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Abilities United announces retirement of executive director

Abilities United Board of Directors Executive Director Lynda Steele recently announced her retirement, effective at the end of June, triggering a leadership transition that will be implemented over the next six months.

“Lynda Steele has been an influential leader and strong champion in our community for the rights of people with disabilities,” said Karen Moore, president of the board. “She has dedicated her professional life to helping children and their parents, and worked with our community to find ways to ensure full inclusion and contribution.”

Steele’s decision follows a career of more than 20 years of continuous service to the local community.

“The board is grateful for her dedication and exemplary tenure as the organization’s executive director since 1993,” Moore said.

In the wake of Steele’s announcement, the Abilities United board formed a search committee and is leading the selection process to choose her successor. The search is open to internal and external candidates.

The Santa Clara Women’s Fund recognized Steele as a “Woman of Achievement in Community Service.” An author of numerous articles on disability services, she served on the board of the Housing Choices Coalition and the Coastside Parents Action League for people with special needs, both of which advocate for affordable housing for people with disabilities.

Steele noted that the time was right to make a change.

“I’ve been privileged to lead Abilities United over the past two decades,” she said. “Today we’re widely regarded as an innovative organization with a distinguished record for providing important support services to individuals and families within our community. We have a clear vision for the future, highly competent professionals on staff, dedicated volunteers and rich partnerships with many in our community. Our goal now is to maintain this momentum and move forward into the future in terms of leadership, capacity and operational strength.”

The nonprofit organization recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, according to Steele, so now is the “perfect time to transition to a new generation of leadership to lead the organization into our next 50 years.”

Over the past 20 years, Abilities United more than doubled in size from a budget of $2.9 million to $6 million. During the same time, the number of participants served by the agency grew to more than 3,000 people a year from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Steele and the Abilities United staff expanded the service offerings for participants to include:

• Employment services

• Independent living skills

• Community connections

• A therapy clinic

• Milestones preschool

• An art program

Abilities United is a United Way Affiliated Agency.

Abilities United is located at 525 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto. For more information, visit

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