People First Tennessee & Self-advocacy


PF logo

  • People First Tennessee (PFTN) is a grassroots membership disability rights group led by self-advocates.
  • PFTN is a powerful self-advocacy organization, leading a vibrant, engaged and growing movement of self-advocates committed to the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
  • PFTN is a catalyst addressing issues affecting people with disabilities to lead lives of their own choosing, to be free from poverty, to be employed, to reside in the community and to live independently with ready access to the services and supports they need.
  • PFTN empowers people with disabilities to have voices in addressing issues of equality that affect them.
  • PFTN has a strong advisory council led by self-advocates, supported by mentors and staff
  • PFTN developed a three-year strategic plan. To read our plan, click HERE.
  • PFTN is supporting development of local chapters in the west, middle and east regions of Tennessee, partnering with chapters of The Arc and other organizations for techncial and structural support.
  • PFTN developed a Chapter Manual to help guide local chapters. To read it, click HERE.
  • PFTN created a statewide membership network, that includes a membership database, a system for membership recruitment and renewal, a strong social media presence and consistent in-person meetings and webinars.
  • Read our Summer 2019 newsletter The Independent HERE.

Local PFTN chapters

  • Host speakers on topics that members care about and want to learn about
  • Have fundraising and “fun” raising events to build chapter strength and unity
  • Help educate the community on the value of people with disabilities and how they contribute to everyone’s quality of life
  • Address disability issues on the local and regional level
  • Enroll members

As a team, PFTN can

  • Teach youth and adults with disabilities about their legal rights and responsibilities, how to become effective self-advocates, and the power of self-determination
  • Provide support to groups and chapters across the state on awareness of important issues, leadership opportunities, and how to take action on important disability-related issues and concerns
  • Provide leadership, public speaking, and empowerment training 
  • Serve on state, regional, and national policy-making bodies
  • Address disability issues on a state level and influence public policy

Your People First Tennessee Advisory Council Members!

Mary Dale Greene, Brentwood

Vice Chair
Steven Greiner, Nashville

Regional Reps
East: Virginia Guilbert, Chattanooga
Middle: Diamond Grigsby
West: Sam Gage, Selmer

Kevin Scholls, Spring Hill
Princeton Lusby, Jackson
Jimmy Parnell, Nashville
Garrett Jones, Memphis
Bill Gage, Selmer
Caitlin "Cat" Bernstein, Franklin

Your People First Tennessee Project Staff Members!

Dave Griffin

Membership Recruitment Specialist
Dylan Brown

On-line Communication Specialist
Lorri Mabry

Print Resource Material Specialist
Dean Fox

Database Specialist
Scott Finney

Peggy Cooper

Are you a self-advocate who...

  • Enjoys working with others to change things for the better?
  • Enjoys working with other people with disabilities to develop self-advocacy skills?
  • Wants to take on a leadership role within your local community?
  • Wants to share your thoughts and have input in addressing issues that affect you?
  • Wants to see People First have a strong membership network?

...then Join Today!

What is “self-advocacy?”
Self-Advocacy means speaking up for yourself about your rights, interests, needs and desires. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for them.

Who are “self advocates?”
People who speak up for themselves are called “Self-Advocates” and having once learned how to speak up for themselves can assist others to do so as well. If you would like to schedule a presentation by self-advocates, please email Scott Finney.

Helpful Videos

How do I learn more about self-advocacy and becoming a self-advocate?
There are many national, state and other resources that can help you learn more and to become more involved in the self-advocacy movement.

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) - Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is the self-advocacy organization of the United States. Founded in 1990, we have been working hard for the full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the community throughout the 50 states and the world for 21 years.

National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc (NCSA) - Join the National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc (NCSA) and be part of a group of leaders representing the full spectrum of ages and abilities across our national chapter network. This is your opportunity to be part of a group of self-advocates who will unite with a clear and strong voice to create lives that allow them – and you! – meaningful choices for a promising future.

Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA) - TASA provides a forum for members to discuss the strengths and challenges that individuals with disabilities experience in becoming self-advocates in an effort to create better access to the resources and support they need to become self-advocates.

Partners in Policymaking - Partners in Policymaking is a free leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities.

Self-advocacy Online Learning - Offers a variety of topics.

Resources Related to Supported Decision Making:

The Arc Tennessee received a grant from the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to revitalize People First of Tennessee.