One Woman’s Vision for a More Inclusive World Starts by Embracing Diversity
By: Kelsey Hilton
Terry Kozloff in front of Kendall Hall on Chico State campus. Photo courtesy of Terry Kozloff
Terry Kozloff, prefers to keep the word “pity” out of her vocabulary. Instead, she accepts the obstacles that she is faced with and dedicates herself to helping others.
Her determination and compassion have brought her from a brief period of homelessness to where she is today – publisher and editor for WE for Everyone magazine and co-owner and co-director of AMJaMB Supported Living and Day Services.
Kozloff’s agency, located in Paradise, Calif., assists adults who live with developmental disabilities in their own homes. But it wasn’t always the successful program that is it today. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to start a business with no money.
Kozloff and her business partner, Domenic Console, previously worked together at another supported living program. They were unsatisfied with the quality of services they provided working for such a large organization.
Together they implemented a business plan for a program that they could be proud of. In the midst of designing their proposal, both were dismissed from their former organization, and Kozloff was forced to live in a tent with her husband for six weeks.
“We started out with zero – we had nothing,” Kozloff said. “We hadn’t planned on leaving, and we hadn’t planned on actually starting the program for about another year or so. It was a big shock.”
Kozloff’s sources of inspiration and strength are her children Michelle, 26, and Ben, 23, whom she raised on her own.
Ben was born blind, and it was later understood he was also deaf and a quadriplegic, which motivated Kozloff to become an advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she said.
From left to right- Steve and Terry Kozloff, Ben, Michelle and Craig. Photo courtesy of Terry Kozloff
Console appreciates Kozloff’s determination and her compassion for their clients
“Terry is a real, very caring person when it comes to all of the consumers we serve,” Console said. “She has very high standards, especially when it comes to medical care in their everyday care and their everyday life – she cares deeply about them.”
Kozloff made a point to never sacrifice the quality of service she provides in order to make a greater profit.
“It has to do with keeping your eye on what it is you’re trying to achieve and not compromising your values,” Kozloff said. “We wouldn’t take $100,000 a month for something that we didn’t feel good about doing, so we always maintained our values and continue to do so.”
Kozloff doesn’t let setbacks keep her from reaching personal goals. She believes that everyone has a voice and deserves to be heard. Kozloff’s family-managed magazine is an outlet for contributors to speak their minds, and it allows everyday people to share their previously untold stories.
An Inclusive Magazine Written Exclusively for Everyone
“We call it WE for Everyone because it’s not all about people with disabilities, it’s about just, people,” Kozloff said. “Helping people understand that we’re all different, but we all have feelings, and we all have hopes, and we all have experiences that made us who we are.”
Kozloff’s publication, which is distributed in both print and online, is a family hobby. Kozloff’s husband, Steve, does all of the layout and binds the magazine by hand. Terry’s daughter helps with co-editing articles, and the whole family takes part in the photography.
"There is nothing like this magazine out there anywhere,” Steve Kozloff said. “It's a National Geographic-quality magazine that does so much good for so many people."
WE magazine explains its purpose in its subtitle: “A magazine exclusively for everyone.”
“It’s our contribution to the community; helping with the whole concept of diversity,” Kozloff said. “It’s truly about helping people appreciate that we all make the world go round and we all belong in the same magazine.”
Inspired by the life story of Tray Robinson, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Kozloff decided to share his story with her readers. Robinson will be on the cover of the third issue of WE magazine, coming out the first week of December 2012.
“I have learned that I am an intelligent person and that everyone has intelligence,” Kozloff said. “And absolutely I have learned that if you spend enough time with a person, you can find that they all have gifts that they can offer this world. No matter their disability and no matter where they’ve come from.”