Dear friends,

I am so honored and grateful to serve as the new President and CEO of Starbridge!

I worked as a Residential Manager at LDA Life and Learning Services from 2000-2009, so for me, it was like returning home to come back to Starbridge in 2019. Two and a half years later I’m still experiencing moments of nostalgia as I get reacquainted with familiar faces.

Leading and navigating through the pandemic has been daunting and downright scary at times but the team at Starbridge has learned from the experience and agreed that there would not be a “return to normal”. The pandemic was a catalyst for change at our organization. It allowed us to realize and imagine the possibilities for a new normal: a hybrid model that prioritizes working successfully and with a work-life balance, whether that is in-person or remote. We intentionally decreased our office space and adopted technology so that every staff member has the access to be fully included and feel they belong, no matter where they are working each day.

This new approach is working well for our employees, as well as individuals and families we support. We are committed to an environment that creates and supports a safe space for everyone and the authentic individuality, culture, and lived experiences each person brings.

I look forward to serving our community and making a positive impact on the lives we touch.

Be well,

Nikisha signature

Nikisha Ridgeway

Celebrating Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Flag shown over a dark green background under the title The Disability Pride Flag

“People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Disability Pride has been defined as accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. Disability Pride is an integral part of movement building, and a direct challenge of systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability.”


The Disability Pride Flag was created in 2017 and updated in 2019 by Ann Magill, a disabled woman. So, what does the flag mean?

“Each part of the Disability Pride Flag represents an aspect of the disability community. The black space represents the lives the disability community have lost due to illness, medical neglect, abuse, violence or suicide. The diagonal stripes represent the disability community in solidarity and unison. The blue line represents those with mental illnesses. Yellow represents intellectual and cognitive disabilities. White represents invisible and undiagnosed disabilities. The green line represents those with sensory related disabilities. And Red represents physical disabilities. The lightning bolt in the original Disability Pride Flag represented the creative ways disabled people must find to adapt and navigate an inaccessible society.” Source:

ADA32 celebrate 32 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Starbridge is proud to support the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This important civil rights law works to ensure all people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Get to know the Employment Equity Coalition

Logo for Employment Equity Coalition with tagline Advancing Disability Inclusion in the Workforce

The Employment Equity Coalition (EEC) was born out of a 2018 summit in Rochester that gathered employment experts, community stakeholders, and known leaders such as Senator Tom Harkin, an author and Senate sponsor of the ADA. Barriers to competitive employment for individuals with disabilities are a huge obstacle on the path out of poverty, which impacts 1 in 4 individuals here in Monroe County.

Starbridge and Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, the lead organizers of the summit, continued the work through establishing a coalition of individuals with disabilities, family members and caregivers, employers, service providers, and allies. Coalition members are volunteers, and the EEC’s work is supported by Starbridge as the lead nonprofit agency.

This week, the Employment Equity Coalition is launching a new website – – to provide free, informative resources to job seekers, employers, transition specialists, and service providers. The Coalition is welcoming new members to join in the work.

Christina EisenbergChristina Eisenberg, Director of Employment Equity at Starbridge, shares, “Too often, disability is not part of diversity conversations, initiatives, or strategic planning. The Employment Equity Coalition will partner with employers of all industries and sizes in Monroe County and the City of Rochester. We are here to be a resource throughout the employment lifecycle: from recruitment to retention and advancement. Disability inclusion is not about the ‘right thing to do’ but it is the smart thing to do. Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource, bringing skills, ideas, and creativity that both improve the workplace and business’ consumer reach.”

What else is going on at Starbridge?

Self-Direction Video Series

We are fortunate to have choices in supports and services through NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. While many people are familiar with the traditional model of services, the Self-Direction model is newer and offers a greater degree of choice, flexibility, and control. If you’ve ever wondered about Self-Direction – what it is, how to hire staff and launch your budget, and ways to pay for things that may seem out of reach – then our new Self-Direction video series has answers!

You can watch the videos here

Screenshot of April Dixon smiling during What is Self Direction video

Creating a Life After High School

If you have a student in Monroe County NY, age 15-21, who is living at home and has established DDRO eligibility, check out our one-day, in-person session of Creating a Life After High School! This class is one of Starbridge’s signature series, and offers students and their families a chance to dream, plan, and advocate for their future. Creating a Life will be held August 23rd – click to find out more.

Intersectionality conference October 18th

Save the Date for In-ter-sec-tion-al-i-ty: The Pieces of ME! Hosts Sabrina Smith and Jeiri Flores have designed a half-day online conference to talk about intersectionality and disability, how our identities interact to impact our lived experiences, and why this matters. Keith Jones, President & CEO of Soul Touchin’ Experiences, is our keynote speaker for the day. More information coming soon!

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