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Wednesday, April 19 Schedule

Annual Conference

Come Together: Reconnect, Reflect & Reimagine


Registration & Tradeshow Opens

The Sagamore Conference Center


Welcome & Keynote Speaker: Drew Dudley

The Leadership Test: Six Questions that Transform People and Organization

This session focuses on empowering individuals at all levels of an organization to call themselves leaders. In this engaging and story-driven keynote, Drew shows audiences how to be more conscious and consistent in creating powerful moments of everyday leadership.

Drew demonstrates that there is a form of leadership that is driven by a daily commitment to acting on six core values: impact, courage, growth, empowerment, class, and self-respect. “The Leadership Test” is a series of value-driving questions designed to ensure that commitment, and while the questions may be simple, the behavioral changes they generate build better careers, stronger organizations, and more fulfilling lives.

Sharing stories from small-town Canada to the deserts of Qatar, and insights from leaders of all types--CEOs, elite athletes, cab drivers, custodians, and everyone in between—this presentation will change the way you think about leadership in your life, workplace, and community. (All) Conference Center

Drew Dudley, Founder & Chief Catalyst, Day One Leadership

Session Schedule

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Session 1

1) Value and Outcomes in IDD Care: A Radical Proposal

This presentation will present exciting new models for outcomes measurement and “value” of services provided to the IDD community, based on our ability to positively affect their life course, and support their efforts to succeed on the world on their own terms and participate – emotionally, socially, and economically -- as active, productive members of family and community (Health & Wellness). Nirvana

Steven Merahn, MD, Partnership Solutions, Care Design NY/Partners Health Plan,

2) Behavioral Manifestations of Underlying Medical Conditions in People with IDD

Many people with IDD communicate pain and other ailments through their behavior. To the unaware support professional, this may result in the treatment of a perceived behavioral issue rather than the underlying medical problem that may be the cause of the behavior. This presentation will provide participants with common behaviors that should prompt a medical evaluation. Specific behaviors and common medical conditions that they may indicate will be discussed in a case study format (Supports). Wapanak

Craig Escude, MD, FAAFP, FAADM,  IntellectAbility,

3) Dignity of Risk in Independent Living

Person centered care is the forefront of our beliefs at Access Supports for Living, in our Housing program paired with Community Habilitation the focus is on individuals and what that person wants out of life. A major part of dignity of risk is respecting individuals enough to allow them to take risks. Some of our program’s best practices are through implementing the following: -A successful team approach. -Ensuring a network of supports -Preventing fragmentation of care -Connecting services to our individuals -Ensuring their mental well-being is priority (Residential Innovation). Triuna


Masha Itedjere, LMHC, Access Supports for Living,

Kayla Savely, LMHC, Access Supports for Living,

Stefani Silvestri, Access Supports for Living,

Jocelyn Gondre, Access Supports for Living,

4) Willowbrook Lessons from Past to Protect the Future

2022 was an anniversary year for Willowbrook State School 75 years from its opening, 50 years from the expose and 35 years from its closing. Trends today are similar to those that set Willowbrook on its tragic path. Discussion would include those trends as well as a presentation of the Willowbrook Mile, an educational walking trail recently opened on the former grounds of that institution (Administration/Executive). Evelly

Diane Buglioli, A Very Special Place, Inc,

5) Climate Change in the Workplace: New Factors Impacting Organizational Wellbeing

As the nature of work changes, issues related to stress and burnout are diminishing resiliency and overall employee engagement. Additionally, leadership trust and the ability of leaders to build trust have emerged as top people priorities impacting retention, attraction, and engagement efforts, as well as employee wellbeing.   It’s clear that employee needs, expectations, and priorities have changed, but how do all these factors connect and play out within an organization, and what do you do about it? The session will be led by Kathleen Schulz, MS, CHES, the Global Innovation Leader for Organizational Wellbeing at Gallagher Benefit Services. Accompanying her will be the Galagher nonprofit team, headed by Steven J. Rubinsky, Ph.D., C.R.C., who held leadership roles in organizations supporting persons with disabilities in New York (Administrative/Executive). Dollar East-Hotel

Kathleen Schultz, MS, CHES; Gallagher Benefit Services,

Steven J. Rubinsky, Ph.D., C.R.C., Gallagher Benefit Services,

Christina Caughlin, Gallagher Benefit Services,

Ian Ackerman, Gallagher Global Brokerage,

6) Changing the Conversation on Retention: The Mountain Lake Services Buddy Program

Building relationships between veteran DSPs and new employees to aid in new employee retention and build career paths for veteran DSPs through training and experience (Essential Workforce). Dollar West-Hotel

Harold K Sammis IV, Mountain Lake Services,

David Mascarenas, Mountain Lake Services,

7) Measuring Quality to Innovate & Succeed

Have you ever wondered if you are delivering high-quality care? We will take a dive into compliance and how that impacts the quality that is being delivered as shown by data. You’ll walk away knowing whether the people you support are happy, healthy, and able to make person-centered decisions in an effort to improve continued service delivery (Quality Above Compliance). Diamond Island-Hotel

Fara St Fleur, NY Foundling,

MaryBeth Witkop, NY Foundling,

Miya Bassarath, NY Foundling,

Liv Lauser, NY Foundling,

Iselande Isaacs, NY Foundling,

8) Strategic Directions: Policy, Program and Fiscal Presentation from OPWDD Leadership

Last year, the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) unveiled its Statewide Comprehensive Plan.  The five-year plan mapped out the office’s vision for growth, goals for the service delivery sector and strategies to achieve success.  In this session, members of the Executive Leadership team at OPWDD will highlight: 1) efforts underway to achieve the goals outlined in the 5.07 Plan, 2) OPWDD’s examination of how quality in service delivery is assured, 3) an update on New York’s compliance with the Home and Community Based Services Settings Rule, 4) amendments to OPWDD’s 1915(c) waiver we can expect to see, and (5) fiscal updates that include the components of the final 2023-24 State Budget (if approved by the State Legislature). (Executive) Bellevue

Kate Marlay, Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Program Development, NYS OPWDD

Allison McCarthy, Director of Strategic Initiatives, NYS OPWDD
Megan O’Connor, Deputy Commissioner of Quality Improvement, NYS OPWDD
Kevin Valenchis, Deputy Commissioner of Fiscal Policy & Management, NYS OPWDD


Session 2

9) Exploring the Work of Project SHINE - Sexual Health Innovation Network for Equitable Education with Youth with Intellectual Disabilities

People with disabilities deserve access to the fullest range of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and care they need and want. Over the past two and a half years, the SHINE Network has worked to address inequities in sexual health by ensuring accessible education and health services for youth with intellectual and developmental disability ages 16-24 and the people who support them. Project SHINE’s goal is to create innovative and easily accessible sexual health tools for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their support networks with meaningful input of: Youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents or other family caregivers, professionals and educators, policy, and academic experts in the field. 

Both AHRC NYC and Self-Advocates of New York State (SANYS) are 2 of 7 Project SHINE Network Partners who have been contributing to Project SHINE’s work.

Hear from Project SHINE team members as they share different components of Project SHINE’s work to date including formative research findings, curriculum reviews, the work of the design collective and pilot tools, and external communication centered on creating space for disability stories (Data). Bellevue

Tanika Marshall, AHRC NYC, Community Support Supervisor,

Uly Ramos, Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS), Grassroots Presenter,

Julia Shapovalova, AHRC NYC, Quality Officer,

10) Person-Centered Practices and Leadership

Person-centered practices are not based on vulnerabilities or disabling conditions. They are an alignment of services and supports that promote equity and inclusion, while ensuring a balance between want and need. We use person-centered thinking skills in our daily interactions with people receiving services but are we applying those same concepts to the workforce? We should. Join us to find out how and why (Essential Workforce). Nirvana

Kirsten Sanchirico, NYAII,

Monica Robinson, NYAII,

11) Smart Living: Using Technology to Solve the Staffing Crisis and Improve Outcomes

The current landscape of the I/DD delivery system is at a crisis point. There are not nearly enough staff to provide the services under current models.  Smart Living has worked to solve for these issues over the last 3 years, to take a true Technology First approach to services to reduce costs, reduce staffing burden, all while increasing the independence of the individuals we support. The presentation will explain how Smart Living took on a Technology First approach and report out on the data that was collected by the study to show the success of the project (Technology). Wapanak

Brian Hart, ladd,

12) Self-Direction: Legal Challenges for Fiscal Intermediaries

Self-direction gives individuals invaluable control in obtaining the supports and services they need.  However, this model also presents unique legal challenges for fiscal intermediaries, who are considered joint employers of the workers self-directed individuals hire.  In this session, Adam Pekor, an associate with the law firm of Sheppard Mullin and pro bono counsel to the NY Alliance, will discuss strategies for navigating some of the most difficult employment law challenges FIs face (FI & Self Direction). Triuna

Adam Pekor, Sheppard Mullin,

13) Health Risk-Informed Telemedicine: A Model for Improving Health Equity for People with I/DD

Strategies for preventing unnecessary emergency department visits, promoting identification and diagnosis of often-missed health conditions, and addressing health disparities for people with I/DD will be explored during this panel presentation by IntellectAbility and StationMD. This includes three key elements: online clinician education in I/DD healthcare, the use of web-based health risk-informed data, and I/DD competent telemedicine supports (Technology). Evelly

Maulik M. Trivedi MD, FACEP, StationMD,

Craig Escudé MD, FAAFP, FAADM, IntellectAbility,

14) Healing Hands: Using Restraint Reduction to Improve Relationships and Outcomes

Since 2020, without an increase in 911 calls or dismissal of individuals, Access have experienced a 472% reduction in physical interventions correlating in an increase in our outcome and supports being met with the Personal Outcome Measures. Strategies, including a restraint reduction committee and simulation trainings, will be presented by a multi-disciplinary team, which includes a front-line supervisor and members of the clinical and staff development teams (Programs). Dollar West-Hotel

Sean Switzer, Access: Supports for Living,

Stephanie Riccardi, Access: Supports for Living,

Joshua Wright, Access: Supports for Living,

15) A Closer Look: An Organization's Revamp of their Personal Outcome Measures approach informed by metrics and quality

The first step in using data to inform organizational direction is to understand the quality of the data you do have. AHRC NYC has a long-time practice of conducting Personal Outcome Measures to support person centered planning as well as aggregating data for organizational insight. Over the past 18 months, through data analysis and reflection, AHRC NYC thoughtfully began outlining a relaunch of POM to help inform and drive the organization’s understanding of quality and areas for growth in a new hybrid world. Join us as we share our findings and our path forward (Quality Above Compliance). Dollar East-Hotel

Asante Breland, AHRC NYC,

Laura Cucinotta, AHRC 

Pancho Diaz, AHRC NYC, 

Matthew Estep,

16) Without Walls run out of Certified Residences can Change Lives

DDI began operating Without Walls Programs out of our homes on a very small scale in 1998.  The program currently has 57 participants in 22 homes and continues to grow. It is managed by a Program Manager and our Finance Department allocates the funding to it, saving on much overhead from a brick-and-mortar day program.  The program continues to be a great success enhancing the lives of the people we support.  With the new HCBS waiver regulations focusing on community inclusion, this model is a sure thing to achieve those goals.  This presentation will give an overview of how to start a WOW Program and highlight the successes (Programs). Diamond Island-Hotel

Laura Ollett, DDI,

Mary Downing, DDI,

Alison McCabe, DDI,


Session 3

17) Coming Together to Explore The Core Competencies with CAST

The ensemble of ThinkBIG! Theater Art’s CAST is comprised of self–advocates and their support staff who team up to create fun, lively, and interactive workshops to lead learners through creative and insightful exercises that inspire teams to explore advocacy, identify promising opportunities, build collaborative connections, increase skill sets, gain confidence, move away from fear, and adapt to change.

In this workshop session, CAST Members and attendees will join together to use the art of improvisation and the power of “yes, and” to explore the NYS DSP Core Competencies all while putting the “community” in community theater (Essential Workforce). Bellevue

Heather Van Velsor–Thorgersen, Think Big Theater Arts,

18) A Tool Kit for Providers: Practical Information and Learned Lessons for Providers looking to approach technology from a person-centered lens from exploration to implementation

This presentation will equip organizations with the knowledge they need to provide technology as a natural support for independent living. Organizations will get practical tools and best practices to feel confident they are maintaining a person-centered approach from technology exploration to implementation while involving the most important stakeholders, self-advocates, and their families (Technology). Nirvana

Emily Danciu-Grosso, SimplyHome,

Meghan O'Sullivan, At Home Technologies,

19) Supported Decision Making: How Far We've Come and Next Steps for NY

Supported decision-making (SDM) began in New York when SDMNY, through Hunter College, received a 5-year, $1.5 million grant from DDPC to pilot SDM as an alternative to guardianship for people with I/DD. The ensuing project developed a successful 3-phase facilitation process that engaged more than 100 Decision-Makers, created an evidentiary base for Supported Decision-Making Agreement legislation which passed and was signed in July 2022 (incorporating the principles developed by SDMNY) and designed and proposed a sustainable model for going forward, which resulted in a $4 million, 3 year OPWDD grant to SDMNY, with NY Alliance as a continuing collaborator. Transforming an aspirational pilot project on the rights of people with I/DD to make their own decisions with the support of trusted persons in their lives into a viable, fiscally justifiable state-wide service delivery system requires re-imagining how the values of self-determination and inclusion can be realized through incorporation of SDM into the structure and culture of provider agencies, how SDM facilitation can be delivered, with consistency and accountability, and how this all (including reimbursement to provider agencies) can be paid for. (Supported Decision Making). Wapanak

Naomi Brickel, Director, SDMNY,

Jennifer Ivery, Sr. Director of Communications & Project Management, NY Alliance & Senior Mentor, SDMNY,
Ann Hardiman, Chief Innovation Officer, NY Alliance,

20) New York State Commitment to the Direct Support Workforce

The Office for People with Development Disabilities’ (OPWDD) ARPA spending plan consists of multiple initiatives to improve recruitment and retention of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including projects that foster workforce innovation designed to improve the competency and skills of the DSP workforce, as well as promote recruitment and retention by establishing relationships with high schools, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), the NYS Education Department, State University of New York (SUNY) Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), SUNY Empire State College, Regional Centers for Workforce Transformation, and the NYS Department of Labor. OPWDD is partnering with committed workforce champions, the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation (NYAII), the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the University of Minnesota to mobilize some of these important initiatives. These collaborations will lead to DSP training and credentialing opportunities, the development of recruitment tracts and career pathways within higher education institutions, and new innovative hiring and retention practices. In addition, OPWDD will launch a statewide DSP recruitment marketing campaign to highlight the work of DSPs and help encourage jobseekers to enter this field. (Essential Workforce). Triuna

Monica Robinson, NY Alliance,

Kirsten Sanchirico, NY Alliance,

Adrienne Mazeau, NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)

Desiree Loucks-Baer, National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)

Bridget Cariello, AHRC Nassau

Julie Bershadsky, University of Minnesota,

21) Transforming Care for Individuals with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities and Dementia

As people in the  I/DD population ages the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia increases. Because of this, caring for those living with I/DD and dementia can become challenging. Learn more about programs and service offerings of the Alzheimer's Association and gain knowledge, skills and confidence surrounding the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s and how to respond to them.  Approaches to difficult and challenging behavior and effective ways to manage Alzheimer’s and dementia will be explored (Aging and End of Life). Evelly

Kathy Pelkey, Alzheimer's Association,

Amanda Drobnica, Alzheimer's Association,

22) Inclusion Benefits All: An Employment Journey

An inspiring employment journey of an individual to achieve independence and community involvement and how advocacy paved his bright future of employment and other neurodiverse individuals in the country and in New York. Recruiting, hiring, and maintaining a workforce inclusive for those with IDD form the bedrock of this presentation (Community Options). Dollar East-Hotel

Ackeem Duggan, Partners Health Plan member,

Karleen Haines, Partners Health Plan Chief of Member Relations & Advocacy,

23) Community Players - Reconnect, Reflect and Reimagine

The Community Players is a collective of Human Service professionals from a variety of provider agencies in the Mid-Hudson Valley. We offer lively skits to elicit thoughtful and provocative discussions highlighting the important role of Front-Line Supervisors. They have a critical role balancing the needs/desires of both people supported and staff while keeping in compliance with financial and logistical needs of programs and agencies. We will highlight some of the ethical and professional difficulties that supervisors and administrators have while having fun and eliciting heartfelt response (Programs). Dollar West-Hotel

John M. McPhee, New Horizons Resources,

Amanda Beth Crawley, Abilities First,

Samantha Sleight, ARC Greater Hudson Valley New York,

24) Discovering the Champion Within

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country. The organization will team up with partner agencies and an athlete leader to share best practices that can be replicated throughout the state, introducing its life-changing, inclusive programming to more of the people, families and organizations who need them (Programs). Diamond Island-Hotel

Stacey Hengsterman, Special Olympics New York,

Ryan Miller, Special Olympics New York,

Lynn Pietroski, The Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence,

25) The Appliance of science: Seeing your SYSTEM through a different lens

‘Best practice’ is a common term that requires little explanation: it’s the identification of a generally accepted superior way of getting things done. We invite you to also consider “Best Systems.”  Systems Theory is an interdisciplinary theory about the nature of complex systems in nature, society, and science, and is a framework by which one can investigate and/or describe any group of objects that work together to produce some result. Through the lens of systems theory, our field of vision is broadened, deepened, and enhanced and we develop crystal clear vision (Administration/Executive). Empire-Hotel

Oonagh Christie, Lifespire,

Sarmila Gangopadhyay, Lifespire,


NY Alliance Policy Forum and Annual Meeting

Michael Seereiter, Ann Hardiman and the NY Alliance Board of Directors are pleased to have this opportunity to share association updates at this annual forum.  NY Alliance Policy Priorities and Strategic Directions will be a focus of the session. Following the presentation and dialogue, election of NY Alliance Board members will be held. Join us in Dollar East/Dollar West in the hotel for this event.


Pre-Banquet & Regional Gatherings in Caldwell's

NY Alliance Regional Gatherings are a great opportunity for participants of the conference to network and meet new people in their respective regions. This year, all Regional Gatherings will take place in Caldwell's as part of the Pre-Banquet Reception.​


This is the perfect opportunity to Reconnect, Reflect and Reimagine. Join us!


Banquet and Annual Excellence Awards Presentation

Join us in the Bellevue room of the Conference Center to celebrate the unique and extraordinary contributions made by leaders, policy and change agencies in the field, public officials, self-advocates, and advocates in the community. Awards include:

  • Leadership Award: The Leadership Award recognizes individuals who lead with integrity, effectiveness, deliberate focus, and collaboration, making valuable contributions within the disability and human service field.

  • Public Policy and Social Justice Advocacy Award: The Public Policy and Social Justice Advocacy Award honors leaders in the disability and human service fields who have made exceptional contributions to the betterment of society through the advancement of policy and life enrichment opportunities for all individuals.

  • Distinguished Public Service Award: The Distinguished Public Service Award recognizes the achievements of individuals in government service who have served as a change agent and made a tangible impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities.

  • Community Advocacy Award: The Community Advocacy Award is presented to individuals who are making incredible contributions to the disability and human service community through their time, actions, talents, and dedication. It honors all Advocates – Individuals, Parents, Siblings, Self-Advocates, and Peers who relentlessly ensure that the voices of those receiving services are heard and recognized as key components.


Relaxing in Caldwell's & Music in Mr. Brown's Pub

About The Sagamore's Caldwell's: A lively Lake George bar that offers a tempting menu of light fare that is served throughout the day and evening. With its grand front porch and panoramic views of Lake George, Caldwell’s invites you to slow down and experience the timeless beauty of the enchanting Adirondack setting.

About The Sagamore's Mr. Brown's Pub: Mr. Brown’s Pub is a Lake George bar that reflects the great Adirondack camps of yesteryear. Named for Myron O. Brown, the first General Manager of The Sagamore Resort, the pub sets the scene with lush dark woods and antler chandeliers.

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