beautiful and healthy average little girl named Olivia.
Vito C. - New York, Electronics Specialist
My career in Electronics went from Planes to Trains. I started taking Electronics classes in high school. From high school I continued on to college at New York Institute of Technology and received an A.A.S in Electrical Technology. One month after graduating college, I began working on Military Planes, Radar and Identification systems for Hazeltine Corporation, as a junior technician. At Hazeltine I worked my way up to senior line technician. After working for Hazeltine for 15 years, I moved on to working on trains for New York City Transit (NYCT). I have been working for the past 10 years at NYCT, in the Research and Development department, as an Electronic Specialist. Maybe my next step will be Automobiles.
Becky C. - California, Talent Agent Assistant
After graduating with a Bachelor's of Science in Marketing from Providence College in Rhode Island, I decided that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry. After working in casting on the movie "Underdog," which starred Peter Dinklage, the summer after college, I moved out to Los Angeles. The reason I wanted to start working in entertainment is because I'm determined to find a way to change the way little people and all people with disabilities are perceived in the media which then influences society and the rest of the world.I went on 100 interviews and a few temporary job assignments during the first six months I spent in Los Angeles. I started as a temp and then as an assistant to two Marketing agents at a large talent agency in Los Angeles. Now I assist an agent in our Comedy Touring department. In recent months, I've started working on Disability-Inclusive Diversity projects and towards my motivational speaking goals. My mission is to change the perceptions of what physically challenged people are capable of, while motivating everyone to set exceptional goals & to continually work towards them. I want to help bridge the gap between disability and diversity. I truly believe that anything is possible!
Grady H. - Virginia, Aircraft and Pipe Welder
As a junior in high school I was given the opportunity to learn a trade as a welder from a friend of the family. Once I finished high school, I went to welding school in Houston. After welding for a few years, I landed a welding job as a pipe welder for one of the largest construction companies in the world. I stayed with this company for 18 years. In 1987, I started working for an even bigger company as an aircraft welder. We manufactured the gas turbine engine for the biggest military tank for the Army. In 2005, I went to work as an aircraft welder once again. This time it was for the largest company in the world. We repaired gas turbine engines that were used to generate electricity in power plants all over the world. I retired on March 1st 2010. Overall, I had a very rewarding career. My wife and I recently moved to Virginia where I plan to pursue my hobbies like fishing and woodworking.
Jose M. - Mexico, Graphic Designer and Motivational Speaker
Originally from Colima, Mexico, Jose Manuel has dedicated himself to give motivational lectures to youth and adults in several countries. Convinced that one can do great things regardless of one´s physical limitations, José studied a degree in Graphic Design at the University of Colima where, upon graduation, he joined the faculty and taught Graphic Design from 2002-2004. From 2004 to date, Jose has been working in a local private school called Adonai Institute.
In February 2009, Jose promoted a bill in the state congress to reform the Law of Persons with Disabilities in the state of Colima to include the little people for the first time in Mexico. That same year, in coordination with the Government, he created the “Distinctive D” award for hotels and restaurants to guarantee accessibility of people with disabilities.
Jose has received several awards in Mexico including the Prize for Mexico´s best students awarded by Mexico President Vicente Fox in 2002; the National Youth Award in 2009 awarded by President Felipe Calderon for all the work he has carried out on behalf of the little people.
He has been a strong promoter of public policies in favor of Mexico´s little people. Committed to fulfill his mission, José Manuel founded the non-profit organization “Gente Pequeña” (Little People) in 2009 with the idea of integrating people of short stature into various areas of development in the Mexican society and help raise awareness through the values of respect, tolerance and non-discrimination.
Since his first speaking engagement at age 18, Jose has traveled around Mexico and some other countries, sharing his story with many people, speaking to a range of diverse groups such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals and church congregations of all sizes. He’s a musician, singer, actor, and his hobbies include painting and walking.
Cindy C. - New York, Collection Specialist
My collection career started 21 years ago, right out of high school. I started to work for a Bank called Amboy Madison Bank, in New Jersey, where they started to train me in collections. This helped me to further my career in the collections world, where I was able to move on. I am currently a collections specialist at my job, ATC Healthcare Services. I have been working for them for 11 ½ years
Trent J. - Georgia, Maintenance Foreman
Being raised in an all little people home, I saw the challenges first hand. My parents taught me it was very important to keep my faith in God, determination equals success and always have self-respect as well as demonstrate respect to others. After high school I attended college, moved on to the IBEW apprenticeship for 2 years, then on up to a telecommunications company and lastly the public school system where I am currently employed and plan to remain until retirement.
Lauren B. - Pennsylvania, Corporate Office Manager
With my parents support and encouragement, I graduated from Moravian College Bethlehem, PA in 1997 with BA degree in Accounting. I continued on for my MBA which I earned in 2000. Since then I have worked as Billing Clerk in a doctor’s office and a Disability Claims Consultant for an insurance company. Currently I am working as a Corporate Office Manager for a nursing home corporation ---my favorite job so far!
John Y. - Massachusetts, Mathematics Teacher
I am originally from Toronto, ON, Canada and have been teaching high school mathematics for 21 years. I taught for 9 years in Canada, 4 years in Hong Kong, and have been teaching in Massachusetts since 2004. I earned an Honors Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario. I have also earned a Masters of Arts Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Salem State University in Salem, MA. I coached high school basketball for 10 years and have been coaching high school swimming for 6 years. Last season, my girls' team won the New England Prep School Championships for Small Schools. I am also a certified ASA softball umpire. For the last 3 years I have been actively competing in triathlon and this past summer competed in the US Paratriathlon Championships in NYC where I placed 12th in the open division and I also competed in Des Moines, IA at the HyVee 5150 U.S. Triathlon Championships where I finished 1st in my division.
Vincent D. - New York, State Staffing Services
I graduated in 1995 from the State University of New York at Albany with a B.A. in Public Affairs, Health Policy & Administration. I've worked for managed health care corporations (United HealthCare, Inc. & Managed Physical Network, Inc.), a mortgage bank and eventually secured a position with the NYS Department of Civil Service (the State's principle human resources agency) in 2002. At Civil Service, I serve as a subject matter expert on State and Federal Law, Rules and Regulations related to attendance and leave benefits for New York State employees by testifying at arbitrations, serving as part of the management team at collective bargaining and providing "customer service" for State Agency Personnel and Payroll offices, employee unions and employees. I also collaborate in drafting policy memoranda and manuals regarding benefits for Executive Branch State employees.
Alice H. - Virginia, Chemist with Masters Degree in Public Health
My parents stressed how important it was to go to college. “Knowledge was the key to success.” They were both very special people who taught me to believe in myself and encouraged me to “reach for the stars,” my size wasn’t an issue. I was just like everyone else and just had to do things a little differently. In my early working years, I received a Liberal Arts Degree and a secretarial school certificate which was not enough education to support myself, independently, without my parent’s financial help. So, I began an entry level position in the Pharmaceutical industry. At night, I continued college classes to advance my career goals. With the support and encouragement from family and friends, now I am a successful research chemist with a Masters Degree in Public Health.
Julie B.G. - New Jersey, Author, Speaker, Artist
I was a hard working A student in high school, always trying to make up for what I considered my "shortcomings" from SED. I graduated from Hamilton College in NY with a BA in fine art but with no idea how to make a living. I was working at a bookstore when I saw some expensive hand painted cards for sale and decided to create some myself. My cards became popular and launched me into a freelance art career. I was thrilled to be able to make a living doing what I loved! 10 years later, when I had to close my business due to the arthritis in my right shoulder, I was devastated. Not knowing where to turn, I started writing (with my left hand) to vent my rage and misery. It was so cathartic and healing that I began to think it might help others turn their traumas into triumphs. When my memoir, Nothing Short of Joy, was published in 2010, I found myself on radio, TV and then breaking into another career as an inspirational speaker. Each new step took me out into the world in a way I wasn't sure I could handle. But sharing the message that we can turn any obstacle into an opportunity gave deep purpose to a lifetime of pain. I realized that the difficulties we face are tremendous teachers - they ask us to dig deep inside ourselves and find our strength, our humanity and our truth. We are walking bill boards of courage, adaptability, diversity, faith and magnificence. Cheers to us!
Joe F. - California, Director of Sales and Marketing
For over 20 years, I have been in high-tech sales and marketing. When I first went to college, I planned on getting a degree in computer science. I loved the idea that a computer science major could "make something happen" with a computer by either programming software or designing hardware. I got very involved in fundraising and telemarketing with local non-profit organizations. Volunteering turned into work and I was offered a full-time sales position in the San Francisco bay area. My first sales positions involved selling products, mostly over the phone. Although I was successful, I realized a need for higher education to do business with higher-end clients who made bigger decisions with larger dollar figures. I went back to college at night and completed a Bachelors Degree in business, specifically Management and Organizational Behavior. I learned a lot in this program, everything from how to work with people better to how to analyze situations and make better decisions. At the same time, I got involved with Toastmasters, a public speaking education and support group. In addition, I attended a lot of self-improvement seminars and workshops that were very helpful. Through this process, I improved my sales career in outside/field sales at different companies and also got into management. Almost ten years ago, I realized I wanted my career to "mean something more than just making money". Through one of my customers I got into the business of selling IT consulting services So, I joined the company as their Director of Sales and Marketing and have been there ever since. Now I deal with customers that are looking for "trusted advisors" in a long-term relationship. I still keep up my technical knowledge, and I still deal with technical products that allow people to "make something happen".
Linda J. - Connecticut, Software Support Specialist, Medical field
Born in New Jersey, I moved to Connecticut when I was 7. I grew up in small shoreline town with a love of my family, animals and the outdoors. I was a typical kid who would rather hang out with her friends than study at school. I always struggled in school and by the first two years at the public high school I was failing both academically and socially. I felt like I never fit in, that all the girls were gorgeous and smart and I was just different. I thought I would never have a real boyfriend or a successful career. I switched to a liberal high school after sophomore year that focused in the arts, theater and music. It was there where I regained my confidence and enrolled in college. I got my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at Endicott College. After college I got a retail job and was quickly promoted to manager. It was there when I realized I needed to change my life and enrolled in a 1 year tech college. During this time I went to a convention and met my now husband, who I have been with happily for over 17 years. I was balancing a full time job during the day, going to school at night all while trying to squeeze in visits with Paul who lived in Canada at the time. Looking back on it now I am amazed I made it happen. Today I have been successful in the IT field for 13 years, I love my job, own a fixer upper home that I love building with my husband, have an amazing daughter and am about to bring home our son from China this fall. I never let my height stop me from doing things. If you surround yourself with good people you will succeed in life!
Kathy W. - CEO of Us-3-Fits, LLC
Kathy is a woman of faith and integrity with a vision to change the lives of the Little People community. This former pre-school teacher and entrepreneur, decided to start this clothing venture with her husband Dana after years of frustration in not finding clothing that fit and paying for costly alterations. Kathy’s desire is to bring beautiful, fashionable, and readily available clothing to Little People globally.
As a little girl, Kathy witnessed first-hand the challenges her mother faced altering every article of clothing to fit her daughter. As an adult, Kathy’s struggles to find well-fitting and appropriate apparel continued with expensive trips to the tailor for alterations. More often than not, the altered garments became unrecognizable and all semblances to the original designs were lost.
Kathy and Dana shared these challenges with Little People globally, and they were the motivating factors driving Kathy to develop effective and elegant solutions for Little People’s ready-to-wear apparel needs.
Determined to make a difference, Kathy and Dana turned their challenge into an opportunity. In 2011 they formed Us-3-Fits, LLC an Apparel Company designing ready-to-wear clothing for the Little People community. The Kathy D. Woods collection is the first women’s apparel collection from the division of Us-3-Fits, LLC. They have assembled an expert team of fashion industry professionals and joined Fashion Business Inc. (FBI), founded by Frances Harder. Frances, along with
“Team KDW” have become trusted mentors and friends to the Woods'
Paul J. - Connecticut, Application/Database Administrator
Originally from a small town near Toronto, Canada, I started working after high school as I felt there was no need to attend college or university nor could I afford it at the time. Being an LP, I never let anything stand in my way. I started work at a brick making factory near my home. The job was physical and hard. It was a wakeup call for me to better myself and take a new direction in life. Since Information Technology seemed like the place to be in the late 1990's I decided to enroll myself in a technology program at a nearby college. With the small help from financial aid and working a part-time job I was able to graduate from the program with honors. I knew this was the new path in my life as I truly enjoyed working and learning in this field. I immediately found a job as an Application/Database Administrator for a popular software company in Toronto. It was a great place to work and they taught me everything I needed to know and rely on today. While working for them I decided to attend my first LPA National Convention which was in San Antonio, TX where I met my now amazing wife. Since then I have moved to the USA, have a great career that is near my home in a quaint shoreline town. Most importantly we have a beautiful 11yr old daughter who we adopted from China and are now in the process of adopting our 6 yr old son. Moral of my story, never let anything stand in your way!
Mark T. - Arizona, Motivational Speaker
Mark is the Co-Founder of Motivational Small Talk Inc, a non-profit that specializes in bully prevention, diversity awareness, disability education, and inspirational messages. He uses his short stature to educate others on diversity and acceptance of all differences; overcoming obstacles; and realizing the negative effects of bullying, no matter how small they may seem. Graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications, Mark is very proactive in the community and was appointed as a committee member on the Arizona Governor’s Council for Developmental Disabilities; was a Keynote speaker for the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation; consistently serves on a disability panel for Raising Special Kids; is a member of the LPA Bereavement Committee; and served two terms as the Arizona Chapter President of Little People of America.
Kristina L. - Alberta Canada, Behavioral Consultant
Kristina received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. She went on to complete a post-graduate program in Child/Youth Counseling to specialize in working with challenging youth. Throughout her academic career, Kristina was able to participate in a number of practicums, gaining experience working with both children and youth diagnosed with complex needs. Kristina now works as a Behavioral Consultant with an agency in Calgary which provides support to both adults and youth. As a Behavioral Consultant, Kristina specializes in developing and implementing positive behavior supports for individuals who have been diagnosed with a wide range of complex disorders (e.g. autism, bipolar disorder, borderline personality, schizophrenia). A large portion of Kristina's job is creating and implementing behavior support plans for those individuals and then training the support staff on these approaches and plans. Kristina also facilitates workshops, organizes and runs group counseling, and goes into other agencies to assist in training. Because there is a potential for high levels of aggression with the individuals needing support, Kristina has been met with some challenges throughout her career. These challenges do not come from the clients, but from the staff, who often assume that due to Kristina's height, she will be unable to correctly support them. However, Kristina has been able to demonstrate to the staff that it has nothing to do with size, but it is all in your approach. Kristina has thoroughly enjoyed her career thus far and is looking forward to future challenges!
Charles S. – California, Portable Pedal Extenders
I’m originally from Up State New York, Rome. I was attending Loma Linda University in Southern California and wanted to visit family during Christmas vacation. I thought I would fly into JFK Airport, rent a car and drive home. It took me hours and hours to find a rental car that my pedal extensions would attach to. I was very frustrated that I had such difficult time and decided when I return to home, I would make my own pedal extenders - that’s how it started. I became active with the Little People in the Los Angeles, became Vice President, later President of the LPA Chapter. During this time I also became the Editor along with Shirley Harper of the newsletter and would have medical articles from the Short Stature Clinic, Ceder Sinai Hospital. At this time, I learned that there were about 300,000 lps in America and realize there was a specialize market selling pedal extenders and I could also help others. Over the years I’ve been able to refine the pedal extenders, moving away from steel to aluminum to make the lighter, easier to install too the gas and brake pedals, using a hitch pin clip for adjusting the length and larger rubber pedal pads to ensure better footing.