2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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The 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

Texas State Independent Living Council, (SILC)

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, (DARS)

Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living, (TACIL)

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, (CTD)


Welcome Conference Attendees Welcome to the 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference, “Community Living: It’s My Choice!” located downtown at the Sheraton Austin Hotel. President Barack Obama celebrated the anniversary of the landmark 1999 Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C., by launching "The Year of Community Living," a new effort to assist Americans with disabilities. We are gathered here to support such efforts and to work together to identify ways to access housing, transportation, community supports, and Independent Living services needed for Texans with disabilities. But make no mistake! This may be called The Year of Community Living, but huge threats to people with disabilities are looming at the State Capitol, just a few blocks from our conference. With a massive state budget shortfall, legislators are proposing to slash community services by billions of dollars…that’s right, billions! That includes Medicaid, non-Medicaid, DARS programs, and our Centers for Independent Living, where 15 CILs are targeted for funding cuts. While you are with us in Austin, plan to make a difference. Attend the Advocacy presentations and participate at our visit to the Capitol on Tuesday and make your voice heard. This conference offers many informative sessions, exhibits, and social activities that are designed to facilitate your interaction with other attendees as well as the presenters and speakers. We believe this conference will be an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone. Conference materials are available in alternate formats and both sign language interpreters and CART services have been arranged. Several roving personal attendants and volunteers will be present during daily conference activities to assist attendees. The 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference could not happen without the help of many dedicated people and donations from sponsors and community partners. Please take a moment to read the lists of volunteers, staff, and donors, and say thank you when you have a chance. On behalf of the Conference Committee, thank you for joining us and we hope you see old friends and meet new ones! With warmest regards,

Regina Blye SILC Executive Director

Mack Marsh TACIL Executive Director

Dennis Borel CTD Executive Director

-- Thank you for making this a smoke-free, scent-free event!

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” -Robert Francis Kennedy 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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CONFERENCE AGENDA

Sunday, April, 3, 2011 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pre-Registration

Foyer

5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Breakthroughs in Technology: Independent Living

Creekside I

☆ Lex Frieden, Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Pre-Conference

Activity: An innovative roundtable discussion and brainstorming session on improving adaptive technology and enhancing Independent Living for people with disabilities. Fantastic breakthroughs in technology are occurring every day. However, people with disabilities don’t seem to be benefiting from many of them. CTD, SILC, and the CILs in Texas want you to be part of the process of defining technology needs and working with researchers at Texas-based universities and companies to improve Independent Living opportunities by developing new technologies for people with disabilities. Frieden will describe a statewide initiative to promote improvements in technology development and access to technology for people with disabilities, and he will facilitate a discussion about how consumers with disabilities can lead the process of technology development in Texas by defining our needs and helping to develop and test the products of cutting-edge research. 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Pre-Conference Activity: Join conference attendees for a get acquainted

Creekside I

mixer while enjoying flat grilled quesadillas.

Menu: Marinated Beef and Chicken, Grilled Peppers and Onions, Diced Tomatoes, Shredded Cheese, Flour Tortillas, Guacamole, Fresh Salsa, Sour Cream and Jalapeños

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7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Complimentary Breakfast

Monday, April 4, 2011

8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Registration and Raffle Tickets

Capitol Ballroom Foyer

8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Exhibits Open

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. General Session - Opening Ceremonies

Capitol Ballroom A-D

Welcome, Introduction of Emcees and Conference Staff: ☆ Regina Blye, Texas State Independent Living Council ☆ Dennis Borel, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities ☆ Mack Marsh, Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living Welcome to Austin: Sponsor Chairs ☆ Michelle Crain, Texas State Independent Living Council ☆ Crystal Lyons, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities ☆ Peggy Cosner, Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living Resources for Community Living: Debra Wanser, Interim Commissioner, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Featured Speaker: Mary Gordon Spence, Humorist and Radio Personality 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Breakout Sessions Medicaid Buy-In for Children: Minimizing Financial Hardship for Families of Children with Disabilities

Capitol Ballroom A-C

Facilitator: Scotty Sherrill, Texas SILC Board Member ☆ Jonas Schwartz, Team Lead for Long Term Services and Support Policy Medicaid/CHIP Division, Health and Human Services Commission ☆ Kaye Beneke, Outreach Specialist, Long Term Services and Supports Policy

About the Session: Families can have a substantial income and qualify for the Medicaid Buy-In option for Children. This program helps families who need health insurance, but make too much money to get traditional Medicaid. The presenters will inform participants about how this program works, what the eligibility requirements are, and how to apply. 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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Access Solutions: Gadgets and Gizmos Designed to Make Life Easier for Everyone

Capitol Ballroom E

Facilitator: Mack Marsh, Executive Director of Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living ☆ Richard Hopkins, Program Specialist for Rehab Technology, ATP Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services ☆ Michael Ritter, Rehabilitation Technology Information Services, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services ☆ John Morris, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Texas Technology Access Program, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Center for Disability Studies

About the Session: Presenters will provide hands-on demonstrations of various types of assistive technology

and discuss latest innovations in the field. Issues such as ease of use, durability, frequency of upgrades, and cost effectiveness will also be covered. In addition, presenters will discuss programs for acquiring needed assistive technology to help improve quality of life and increase independence. Unlock the Door to Independence: How to use Relocation Services to Return to your Home and Community

Capitol Ballroom F-G

Facilitator: Michelle Crain, Executive Director, SILC Chair ☆ Susan Murphree, Senior Policy Services Specialist, Disability Rights Texas ☆ Nicky Boyte, ADAPT, Activist ☆ Annabell Mendoza, Relocation Specialist, LIFE, Inc.

About the Session: Transition from an institutionalized setting into the community can be a frustrating,

complex, yet heartwarming experience. Texas continues to lead the way in Money Follows the Person, but there are still barriers to overcome and best practices to implement. The panel will discuss several aspects to the relocation process, including the coordination of services, legal battles fought and won, and the triumph of success, when an individual has gained their freedom to live in a community setting of their own choosing. 11:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

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12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Awards Luncheon

Capitol Ballroom A-D

Speaker: Merrill Friedman, Associate Vice President Advocacy and National Partnerships, Amerigroup Keynote Address: Johnny Crescendo, ADAPT Activist and Singer Awards Ceremony Legislator of Excellence Exceptional Contribution by a Center for Independent Living Consumer of the Year Special Recognition Raffle Give-A-Ways: Gift Baskets 1:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions A PATH to Independence: Microboards Facilitator:

Capitol Ballroom A-C

Karen Swearingen, Texas SILC Board Member

☆ Lisa Rivers, Development Director for The Arc of Texas

About the Session: The Texas Microboard Collaboration provides individuals with disabilities a system to

achieve self-determination with support from people who know and care about them. Learn some of the most valued organizational and person-centered planning tools in use today. Participants will also learn how to create a PATH that will empower consumers and identify existing and natural supports. Star+Plus Expansion: Are you ready? Facilitator:

Capitol Ballroom E

Kristen Jones, Texas SILC Board Member

☆ Joe Vesowate, Deputy Director, Managed Care, Health and Human Services Commission ☆ D.J. Johnson, STAR+PLUS Specialist , Health and Human Services Commission ☆ Judy Telge, Director of Development , Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living

About the Session: The panel will present updated information on the existing STAR+PLUS program as well as

present up-to-date information so consumers and providers can be prepared for the expansion initiatives of STAR+PLUS. The panel will also address how Centers for Independent Living can be instrumental in the existing STAR+PLUS program and during the roll out to other parts of the state.

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Texas Agriculture and Texas AgrAbility

Capitol Ballroom F-H

Facilitator: Mack Marsh, Executive Director of Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living ☆ Dr. Cheryl H. Grenwelge, Family Development and Resource Management

About the Session: Many Texas farmers, ranchers, and their family members are challenged by certain conditions (i.e., arthritis, amputation, back injuries, heart conditions, traumatic brain injury, and others). Further amplifying these challenges is the fact that Texas is a large state with scattered resources. The Texas AgrAbility Project assists individuals with disabilities to overcome these barriers that might otherwise hinder their ability to remain in production agriculture. 2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions Independence and Employment: Extending Medicaid to Working Adults with Disabilities

Capitol Ballroom A-C

Facilitator: Scotty Sherrill, Texas SILC Board ☆ Jonas Schwartz, Team Lead for Long Term Services and Support Policy Medicaid/CHIP Division, Health and Human Services Commission ☆ Kaye Beneke, Outreach Specialist, Long Term Services and Supports Policy

About the Session: Working-age adults with disabilities need adequate health insurance to enter or remain in

the work force, but their options for insurance coverage are limited. Learn how the Medicaid Buy-In allows working people with disabilities to earn more income without the risk of losing vital health care coverage. Connecting People to Employment and Enhancing Mobility Options for People with Disabilities

Capitol Ballroom E

Facilitator: Crystal Lyons, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Board ☆ Kris Dudley, Program Manager, Texas Department of Transportation ☆ Judy Telge, Director of Development , Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living

About the Session: Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom grants are designed to encourage creative, innovative projects that address the transportation needs of people with disabilities. The panel will serve as a useful resource for consumers, transportation professionals, and anyone applying for such grants to improve access to transportation for people with disabilities. 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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Consumer Directed Services (CDS): Your Life, Your Direction Facilitator:

Kristen Jones, Texas SILC Board Member

Capitol Ballroom D

☆ Elizabeth Jones, CDS Coordinator, Department of Aging and Disability Services ☆ Peggy Cosner, HOCTCIL Executive Director ☆ Melissa Rizzo, State Waiver Coordinator, Alamo Consumer Direct ☆ Randell Resneder, CDS Consumer

About the Session: The CDS option focuses on the people and their needs by putting them in charge of

defining the direction for their lives, not solely on the agency. This ultimately leads to greater inclusion as valued members of both community and society. The panel will provide more details about the service option and provide testimony as to how CDS has been instrumental in keeping an active consumer in the community. Privilege, Power and Difference

Capitol Ballroom F-H

Facilitator: Saul Herrera, RSVP Director, Community & Senior Services of Midland and Texas SILC Board Member ☆ Marshall Mitchell, Disability Consultant

About the Session: This session will present the basic dichotomy that creates the problems that our culture, or

any culture, faces concerning diversity. We live in a society of the privileged and the oppressed. Allan Johnson presents this dichotomy in clear irrefutable terms in his book Privilege, Power and Difference. As we go through the major points of his book, we will define privilege and oppression, demonstrate what they look like, and attempt to understand how to talk about the issues in safe and productive ways. 4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

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4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. General Session

Capitol Ballroom A-D

Advocacy 101: 82nd Legislature Update ☆ Dennis Borel, Executive Director, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities ☆ Marc Gold, Special Advisor for Policy and Promoting Independence Office of the Commissioner, Department of Aging and Disability Services

About the Session: The presenters will review critical issues currently before the Texas Legislature including serious cuts to community services and Independent Living. Learn what will impact your life, your independence and your community during the worst budget crisis in Texas history. Find out what to say to your legislators on Tuesday and on through to May 30. Not to be missed! 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Your Own: Get a massage, tour the city, or rest up for Casino Night! 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Evening Reception

Capitol Ballroom E-H

You made it through a full day of working hard, now let us work on building new relationships! Take some time to congratulate the award and raffle winners. This is also a perfect opportunity to meet the presenters, and chat in depth with the exhibitors and community partners. ☆ Casino Night - $10,000 in party chips ☆ Musical Entertainment: Someone Like Me (SLM) Band, Presented by: Regina Blye ☆ Raffle Give-A-Ways Menu: ☆ Custom Pasta Creations - Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Olives, Baby Spinach, Roasted Mushroom and Garlic Confit, Italian Sausage, Grilled Chicken, Shrimp ☆ Signature Sweets - Collection of Bakery Cakes, Fruit Filled Pies and European Style Petit Fours, Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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7:30 a.m.to - 9:00 a.m. Complimentary Breakfast

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

8:00 a.m.to- 11:30 a.m. Registration and Raffle Tickets

Capitol Ballroom A-D Foyer

8:00 a.m.to 12:00 p.m. Exhibits Open

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

9:00 a.m.to 10:00 a.m. General Session

Capitol Ballroom A-D

CLASS Act and Health Care Reform: What are My New Benefits? ☆ Stacy Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities ☆ Bob Kafka, ADAPT of Texas Organizer

About the Session: The Affordable Care Act (commonly called federal health reform) creates new health

insurance "exchanges" that will open in 2014. An exchange is a competitive marketplace for health insurance— think of Travelocity for airplane tickets and Amazon for books—that will give consumers more control, quality choices, and better protections when buying health insurance. The CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act) is a voluntary, federally administered, consumer-financed insurance plan. The CLASS plan provides those who participate with cash to help pay for needed assistance, if they become functionally limited. The presenters will further discuss each act and how they benefit Texans with disabilities. 10:00 a.m.to 10:15 a.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions Support Groups for People with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Capitol Ballroom A-C

Facilitator: Saul Herrera, Retired Senior Volunteer Program Director, Community & Senior Services of Midland and Texas SILC Board Member ☆ Les Young, Program Specialist for Neurological Disabilities, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services ☆ William Greer, IT Specialist, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities ☆ Ruthann Curtis, Leader of the Austin Brain injury Support Group ☆ Diane Williamson, Austin Brain injury Support Group Member ☆ Lee Lancaster, Austin Brain injury Support Group Member ☆ Dawn Weiss, Austin Brain injury Support Group Member

About the Session: A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can result from any number of different accidents or

traumas. The one thing all individuals living with a TBI need is support. Fortunately, help is available in Texas in the way of support groups. Six presenters will use a question and answer process to discuss TBI Support Groups, why it is of value, the pitfalls or issues that might arise, and how to begin a support group. 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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Advocacy 102

Capitol Ballroom D

☆ Dennis Borel, Executive Director, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities ☆ Marshall Mitchell, Disability Consultant ☆ Redge Westbrook, Attorney at Law

About the Session: You know you can impact important public policy, now take it to the next level. Start with

voting, a political power that people with disabilities have not claimed. Bring your communications up to date with strategic use of social and electronic media. Learn techniques to be more effective. In this calamitous present and uncertain future, commitment to advocacy is not an option, but mandatory. Presented by Disability V.O.T.E and CTD. Is Diversifying Your Funding Sources the Key to Survival?

Capitol Ballroom F-H

Facilitator: Regina Blye, Executive Director, Texas SILC ☆ Phil Pangrazio, Executive Director, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living

About the Session: While we are uncertain of the future, nonprofits can be certain of one thing: Organizations

that invest time and resources into diversifying their funding sources will endure the economic ups and downs, shifts in donations, and even changes in your community. Building new sustainable funding streams that align with your mission takes time, energy and a lot of patience, but don’t worry, the presenter will provide a few money making ideas to help sustain your organization for the long term. What’s Behind the Looking Glass for Housing Programs in Texas? Facilitator:

Capitol Ballroom E

Karen Swearingen, Texas SILC Board Member

☆ Brooke Boston, Deputy Executive Director for Community Based Programs, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs ☆ Naomi Hubert , Housing Programs Director, Easter Seals Central Texas

About the Session: Presenters will discuss what housing mechanisms are in place and what the Texas

Department of Housing and Community Affairs can see long range for people with disabilities. Presenters will also provide information on the different types of home modifications and how they can help make your home more accessible. Information will also be provided on how to complete a home assessment, and to advocate for home modifications and funding resources.

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11:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Exhibit Visits and Break

Capitol View Terrance and Foyer

11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. General Session

Capitol Ballroom A-D

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Closing Ceremony: Randell Resneder/Peggy Cosner Trip to the Capitol: Details Van Give-A-Way Final Remarks

12:00 p.m.to 1:00 p.m. Capitol Day (Lunch on your Own) 1:00 p.m.to 2:00 p.m. Capitol Activities (Wear Conference T-Shirts) 2:00 p.m. to Until Visit Legislators

Travel to the Capitol Texas Capitol Auditorium Texas Capitol

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Thanks for the Support! Community Partners Alamo Consumer Direct Austin Mobility Solutions ADAPT/PACT Disability Rights Texas Eli Lilly and Company Hightech Rehab Services New Life Medical Equipment Molina Healthcare Touch of CLASS REACH, Inc.

Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas Amerigroup Community Care Bravo Health Empowerment Options, Inc. Evercare of Texas In Home Attendant Services National Federation of the Blind of Texas Superior Health Plan Texas Association for Interior Design Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living

Acadian On Call Alamo Consumer Direct Austin Mobility Solutions Bravo Health DARS Disability Rights Texas Eli Lilly and Company Empowerment Options, Inc. In Home Attendant Services Molina Healthcare New Life Medical Equipment Speech4Me Texas Relay Texas Talking Book Program Touch of CLASS VSA Arts

ADAPT of Texas/ Personal Attendant Coalition of TX Advanced Mobility Systems of Texas Amerigroup Community Care Center on Disability and Development - Texas A&M DBTAC-Southwest ADA Center Discover My Voice Evercare of Texas Hightech Rehab Services Medco Medical Supply, Inc. National Federation of the Blind of Texas Superior Health Plan SW Center for Higher Independence Texas Rehabilitation Association Texas Association for Interior Design Vocational Research Institute Visiting Physicians

ARCIL Graphics Macy’s LIFE, Inc. Vote Texas

Exhibitors

In-Kind Donations

Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau DARS Services- Media Services Toni Byrd, Creative Memories Independent Consultant Amosetta “Amy” Barron, DARS

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About the Presenters and Speakers Lex Frieden, Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and he is Adjunct Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine. Frieden also directs the ILRU - Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. ILRU is a research, training and technical assistance program on independent living for people with disabilities and seniors. TIRR is a comprehensive medical rehabilitation center, which provides clinical, educational, and research programs pertaining to spinal cord and brain injuries and other disabilities. Stephen Michael Kerr, Majic 95.7 Radio Personality. Stephen was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and moved to Austin after graduating from high school. He received a BA in physical education from Southwestern University in Georgetown, and began his radio career at age 19 as an on-air personality at a small contemporary Christian music station. Having been blind since birth, he has always felt it’s important to be an inspiration to the blind community. He has given dozens of speeches to various businesses and non-profits, and has volunteered with Special Olympics, Easter Seals, the American Council of the Blind, and other nonprofit groups. Susan Dickerson-Spruce, is a fourth-generation Texan, native Austinite, community advocate, student, actress, model, and title holder. Susan has competed in pageants with the Texas Plus America pageant system where she holds the titles of Texas Plus America 2011 Ambassador, 2011 Ms Austin Plus America, 2010 Ms Texas Plus America 1st Runner Up, and 2009 Ms Texas Plus America 2nd Runner Up. Her reason for competing in this pageant system is to be an advocate for those women whose voices have been suppressed by society, and to have an expanded opportunity to promote her platform of Volunteerism. The Texas Plus America pageant system exists to say that all women are worthy and beautiful. Susan also owns a business crafting Executive Office products from native Texas limestone. Regina Blye, is the Executive Director of The Texas State Independent Living Council, and owns a small micro-business called the Independent Living Services Group, in Austin, Texas. Regina has over 12 years’ experience working in the media field as an award winning television News Producer and an on-air Radio Personality. In 2002, she received a distinguished Barbara Jordan Media Award and recently named an Honorary Kentucky Colonel by Governor Steven L. Beshear. She is a former Ms. Wheelchair Texas and third runner up in the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant. Regina created and sings in the Someone Like Me (SLM) Band, an integrated group of musicians with different abilities. Crystal Lyons, President of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. She has served on the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority board since 2004 and is currently the Board Chairman. She has developed and provided training for parents of children with disabilities, persons with disabilities, community members, seniors and emergency personnel on a variety of disability related issues. Crystal has worked to change public policy from the local school board and city level to the state and national level. She has over 20 years’ experience working in the disability arena educating and advocating for change.

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Michelle Crain, is a native of the Texas Panhandle. She attended West Texas A&M University, where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Psychology and her Master’s Degree in Psychology. Michelle currently resides in Lubbock, Texas, where she has been the Executive Director of LIFE, Inc. for over 10 years. Within the last three years, she has established Centers for Independent Living in Abilene, Texas and San Angelo, Texas. She is the former President of the Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living, and was appointed by Governor Perry to both the Rehabilitation Council of Texas and the Texas State Independent Living Council, where she currently serves as Chair. Peggy Cosner, is the Executive Director of the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center, HOCTIL, and the current Chair of the Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living, TACIL. Her Center, HOCTIL, serves Central Texas counties of Bell, Coryell, McLennan, and Hill. Cosner has been working for persons with disabilities for over 30 years, where she began her career working for an ARC in Washtenaw County, Michigan. She is a key partner of the Central Texas Aging Disability Resource Center, among other community committees. Cosner is a Texas State Independent Living Council board member. Debra Wanser, Interim Commissioner, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Wanser has been the second-ranking DARS administrator, providing leadership and oversight to the department's Center for Policy and Innovation, Center for Learning Management, Center for Program and External Relations and the DARS Leadership Institute. Wanser is a registered nurse and has more than 30 years of nursing and professional health care administration experience. Wanser has worked diligently since joining DARS 3 1/2 years ago to expand on her already broad familiarity with issues of disability and now possesses a keen insight to such issues both current and future. Mary Gordon Spence, Well-known Austin humorist and public radio personality Mary Gordon Spence grew up in a small Central Texas town where family storytelling and singalong were everyday rituals. She officially began her speaking career at age four when she and her sister conducted church services on their front porch. A master of diversity, Mary Gordon (that's her double-first-name) has lived in Latin America, taught kindergarten to college, written Texas history materials, drafted legislation, directed statewide environmental programs and worked for a former president. Her storytelling, ukulele playing, wit and wisdom have been legendary throughout her career. Jonas Schwartz, is the manager of the Long Term Services and Supports Policy Section of the Medicaid/CHIP Division within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Jonas has worked for the past seventeen years on public policy issues that impact people with disabilities in Texas. During that time he has worked in both the non-profit and state government arena. Jonas has worked on a variety of public policy issues which include employment, housing, transportation and ensuring that Long Term Services and Supports are available to everyone.

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Kaye Beneke, joined the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in October 2009. As an outreach specialist in the Medicaid/CHIP Division, she works with a variety of programs to create community and client outreach strategies and supporting materials. Beneke has worked in public communication since 1975, when she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. After college, she worked as a news reporter and weekend anchor for two Austin television stations. Richard Hopkins, Program Specialist for Rehab Technology, ATP, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. He has worked in the field of Human Services for more than thirty years. He began his professional career as a Vocational Evaluator for the Royal Maid Workshop for the Blind in Hazlehurst, Mississippi and as VR Counselor with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services. Most of his professional career has been with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services where he has held several positions. Currently Richard is the lead Program Specialist for assistive technology, vehicle modifications, and home and job site modifications in the Rehab Technology Rehab Center. Michael Ritter, Rehabilitation Technology Information Services, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. He provides tours of the DARS Rehab Technology Resource Center; conducts research on new advances in AT; demonstrates AT equipment; and assists in managing the AT Loan Program - a "try it before you buy it" system that allows people with disabilities to evaluate various AT devices before purchasing. Ritter has worked at the state agency for ten years. Michael is also a published author. His first novel, The Brat Chronicles, tells the story of growing up as a military brat in the 1960’s and 70’s. John Morris, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Texas Technology Access Program, University of Texas, Center for Disability Studies, John has been with the TCDS since July, 2007 and manages the assistive technology device loan program and answer calls from people across Texas about information on community services and resources. Before working at UT, John worked four years as a Vista Volunteer at United Cerebral Palsy of Texas and at the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. John currently serves as chair of the Disability Policy Consortium, co-chairs the Consumer Direction Workgroup, and serves on the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities since 2001. Nicky Boyte, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of two. This eventually forced her to use a wheelchair and slowed her down just enough for the rest of the world to keep up. Growing up in a community that was not equipped to provide equal access to all, she set out to change her environment. This challenge brought Nicky together in 1998 with her ADAPT family, one of the largest grassroots advocacy groups in the United States. Now in her 30's she is a single mother of an active eight-year-old boy and living a life that many tried to keep from her because of her disability. With Nicky you will never have to walk away from her wondering what she was thinking; she'll let you know.

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Annabell Mendoza, is a Relocation Specialist and has assisted eligible individuals in transitioning from Nursing Home Facilities into the community for over four years. She has 14 years of experience in working with people with various disabilities and prior to joining the LIFE/RUN Home by Choice Relocation Team, she held a managerial position with Goodwill Industries. Currently, Annabell resides in Odessa, Texas, and is responsible for relocating individuals in HHSC Region 9. In 2009, Annabell played an instrumental role in establishing Disability Connections in San Angelo, one of the state’s newest Centers for Independent Living. Susan Murphree, serves as Senior Policy Services Specialist at Disability Rights Texas, with responsibility for advocating for public policies and funding that ensures an individual’s right to services in the most integrated setting. Susan Murphree has a BA in Psychology from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Murphree’s career has involved public and private health and human services positions including advocacy, teaching, direct services, planning, public policy, management, and administration. She also has personal experience as a parent advocate for her daughter with developmental disabilities. Merrill Friedman, is the Associate Vice President for Advocacy at Amerigroup Corporation, and works closely with stakeholders, advocates and consumers to ensure that diverse needs and preferences are recognized and addressed in health benefit programs as well as promoting the vision of Independent Living for seniors and people with disabilities. Before joining Amerigroup, Merrill was a consultant in the Child and Adolescent services field starting up and serving as Acting Director of a foster care agency for at-risk children and adolescents who have been severely abused and neglected. Currently, Merrill is a member of the MI Statewide Independent Living Council. Representative John Zerwas, M.D. was re-elected in 2008 to continue serving the citizens of House District 28 in Austin. House District 28 is made up of a diverse mix of urban, suburban, and rural populations in Waller County, Wharton County, and western Fort Bend County. Zerwas currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee as Chair of the Health and Human Services subcommittee, also known as Article II of the state budget. In addition to serving on Appropriations, Representative Zerwas served on the Conference Committee for Senate Bill 1, the 2010-2011 state budget. He was also appointed by Speaker Straus to serve on the House Public Health Committee. These committee assignments have allowed him to bring a unique perspective to the health policy debate. Senator Kirk Watson. Kirk Watson is former mayor of Austin and has been described by Texas Monthly Biz magazine as "a man with a vision of what the community wants and the moxie to carry it out." Watson was elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. He represents most of Travis County in the Texas Senate. In 2009, he was recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the state's "10 Best Legislators," among much other recognition. Senator Watson's priorities center on education and higher education, health care, economic development, 21st Century energy generation, environmental protection, transportation, budget transparency, and state employees.

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Alan Holdsworth, a/k/a Johnny Crescendo, is a true icon of the worldwide disabled people’s movement. He is a tireless activist and advocate; his history spans the early days of the formation of the disability rights movement through the heights of direct action to the philosophy of the future. Johnny has touched many people with disabilities all over the world through his advocacy and music. Johnny entered the disability rights movement as a poet singer/songwriter and his songs have become anthems of movements worldwide. The “Songs of Freedom Tour” presents Johnny Crescendo as no one has seen him before! Johnny is a troubadour, a raconteur; witty with incisive opinions about where we, (the disability movement) have been and where we will go in the future. This tour is a verbal and musical chronology of disability rights from inside the movement. Johnny bridges the gap between the father and mothers of the Disability Rights Movement to present day in a personal political way that is irresistible. Lisa Rivers, Development Director for The Arc of Texas. Ms. Rivers currently serves as the Director of Development for The Arc of Texas, coordinating and implementing all fund raising activities for The Arc. In addition, she serves as the Program Director for the Texas Microboard Collaboration, educating Texans and providing technical assistance concerning this innovative program for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

Judy Telge, Director of Development, Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living. Judy is the former Executive Director of the organization which she and two other advocates founded in 1996 in Corpus Christi. Federal VII-C funding was received in 2002 establishing the first Center for the area, at a time when relocation contracts were already in place with the Texas long term agency. Judy became the Director of Development in October, 2010, with primary responsibility for a new JARC-funded Mobility Options Project. She continues to oversee the Medicaid Waiver CLASS case management program and the relocation contracts with DADS and DSHS. Joe Vesowate, Deputy Director, Managed Care, Health and Human Services Commission. Vesowate serves the Health and Human Services Commission as the Medicaid and CHIP Deputy Director for Managed Care Operations. He is responsible for managed care contract oversight, systems support, financial monitoring, quality assurance, and the Texas Medicaid Wellness program for Primary Care Case Management program. He has also served as Manager of Quality Assurance and Program Improvement for Managed Care Operations. Previously, Vesowate worked for the Texas Department of State Health Services as Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Dr. Cheryl Grenwelge, is an Assistant Professor with Texas AgrLife Extension. This position includes dual responsibilities between Texas AgrLife Extension and The Center on Disability and Development at Texas & M University. Dr. Grenwelge received her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in May, 2010. She has a B.S. in Special Education and a M.Ed. in Education with an emphasis on Educational Diagnostics and Texas Certification. She has teacher certifications in Special Education K-12, Elementary Education 1-8, and English as a Second Language. Previous to working with Texas A&M University, she was lead teacher at a large transition center at the secondary level. 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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Kris Dudley, Program Manager Texas Department of Transportation. Kris Dudley has 35 years of public service experience, primarily managing federally funded programs. As a return-to-work retiree at the Texas Department of Transportation, she manages the Job Access Reverse Commute and New Freedom Programs. To date, TxDOT has awarded $35 million dollars in Job Access Reverse Commute and New Freedom Grants.

Randell Resneder, is a Texas SILC Board Member and Consumer. Randell K. Resneder of Lubbock is founder and Executive Director of Disability Awareness Programs of Texas. He is a past member of the Texas Council for Exceptional Children Nominating Committee. Resneder received a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and a Master’s degree in instructional technology from Texas Tech University.

Melissa Rizzo, is the State Waiver Coordinator for Alamo Consumer Direct. Melissa began her career working in the field of Intellectual Developmental Disabilities in 1998. Bearing witness to the closures of the State Institutions in Oregon, Melissa became a strong advocate for the Consumer Direct Service Model. As a staunch supporter of Person Centered thinking and Employment First, Melissa enjoys the time and energy she spends with the various committees that support and promote these philosophies. Melissa has a strong belief that everyone has the right and ability to live in the community and not only self-direct one’s supports but to be an active participant in the community. Marshall Mitchell, has over 30 years experience working with people with disabilities on a professional and personal basis. While working as the director of disabled student services at Amarillo College during the decade of the 80s, he volunteered as an advocate for people with disabilities at the local and state level. He served two terms as president of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and one term as chair of Advocacy, Inc. At the local level, he started an advocacy group and wrote the grant for the first Center for Independent living in Amarillo. In 1990 Mr. Mitchell moved to the state of Washington to become the director of Disabled Student Services at Washington State University. Marc Gold, Special Advisor for Policy and Promoting Independence Office of the Commissioner, Department of Aging and Disability Services. Marc Gold is the Manager overseeing the Promoting Independence Initiative for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, (DADS). Previously, he worked with the Health and Human Services Commission and the former Texas Department of Human Services. Representing DADS, he is an ex-officio member of the State Independent living Council.

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Dennis Borel, Executive Director, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. As Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Borel is frequently called on for research, policy analysis, and recommendations to the Texas Legislature and state agencies on issues surrounding disabilities. His service on advisory groups includes an appointment by Texas Health & Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins to the Promoting Independence Advisory Council and by Gov. Rick Perry to the State Independent Living Council. Stacy Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities. Stacey Pogue joined the center in 2008. She focuses on health policy issues. Before coming to the center, she worked as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Medicaid and CHIP Division of the Health and Human Services Commission. She has also worked to expand health insurance to uninsured Texans through the State Planning Grant with the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2010, she was selected to serve as a funded Consumer Representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Stacey earned a Bachelor of Science in Geography, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University in 1997 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Bob Kafka, Organizer, Adapt of Texas. Bob Kafka was born in New York and served with the Army's 188TH Maintenance Battalion from 1966-67. He graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Economics in 1974, and then went on to earn his M.Ed. in special education in 1977. Bob was also involved with Houston's Coalition for Barrier Free Living, CBFL, serving as Chair of the Architectural Barriers Committee and then as president in 1979. During his presidency of CBFL the group received the grant to start one of the first CILs in the country, Houston Center for Independent Living. From 1981 to 1983, Bob worked as a VISTA volunteer with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, CTD. From 1984 to 1987, he served on the Board of the Coalition, creating and chairing its Personal Assistance Services Task Force for five years. In 1984, Bob co-founded ADAPT of TX and has served in the capacities of local, state and national organizer ever since. Brooke Boston, Deputy Executive Director for Community Based Programs, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Brooke oversees the Community Affairs programs which include weatherization, energy assistance, homelessness, and community service activities; the Housing Trust Fund and the Housing Resource Center. Brooke also oversees the Office of Recovery Act Accountability and Oversight, which has oversight for ensuring consistent interpretation and application of federal Recovery Act requirements, as well as generating cross-cutting solutions across Recovery Act funds and providing streamlined reporting. Naomi Hubert, Housing Programs Director, Easter Seals Central Texas. Naomi Hubert has 19 years experience with organizations providing housing services to people with disabilities. She has experience providing training and technical assistance to housing and disability service providers, consumers, multi-family developers and home builders on the topic of accessible, affordable and integrated housing for people with disabilities. Ms. Hubert has a M.Ed. in Special Education from Texas State University and a BFA in Interior Design from Texas Tech University. 2011 Texas Statewide Independent Living Conference

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Phil Pangrazio, is the Executive Director of the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL), one of the largest CILs in the United States with an annual budget exceeding $30 million. Phil oversees a wide array of programs designed to empower people with disabilities to achieve or maintain independent lifestyles within the community. Under Phil’s leadership, ABIL has experienced 11 consecutive years of growth and success. Phil also spearheaded a fundraising effort to raise $12.2 million to build the Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center, the first of its kind in the southwest for persons with disabilities. Mack Marsh, was named the Executive Director of TACIL on February 28, 2011. Mack was a life-long resident of Louisiana where he owned a successful wholesale company for 13 years. In 2001, Mack experienced a spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia. After his injury, Mack worked as an IL Specialist at New Horizons Independent Living Center (NHILC) in Shreveport, LA. In 2002, Mack was named Director of IL at NHILC. In 2007, Mack turned his attentions to injury prevention becoming the Marketing Director for ThinkFirst, the National Injury Prevention Program. In two years with ThinkFirst, Mack educated over 400,000 youth and young adults on how to prevent traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. DJ Johnson, STAR+PLUS Specialist, Health and Human Services Commission. DJ Johnson serves as the STAR+PLUS Specialist for the Medicaid/CHIP Division of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. DJ’s involvement with Medicaid and the Home and Community Based Waivers is extensive having been involved with the Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS), Consolidated Waiver Program (CWP) and the STAR+PLUS 1915(b) and 1915(c) Nursing Facility Waivers. He also served as an ex-officio representative from the legacy Department of Human Services to the State Independent Living Council. Les Young, Program Specialist for Neurological Disabilities, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Les Young is a DARS representative with more than 10 years work leading the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services program. William Greer, is an IT Specialist, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. Greer joined the staff of the Coalition after working as a volunteer for CTD for a year. He wishes to improve civil rights for Texans with disabilities, especially regarding inclusive employment, education, Internet accessibility and voter participation. William also created and organized the annual Cinema Touching Disability film festival to raise awareness of disability issues. William Greer is a survivor of brain injury. Redge Westbrook, Attorney at Law. Redge has been licensed as an attorney since 1983 and has been practicing law in Texas for the majority of that time. He has represented clients in administrative hearings before state and federal agencies and practiced family law, wills and probate law and public housing defense while working with Legal Aid on two occasions. He also has worked extensively in the area of Civil Rights with concentrations in Investigation, Conflict Resolution and Mediation. Elizabeth Jones, Ph.D., has over twenty years experience in evaluation, policy analysis, design, and implementation of public and private programs designed to promote economic independence and improve quality of life. She currently serves as the Consumer Direction Coordination in the Center for Policy and Innovation at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. She has co-authored several journal articles and the book, Supporting Families: Lessons from the Field.

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