People First Tennessee & Self-advocacy


PF logoAbout this project

  • The Arc Tennessee received grants from the Tennessee Disability Coalition and the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to help revitalize People First of Tennessee (PFTN).
  • PFTN is a state-wide grassroots-membership disability rights organization that promotes self-advocacy and advocates for full inclusion of all people with disabilities in their communities, employment, education, housing, transportation, voting, and relationships. People First empowers individuals with disabilities to be community leaders in addressing issues that affect them.

PFTN's Goals

  • PFTN has developed a strong advisory council led by self-advocates, mentors and staff
  • PFTN developed a three-year strategic plan
  • PFTN will support development of at least one local chapter in the west, middle and east regions of Tennessee, partnering with The Arc or other organizations for techncial and structural support
  • PFTN has created a statewide membership network, including the creation of a membership database, a system for membership recruitment and renewal, a strong social media presence and consistent in-person meetings and webinars

Local PFTN chapters

  • Host speakers on topics that members care 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!

After working with various community partners soliciting and reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and having an online election,  The Arc Tennessee is pleased to announce the members of the People First Tennessee Advisory Council: 

Mary Dale Greene, Brentwood

Vice Chair
Steven Greiner, Nashville

Regional Reps
East: Virginia Guilbert, Chattanooga
Middle: John Blake, Nashville
West: Sam Gage, Selmer

Kevin Scholls, Spring Hill
Princeton Lusby, Jackson
Jimmy Parnell, Nashville
Cheryl Blake, Nashville
Garrett Jones, Memphis
Bill Gage, Selmer

Your People First Tennessee Project Staff Members!

Dave Griffin

Membership Recruitment Specialist
Reshunda Whitfield

On-line Communication Specialist
Lorri Mabry

Print Resource Material Specialist
Dean Fox

Database Specialist
Scott Finney

Peggy Cooper

Join Today!

  • To join, download the membership form HERE
  • To download the flyer click HERE
  • To start a chapter in your area, send a message to or call 615-248-5878, extension 305

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.

Our own Scott Finney made the news! Check out his interview about the "R" word with Tennessee News Service HERE. He also speaks at conferences and to groups of self-advocates. Contact Scott Finney to schedule a speaking engagement.

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.

National Resources:
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.

State Resources:
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.

Calling all self-advocates to complete the TASA Survey. We want to know what people, like you, need and want TASA to do to support more individuals with disabilities in becoming self-advocates. Your feedback will make a big difference in the future work of TASA.

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.