Meet Kayla McKeon

Get to know the latest Engage Woman!

What is the one change you believe would lead to the biggest improvement for women’s economic security?

In the workforce, women should be paid equally to men, but, also, women with disabilities should have the same opportunities to earn and save money as everyone else. Did you know that people with disabilities can be paid below minimum wage?! Sometimes, they are paid as little as cents an hour! We are working hard at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to make sure that people with disabilities can’t be paid below minimum wage by phasing out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Saving is also important. There are now, thankfully, 529A ABLE accounts where individuals with disabilities can save money without affecting their benefits. It’s important that we make sure all people with disabilities know about ABLE accounts, but especially women! Having an income and investing are both so important for our economic security.

What is one thing you have seen, read, or heard that you would recommend to everyone?

I am an avid reader. I started reading when I was 4 years old. When I was young, I read all different kinds of books. When I started getting older, I began to expand what I read. Currently, I love reading mystery and homicide books, like those by James Patterson, or even romance novels. I really like reading to wind down or while I exercise on my recumbent bike. As for watching television, I like watching Jeopardy because I love getting answers correct. This helps expand my knowledge and makes me feel pretty bright. I also have my own podcast called Kayla’s Korner, where I interview Members of Congress, self-advocates with Down syndrome and other disabilities, influencers in the disability community, and other policymakers inside and outside of Washington, DC.

Who are you most inspired by right now?

I am most inspired by my parents. They are my role models because I love looking up to them. I had a great upbringing. My parents treated me like everyone else. If I did something wrong, they disciplined me like every other child. My parents always have teaching moments for me. My mom and dad lead by example. My parents are always there for me no matter what, and they have always guided me to make the right decisions. Mom and Dad have supported me in all of my life experiences. I like to say that I have their back 110 percent, and I know they have my back 110 percent.

If you could have any job in the world for one month, what would it be and why?

I would like to be a judge in court. I would be able to rule and make decisions that would help the differently-abled community. I would get to make rulings on the legal system, and I would make sure people with disabilities are treated the way we want to be treated: fairly and justly.

What movie are you always happy to watch and why?

During Christmastime, I love watching the feel-good movies that are either on Hallmark or Lifetime. It always puts me in a good mood while drinking hot chocolate and working on my knitting projects. It’s the perfect wintertime activity. During other times of the year, I really enjoy watching movies that are based on books, like the Harry Potter series and Twilight. I just love books and reading so much!

Who do you love to follow on social media and why?

I love following Tim Shriver, the CEO of Special Olympics. It was his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who started Special Olympics when she was a child. The motto of Special Olympics is: “Let me win, but if I can’t win let me be brave in the attempt.” His social media is very inspiring to me as a Special Olympics athlete. I also love following Matthew McConaughey. He wrote his own book, Greenlights, where he talks a lot about his life. I love what he stands for, and he is very motivating. I also love following the National Down Syndrome Society, of course! We are always highlighting members of the Down syndrome community and the amazing things we are doing. We also make sure our followers know what we are working on in Washington, DC and across the country to help improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome everywhere.

Kayla McKeon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy at the National Down Syndrome Society.

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