Farewell to our TA Coordinator Extraordinaire

On August 4, 2023, Kathleen Becht, who has served admirably as the technical assistance coordinator for the National Coordinating Center since February 2021, will move onto her next adventure. She will retire after a 41-year career of working for and with people with disabilities in a variety of volunteer and paid positions.

We feel so fortunate at Think College that we were able to benefit from her wit and wisdom, her hard work, and her attention to detail as she led our technical assistance team. For me personally, Kathy was such a gift. Until she joined our team, I essentially acted as the technical assistance coordinator and the project coordinator. Kathy joined Think College and after just a little guidance from me, she owned technical assistance! She took on the coordination of the national help desk, targeted technical assistance, data-driven technical assistance with TPSID projects, and the management of our crack technical assistance team. She helped to organize our resource library and better highlight some of the best resources hiding there. I learned so much from Kathy about supporting and helping families by hearing about her own experiences as a mom of three kids with disabilities.

In her two and a half years with us, she sent 1,753 responses to Desk tickets, sharing thoughtful and thorough information along with hundreds of resources, hand-picked to match each request. She offered her trademark humor, kindness, and empathy to every single recipient. She reveled in the successes of each program she spoke to or visited, delighting in them as if they were her own. She has without a doubt impacted the field of postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability in innumerable positive ways.

And what a mark she has left on Think College. We will follow her lead and continue to respond quickly and kindly to every Desk ticket, cull through our resources to provide a carefully curated list for those in need, meet each person requesting assistance right where they are, and deliver responsive targeted and data-driven technical assistance that helps programs develop and improve, just like Kathy did. We can only hope that we will advise each family that contacts us with the grace and wisdom that Kathy shared. Will we continue to keep things organized with a dizzying array of color-coded Google spreadsheets? Well, we can try, but that may be a trick only Kathy can pull off!

This video shares just a little bit of the gratitude that TPSID grantees have for the assistance they have received from Kathy over the years.

Kathy had this to say when she announced her retirement:

It has been my mission to show others the humanity and normalcy of disability for as long as I can remember, beginning with my sister Lori. How wonderful it is to meet and work with so many across the country who share this mission with me. When my three children with disabilities were small, it was easy to feel alone in the daily struggles. I have heard and felt that same sentiment from many a parent’s email or phone call over the years. It has been so heartening working with each of you and realizing the powerful strides being made in society’s expectations, students’ futures, and ultimately families’ lives. Thank you for all that you do. It has been a privilege to work with each of you.

Kathy, the privilege was ours. We are so grateful to have had this time to work with you, learn from you, and benefit from your experiences.

About the post author: Cate Weir is the project director for the Think College National Coordinating Center, a position she has held since the Center’s inception in 2010.