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



9:00 – 9:15 a.m. WELCOME: Sherri Schneider, Board President, The Arc of Illinois

9:15 – 9:30 a.m. TAP Presentation

9:30 – 10:30 a.m. KEYNOTE: “It’s Time to Learn to Live Again”

presented by John Dickerston

This year has been unlike anything we have ever experienced, and many of us are missing people we lost this year.  Now is the time that we begin to move forward, not back to what was, but shaping what we want the world to be in the future.  We have seen amazing things happen during this time, and from this we can shape a better world. John Dickerson has been working with people across the country and will be sharing in his session how we all start living again, and building that world that we envision, not yesterday but tomorrow.  

10:45 – 11:45 a.m. PLENARY SESSION: Kathy Ward, DDD’s Assistant Director and Jennifer Gentile, Deputy Director of Clinical Services

12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Sherri Schneider – Family Benefit Solutions “What to Do When” Knowing how to support someone with an Intellectual/Developmental disability or Autism can be tricky. Now knowing the next steps can be complicated or mysterious. This session will focus on a timeline of details that need to be visited at different stages and ages.
  • Mariel Hamer-Sinclair – Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities “ICDD’s State Plan Snapshot and Goals for IL” In this session participants will    receive information on the DD Council’s 5-Year State Plan and goals for Illinois. 
  • Annette Doherty, Michelle Schwartz, Brittany Bartlett – Clearbrook “Project SEARCH and Successful Transition Outcomes” Project SEARCH is a school-to-work program. Interns participate in employment-related instruction and internships within the business host site. Meet a graduate and learn about this and other Clearbrook transition services.

1:15– 2:00p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Sherri Schneider – Family Benefit Solutions “Government Benefits: Who, What, Why, When & Changes Due to COVID” This session will focus on SSI, SSDI, Medicare, & Medicaid: eligibility, uses, and changes in procedure during the pandemic.
  • Casey Burke – Little City Foundation; Tina Fogarty – Trinity Services; Hollis Gorrie – Clearbrook; Lori Opiela – UCP Seguin “Intersect for Ability” During this session we will present and discuss the focus and work of the Communities of Practice. These include: Development, Residential Services, Home-Based Services, Community Day Services, Employment Services, Quality Assurance, and Human Resources. Current participation in The Communities of Practice include over 20 agencies – both Intersect and non-Intersect Agencies – and 116 staff members all working to improve the services and supports they provide in their area of interest.
  • Susy Woods – IATP; Phil Milsk – Attorney “Put Your Advocacy Hat On! It’s time to start advocacting for our Legislation” In this session, we’ll learn about current bills and how to develop talking points about those bills as they impact our life. We’ll learn how to know who our legislators are and how to begin to develop a relationship with them if we don’t already have one. And finally, How to educate our legislators in why people with disabilities are an important part of society and how we have the same needs as all other people.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. KEYNOTE: “Finding Success through Struggle”

presented by Russell Lehmann

It is not one or the other, you can struggle and still be successful! In fact, your    greatest accomplishments are waiting to be found within your struggles! In this presentation, Russell will share how he has found his success through his own  struggles, and how you can, too! Empowering, motivating, inspiring!

3:45 – 4:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Brian Rubin, J.D., Benji Rubin, J.D. – Rubin Law, A Professional Corporation “Special Needs Legal & Future Planning” This session will cover the many legal tools families can use to maintain assets and reserve funds for individuals who receive SSI and/or Medicaid, such as third party special needs trusts, first party or OBRA special needs trusts, Pooled special needs trusts, ABLE Accounts, including “how much is needed to leave, how divorce impacts benefits, among other related topics.”
  • Linda Sandman – Blue Tower Solutions; Teresa Parks – Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission; Kimberly Johnson-Evans – Chicagoland Autism Connection; Diana Braun – Self-Advocate – “Sex Education for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Implementation of Public Act 101-0506” As the new Illinois law about sexuality education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) begins impacting more and more people, family members often wonder what is their role. This session will provide information about what the new law requires and highlight how self-advocates, agencies and family members can act together to support sexuality education. You won’t want to miss it!
  • Shira Schwartz – Schwartz Foundation “Best Practices in Educational Advocacy” This presentation will cover the following topics: a review of many common acronyms that pertain to special education including 504, IEP, LRE, FAPE, IDEA, AT, SLD etc; major difference in IEP/504; special education timelines; members of the IEP team; overview of how to create a strong plan from beginning to end; how to prepare for an IEP meeting; overview of collaborate to create strong goals; and overview of the Impact of the Endrew F. Court decision.


8:45 – 9:00 a.m. WELCOME: The Arc of Illinois

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. KEYNOTE: “Disability Justice is the Future of the Neurodiversity Movement”

presented by Lydia X. Z. Brown

Disability Justice principles and practices offer radical and revolutionary ways of reimagining our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the communities where we live, work, and learn. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Disability Justice offers urgent and vital interventions for addressing and ending the myriad harms of eugenics, the medical/carceral industrial complex, and capitalist oppression, all of which disproportionately harm autistic and other neurodivergent and disabled people. Disability Justice enables us to understand and examine interpersonal, systemic, structural, and institutional ableism and its impact on disabled people of color, queer and trans disabled people, and other disabled people at the margins of the margins. We have always been at the forefront of movements for justice and freedom, challenging assumptions about what is normal or healthy, demanding our right to exist as we are, building networks of care and  solidarity for one another, and creating social and cultural transformations that enable us to experience rest and practice active love as co-teachers and co-learners.  

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. PLENARY SESSION: Ronnie Cohn, Ligas Court Monitor

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. PLENARY SESSION: Nicole Jorwic, Public Policy, The Arc of the United States

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Darcy Chamberlin, Sara Riechert – Chamberlin Law Group “Legal Decision Making – Trends” Families may not know the various options that exist for substitute health care and financial decision making on behalf of their child with a disability who is 18 years of age or older.
  • Casey Burke – IDHS/DDD “Employment Funding for Individuals with I/DD” Deputy Director Burke will address the various employment funding avenues for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities within Illinois. Topics include Competitive Integrated Employment, Supported Employment, convergence of DDD and DRS funding, Sheltered ad Sub-minimum Wage activities, timelines of and access to services as well as short versus long term supports and services. Q&A.
  • Shana Erenberg – Libenu; Jennifer Phillips – Keshet “Foster Choice and Inclusion during the Pandemic” COVID-19 presents unique challenges for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities with regard to choice and inclusion. In response, Libenu and Keshet partnered to develop innovative programs to combat isolation, increase connectedness, and foster self-sufficiency.

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Shirley Perez, Ruth Aguilar – The Arc of Illinois“Understanding changes to PUNS and Moving Between Waiver Services” Keeping up-to-date with changes and growth within Developmental Disabilities funding programs in Illinois can be daunting, but we are here to help! Join us to learn about changes to the PUNS system, the process of moving between waiver services over time, and key considerations and planning for how your individual’s needs and wishes may change throughout time.
  • Reagan Carey – CTF Illinois; Dawn Lamp – Coleman Tri-County; Michele Bowen – Human Support Services; Susan Walter – ICDD“Supporting Youth Transition in a Pandemic Landscape” This session will detail how the ICDD Southern Illinois Transition Project sites adapted and reinvented service strategies to continue to support youth with I/DD to engage in personal planning, exploration and growth toward their chosen outcomes.
  • Barry Taylor, Rachel Weisberg – Equip for Equality “Employment Rights of People with Disabilities Under Covid-19” The session will discuss case law for ADA and COVID-19, review EEOC guidance, and provide practical tips, including requesting a reasonable accommodation.

2:15 – 3:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Annette Hammortree – Hammortree Financial “What is so different about Financial Planning with a child with Special Needs” How do you plan for the whole family: retirement, what if you, the caregiver gets sick, funding the special needs trust, benefits and so on and on. Where do you start and how do you make sure you are covering all your bases for all the members of the family! 
  • Jae Jin Pak, Chuy Campuzano, TJ Gordon, Brittany King, Genevieve Nutley – Self-Advocates “#HearOurVoices! Stories from Disabled People of Color” Panel discussion on intersection of disability, communities of color and racial justice. Sharing experiences and reflections on what disability pride and racial justice mean for people of color with disabilities. Encourage meaningful dialogue on this intersection professional & personal levels.
  • Carole Rosen, Laurie Williams, Annie Gabuzzi – CCHI “Collaborative Community Housing Initiative (CCHI)” Learn how Collaborative Community Housing Initiative (CCHI) is creating innovative inclusive housing solutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

3:15 – 4:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Matt Cohen – Matt Cohen and Associates, LLC “Lessons Learned with COVID” Presentation will address options for parents if your child is not getting needed services while being educated remotely, how to prepare for the return to in person instruction and whether children with disabilities that lost services during the pandemic may be entitled to compensatory or remedial services to make up for what was lost.”
  • Amy Fox, Kathy Lyons, Megan Madigan – Center for Independent Futures “Through COVID and Beyond – Embracing Virtual Services and Support” A post-pandemic world can offer more opportunities for people with IDD to live a full life with new virtual learning tools and remote services for individuals, families, schools and agencies.
  • Tara Conley, Katie Arnold, Nora Fox Handler, Katherine Hamann, Mark Jak, Janet Burke – S.I.B.S “Supporting our Siblings and Ourselves through the Pandemic” The Covid-19 pandemic hit the disability community hard. With families not being able to visit their loved ones living residentially and families stuck at home with no school or day services, this sibling panel will share creative ways we were able to connect with our siblings, share social opportunities with others, and ways we coped during the pandemic. The SLN will give an update on the impact Covid-19 had on siblings nationally and how SIBS and the SLN have been sharing resources.

4:15 – 5:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Denise Fisher, Megan Harrigan, Chris Viau – Arts of Life “Collective Decision-Making – A Model of Equity” This presentation will introduce Arts of Life’s model of Collective Decision-Making and illustrate how it can be implemented in any setting to promote equity and leadership for all members of the organization. Participants will learn practical steps they can take to use this model and problem-solving barriers to a successful transition.
  • Anne Ward – High Tide Press; Sherry Ladislas – Trinity Services “Words that Lift You Up: Teaching Person-Centered Language” A person-centered organization culture begins with teaching staff the importance of respectful language. We’ll focus on empathy, understanding, compassionate communication, and coaching to sustain the effort.
  • Becca Burrow, Valerie Granberry – Self-Advocates; Nafia Lee – The Arc of Illinois; Carole Rosen – CCHI “Going Home Coalition: Legislative Advocacy” The Going Home Coalition advocates for people with disabilities & their right to live in the community. Learn about how you can get involved with self-advocacy by speaking to your legislators.

The views and content expressed by the speakers during this convention are those of the individual providing them in their individual capacities only – not necessarily of The Arc of Illinois. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this convention are hereby expressly disclaimed by The Arc of Illinois.

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Thank you to our Sponsors!

Rubin Law
Lifes Plan

Advocate Sponsors:

Sage Planning