Behind the Biz
Photo: Rachel Hiles

Nice to meet you. My name is Rachel.

My passion is where social justice and technology meet.

My specialty is making projects, programs, and organizations look good.

I am 32 years old and like to refer to myself as an aspiring local celebrity do-gooder. I graduated a few years ago with my Masters of Public Administration from UMKC. I have spent the past thirteen years building a career helping disabilities in a variety of capacities. I started out as a direct support professional (in lay men’s terms: paid caregiver), supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently in their homes to put myself through undergrad. Shortly after I started doing that, I also joined the ranks of millions of Americans who have served with AmeriCorps, a national service program that supports many vital social services and community programs across the country. During my AmeriCorps service, I started a youth program for underserved Latino youth with disabilities with the goal of building social and independent living skills, increasing community integration, and volunteering at a local Latino-serving community organization. The program is still there, ten years later.

After I earned my Bachelors, I had to get a ‘real job.’ I spent a year as a supervisor over the DSPs that work in people’s homes. I really loved that job but only stayed there for one year, when I received an offer I could not refuse to go to work at a department of my alma mater which is a statewide, federally supported powerhouse of research and training geared towards improving the social status, civil rights, and quality of life of people with disabilities. When I started, my main role was helping the statewide self-advocacy organization by helping them coordinate and prepare for meetings and conferences, prepare informational products, and develop web tools for advocacy. I later transitioned to projects focused on providing and enhancing supports to families and my job functions changed to communications and design. During my time at the UCEDD, I earned my Master's degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management, built a nationally known brand in the disability field from the ground up in partnership with my team, and coordinated the design, development, and monitoring of communications across many projects.

After 8 years of stable employment, I moved on to launch my own business.

You see, for the past few years, I have been taking care of my grandma as her primary caregiver. It has been quite the journey. Since that time, I’ve learned more than I ever want to know about what it’s like to grow old in today’s world. I have been chronicling my millennial caregiving adventures at takingcareofgrandma.com. I launched my caregiving blog in May of 2017. I became a Certified Caregiving Consultant through Caregiving.com to help me build my capacity give back to other caregivers.

My personal interests and fascinations include animals, arts&crafts, astronomy, civil rights movements, cooking & baking, design, español, etiquette, history, Kansas City, Latin American culture, natural living, people watching, reading & writing, saving the environment, sign language, technology, The Beat Generation, traveling, and upgrading the home/diy.

View my resume

I can't wait to hear YOUR story.

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