Lee County parent joins ADRS board

The Foster family. From left, Dr. Allen Foster, Maggie, Penny, Katie and Taylor Grace.
The Foster family. From left, Dr. Allen Foster, Maggie, Penny, Katie, and Taylor Grace.

A Lee County woman has been appointed to the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services.

Penny Foster, an Auburn resident and Tuscaloosa native, will represent the 3rd Congressional District. Foster is the mother of three daughters, including 13-year-old Maggie, who has Down syndrome. Foster was appointed to the board by Gov. Robert Bentley and confirmed by the Alabama Senate.

ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw said she is pleased with Gov. Bentley’s choice.

“Mrs. Foster’s personal experience as the mother of a child with Down syndrome provides her with a unique perspective on disability services in our state,” Burdeshaw said. “She has been a vocal and tireless advocate for her daughter and other children with special needs, and I applaud Gov. Bentley for appointing an individual to our board with such a strong voice of unwavering support for people with disabilities.”

Foster is the founder of The Journey School, a nonprofit inclusive preschool, as well as a co-founder of TEAM 21, a networking group for parents of children with Down Syndrome; and Blessings on the Plains, a nonprofit day program for adults with disabilities now known as the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama. She also played an instrumental role in the creation of a Sunday school class for children with special needs at Auburn United Methodist Church.

“I am excited to take an active role in promoting disability and rehabilitation issues through this appointment,” Foster said. “I know first-hand the challenges faced by the parents of children with special health care needs. My journey started with my own child, and as I learned to deal with my own challenges, I filled the void in my community by helping those around me.”

Foster will join board members Stephen Kayes, District 1; Board Chairman Jimmie Varnado, District 2; Andrea Collett, District 4; Eddie Williams, District 5; Roger McCullough, District 5; and Mitch Strickland, District 7.

About the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services

The Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services consists of seven members, one from each U.S. Congressional District. Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate. Alabama law requires that three members be individuals with a disability, selected from consumer disability organizations; one member be the parent of a child with a disability; and three members be from organizations of business and industry within the state.

The board oversees the department’s operations and is the governing authority of programs administered by ADRS. Duties carried out by the board range from appointing the ADRS commissioner to establishing rules and regulations for the provision of its services. The board directs and supervises legislative appropriations, shares information that concerns and promotes interest in disability and rehabilitation issues, and takes action to guarantee the rights of and services to people with disabilities.

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