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How to Sign Up

FIRST - Complete an interest form to tell us a little more about you and your goals.

SECOND - Choose the right Mentor for you. Get to know the mentors below and schedule your consultation with Natasha Cooper to help match you with the right Mentor. 

About Peer Mentor

Peer Mentors are people with developmental disabilities who provide guidance, support and resources to help others achieve the life that they want. Peer Mentors are dedicated to helping others reach new levels of independence and inclusion in their communities. They are ready to partner with you and help you advocate for the life you want and deserve.  

The Peer Mentor Program is based on the philosophy that people learn best from others who have lived experience to share. That connection of shared experiences and mutual understanding builds a strong foundation for planning for a person's future.  

Who Can Receive Peer Mentoring

People age 16 and over who have a *DD waiver can have a Peer Mentor to help them in achieving their goals.  

*Through special funding from DBHDS, there are limited spots for people who are on the DD Waiver Waiting List to receive support from a Peer Mentor.

How To Sign Up for a Mentor

Complete the interest form to tell us a little more about you and your goals.



Contact Natasha Cooper 

Peer Engagement Director

Choosing the right Peer Mentor

Mentors have received training from The Arc of Virginia and are ready to help. 

Finding the right match is key, read the profiles below to learn more about the Mentors.

Not sure who is the best match?

Contact Natasha Cooper for help choosing the right Mentor for you. 

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Why I chose a Peer Mentor

I love talking to my Mentor every week. I like when we play games, write stories and watch videos. We talk about the videos and write stories about them. My Mentor is my friend. I am happy when we talk on Thursday afternoons. Talking with my Mentor helps me talk to people.

I love her. 

-"Jefferson", Mentee

Meet The Mentors

About Me:  My name is Jonah Gilman. I recently moved into a group home in the past year right before the pandemic. Before that I lived with my family. I enjoy playing a variety of games on my iPad. I'm very social and love meeting new people!


Hobbies & Interests: Games, languages, hanging out with friends 


Mentor Skills: I am a good listener. I am good with helping people fill out online forms. I am also good at socializing with others and making them feel comfortable with new experiences. 


Areas of Expertise: I speak both English and Spanish. Navigating Metro Access (paratransit service) to get around the community. Helping people learn how to use technology.  

Communication:  I use verbal communication to communicate with others

Other: I utilize a power wheelchair

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Linda Booth

Where I Live: Fairfax County

Age: 58

About Me:  My name is Linda Booth and I have been living with a disability since I was born. I do not see my disability as a weakness, in fact sometimes it is a superpower. Why would I say that? Because I have been able to see the world from a unique place. Life does not have to be complicated. I am able to use the way I learn to break things down into small pieces and create a life that is rewarding.


Hobbies & Interests: I have a lot of hobbies and interests. In fact, when I lived in Spotsylvania, my parents built me my own little store where I could sell my products. I love to do cross stitch, crochet, knit, and  a little bit of sewing. I never got my store off the ground, because it was challenging to figure out how to balance my “benefits” with income. So now, I give my work to friends and family on special occasions. I also love my “fur babies” I have a Papillion, which in French means Butterfly, but for me means little dog named Mr. Tokyo. Tokyo has two sisters, both cats—one named Toshi and the other Suki. (I pick Japanese names because I half Japanese and half American.)

Mentor Skills:  I bring a couple skills to the role of peer mentor.

  1. Good listener: This is important because a lot of people do not feel like they are heard when they are sharing their thoughts or feelings. I am good because I can sit and listen and I do not “judge” people.

  2. Good Planner: I am very organized. I realize that this is very important, because being a person with a disability there are lots of demands on you. I can help people prioritize what is important for them and help them stay focused.

  3. Know my community: Even though I have not been in Fairfax for close to 40 years, I am good at directions and figuring out what services are in my community. I can help others do the same.

  4. Understand the importance of budgeting and  benefit management: Keeping a budget on a limited income is hard. I get some support with this as well. BUT I have learned how to prioritize my purchases and work with my support team to make good  choices. This is important. 


Areas of Expertise:

  • Long Term Planning: Parents and self advocates need to start planning for life when the parents are no longer able to care for oneself.

  • Lots of life experience, nothing shocks me—so it  is easy for me to listen and not make someone feel badly.

  • Helping people with self care—you can not take care of someone else, unless you take care of yourself.

  • I know my way around a house—can help people with keeping their homes in order.

  • I know lots of ways to get around—I drive, I know how to use bus and even Virginia Railway Express.

  • Open to learning new things…


Communication: Easy to talk to and good listener

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for in-person and virtual support

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Dorothy Clark

Where I Live: Virginia Beach

Age: 59

About Me: My name is Dorothy Clark. I live in my own apartment, where I make my own decisions. I am a Christian. I am a member of London Baptist Church. I love to sing and was in the choir when London Bridge had a choir. I am a member of a self-advocacy group, Our Voices. I am a board member of the Hope House Foundation. I have been serving on the board since 2005-present. I am an artist and I have had my art in the Stockley Gardens Arts Festival. I served on the Virginia Board for persons with Disabilities from 2007-2012. I was a co-teacher for the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program which was utilized to transition people with disabilities out of institutions like training centers. I like to teach/help people understand what their rights are as a person with disabilities. As a person who has Autism, I like to help all people with disabilities advocate for themselves to live a good quality life of their choosing regardless of the severity of their disability. I am a graduate of the Partners in Policymaking Class of 2022.


Hobbies & Interests: I love to sing. I love to draw. It brings me joy to hear that a person with disabilities got a job, got their driver’s license, moved into their own place or got married. I search stories about these things online, on the news and in magazines. I collect the article even if I don’t know the person. I collect soft blankets. I like riding my bike.

Mentor Skills:  Helping others find resources. I am a good listener. I am good at role playing. I am good at taking notes. Helping others come up with ideals to help them meet their goals. I am a good public speaker. I already have experience in peer mentoring. I know when I should step back and not get into topics that can be controversial to my Christian beliefs without being judgmental. I have skills in teamwork.


Areas of Expertise: I am a great peer and self-advocate. I am great at pencil drawings of animals. I am great at getting things done on time. I am good at encouraging others. I am not a quitter. I am good at helping others find resources. I am a good public speaker.


Communication: I use spoken word and sometimes role playing.

Other: I am working on getting my driver’s license and educating people that people with disabilities can live, work, and play in the community

Availability Status: Almost at max capacity


Pastor Eric Cottrell

Where I Live: Danville

Age: 35

About Me: I am a Pastor and I have officiated a wedding. I enjoy working with people and advocating. I am a member of the ALLY Self-Advocates Alliance.  

Hobbies & Interests: I like to watch YouTube and I like listening to music


Mentor Skills: I like to help people

Areas of Expertise: I am good at helping people reach goals.​

Availability Status: At max capacity

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Carly Dolan

Where I Live: Powhatan

Age: 21

About Me: My name is Carly Dolan and I have a disability called Fragile X Syndrome which makes it harder for me to learn. I think my disability makes me unique and special. I love meeting new people and making a difference in the world. I met Michael Franti this year and got a picture with him at a festival in Woodstock.

Hobbies & Interests: I love doing advocacy work, photography, Taylor Swift, listening to music and working out. I have two dogs and love to snuggle with them. I also enjoy traveling and learning new things. Singing is also a passion of mine.

Mentor Skills & Area of Expertise: Helping others to discover their passions and gain confidence in themselves. I am a good listener and advocate. My organizational skills are good and I am a neat person. Helping others to set goals and achieve them.

Communication: I am able to communicate verbally, phone and through text
or email.

Availability Status: At max capacity for in-person and virtual support

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Jonah Gilman

Where I Live: Springfield

Age: 26

About Me: My name is Jonah Gilman. I recently moved into a group home in the past year right before the pandemic. Before that I lived with my family. I enjoy playing a variety of games on my iPad. I'm very social and love meeting new people!


Hobbies & Interests: Games, languages, hanging out with friends 


Mentor Skills: I am a good listener. I am good with helping people fill out online forms. I am also good at socializing with others and making them feel comfortable with new experiences. 


Areas of Expertise: I speak both English and Spanish. Navigating Metro Access (paratransit service) to get around the community. Helping people learn how to use technology.  

Communication:  I use verbal communication to communicate with others

Other: I utilize a power wheelchair

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees, virtual only (who are on the DD Waiver Waitlist only)


Allyson Hart

Where I Live: Roanoke

Age: 34

About Me: My name is Allyson. I have been living with a condition called Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia which is very similar to Cerebral Palsy, my entire life. I have been living independently since I was 26 years old. I have never let my disability get in the way of my dreams and goals. I was Ms. Wheelchair Virginia in 2017. I graduated from Roanoke College in 2021 with a creative writing degree. I graduated from Virginia Western Community College with a general studies diploma in 2018. Sometimes it takes me longer than others to take care of independent living skills, such as bathing, fixing meals, and dressing, but I always get the job done. I use a motorized wheelchair and a transit system called RADAR to get around in my community. When I am able to, I have a friend or family member drive my accessible van for transportation.

Hobbies & Interests: I love to draw, color, and make crafts. I also enjoy going to church and bible study. I go to church as least two times a week. I attend church at Fellowship Community Church in Salem, VA. I also buddy with children who have disabilities once a month. I enjoy working out and eating healthy as well.


Mentor Skills & Areas of Expertise: 

  1. I am a good listener. I understand how it feels to be misunderstood due to my slow motor skills and speech impediment. I choose to listen and engage rather than judge on ability.

  2. I am organized. My home is neat and I enjoy staying on a schedule. I write out a calendar once a month and put it on my fridge door to keep track of all activities and appointments.

  3. I am good at budgeting. I make a chart to account for all bills and expenses. Whatever is left over, is spent and put into savings. I enjoy saving more than spending.


Communication: I am able to verbally articulate very well despite my speech impediment. I also comprehend what is being said excellently.

Other: I enjoy encouraging others and advocating for myself.

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for in-person and virtual support

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Matthew Hudgins

Where I Live: Christianburg

Age: 35

About Me:  My name is Matthew Hudgins, I live in Christiansburg, Virginia. I am here to lend a helping hand to all who need it, no matter who you are or where you come from! If you ever need someone to talk to, I will be there for you. I will treat you as if you were my own family. I have two little Chihuahuas Duke & Poppy and I have raised them since they were puppies.


Hobbies & Interests: Fishing, gaming and playing in video game tournaments, acting, computer efficiency and learning how things work.  Working for and building items for Hexed Haunted House, building battle bots, creating YouTube videos. 

Mentor Skills: I am very good at planning ahead of time, I have 18 years of working experience including the food industry and Virginia Tech.

Areas of Expertise: Public Transportation/RideShare, Independent Living

Communication: Verbal Communication

Availability Status: At max capacity


Blake Kelmar

Where I Live: Norfolk

Age: 31

About Me: I’m a 31 man who graduated from Marshall University who is on autism spectrum and does not allow his disabilities stop me nor define me. My degree is in journalism, history, and psychology. I’m an advocate for criminal justice reform and aim to change the way people look at disabilities as a whole. I’m a family person who loves my family. 

Hobbies & Interests: I love to go to the beach, walking my dog, taking photographs of landscapes, to kayak, watch college football, doing yoga and go to car shows.


Mentor Skills: I’m level-headed: I am not judgmental based on people’s past, their disabilities, or religious beliefs. I can relate to others. I'm straight forward with people I’m also friendly and empathetic. I have patience for others, and I am a good listener. I have a passion for helping to make the world a better place. 

Areas of Expertise: Having challenges and overcoming them.

Other: I was told at one point my life I wasn’t going to walk or talk nor finish high school and get a college degree and I did that and more.

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for virtual support only

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Shawn Kirk

Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 42

About Me: I am a person with Autism and a native of Richmond, Virginia. I have many interests and hobbies, one of them is my ability to tinker with computers and help people with their computer problems. Another one is my ability to DJ Events whether they are in person or virtual. I also have a love for all kinds of music, but I have to say my favorite is 70’s Disco. I also enjoy going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Camping in the mountains when I get the chance.  Over the years I have served on several nonprofit boards in many different capacities. Over the years I have taken various classes on becoming a more effective leader and advocate for people with disabilities. One thing I would like for everyone to know is “People with Disabilities Have Many Different Talents and Abilities. Give Us A Chance and We Will Show You All That We Can Do!”

Hobbies & Interests: Music, hosting & DJn parties, camping, beach, education


Mentor Skills: Good listener, Problem Solver, Resourceful (utilize internet), Leader, Advocate

Areas of Expertise: Public Transportation/RideShare, Natural Supports, Computer Troubleshooting, Education, Working & Interview Skills (employed at Panera for over a year and in food service over 15 years), Living Independently in privately owned condo

Communication: Verbal Communication

Availability Status: Almost at max capacity, available for virtual support only

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Brittney Lee

Where I Live: Henricho

Age: 33

About Me: My name is Brittney Lee, currently I live in Henrico County. I enjoy uplifting people with disabilities and giving them the strength to look within themselves to find their destiny. It provides character to the individual and willpower to overcome any barrier that is challenging in life. For many years I worked in the mental health field to provide services to individuals in need. I take anything I do very seriously and even completed some college business courses. As your Mentor I am here to help you find your strength and guide you through your journey.

Hobbies & Interests: I enjoy writing, collecting coins for different states, I like to go shopping and I also enjoy volunteering

Mentor Skills: Motivating Mentees to do well in areas of interest


Areas of Expertise: Exploring and researching personal interests, Self-Advocacy, Navigating Transportation, Independent Living.  

Communication: I use words to communicate


Other: I use a wheelchair to commute in the community. I use specialized transportation for transporting and I use words to express myself. 

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for virtual support only

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Katherine Montgomery

Where I Live: Fairfax

Age: 41

About Me: I am currently a DD Waiver recipient. I was on the waiting list since 2006. I have Cerebral Palsy and use a power wheelchair for mobility. I’m an active member of my community and like to stay busy. I am currently working at Olde Towne Pet Resort where I get to play with dogs all day. I also attend SPARC an outside of the box day program when I’m not at work.

Hobbies & Interests: Dogs, Animal Rescue, running , going to the gym, advocacy and Universal Design


Mentor Skills: Problem Solving, Listening

Areas of Expertise: Waiver Services, Universal Design​

Availability Status: Currently unavailable

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Jesse Monroe

Where I Live: Norfolk

Age: 44

About Me: My name is Jesse Monroe and live in Norfolk Virginia. I work for the Arc of Virginia as a Curriculum Developer/Coach. I also volunteer for the ALLY Alliance which is made up of several DD disability self advocacy groups from across Virginia.

Hobbies & Interests: My hobbies include advocating for others, going to the movies, trying new places to eat and drink, and enjoy learning about history.


Mentor Skills & Areas of Expertise: I feel that my Mentor related skills include that I am a good listener and have been around the block in trying to get the services I need and in advocating for others for their services.​

Communication: I communicate by using a voice activated computer. That means I can make calls or email anyone, if that is what they choose.

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for virtual support only

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Brittani Pulliam

Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 31

About Me: I am the second oldest sibling of 6. Growing up was never too boring because of all the

entertainment we had between us siblings. I have a physical disability called Arthrogryposis, it is a

muscle and nerve disorder that came from Desert Storm. Growing up, people would stare at me being

in a wheelchair, but that would never stop me from living my best life. Going through school, I was not

the most popular, but it got to the point where people wanted to be in my presence. After graduating

from high school in 2010, I was able to obtain my Associate’s Degree in Human Services, then gain my

Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice a few years later. Throughout my life, I’ve had three jobs that have

given me the skills to help me communicate with meeting new people daily. I used to be a shy introvert,

but now I love to interact with people.

Hobbies & Interests: My hobbies are shopping, spending time with family and friends, going to the

movies, traveling, going on different adventures, and trying new things.


Mentor Skills: I like to meet with new people and share my experiences so that others can see what is possible.  I can help with technology, answer housing questions, and help connect people with social events.

Areas of Expertise: Customer service, computer skills, design, and electronics

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for virtual support only

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Jennifer Ruley

Where I Live: Stuart Draft

Age: 43

About Me: I lived in Churchville, VA for 40 yrs with my mom and dad. In August 2020 I moved out on my own. I drive on my own. I worked with The Arc of Augusta for 14 yrs with people with disabilities. I have been participating in Special Olympics since I was  36 yrs. I am part of the alliance at The Arc of Virginia.

Hobbies & Interests: I love to crochet, knitting, bowling, bocce, and diamond painting.


Mentor Skills: I am a good listener. Understanding people.

Areas of Expertise: I enjoy helping others.

Communication: Verbal Communication

Availability Status: At max capacity 

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Nick Zweerink

Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 26

About Me: I have a mild intellectual disability that I was born with. I have lived in a supported apartment for the last several years with a good friend of mine. I'm a Special Olympics athlete. Where I played a few different sports. One of them was swimming where I won a few medals in the 2014 USA (National) Games.

Hobbies & Interests: I'm also now a run streaker meaning that I go out on a run every single day year round for over two years now. I also wrote an article about it for Special Olympics VA. As a part of a Special Olympics VA Newsletter that just started online. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends. And I enjoy playing video games and I'm a VCU basketball fan.

Mentor Skills: I'm also a Special Olympics VA Global Messenger meaning that I have given speeches and have talked to some of their donors and volunteers just in the state of Virginia.


Areas of Expertise: I would say my expertise includes getting along with others, listening​ and also living a healthy lifestyle.

Availability Status: Accepting Mentees for virtual support only

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Provider Agencies:


Each Peer Mentor works for a Provider Agency who supervises their work and coordinates the services for the mentees, ensuring that everyone has the best experience possible.  Currently there are two provider agencies.

To learn more about these agencies, click on their logo! 

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