People First Tennessee & Self-advocacy


    Information about People First

    People First Tennessee (PFTN) is a grassroots membership disability rights group led by self-advocates with the goal of empowering people with disabilities to have voices in addressing issues of equality that affect them. PFTN was established to be a powerful self-advocacy organization, leading a vibrant, engaged and growing movement of self-advocates committed to the full inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

    PFTN is a catalyst addressing issues affecting people with disabilities to lead lives of their own choosing, to be free from poverty, to be employed, to reside in the community and to live independently with ready access to the services and supports they need. The PFTN advisory council led by self-advocates, supported by mentors and staff that closely follows a three-year strategic plan. To read our plan, click HERE or to view our brochure click HERE.

    Anyone can become a People First Member! It's a great opportunity for self-advocates, family members, friends, direct support professionals and any individual that supports or works with an individual with disabilities.

    How to become a People First Member

    1. Fill out the People First Membership Form

    2. Submit Membership Dues
    To submit online, click HERE.

    *To submit your dues by check or money order, please send them to: The Arc Tennessee, Attn: Breanna Atwell,545 Mainstream Drive, Suite 100, Nashville, TN 37228.

    People First Chapters

    PFTN is supporting the development of local chapters in the west, middle and east regions of Tennessee, partnering with chapters of The Arc and other organizations for techncial and structural support. To start a chapter in your area, send a message to or call 615-248-5878, extension 305.
  • People First Chapters in Tennessee [.pdf]
    Blount County
    Coffee County
    Davidson County
    Dickson County
    Hamilton County
    Madison County
    McNairy County
    Rutherford County
    Shelby County
    Williamson County

    For information on joining one of the chapters above, send a message to orcall 615-248-5878, extension 305. PFTN developed a Chapter Manual to help guide local chapters. To read it, click HERE. Or to read our Summer 2019 newsletter The Independent HERE.

    Local PFTN chapters

    • Host speakers on topics that members care about and want to learn about
    • Have fundraising and “fun” raising events to build chapter strength and unity
    • Help educate the community on the value of people with disabilities and how they contribute to everyone’s quality of life
    • Address disability issues on the local and regional level
    • Enroll members

    As a team, PFTN can

    • Teach youth and adults with disabilities about their legal rights and responsibilities, how to become effective self-advocates, and the power of self-determination
    • Provide support to groups and chapters across the state on awareness of important issues, leadership opportunities, and how to take action on important disability-related issues and concerns
    • Provide leadership, public speaking, and empowerment training 
    • Serve on state, regional, and national policy-making bodies
    • Address disability issues on a state level and influence public policy

    Your People First Tennessee Advisory Council Members!

    Mary Dale Greene, Brentwood

    Vice Chair
    Diamond Grigsby

    Regional Reps
    East: Nancy Everett
    Middle: Jimmy Parnell
    West: Garrett Jones

    Princeton Lusby, Jackson
    Bill Gage, Selmer
    Sam Gage, Selmer
    Steven Beckham, Jackson
    Marcellous Brazley, Memphis

    Your People First Tennessee Project Staff Members!

    Dave Griffin
    Membership Recruitment Specialist
    Dylan Brown
    On-line Communication Specialist
    Lorri Mabry
    Database Specialist
    Scott Finney

    What is “self-advocacy?”
    Self-Advocacy means speaking up for yourself about your rights, interests, needs and desires. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for them.

    Who are “self advocates?”
    People who speak up for themselves are called “Self-Advocates” and having once learned how to speak up for themselves can assist others to do so as well. If you would like to schedule a presentation by self-advocates, please email Scott Finney.

    Helpful Videos

    How do I learn more about self-advocacy and becoming a self-advocate?
    There are many national, state and other resources that can help you learn more and to become more involved in the self-advocacy movement.

    Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) - Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is the self-advocacy organization of the United States. Founded in 1990, we have been working hard for the full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the community throughout the 50 states and the world for 21 years.

    National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc (NCSA) - Join the National Council of Self Advocates of The Arc (NCSA) and be part of a group of leaders representing the full spectrum of ages and abilities across our national chapter network. This is your opportunity to be part of a group of self-advocates who will unite with a clear and strong voice to create lives that allow them – and you! – meaningful choices for a promising future.

    Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA) - TASA provides a forum for members to discuss the strengths and challenges that individuals with disabilities experience in becoming self-advocates in an effort to create better access to the resources and support they need to become self-advocates.

    Partners in Policymaking - Partners in Policymaking is a free leadership and advocacy training program for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities.

    Self-advocacy Online Learning - Offers a variety of topics.


    The Arc Tennessee received a grant from the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to revitalize People First of Tennessee.