Member of the Board of Directors
Jo Booms was born in Pueblo, Colorado, to a mother who worked in special education and a father who worked with teens with conduct disorders. Jo grew up in close contact with people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and discovered a love for working with peers with IDD at age twelve when schoolyard bullying led her mother to ask one of her school’s special education teachers if Jo could volunteer in the teacher’s classroom over the lunch hour. Jo soon began to volunteer at a local group home for adolescent girls with IDD as well and continued both volunteer activities for the rest of her middle and high school years.
Jo attended Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, where she graduated with an A.A. in liberal arts. Though she had intended to pursue a career in chemistry and genetics in order to find a cure or treatments for Batten disease, Jo ended up having to change her major due to brain damage from her own then-undiagnosed genetic disorder. She graduated from CSU-Fort Collins with a B.A. in history and a minor in anthropology. She went on to work in Cultural Resources Management Archaeology in several midwestern and southwestern states.
Jo returned to working with people with IDD in 1997 and gained experience both in personal care work and case management. She initially worked as a personal care worker in a staffed Personal Care Alternative residential home, then went on to work as a personal care worker at a day program, where she met former CCDC Board member Jeanie Benfield. Jeanie had always wanted to help others and asked Jo to help her find a volunteer job in IDD system reform. In 2003, they discovered the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, became members, and began to spread Jeanie’s advocacy on the state level. Jo served as Jeanie’s speech interpreter, secretarial assistant, and community access person until Jeanie’s death in February of 2021, and is greatly honored to have been asked to continue Jeanie’s work by filling her position on the CCDC Board of Directors.