GCDSE Staff Members
Christie Reinhardt came into the world of disability advocacy from a personal experience. In 2001, she adopted a newborn and was very proud and busy as a stay-at-home mother, after working in art galleries and training as a chef. But by his first birthday, her son started to show signs of unusual and aggressive behaviors. By kindergarten, Christie was homeschooling and looking for answers. At age 6, he received a diagnosis of high-functioning autism and before the ink was dry on the report, they moved from New York City to Alaska. On the way, her son "fired" her as his teacher and told her that he was going to attend public school, and it was up to her to help him make it work.
In Alaska, her son received an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and various therapies that helped Christie build a team of supports. She started participating in online chat groups with other parents of children with autism and behavioral concerns, where she discovered that helping others came easily and naturally to her. In 2007 she "went pro" as she began working for Stone Soup Group as a special education Parent Navigator, and eventually as a Program Manager. After leaving Stone Soup, she provided training and support to foster parents. Now she is in her dream job at the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, working with stakeholders as they monitor and improve state special education systems. Her son, now a tall, successful middle-schooler, told her the other day, "You know Mom, without me, you would not have all this work to do. Without me, you would never have found what you wanted to be." She agrees wholeheartedly.
Christie graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in Psychology and Economics. She moved around the country a lot as a kid and as an adult she continues to pursue her love of travel. She also enjoys music, dancing, cooking, and gardening.