GMSA Staff

Max Barrows

Outreach Director

Max Barrows presenting at SABE conference

Max Barrows is Outreach Director for Green Mountain Self-Advocates, a position he has held since 2007. He mentors youth and adults with developmental disabilities to speak up for themselves and become leaders. GMSA is a lead partner of the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC). Max leads SARTAC’s technical assistance team assisting local and state self-advocacy organizations across the nation. Max connects with people on all levels advocating for true-inclusion of people with developmental disabilities. In his work, he advances the message that when you meet an individual with a disability, presume competence. He received a White House Champions of Change award for this work in 2015 and Champion of Equal Opportunity award from the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities in 2019. Max is an accomplished self-advocate from Vermont who served as a board member for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered from 2008 to 2016. On a personal level, Max has a very high interest in extreme weather and he likes to watch college and professional sports.

Karen Topper

Administrative director

Karen Topper 2

Karen Topper is the Administrative Director for Green Mountain Self-Advocates. She manages the GMSA office, supervising employees, training persons with developmental disabilities in techniques of self-advocacy, and program development work. Topper is a co-author of Sexuality Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, a curriculum designed for self-advocates and allies to teach a sexuality education series together as a team. She has been working with people with disabilities for the past 40 years. She has created individualized supports for people moving out of institutions in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Topper has extensive experience in developing curriculums for self-advocates, providers, and families on Independent Living, Violence Prevention, Supportive Decision-Making, and Sexuality Education. Topper has been an ally of the self-determination, disability rights, and self-advocacy movements since the early 90’s.

Stirling Peebles

Dissemination Coordinator


Stirling Peebles works as Dissemination Coordinator for Green Mountain Self-Advocates.  She got into self-advocacy because she wants to educate people with disabilities to make a difference. The only way we can make a difference is to speak up and fight for what we believe in.

Stirling serves on the Governor's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. In 2019-2020 she was a Self-Advocate Fellow in the University of Vermont Leadership Education and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. In 2019, the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) awarded Stirling the APSE Lois Curtis Award. This award recognizes an individual’s personal achievement in advocating for inclusive, individualized, community-based employment and/or independent living. Stirling has been recognized by Vermont Business Magazine as a 2016 Rising Star. She is also employed at the Center on Disability and Inclusion’s Think College Project at the University of Vermont as a Dissemination Assistant.

Screenshot (705)

Kristofer Medina

Kris is a gifted writer and teacher. He sends a clear message that all people with disabilities have the capacity to think, learn, and understand. Kris is passionate about disability justice and the right to communicate. He advocates for inclusion through presenting at conferences, schools, webinars, and workshops.

Hasan K 4_at DSP day 2019

Hasan Ko

Hasan is a leader of our work on including people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds.  Hasan says, “No matter where we come from, we have the right to be ourselves in our own way.”  Hasan mentors peers in his local self-advocacy group.  He represents GMSA on national projects.

Karen Noone

Karen Noone

Karen is an ally extraordinaire.  She works with self-advocates to create accessible trainings and curricula.  Karen is dedicated to finding every opportunity to support people with disabilities to speak up for themselves and make their own decisions.

David Frye

David Frye

David creates advocacy toolkits as part of our SARTAC team.  He stands up for equal rights for people with disabilities who are LGBTQ+. In 2013 David received the Vermont Pride Award for Individual Activism.  He also received a “Building Block” award from the United Way for his volunteer contributions to his community.