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October 31, 2012

Poulin taking helm at North Country Center for Independence

Longtime director Andrew Pulrang retiring

(Continued)

The change in leadership, Pulrang said, “doesn’t change the mission, the values that we both share and have drawn from other centers across the state and the country. The center will still continue to provide support and advice.”

TAUGHT INDEPENDENCE

Poulin grew up in Florida as a visually impaired youngster but had never heard of the concept of independent living as an advocacy issue.

“My mom taught me to be independent but to accept my limitations,” he said. “She said I would never drive a car, but I could become president of the United States.”

As a young adult, Poulin moved to Plattsburgh to begin college at Plattsburgh State, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in education.

He returned to Florida after graduation, where he did teach for a while. But, he missed Plattsburgh and moved back to take a position at the Center for Independence as a youth educator.

“I originally told Andrew that I’d give the position two years, but my ultimate goal was to teach,” he recalled.

The systems-advocacy position opened a year and a half later, and Poulin decided to give that a shot. Within a short time, he realized that he had found his career goal.

“I loved it,” he said. “I stopped looking for teaching jobs and have never looked back.”

ADVOCACY

Pulrang, who was born in Plattsburgh but moved to Olympia, Wash., as a youngster, took a summer job at the center in 1990, one year after it had opened. He had always been fond of the North Country and decided to move back here after completing graduate school at Dartmouth University.

“Although I had disabilities all my life, I had never thought of working in the field,” he said. “I majored in history but had no idea what I wanted to do as a career.”

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