A press release from Hope House Foundation
A career dedicated to community inclusion for people with disabilities
The Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual inside or outside The Arc network who lives by the core values of The Arc by providing leadership resulting in a significant improvement in supports, services, opportunities, and community inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. There were a record number of nominations from across the United States, but Seagle’s nomination stood out among the rest.
It is doubtful that one could find an individual who has impacted the disability field as demonstrably and for as long a period of time as Seagle, who joined Hope House Foundation in 1978 and has been the executive director since 1982. Indeed, having begun her career with the Arc of Norfolk in 1975, it is not an exaggeration to say that Seagle has devoted close to half a century to her passion – the full inclusion and participation in the community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In the mid 1980s, Seagle led Hope House Foundation to move the agency from providing support to people in group homes to what they stated was their housing preference. The majority of people arrived at Hope House from state-run institutions. When asked how they would prefer to live, the majority indicated that they preferred their own apartments – an unheard concept at the time.
Motivated by these passionately stated preferences, Seagle began what would become decades-long leadership on inclusivity and person-centered services. By 1995, all persons supported by Hope House lived in their own apartments, a first in Virginia.
With the dearth of affordable, safe housing becoming increasingly challenging as the early 2000s wore on, Hope House knew it needed funding to purchase apartment buildings that would provide affordable housing not only to Hope House consumers, but to the community at large – an innovation that created inclusive communities where people with and without disabilities live and interact.
As Seagle emerged as a leader in the inclusivity field well beyond Virginia, demand for her insights and assistance grew. Over the years, she has provided consulting services to organizations throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Asia and the UK. And, since its inception in 2006, she has been a leading partner in The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, which was formed to address a void in the leadership of organizations providing services to people with intellectual disabilities.
It is one thing – and certainly not a small thing – to effect change within one’s organization, and her accomplishments in closing group homes; galvanizing a board and staff to embrace massive challenges; and raising private funds to support people with disabilities when government funds proved insufficient or nonexistent is clear.
But what makes Seagle’s contributions no less than trailblazing are the size and magnitude of the trails she has blazed, locally, nationally and internationally. While the awards she has garnered over the years are an affirmation of her vision, the words of those whose communities and organizations she has impacted are the best exposition of the tentacles that she has spawned far and wide:
Jeff Miller, President Miller Oil, Norfolk, VA, Former Board Chair:
“I am in awe of this woman who has not only overseen the growth from one apartment building in 2000 to ten properties today, but who has brought her vision to the national and international stages, where she remains a mobilizing force in the inclusivity movement. “
Ralph S. Northam in 2017 (then lieutenant governor, now governor): “The Hope House model is unique….Hope House understands that a community that includes and welcomes people with disabilities is a community where all are enriched.”
Nancy R. Weiss, Director, National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities:
“With Ms. Seagle at its helm, Hope House Foundation has had more success than any organization nationally in teaching lessons of possibility and change to other service providing agencies that, while entrenched in outdated service models, are anxious to embrace new ways of running their organizations and supporting people.”
Professor Patrick Geoghegan, then-Chief Executive of the UK’s South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, from a recent support letter: “With SEPT – as well as organizations in Canada and Asia for whom Hope House’s Lynne Seagle has consulted: Hope House Foundation has extended its reach and vision internationally.”
Seagle’s influence has also been applauded over the years by a multitude of professional organizations in the intellectual and developmental disability field:
1986: Administrator of the Year, Virginia Community Living Association
1990: Leadership Award, American Association on Intellectual Disabilities
1995: Future Leaders, Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation
2019: Advocacy Award, The Arc of Virginia
2019: Honoree, National Historical Recognition Project
Seagle is in great demand as a consultant and speaker on organizational and leadership development, strategic planning, and team building, both nationally and internationally. She has a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in public administration and educational leadership from Old Dominion University.
Since 1964, Hope House Foundation has worked on the frontlines of the battle for independence, community inclusion and true citizenship for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization provides supportive living services to adults with intellectual disabilities in their own homes or apartments — no matter how complex their disabilities may be. And it is the only organization in Virginia to do so exclusively. Currently, serving more than 120 people in Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, Hope House is known as an innovator and leader in the field. For more information, visit www.hope-house.org.