Mon - Thurs: 9:00am - 5:00pm | Fri: 9:00am - 4:00pm

12th Annual Informational Seminar

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9:00 – 9:15 a.m. –   Welcome and OverviewPresented by Shirley Perez, Program Director, Ruth Aguilar, Senior Ligas Family Advocate, Shakari Asbury, Ligas Family Advocate, Annie Bruno, Ligas Family Advocate

9:15 – 10:15 a.m. – “As you are planning for the future – What You Need to Know about Guardianship, Alternatives to Guardianship, POA, and an overview of ABLE”Presented by Brian Rubin, JD, and Benji Rubin, JD, Rubin Law

10:15 – 10:20 a.m. – Break

10:20 – 11:15 a.m. – “Pooled Special Needs Trust and the benefits they offer individuals with disabilities and their families”Presented by Scott Nixon, Life’s Plan, Inc.

Special Needs Trusts are complicated and can be hard to understand and administer.  This presentation will talk specifically about a particular type of Special Needs Trust called a Pooled Trust.  The presenter will cover how a pooled trust can greatly assist an individual with disabilities.  Pooled Trust can be truly beneficial to some families in finding “Peace of Mind” with their estate planning needs in finding a trustee.  Scott will provide a 101 review on the administration of Special Needs Trusts and the fiduciary duties of the trustee.  Life’s Plan Inc. annually offers mini-grant request for proposals to Illinois residents that includes individuals with disabilities and their families and service providers.  Scott will talk about the different types of mini-grant funding offered through the Self Sufficiency of Illinois Charitable Fund.

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – “Ligas Consent Decree Update – What’s Next!”Presented by Ronnie Cohn, Ligas Court Monitor and Laura Miller, Equip for Equality

12:15 – 12:45 p.m. – Lunch Break

12:45 – 2:00 p.m.  –  KEYNOTE SPEAKER –“Update on What’s Happening at DHS/DDD, Updated Policies and Accomplishments, Moving Forward, and Paid Leave Act”Presented by Tonya Piephoff, Director, Division of Developmental Disabilities

2:00 – 2:15 p.m. – Q & A for PrizesWith Ligas Family Advocates Shakari Asbury and Annie Bruno

2:15 – 2:30 p.m. – “The Arc of Illinois Update”Presented by Kimberly Johnson, Board President, The Arc of Illinois

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. –“A Family’s Perspective Regarding Navigating the Developmental Disability System – Pros and Cons of the DDD Waiver versus the DRS Waiver”Presented by Ruth Aguilar, Parent and Senior Ligas Family Advocate and Annita Barraza

3:00 – 3:55 p.m. – “Meet your Fiscal Agency, ACES$”Presented by Tasha Whiteside, Illinois Program Director, ACES$

3:55 – 4:00 p.m. – Wrap-Up and Thank You

Presented by Shirley Perez, The Arc of Illinois Ligas/FSN Program Director and Ruth Aguilar, Senior Ligas Family Advocate 

6 CEUs available for the 12th Annual Informational Seminar

About the Presenters

Ruth Aguilar has over eighteen years of combined experience advocating for people with disabilities. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Professional Graduate Studies in Non-Profit from Harvard University. Ruth’s professional experience stems from working previously in an ISC Agency and then as a Self-Directed Assistant serving the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, with her personal expertise as a mother of a teen girl with Rett Syndrome and a Seizure Disorder, Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge to families by assisting them in obtaining services and understanding their options by being assertive, yet professional. Ruth is inspired by her husband and her daughter to be a servant leader who helps those around her without hesitation.

Anita Barraza, OTR/L, is a proud parent of two young adults with disabilities, Diana and Danny.  Anita is also an occupational therapist by profession.  Anita is a strong advocate for her own children as well as for all the students and families she services.  Anita has learned to navigate the world of disabilities to be able to support her children in their journey.  She believes parents of children with disabilities have to be their children’s voices.  Anita strongly believes that learning about transition process, resources and benefits for her children is key for them to have a strong support system.  Anita loves to share and encourages other families to do the same both in her personal and professional roles.

Ronnie Cohn began her career around the time that the first class action lawsuit was initiated on behalf of people with developmental disabilities who were living in a deplorable institutional setting. Ronnie also been consulted on eight other class action suits in six states: evaluating services in both institutional and community settings; assisting in transition planning; developing and implementing protocols for compliance reviews; training service coordinators; working with advocacy groups and quality assurance entities; developing systemic plans; and spending time with individuals who receive services to determine whether or not all of the efforts by consistently well-meaning professionals and others are actually benefiting those for whom we all work.

Kimberly Johnson is a disability/legislative advocate, and grassroots community leader, who believes in leadership through systems change, creating, pursuing goals, and achieving a vision of shared values about people living with disabilities. Professionally, Kimberly works as a Regional Coordinator (Cook County), at the Community Residential Services Authority (CRSA). This position provides technical assistance to families, service providers, educators, and other professionals to help plan and implement appropriate, effective services for children with severe emotional disturbances and/or behavior disorders (SED/BD), in Illinois. Most importantly, Kimberly is the devoted mother of an adult son living with Autism, speech, and cognitive delay and gained her lived experience through their journey navigating support services in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs of Illinois.

Since 2007 Scott Nixon has been serving as the Executive Director of Life’s Plan Incorporated. Life’s Plan Inc. is one of the first Non-Profit Associations in the country to establish Pooled Trust services for People with Disabilities. Today, Life’s Plan Inc. serves over three hundred clients as Corporate Trustee. Scott is an invited speaker for his work on Pooled and individual Special Needs Trusts, Social Security and Medicaid related benefits, guardianship and special needs planning that improves the lives of individuals with Special Needs and their families He has been working as a Disability Advocate since 2000. First working as a Project Manager at the Marriott Foundation with a School to Work program for young people with disabilities called “Bridges…from School to Work.”  Scott is a newly appointed Board Member on the National Pooled Trust Alliance.

Tonya Piephoff is the Director for the Division of Developmental Disabilities for the State of Illinois. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and has dedicated her career to serving individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness. The majority of her career has been spent working with individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities in both the state-run Intermediate Care Facilities (SODC) or in community services through the waiver programs. She has also worked for many years in the Forensic Psychiatric system and with those who have dual diagnosis. Before coming to Illinois Department of Human Services, Tonya served as Director of the Kentucky Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and as the Chief Operating Officer of the Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities. With over 20 years’ experience in assisting individuals and their families to find the best living environment to meet their individual needs and goals.

Benjamin (Benji) Rubin, JD, Brian’s youngest son, Mitchell’s “little/big” brother, has been a member of the Law Firm since 2010. Benji graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law, Magna Cum Laude, received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and his Graduate Law Degree, an LLM (Tax), with honors, also from Northwestern University. Benji is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, a member, by invitation, of the Special Needs Alliance, is Chairman of the American Bar Association Special Needs Planning Committee, serves as the President of SIBS (Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters), the Illinois chapter of the national Sibling Leadership Network, and is a director on The Arc of Illinois Board. Having Mitchell as a brother profoundly shaped who Benji is today, and thus the type of law he chose to practice.

Attorney Brian Rubin is the founder of Rubin Law, a former IRS Agent, and former IRS Attorney, has been a practicing attorney since 1976, has been married to his wife Linda for the past 45 years, and is the parent of three children, one of whom, Mitchell, 41, has Autism. Brian’s law practice, for four decades, since Mitchell was one year old, has been dedicated to serving the legal and future planning needs of his fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and/or mental illness.

Since 2014, Tasha Whiteside has held the role of Program Director of Operations at ACES$, demonstrating exceptional skills in ensuring a high-quality experience for contract administrators, participants, and stakeholders. She has been instrumental in fostering a service-oriented culture within the organization and among her reporting staff. In her capacity, Ms. Whiteside oversees Illinois FMS operations for approximately 11,600 participants enrolled in the HBS waiver program. Ms. Whiteside holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Governors State University and is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator. Her career journey began as a direct support person at Frances House, where she later advanced to the position of Residential Services Director. Throughout her career, she has served in various roles such as Traumatic Brain Injury Case Manager, life skills instructor, and program administrator for disability-related program. Beyond her professional responsibilities, Ms. Whiteside is actively engaged in volunteer work, contributing to projects such as Meals on Wheels, KABOOM, Toys for Tots, and Chicago Coat drives. Additionally, she is a charter member of the Evergreen Park, IL Silhouette.

Thank you to our Sponsor and Exhibitor!