Our Vision

The Rhode Island Self-Direct Coalition (RISDC) provides information, resources, and guidance to individuals and families interested in Self-Direct services. Empowering individuals to live the lives they choose.

We can assist you in navigating the Developmental Disabilities (DD) System and share information, which helps guide good decisions. Together we can promote inclusion, empower individuals and build a community where we all thrive.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with Developmental Disabilities to direct their own lives and decisions by providing information, resources and support.

We also support Direct Support Professionals with training and peer support. We feel DSPs are truly part of the team and ongoing training and support will help build a stronger network for all of us.

Project Managers

We foster a culture that takes a person’s entire life into consideration and guide decisions around a person-centered life. We provide education and awareness on a variety of topics including self-advocacy, personal safety, and self-empowerment.

Claudia Lowe

Co-Founder RISDC
Claudia has been working for the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC) in the Self-Employment Business Incubator Project for the past 4 years. Claudia was the Coordinator for the Down Syndrome Society of RI (DSSRI) for 20 years prior to joining the RIDDC.

Claudia has served on numerous boards and councils including RIDDC, RIArc, Best Buddies, and the Warwick Public Schools Special Education Advisory Committee. Claudia was a founding member of DSSRI. Claudia is the parent of an adult daughter who has used self-direct services for the past 10+ years.

Claudia’s responsibilities with the Self-Employment Business Incubator Project are scheduling teachers for the classes; provide one-to-one support to students in the classes when and wherever needed and scheduling and selecting topics for the Thursday Networking Meetings.  Claudia is one of the Project Coordinators of Small Business Saturday Shop RI since its inception in 2018. 

Claudia began her career in retailing holding many roles from sales; department manager; assistant buyer; key holder and accounting. Claudia’s daughter, Katie, has self-directed her services for 10 years. Claudia participated in the Sherlock Center’s Person Centered Workshop Series

Sheila Coyne

Co-Founder RISDC
Sheila Coyne is the owner of The Budding Violet and Red White & Brew Coffeehouse. The Budding Violet is a retail space that offers local artisans, including those with disabilities, a place to sell their handmade items and includes home decor items such as candles, pillows, all-in-one decor paint, and refurbished furniture.

Red, White & Brew Coffeehouse is a small café offering employment opportunities to people with Developmental Disabilities. They offer specialty coffee, lattes, espresso, bakery items and chocolate truffles. This unique business was created to provide people with disabilities meaningful employment and develop positive interactions and acceptance within their local community. Sheila has an adult son, Michael, with a developmental disability. Michael is co-owner of the family businesses and serves as the manager of the coffeehouse.

Sheila Coyne is a project coordinator with the RI Developmental Disabilities Council where she assists individuals with developmental disabilities in obtaining the skills needed to successfully operate their own business. She helps people with developmental disabilities explore self-employment career opportunities by connecting them with the training and support they will need to develop their businesses. Training in business development and operations, finances and marketing assist in the necessary skills that individuals with developmental disabilities will need to succeed in their business venture. Sheila also connects these individuals with experienced business owners in the community who know how to work with people to turn their business ideas into successful business ventures. These business owners become mentors to the future entrepreneurs, assisting in the development of business plans, promotion and marketing opportunities, and provide guidance, motivation, and the emotional support needed to build their business.

Sheila received certification from The Sherlock Center in their Person-Centered Thinking Facilitator/Advisor Training and in their Supporting Meaningful Employment program. She is on the Board of Directors (secretary) for Rhode Island Families Organized for Reform, Change and Empowerment (RIFORCE). Sheila is on the BHDDH Quality Advisory Council. She is a member of Ocean State Trauma Informed Care Coalition (OSTICC) and a Project Coordinator for Small Business Saturday SHOP RI. She has also completed training through Center for Women and Enterprise in Retail Boot Camp and Social Media.

Sheila is on the Board of Directors for The Village for RI Foster and Adoptive Families. She is a member of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce. She was also on the Executive Board of The Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers. 

Direct Your Life With Resources to Succeed!

Self-determination is a basic human and civil right for all, involving real choice and control. People have the right to real experiences, learning opportunities and relationships. Individuals with disabilities should make their own decisions, control their own money, services and supports with assistance.

Here at RISDC, we collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure everyone has access to information that is correct and easy to understand. 

We support individuals and families by sharing resources so we all understand the system a little better.