Down Syndrome: Entrepreneurs and Employees

The following is a sidebar to Down Syndrome: Imagine the Possibilities, published in the June 2015 Connector.

Ashley DeRamus

Ashley DeRamus, right, and a customer model two of Ashley’s original designs.

Ashley DeRamus, Alabama
Ashley DeRamus followed the first rule of business when she started her fashion design company, Ashley by Design: find a need and fill it. Ashley designs hip-to-the-minute clothing for women who have Down syndrome. As an adult with Down
syndrome herself, Ashley knows how hard it is to find a perfect fit off the rack. She launched Ashley by Design in July 2013, making her first splash at the National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention. Her fresh designs caught the attention of international fashion industry media, and her customers include women who do and don’t have Down syndrome. In May she began representing Adore Fashions with her own line of clothing for babies and children.

With her mother, Ashley also founded the Ashley DeRamus Foundation in 2012 to advocate for people with Down syndrome. In demand as a public speaker, she was honored in April 2015 by the National Down Syndrome Society with the Self-Advocate of the Year Champion of Change Award. Ashley’s motto is proudly displayed on her website, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do. Let me show you what I CAN do.”

Scott Jackson, Massachusetts
Scott Jackson, 46, was recognized in 2011 for 20 years of service to his employer, Compass Group, which runs food service at Raytheon. Scott graduated from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in 1990 and, like many new employees, was hired on a probationary basis. He has been with Compass ever since. Among other duties in the Raytheon cafeteria, which serves 900 people daily, Scott runs the industrial dishwasher.

When Scott was born with Down syndrome in 1968, the doctor advised his parents not to take him home. Refusing the advice, they instead required Scott to work to his abilities and advocated for education when such programs were in their infancy.
More than four decades later his record as an employee is one any company would envy and he enjoys an active social life, the love of his close-knit family and a passion for sports.

Jacqueline Franks, Massachusetts
Based at Boston City Hall, Jacqueline Franks has worked in the office of Boston City Councilor Mark Ciommo for nearly 10 years, first as a secretary and now as the councilor’s executive assistant. The office represents Boston’s Allston-Brighton District.

When Jacqueline was born with Down syndrome, her parents were advised to institutionalize her. Instead they brought her home and welcomed her into their growing family. Today she is a high school graduate and a confident young woman who is proud of her work in public service.

These stories and others were featured in the My Great Story campaign of the National Down Syndrome Society.

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