Minutes — August 2018 Committee of the Whole Meeting


  • Council Members Present
  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Patty Anderson, DRTx
  • Paula Brunson, TWC/Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Andrew Crim
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Katlyn Le, DSHS/Maternal and Child Health
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Meagan Orsag, A&M CDD
  • Justin Porter, TEA/IDEA
  • Amy Sharp, UT CDS
  • Lora Taylor
  • John Thomas
  • Richard Tisch
  • Dana Williamson, HHSC/Medicaid
  • Guests Present
  • Jan Brown
  • Kevin Caudill
  • Adriane Heffelfinger
  • Nidia Heston
  • Amy Litzinger
  • Alexandra Noble
  • Jolene Sanders
  • Monica Villarreal
  • Christa Walikonis
  • Tiffany Williams
  • Alicja Zapalska
  • Staff Present
  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Scott Daigle
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Ashley Ford
  • Robert Garcia
  • Linda Logan
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel
  • Council Members Absent
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Kristen Cox
  • Michael Peace
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris

Call To Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Thursday, August 2, 2018, in the Salon A-C Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Austin, 6121 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78752. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:39 AM.

  1. Introductions
  2. Council members, staff and guests introduced themselves. Council Chair Durheim reviewed the agendas and discussion items for the meetings.
  1. Public Comments
  2. No public comments were offered.
  1. Leadership and Advocacy
  2. Executive Director Beth Stalvey and Council member Rick Tisch led a discussion on TCDD leadership and advocacy activities. Members first discussed their purpose for participation in the Council and the issues that they advocate for. Stalvey discussed how a personal desire to advocate for improvements in their own lives and lives of their family members leads to advocating on behalf of immediate peers and others in the disability community and ultimately advocating for systems change to improve the lives of all. Members discussed barriers as well as benefits to advocacy work. Barriers include skills and staying informed on complex topics, finding opportunities to make an impact, and balancing their own family and caregiver roles. Benefits include personal education and skills, connection with peers, building community capacity, and creating systems change for the benefit of others.
  4. Members next discussed Council goals in leadership and advocacy activities. Stalvey reviewed goals of the Developmental Disabilities Act which include empowering individuals and families, promoting self-determination and self-advocacy skills, input into the development of public policies that impact the system of supports, and to create an environment of self-sufficiency, inclusion, and acceptance.
  6. Council members reviewed the leadership and advocacy projects that TCDD has funded. These include self-advocacy projects, projects focused on youth, projects centered in rural areas, projects focused on families and communities, policy fellowships, and statewide advanced leadership training. Other projects that contain elements of leadership and advocacy skills include those aimed at outreach and development and addressing underserved cultures and communities.
  8. Members next discussed the acceptable return on investment of these projects. It was noted that although outcomes can be hard to measure, there has been a great success in the growth of organizations that began with or were enhanced due to TCDD funding. Organizations such as Texas Parent to Parent and EveryChild, Inc. became sustainable following grant funding. Members acknowledged that return on investment isn’t always quantifiable because we don’t know of an advocate’s personal successes but it is evident in increased public awareness of disability issues as well as through systems changes such as alternatives to guardianship and increased community supports.
  10. Stalvey led a concluding discussion on capacity building and asked members to consider what the Council might be missing in its leadership and advocacy activities. Members considered if activities reached all geographic areas of the state, underserved populations, and next generations. Stalvey noted that remaining presentations focus on these areas.
  1. Grantee Presentation: Easterseals of Central Texas
  2. Jolene Sanders, Advocacy Manager of Easterseals of Central Texas, along with Kevin Caudill and Nidia Hestor presented on the TCDD Leadership and Advocacy Training project. Training has been provided in English and Spanish to approximately 370 participants in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen and Brownsville. 110 of the participants are Spanish speakers. The project has held half-day training and presented at conferences in addition to hosting a legislative listening session and an advocacy day at the Texas Capitol. The curriculum includes the history of the disability movement, self-determination, and person-centered thinking principles, roles for self-advocates and family members, identifying priority issues and developing an action plan, and skills for effective communication with legislators. Through the training sessions, the concept of community was evident as partnerships with local organizations were established and participants preferred interactive group/partner activities where they could offer and receive support from each other. Participants were highly motivated even in the face of obstacles such as an intimidating system, need for child-care, difficulty in traveling to the Texas Capitol, and a challenging political climate. Spanish speaking participants discussed accommodations needed when making visits to the capitol.
  1. National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities
  2. Communications Director Joshua Ryf introduced Monica Villarreal who is a co-founder of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD – the organization uses Spanish translation for the acronym). Villarreal explained that CNLD came together in 2016 due to the need to form a community around the intersection of Latinxs and disability. She explained that many Latinxs felt that in order to advocate for their cultural issues, they would need to leave their disability issues behind and if they wanted to be part of the disability movement, they had to abandon their Latino identity. Villarreal was instrumental in hosting the CNLD third annual conference in Austin at the beginning of June. This conference had about 70 participants which are double the amount from the previous year. She described the extensive accommodations needed which included both disability and language accommodations. The conference was comprehensive in disability as well as cultural issues. Villarreal also discussed plans for CNLD to develop statewide or local chapters and Texas has the potential to be the first chapter. She would like TCDD to explore collaborative opportunities to establish this chapter.
  1. Advocacy Among Millennials
  2. Public Policy Specialist Ashley Ford provided a presentation on Engaging Millennials in Disability Advocacy. Ford discussed the classification of millennials and what makes their interactions different from other generations. Millennials are defined as individuals born between 1981 and 1997 and they became the largest living generation in 2015. She discussed common traits and stereotypes as well as events that shaped the lives of millennials. Ford noted that millennials with disabilities have had the most opportunities for self-advocacy and individualized planning as they have grown up in an era of inclusion in classrooms and other activities. Ford also discussed ways that millennials become involved in issues including “clicktivism” which is the use of digital media for facilitating change and social activism. She noted that millennials consider themselves to be “supporters” of a cause or social issue instead of activists, advocates, or allies. Members discussed why TCDD should embrace this generation and were encouraged to continue the conversation on ways to better connect and engage with them during Committee meetings.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the Committee of the Whole at 1:04 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council