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Ellen Bilodeau Lacayo ’76

Born in San Antonio, Ellen grew up in New Orleans, and after majoring in anthropology at Reed, transferred to Tulane University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. In 1999, she received a master’s degree in management and disability services from the McLaren School of Business at the University of San Francisco.

In Gallup, New Mexico, she served as the program director of Disability Services Inc. from 1990 until 1995, when she became executive director. Among her accomplishments were eliminating group home and sheltered workshop practices from the community. Instead, she worked with local businesses to create real jobs for people with disabilities and created a fine arts gallery and studio showcasing the work of outsider artists with developmental disabilities in the Gallup arts community.

Ellen devoted her life to social justice and equal rights, actively protesting the Vietnam War, holding a leadership role in the Students for a Democratic Society, and fighting for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She brought her passion for justice to the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served as a member of the board of directors for the New Mexico chapter.

A lifelong advocate for animals, Ellen spent much of her free time with her own cats and invested a great deal of energy into helping friends and coworkers find new pets or homes for strays. Survivors include her sons, Patrick Costello and Myles Lacayo, and her partner, Fitz Sargent.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2016

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