Shanya Luther

Professional Information

DegreeBA in Human and Environmental Sciences and M.Div
Where did you study?Undergrad: California State University in Sacramento, CA; Grad: Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA
How long have you worked in the field of ID/DD?13 years (as of 2023)
Have you worked in any other interesting/notable positions or fields?I was a youth pastor in California and Oregon, a community outreach coordinator for a domestic violence prevention agency in Oregon, an intern for an HIV and AIDS prevention program in South Africa; and I scooped ice cream for my first job in California.
List any additional pertinent continuing education you have done.I have years of experience in multiple topic areas; for more information you can see my resume and documents here.
What is your philosophy about your work?My philosophy about work evolves over time. Right now my focus is on helping people live their own best lives according to what they want and need.
Describe a professional moment/event that you are very proud of.I am extremely proud of helping several people with intellectual and developmental disabilities avoid prison time for issues that they did not understand and had received no education or support for.
Do you have any professional mentors? If so, describe that relationship.My dearest mentor was Rev. Lizann Bassham. She died a few years ago, but I think of her all the time and she inspired me to get into the work I am doing today.
What are some of your favorite things about working for Among Friends?I love so many things! I love our team, I love our purpose, I love the diversity of our staff and our clients, and I am proud of having built an agency that honors each of us.

A little fun information to get to know Shanya

What do you like to do outside of work? Any hobbies?I spend a lot of time with my dog. I love photography, dancing, art, and drag queen culture. And lately I have been doing a lot of home improvement projects.
Do you have pets? Tell us about them.Yes! I have a sweet dog named Zubi. She is milk-chocolate colored, about 45 pounds and FULL of energy. She’s a border collie / australian kelpie mix and she’s incredibly intelligent. She even knows over 30 tricks!!!
Describe your living situation.I live in a cute little home in McMinnville, Oregon with my dog. I painted it orange because I love orange. And I am creating a backyard oasis!
Do you have any children? How old are they? Tell us about them.I haven’t given birth to any kids, but I have co-parented and helped raise several throughout my life. I also refer to my former youth group kids as “mine”. 🙂
Where are you from originally? What got you to Oregon (or wherever you are right now)?I was born in Zimbabwe, Africa. I have lived a lot of years in NW Oregon, but also in Northern California.  I have also lived for shorter periods of time in Brazil and South Africa. 
What effect did the quarantine have on your personal/work life?The quarantine was very challenging personally and professionally. For all of our work, we had to pivot and re-create everything from scratch to be available online. And while it was extremely difficult, it has allowed us to reach far more people and be more of a support. Personally, it was very isolating and lonely. For over 2 years I only saw about 15 people in person, and not very often. But I’m starting to venture out again in small amounts.
Where is somewhere you’ve traveled? What are some things you liked about where you went? What was that experience like?I have been privileged to travel to over 30 different countries. I love them all for different reasons… I love the people, the cultures, the foods, the sounds, and learning about other customs and ways of living. One of my favorite moments, however, was walking off the plane onto the soil of the country where I was born after being gone over 25 years. I felt like a missing piece of me was reconnected with my heart.
What was your first concert? How old were you?Richard Marx at the Oregon State Fair when I was 14!
What is one of your favorite books, movies, or bands? Why?Because I was born there and I care about social justice issues I love movies that are based in Africa – like The Constant Gardener, Blood Diamonds, Hotel Rwanda, etc. 
Describe one of your favorite meals.Oh man! I love so many foods!!! Thai coconut soup, Italian gnocchi, Mexican chimichanga, Japanese sushi… I love textures, smells, flavors, and the kinesthetic experience of food.

SCORE! is our monthly newsletter highlighting everything we’re doing at Among Friends. You’ll find out the most current information about what we are doing in each of our programs - Training, Behavior Services, Marketplace, and Advocacy and Consultation.

You’ll get links to articles, products, books, resources, and more curated to help you support the people you support.

  • We highlight programs, people, and products that might help you as you support folx.
  • We have calls to action so we can all be a part of creating a community that supports people and their sexual-self determination.
  • We list upcoming dates for trainings including the certification program - and we offer coupon codes and various discounts.
  • And so much more!!!

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