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A farewell to SDSS Chair, Florence Garabedian

After a dedicated 14 years of influencing the direction, work and governance of Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS), our Chair, Florence Garabedian, will be stepping aside from her role as Chief Executive of Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCiL), and subsequently from her role as Chair of SDSS, at the end of March 2021.

Donald Macleod, SDSS Chief Executive, shared the following:

“Florence has been an incredible leader and an advocate for the Independent Living movement, and we are grateful for her passion and knowledge which has secured the key strategic position SDSS sits in today: engaged in the major developments facing social care in Scotland, as a result of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care.

“I would personally like to thank her for supporting and encouraging me to lead this dynamic organisation into a leading role in Scotland’s future social care landscape. She has set the bar high as a key figure in the Independent Living Movement, championing disabled people’s basic human rights to have a life where they can achieve their outcomes. I wish her well on her next venture.”

Colleagues past and present also shared some fond words for Florence on her departure:

“As a founding board member of SDSS, Florence has been integral to the development and continued growth of the organisation. Her vision for and commitment to the Independent living movement has been invaluable and we will all miss her not only as a colleague but as a friend. I am personally grateful for her kindness and guidance and I look forward to hearing all about her future ventures.” – Angela Mullen, SDSS Trustee

“I can’t quite believe you are leaving LCiL, and SDSS. I want to thank you for all your support and wisdom at SDSS, what a time it was! Things are moving on in social care and your contribution to the Independent Living Movement in Scotland has been immense. I already miss working with you hugely and will be so keen to hear what you do next. All the very best, Jess.” – Jess Wade, Former SDSS Manager

“I would like to say that working on the Board with Florence has been a pleasure. I remember the first time I saw Florence way back when SDS was very new and she was delivering a talk on what Self Directed Support was and what it could mean for people with disabilities. As time went on Florence was involved in all of the Support in the Right Direction work and our paths crossed often. Joining the SDSS board meant that I got to know Florence better and I know that she has been an integral member of the SDSS Management Committee. I am sorry to see Florence leaving and we will miss her support, advice and French flair. We all wish her luck in ventures new and hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.” – Brenda Garrard, SDSS Trustee

“I too first noticed Florence when she was delivering a talk on Self Directed Support. Back then I was practicing a balancing act between being a support provider by trade and a newly graduated disabled person with new horizons. Sue and I decided that SDSS was the organisation to be involved with. Florence is always professional and much more. The more that I have got to know her the more my admiration for her has grown and will continue to because her people management is so person centred and caring. I echo Brenda in wishing Florence luck in ventures new.” – Ged Thompson, SDSS Trustee

“Throughout my time with SDSS I have found Florence to be a really motivated and inspiring person, with a great capacity to drive things forward with SDSS. Florence exudes a wonderful sense of positivity and fun which she brought to our SDSS Board meetings. At the national conferences, she was always extremely professional leading the organisation but always friendly and courteous. It is apparent to those who have worked with Florence that she is a talented, passionate and committed person and I am sure we all wish her well in all her pursuits in the future.” – Frank Morgan, SDSS Trustee

My first thought about Florence leaving both LCiL and SDSS is that I hope we retain her influence and experience in some way in this exceptional time. My second in reading her letter is that even she doesn’t remember what SDSS was originally called. The  Scottish Consortium of Direct Payment Support Organisations (I had to look it up), or SCDPSO as it should be, lacked in a name what it gained in stature under her administration and she leaves us a mature, influential, supportive and reflective network of amazing organisations all over Scotland. – Jeremy Adderley, SDSS Operations Manager

Since joining the board of SDSS it has been a pleasure to have worked with Florence as her enthusiasm and passion has been very inspiring to me. She is a woman of power and uses her platform to engage, enlighten and empower disabled people. Always her authentic self, kind and compassionate. I love working with people who are passionate about what they do and you can’t get anyone more passionate then Florence . – Joanne McGee, SDSS Trustee

Florence has written an open letter to SDSS Members, friends and colleagues which you can read here.