Founder, Pathways Services
Deaf and Deafblind persons with developmental disabilities tend to be "forgotten" people, often rejected by their families. Pathways Services was founded by Daniel Dillard in 1996 to serve them, providing essential training and services—independent-living skills, supportive-living services, and advocacy, without communication barriers.
Daniel Dillard's mother raised seven children on her own, learned to sign, and after he had transferred to California School for the Deaf, Fremont, came to see him compete in the Eagles' games. Dillard calls her "my hero."
He started his schooling as a mainstreamed, student, with support services, but when he started high school, was forced by the Redding school district to attend classes without any support. He not only struggled academically, he also experienced bullying and harassment.
After two years of this, his Mom moved to the Bay Area, and, with the help of Dr. Hank Klopping, he enrolled in the California School for the Deaf. "It was a turning point in my life." He especially enjoyed playing football, with Coach Gil Lentz's guidance. "He had a very positive impact on my life."
He attended Gallaudet University only briefly, leaving when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Staying close to her, he took a job with Jean Martin Care Homes, assisting Deaf developmentally-disabled adults living in one of the three affiliated group homes, and worked at CSDF as a residential counselor. His wife, Moneick, who runs Pathways Services with him, is hearing and multi-lingual (including Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin). Their oldest child, Cameron, recently graduated from CSD, attending college in Sacramento, and is bound for Gallaudet University; Kayla, Nikolaus, and Elizabeth are hearing. All are fluent in ASL.
At Pathways Services, "the individuals we serve have become like family, and we treat them as our family. For a lot of our consumers, we are the only family they have meaningful contact with."
Dillard, who is actively involved in his children's education, has continued his education; he's working towards a BS in Business Administration, and then a Master's in Social Work.