GMSA History


Green Mountain Self-Advocates is Vermont’s statewide self-advocacy organization. We started in Burlington, VT as one small self-advocacy group. In 1994, allies helped the Burlington group connect with other Vermont self-advocates to create a network. Together, they started self-advocacy groups in Barre, Middlebury, Rutland, and St. Albans. Today we have grown to more than 20 local peer support groups across the whole state and over 600 self-advocates speak up for themselves as part of these groups.

Every local group is different and unique with their own passions and style. The diversity of the people who live in our state reflect the diversity of people in our organization at all levels. GMSA welcomes LGBTQIA peers and we have local groups that are run by and for high school students. We support leaders who use typing to communicate. Self-advocates in Vermont come from all backgrounds. For example, some of our group members were residents at the former Brandon Training School and some group members came to Vermont with their families as refugees.


We SPEAK UP when people are left out and do not get services and support because of their race, culture, or religious beliefs.

GMSA is enormously proud of the last 26 years of self-advocacy work. Here are some of our favorite accomplishments: 

  • Hosting youth summits for high school students with developmental disabilities.
  • Created and maintain a web-based clearinghouse of 300+ resources, stories, and training materials on self-advocacy as a lead partner running the national Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center.
  • Hosting more than 20 annual Voices and Choices Conferences.
  • Co-authoring “Sexuality Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities” and doing trainings about sexuality, dating, and relationships.
  • Working with other organizations and the State of VT to get the Respectful Language Bill passed in 2011.
  • Building opportunities for peer to peer connections.
  • Training health care providers, medical students, and other professionals about how to communicate with people with developmental disabilities.
  • Writing a peer-to-peer handbook about domestic and sexual violence and working on abuse prevention.
  • Being part of a three-year project to strengthen our relationships with other self-advocacy organizations in the New England region (North East Advocates Together - NEAT).

In March 2014, GMSA became an official, federally registered, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

Our organization office is located in the capital city of Montpelier, Vermont.