People First of Toledo


People First of Toledo was started in 1998 by several dedicated volunteer advocates, considered to be “outside the DD system”. It is a self-led advocacy group run by and for people with developmental disabilities.

Among these early self-advocates were Arc board members Frank Spinelli and Ruben Garcia, and Jo Rita Fox, who, although diagnosed with a developmental disability, was determined to not be eligible for DD services because she was ”too high functioning”. Jo Rita wanted to play an active role in a self-advocacy movement that could help herself and others live decent lives.

As a start, we strongly believed that People First should meet in a place that was not run by the County Board and where the meetings were not staffed by DD Board staff because there was the perception among group members that they couldn’t feel free to speak out and be independent if they were meeting at a DD facility, staffed by DD staff that provided services to them. People felt they would not be free to voice concerns about services provided by the DD Board if DD staff were present. The Ability Center agreed to host monthly meetings in their building.

People First transitioned from in-person meetings to Zoom sessions when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but as of April 2022, we will be going back to meeting in person. Attendance is $5 per meeting or $50 for the year. Meetings are now hybrid for people who are unable to get there physically. People First is open to everyone. Meetings are coordinated by a facilitator and five elected officers.




Get Involved

Who We Serve

People First, by nature, does not restrict membership. We are a self-led advocacy group created by and for people with a range of disabilities, regardless of what diagnosis you do or don’t have, or your “functioning level.” If you are interested in advocacy for the DD community, then you are welcome here.

Next Meeting

June 20

Sally Fish from the Disability and Aging Rail Coalition will be our guest speaker, talking about accessible rail options. A hybrid option is available for people who can’t get there physically.


Quinn Thomas

Quinn Thomas became the facilitator for People First in January 2022. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to set up a meeting, they can be reached at or through the People First Facebook page.

Latest Newsletters

A cropped header image of People First of Toledo's May advocacy newsletter.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. This means that every worker in the United States is supposed to get paid at least that or more. But this is not the case. There are exceptions to this law for prisoners, tipped employees, and disabled people. This is called subminimum wage.

Subminimum Wage
A cropped header image of People First of Toledo's April advocacy newsletter.

No one currently knows for sure exactly what causes autism, but there are lots of theories. One very popular theory is vaccines. This is heavily debated, but about half of all Americans aren’t sure whether it’s true or not.

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
A header image of the clipped front page of People First of Toledo's June advocacy newsletter.

Intersectionality is a word coined by Kimberle Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. That means that someone is in more than one minority group at once. Today, we will be talking about people who are both disabled and LGBTQ+.

LGBTQ+ Intersectionality
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