Debby Lesser’s passion and advocacy for the rights of
people with disabilities has been inspired by her son, Ben.

Like other team members at Abilities United, Debby Lesser has a deep commitment to people with disabilities that extends well beyond working hours. An Executive Assistant at Abilities United, for more than twelve years Debby has been focused on helping to ensure housing options for those with disabilities. 

“My son Ben has Fragile-X syndrome, which is a genetic condition that shares some characteristics with autism,” says Debby. “As Ben grew older and I learned more about what he had in store, it became clear that housing for the disabled is a big black hole.”  

“Many people with disabilities are low income, and it’s not affordable for them to live in this area given housing costs,” she says. “I’ve tried to help raise awareness that people with developmental disabilities live in our communities and they need housing. Otherwise, they often have to move somewhere cheaper that’s far away from families and friends”.

“A woman with a mission, in the last fifteen years Debby has helped build forums for parents to start planning on housing for their disabled children; helped start a parents group that now has 170 families; and continues to work with local communities to advocate for more housing options. 

With her passion for improving the lives of those with disabilities, it was appropriate that Debby would make her way to Abilities United. “I was struck with how board members, families, and participants all view this as a second home; they know everyone and it’s very comfortable. Families feel this is a place where their children will be cared for and appreciated, where they can learn and grow.” 

“The staff at Abilities United is really a good group,” says Debby in conclusion. “They’re a big reason why Abilities United is a premier agency in the Bay Area.”

Based on a 2013 interview with Debby Lesser. Written by Bob Thomas, edited by Debby Lesser and Wendy Kuehnl.