For over 40 years Burrus has advocated for the developmentally disabled
Lebanon County, PA – Serving her community and working with young people and adults with disabilities for more than 40 years has earned Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., National Coordinator of Development Disabilities an induction into the Lebanon County Commission For Women (LCCW) Hall of Fame.
Lori Burrus, who has been with YAP since 2004, will receive the honor from the Lebanon County Commission for Women’s Hall of Fame Luncheon on March 22 at the Fairland BIC Fellowship Hall in Cleona, Pa. She is one of 11 recipients who, according to LCCW website, live and work in Lebanon Valley, Pa., or have played an integral part in development and or implementation of projects that have benefited women and girls in the area. The honorees will be recognized for their work in 2022. Burrus was nominated by Michael Schroeder, who serves alongside her on the Lebanon County Pennsylvania NAACP.
“I nominated Lori Burrus because I’ve worked with her through the Lebanon County NAACP and I just became really impressed with her as a person, as a leader, as a community activist, as a human being and she just strikes me as really meritorious,” said Schroeder who serves as the secretary for the Lebanon County PA NAACP. “She is a really good person and has made a profound difference in the community without singing her own praises or blowing her own horn.”
YAP is a national nonprofit organization in 33 states and the District of Columbia providing community-based services as alternatives to youth incarceration, congregate residential care, and neighborhood violence. Burrus started with YAP as a coordinator of developmental disabilities, serving in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland. She’s been in her current position since 2014 learning about new services or programs and extending that knowledge to support staff working with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Additionally, Burrus works closely with program directors in assisting them with implementing new programs and supporting them with tools they need to make effective changes in their communities.
“YAP has been such an integral part of my career,” Burrus said. “Doing employment services has impacted me and the youth and the adults we support. Forty years ago, people with disabilities were only given the option of a sheltered workshop.”
Prior to YAP, Burrus worked as a coordinator and director of Community Services in Lebanon, Pa. Brittany Hilton, who used to work with Burrus at YAP and serves on the Commission for Women and the Hall of Fame committee, said Burrus is an inspiration to her and is someone who is not afraid of adversity.
“(Burrus) was not only a boss, but is a mentor and role model,” Hilton said. “The way she leads and builds confidence in others cannot be beaten. She has set a high standard for all other leaders and bosses in my life. I truly attribute the success I’ve had in building a career as a human services supervisor to her.”
Burrus currently serves as chair of the Lebanon County NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, taking complaints from those who feel they have had their civil rights violated.
“If someone is experiencing discrimination at work or in housing or at school, we receive these complaints and Lori has been spearheading that committee and meeting with complainants; taking notes and getting their story, along with providing an ear as well,” Schroeder said. “Sometimes people just want to be listened to.”
Lebanon County NAACP President and Pastor Tony Fields, Sr., has known Burrus for three years. Fairly new to the Lebanon County area himself, Fields says he depends on Burrus.
“She’s someone who will keep you grounded,” Fields said. “(Burrus) has wisdom. She’s not easily frazzled. As a leader you need someone in your corner that is not going to panic. You need that confidant. This day and age I couldn’t think of anyone better than her. Again, because of her role and knowing the community, she is well deserving of this induction.”
Burrus is spearheading an African American heritage trail in Lebanon County and was instrumental in helping form the local chapter of the Lebanon County NAACP in 2020. Schroeder also credits her with helping the civil rights organization to connect with the Lebanon County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB), which encourages collaboration in the criminal justice community.
“Lori has diligently attended CJAB meetings and made her presence felt for more than a year now,” Schroeder said. “She is very deliberate and respectful, and I think the CJAB is probably ready to accept our solicitation to become core members. If they do, it will be largely thanks to Lori’s quiet, understated hard work and commitment to making this happen and to having community voices heard within what’s been up till now an exclusively governmental organization.”
Burrus has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others, Schroeder wrote in the application essay he wrote when nominating her.
“Lori’s work has touched the lives of thousands of developmentally challenged young people and adults in Lebanon County and beyond in ways that have made their lives substantially better,” Schroeder additionally wrote. “Lori works to empower women and girls to be confident, effective, capable, and comfortable in their own skins by encouraging them to feel secure in who they are and know they have what it takes to succeed. She listens carefully, withholds judgment, and always exudes an abiding respect for the whole person. Her demeanor is one of quiet confidence and calm, steady, attentive caring.”
*Burrus would like people to know that she enjoys laughing and being silly. A God-fearing and adventurous woman, she also likes walking on trails, driving, gardening, bird watching, and exploring different kinds of foods. She is passionate about social justice issues and loves her family and friends.
For more information about YAP, visit yapinc.org.