Board Member Tim Andriano shares why he loves L’Arche and what keeps him motivated to support L’Arche Chicago

How did you become introduced to L’Arche?

I first became aware of L’Arche when I was a graduate fellow in the special education department at Syracuse University in 1969.  I specialized in clinical aspects of people with severe and profound mental retardation (that was the label at the time.)  Our department chairperson, Burton Blatt, knew Jean Vanier and introduced us to L’Arche when DayBreak opened in Toronto.  Our main public policy work at the time was deinstitutalization - getting people with intellectual disabilities out of huge state institutions.  It was quite a cause which resulted in Geraldo Rivera’s expose on Willowbrook on Long Island. Dr. Blatt urged all of his students to become involved with L’Arche as an alternative to institutions.

When I arrived, I felt an immediate kinship. The people there were very different than the other people also involved in group home settings.

I completed a doctorate in Social Planning with an emphasis on disability services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I have taught special education in an inclusive public school, administered a dual diagnosis program for preschoolers, served as head of a psycho-educational clinic, was Chief of Planning for Disability Services in state government, conducted field research studies on inclusion, served as Executive Director for a non-profit agency serving people with autism and my final position was Director of a large non-profit agency serving 2000 children and adults with and without disabilities.

I was a Special Education Fellow at Syracuse and an E.B. Fred Fellow at the University of Wisconsin.  I served on the boards of IL ARC and IL Autism Association. That’s it in a nut shell. More importantly, I have had great pleasure supporting people with disabilities and their families while advocating for social change and progressive reform of the service system.

What’s your First L’Arche Chicago Memory?

I went to the Angel House house warming while working for the governor’s office. He was invited and asked if I wanted to go. When I arrived, I felt an immediate kinship. The people there were very different than the other people also involved in group home settings.

Why do you support L’Arche?

I feel that the main difference between L’Arche and your typical group home is that feeling of community. The founders of L’Arche intentionally built a community. An inclusive community of anyone who had it in their heart to be a member. People who aren’t immediate family or workers. We each have something to bring and we get something special in return. It’s a reciprocal relationship.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I love horses! That’s how I became an accompanier with Elisha! I got to know him more as we went to share in our love of horses.

Interested in joining the board?
Contact Mic Altena at

(This article was originally published in the Two by Two, our twice yearly publication highlighting the L'Arche Life in Chicago. Don't get the Two by Two? Subscribe today to have it delivered right to your door twice a year.)