Shirley Walker is the President Emeritus of PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability) and former President and CEO, having led the largest statewide association representing providers of services and supports to people with intellectual disability and autism for nearly 30 years, resulting in phenomenal growth and funding into the system of services.
Shirley’s career history included serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), appointed by Governor Richard Thornburgh, and prior as the Operations Director for OCYF. In that capacity she worked with legislators, provider and advocacy groups, state and federal government offices to obtain effective aid through law, regulation, and financial support for the programs she directed.
Prior to government service she was a teacher, counselor, head of district counseling, vice principal of a large southern California high school then director of secondary education in the greater Los Angeles area. A career move by her husband brought them to PA where she served as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for a school district for several years prior to accepting the position offered by the Governor.
Shirley’s particular interest in Keystone Human Services (KHS) developed through her association with KHS as a PAR member and on the PAR Board where she observed the values and innovative approaches that KHS leadership promoted within PA and globally.
In 1994, Shirley introduced Dennis Felty, then-President of KHS, to Moldova through Janice Wenger and her organization CrossLinks. For two years since 1992 Shirley and her husband were engaged in refugee resettlement of Moldovan families in their home, and in humanitarian work that included assistance for people with disabilities in Moldova. Then in 1994 Shirley and her husband Jim adopted two infants from Moldova which further strengthened the ties and interest in building a better world.
A phenomenon called the butterfly effect rests on the notion that the world is deeply interconnected, such that one small occurrence can influence a much larger complex system. Keystone Human Services understands and carries out its role as a significant leader in understanding that reality and acting upon it to the advantage of all people.