Lighting the Way: JFK Partners Self-Advocacy Director Robin Ennis

December 12, 2022

Robin Ennis, LCSW, is Self-Advocacy Discipline Director for Colorado’s JFK Partners LEND program. Robin, a woman with a developmental disability, is the first person to serve as The Self-Advocacy Director at JFK Partners, but her leadership is nothing new. Robin unexpectedly lost her sight as a college freshman, due to Hydrocephalus, sparking her commitment to human services and support of others with disabilities. In 2009, she earned an MSW at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (Denver, CO), which prepares graduates to forge a more socially just world. Robin has since been doing exactly that, adding certifications in Grief Recovery (2011), Life Coaching (in 2014), and a license in Clinical Social Work (In 2018) to her armamentarium!  

In 2009, Robin’s sister, Toni DePass Baruti, created Beautifully Blind, Inc., a non-profit intended to “bridge the gap between the sighted and visually impaired,” where Robin provided social work services. Today, in addition to her JFK Partners position, Robin conducts a private practice, where she offers mental health therapy, consultation, and trainings. She previously worked as a Crisis Clinician for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, and as a Sr. Community Outreach Coordinator at Developmental Pathways (a Colorado Community Centered Board, serving individuals with developmental disabilities/delays and their families in metro Denver). At Developmental Pathways, Robin referred parents on her case load to JFK Partners, and was made aware of LEND and UCEDD fellowship opportunities, leading to her completion of the 2019-2020 Self-Advocacy fellowship. She also served as the JFK Partners Community Advisory Council Self Advocate Co-Chair, and the AUCD Self Advocate Liaison for the 2019-2020 cohort. With her passion for mentoring, Robin successfully applied to be the first JFK Partners LEND Self Advocate Discipline Director in 2021.

Robin Ennis’ training in advocacy, self-determination, and systems navigation (acquired in her lived experience, professional employment, and LEND training) prepared her to light the way for other self-advocates. Robin lives the Kahlil Gibran quote shared on the Beautifully Blind Facebook page, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Upon the recent unveiling of the LEND Self Advocacy competencies and resources, Robin remarked, “I’m eager to implement them in our program. They help validate and authenticate the role and leadership of the Self Advocate. The competencies acknowledge our voice and demonstrate how that voice matters and is utilized within various platforms.”