Ellie Byra is a devoted advocate for individuals with disabilities, their families and for the philosophy of inclusion.
Her advocacy and volunteer work began when she became President of the Parent Association of the Warren County Day Training Center, where her son attended programs. There she became interested in working to open up options for children’s day training, which led to other opportunities to be of service, including with the Arc of New Jersey. Over the years, the Arc has played a major role in Ellie’s life on both a local and statewide level; she has held various positions for the Arc of Warren County, the Arc of Hunterdon County, and the Arc of New Jersey.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and her Master of Arts in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State College, after which she taught Special Education and first grade.
Ellie served for nine years as a member of Disability Rights New Jersey’s (DRNJ) Board of Directors. Currently, she is a member of DRNJ’s Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities Advisory Committee and is a current member of the New Jersey Council on Disabilities (NJCDD), where she previously served on its board and as the Chairperson of its Policy Committee.
Ellie also serves on Hunterdon County’s Planning and Transition team, on the Council on Developmental Disabilities Education Committee, as Chairperson and member of New Jersey’s Special Education Advisory Council, and as a member of Rush Holt’s Education committee.
Ellie has received several distinguished honors, including Volunteer of the Year from both the Arc of Warren County and the Arc of New Jersey, the Diana Cuthbertson Award, the State Special Education Advisory Council Award, the One of the Heroes Award from the Arc of New Jersey, the Council on Family Support Award, and the Elizabeth Boggs Family Member Advocate Award.