One of the Professional Team Members Who Works for You at Nash Disability Law
What do you know about rollie pollies—the fingernail-sized creatures that roll up into a ball when they are threatened? If you are like most of us, the answer to this question would be: not much. But Kayla Cornblath, the Intake Lead at Nash Disability Law, isn’t most people. One of her hobbies is raising rollie pollies. “Despite their appearances and that they are often referred to as pill bugs, rollie pollies are actually more closely related to lobster, shrimp, and crabs than they are to bugs,” she clarifies. “Basically they are not insects at all, but land dwelling shrimp. They have gills to breath, so they need to be kept moist. They are detritivores, so they eat decaying matter. I keep them in a box of dirt, leaves, and wood. I guess I never grew out of digging in the dirt,” she jokes.
Rollie pollies are not her only derived-from-nature hobby. Kayla also breeds and raises reptiles. She and a friend currently have a menagerie of more than 30 snakes and 10 turtles. “I like keeping reptiles because they are not domesticated in any way and so it is little piece of the wild in your house,” she says. Caring for creatures and people is embedded deep in Kayla’s DNA. She has been a member of the Nash team for nearly two years, but for 10 years before that she worked in animal shelters, at a veterinarian clinic, dog training facilities, and was a certified dog trainer. (When you stop by the Nash offices, ask Kayla about the scars she got from working with animals.)
Her empathy and compassion for people is evident every day at work. “I am the non-attorney lead of the intake department. “I have a very broad range of responsibilities that include screening new clients to case management while the claim is in my department to dealing with the Social Security Administration directly,” she explains. “I like being able to be a source of stability for people and future stability when their benefits are approved. Our clients often have incredibly insecure lives and I think it is important that we can be a source of stability while helping them get approved. And, of course, approval for disability becomes an ongoing source of stability for them.”
She also gives back to the community by volunteering for Center for Companies That Care, a mentoring program that helps at-risk Chicago area youth graduate from college. Kayla points out that “CTC is different because it stays with kids all the way through college graduation. With skyrocketing tuition costs, a little bit of college is actually worse than no college because you end up with a ton of debt but without the education needed to get the job that has the salary you need to pay it off. The other feature that is different about this program is the mentors are from local businesses. It helps businesses get involved in creating a pool of diverse, college- educated potential employees.” She also donates to Working Dogs for Conservation which trains conservation detection dogs and puts them to work protecting wildlife and wild places. “And best of all,” she says, “these are all shelter dogs.”
When asked to share a quote that best describes her and explains who she is, Kayla’s response is: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” It seems entirely appropriate that a woman who raises rollie-pollies would select a quote from Dr. Suess.