After over three decades of research and supervision related to autism and other disabilities, retired Canyon Country resident Diane Ambrose was appointed to the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities in May.
Ambrose, 67, served as deputy director at the North Los Angeles County Regional Center from 2010-17, where she had held several positions since 1982. She retired last August.
Her appointment was as a member-at-large with a family member — a granddaughter — with a developmental disability, Ambrose said.
“I was thinking, ‘What the heck am I gonna do? Because I want to still contribute in some meaningful way even in retirement,’” she said. “I didn’t necessarily need to work but I wanted to be involved primarily for my granddaughter. And I think the council came out of the blue as a wonderful opportunity to stay involved and contribute with like-minded people.”
A lifelong California resident, Ambrose became interested in developmental disabilities while she was attending the University of California, Santa Barbara in her undergraduate years. She became involved with autism research, Ambrose said, and went on to earn a Master’s of Education degree in special education from the University of South Carolina.
After graduating from USC, Ambrose was clinical counselor at the Catawba Center for Growth and Development from 1972-82, but came to California to spend 35 years at the regional center.
She held several positions there, including manager for the training and information department, manager of community affairs, area specialist, supervising counselor of the Children’s Unit and counselor of the Adult Unit.
Ambrose is fond of her 28 years in the Santa Clarita Valley, where her husband was a special education teacher before retiring and her children went to school, she said.
Two of her sons still teach in SCV schools, one as a modern history teacher at Saugus High School, and one as a special education teacher at Valencia High School.
Ambrose’s granddaughter has autism, so she works even in retirement to help the individuals and their families who need it, she said.
“It’s an opportunity to continue my work from the regional center,” she said. “I get to give input to a group that has the authority to develop a strategic plan, and I have a very strong interest in ensuring that services and support remain intact for my granddaughter and all children and adults that need it.”