Actor Patrick Dempsey Speaks about the Importance of Inclusion and Community at Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities Event

Actor Patrick Dempsey Speaks about the Importance of Inclusion and Community at Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities Event Openly shares his story of growing up with a learning disability

Press Release
March 9, 2017

Burlingame, CA —Award-winning actor Patrick Dempsey, who is best known for his role as a neurologist on the hit television show Grey’s Anatomy, was the guest speaker at Gatepath’s 10th annual Power of Possibilities event on March 8, 2018. As someone who was diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of 12, Dempsey has a personal connection to Gatepath’s mission of empowering people with special needs to achieve their potential. “We’re honored that Patrick Dempsey spoke at our event this year,” said Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider. “His personal perspective helps raise awareness about the importance of creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion in all aspects of life.”

In a conversation moderated by ABC TV news anchor Dion Lim, Dempsey shared how growing up with a learning disability shaped his perspective on life and helped him become a successful actor. “You never feel like you belong,” Dempsey said, “but out of that struggle, you find a unique gift, which is something you excel in. And that’s a gift that comes because you look at the world and see things differently.”

Dempsey also discussed the importance of giving back and paying it forward. “The reason for living,” he said, “is what we do for our communities.” Dempsey reflected on the value of Gatepath’s lifespan of services for people with special needs and developmental disabilities, from infants to seniors. “The work you’re doing here is remarkable,” he said, “and the success you’re having is due to the individuals and corporations that stand up and understand what it means to give back to the communities you’re all part of.”

The Power of Possibilities, which is co-hosted by the Gatepath Auxiliary, brings together likeminded community members to celebrate the achievements of those with developmental disabilities and to support Gatepath’s mission. “This is a truly wonderful event,” commented Gatepath Auxiliary President Cathy Nessier, “for everyone to come together to celebrate the inspirational accomplishments of the individuals and families served by Gatepath.”

In addition to the conversation with Dempsey, Gatepath presented Annett Guterres with the Neal Poppin Award, in recognition of her determination, character and achievement of personal and professional goals. Annett has exceled at her job in a group employment setting at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront hotel, and is now seeking an individual job placement. “In many ways Annett’s story is just beginning,” said Neider. “Being in a group setting was the perfect way for her to develop her skills and find out what she’s really interested in. We’re very excited for Annett as she starts the next phase of her career.”

In a video tribute, Clif Clark, general manager of San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel, spoke about the contributions of Annett and her Gatepath peers at the hotel. “Gatepath’s been a very important part of this hotel for a long time. Some of the Gatepath employees have been here for more than 20 years. They’re truly part of the Marriott family.” Neider added, “Businesses like the Marriott who partner with Gatepath are providing meaningful employment and opportunities for inclusion and independence.”

The 2018 Power of Possibilities event was made possible by title sponsor, Carole Middleton, and the following platinum sponsors: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, Sharon and Joel Friedman, Gatepath Auxiliary, Goldman Sachs Gives, GoPro, Sara and James Jungroth, and Sutter Health, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. Other sponsors included Bailard, Barulich Dugoni Law Group, Inc., Janice Berthold, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Kathryn and Richard Breaux, Elaine and George Cohen, D’Elia Construction Inc.Electronic Arts, Karen and Todd Gemmer, Graybird Foundation, Linda and Richard Leao, Diane Christensen Mason and Charles H. Mason Jr., Katie and Bryan Neider, Norman S. Wright Mechanical EquipmentOracle, Barbara and Paul Regan, Lilli Rey, and Wells Fargo.

Click HERE to view images from the event.
Photography by Andy Berry


Gatepath has been a cornerstone of our community for more than 97 years, providing support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to empower people with special needs to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs and community partnerships. With educational, therapeutic, vocational, and family support services, we provide support to an individual throughout his or her lifetime. We collaborate with businesses, third-party providers, local nonprofits, and various other organizations to bring the highest quality services to the children, youth, and adults in our programs. Together, we are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included in all aspects of life – in the classroom, in the workplace, and in our communities.

For more information, visit Our local online resource center is available at, where families can connect to invaluable resources and support services.

Contact: Julia Ballantyne, Gatepath
Cell: 916-390-4671