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



9:00 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome: Leanne Mull, Board President, The Arc of Illinois

9:10 – 9:15 a.m. TAP Presentation

9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Jay Bohn, Medicaid Administration, DDD, and Megan Forristall, Social Security Administration, “Benefits” This benefits presentation will cover both Medicaid programs and Social Security Income (SSI) and Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSDI).
  • Katie Arnold “Family Support: Voices of Adults with IDD” Learn what adults with IDD have to say about support they get from and give to their parents and siblings. Findings from a qualitative study will be shared and presenters will discuss what it means for families, providers, and policies.
  • Karen and Kelly Neville – Special Sparkle “Be Your Own Boss” Kelly, a young woman with Down Syndrome, and her mom created a business 10 years ago. They will talk about the benefits and challenges of becoming an entrepreneur

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. Keynote

presented by Secretary Grace Hou, Department of Human Services, and Director Allison Stark, Division of Developmental Disabilities

Secretary Hou and Director Stark will share updates about the Division of Developmental Disabilities.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Keynote “Supported Storytelling: A Powerful Tool for Advocacy and Change”

presented by Emily Ladau, followed by conversation with Erica Stearns

Even informed advocates and allies can still fall into the trap of speaking either for or over disabled people rather than centering their authentic stories and experiences. But as the popular mantra of the disability community goes, “nothing about us, without us.” Emily will begin with a presentation that will empower both people with disabilities and people who work with the disability community to effectively communicate their stories to push for progress and change. She’ll be joined by Erica Stearns, creator and host of the Atypical Truth podcast, for a conversation on embracing the power of storytelling. Attendees are invited to take part in continuing the conversation during an afternoon breakout session.

1:30– 2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Kish Pisani, Michael Roush – National Disability Institute “Five Key Strategies to Financial Wellness – What’s Your Vision?” Discover five key strategies to financial wellness and first steps that individuals can take to build one’s financial future and how to implement a vision board in planning.
  • Dick Malone, Molly Bulger, Kathy Lyons, Cynthia Witherspoon – Center for Independent Futures “Independent Futures: Listening, Leaning and Leading” Staff and self-advocates from Independent Futures will share how technology, virtual, opportunities, and creative attitudes resulted in new ways to learn, socialize, improve skills, build community and find new jobs!
  • Casey Burke – IDHS/DDD “Obtaining and Maximizing Employment Services and Supports” This session will focus on how individuals, families, and provider organizations initiate and maximize employment supports for persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The primary topic will be engagement with the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

2:45– 3:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Brian and Benji Rubin – Rubin Law, A Professional Corporation “Special Needs Trusts, ABLE Accounts, Letters of Intent, and Related Topics” Brian Rubin, a parent, and Benji Rubin, a sibling of Mitchell Rubin who has Autism, will present the basics of special needs planning, including special needs trusts, ABLE accounts, selecting the future team of trustees and guardians, impact of divorce and law-suit settlements, educating the extended family, letters of intent, and many related topics.
  • Erica Stearns – The Arc of Illinois, Atypical Truth and Emily Ladau – The Accessible Stall “Disability Community Building Through Podcasting” Join Emily Ladau and Erica Stearns in a continued conversation about storytelling. In the style of a podcast, they will engage in a conversation about the many ways a story can be shared, the process of becoming a storyteller, the value our stories have in the larger community, and how professionals and organizations can support self-advocates to share their stories. Participants will be invited to share their own experiences with supported storytelling.
  • Michael Greene, Kimberlie Taylor, Darren Wolken, Danielle Washington – DSC “How We Positively Impact Our Agency’s Hiring Process” Let us show you the ropes! Advocates will discuss the impact of being involved in interviews, or orientation, and the training of new staff within an agency that serves people with disabilities.

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

  • Shirley Perez, Ruth Aguilar – The Arc of Illinois PUNS: Understanding Changes and Updated Data The presentation will share information about PUNS, the process, changes, connecting with your Independent Service Coordination Agency (ISC), and updates as a result of the Ligas Consent Decree.
  • Diane and Erin Compton – Parent and Self-Advocate and Susan Hoekstra “Building Limitless Mindsets in Parents, Teachers, and Students” Reuniting a self-advocate with her first reading teacher 13 years later, this presentation focuses on going from a student’s dream to IEP goal writing to limitless possibilities.
  • Scott Nixon – Life’s Plan, Inc, Consuelo Puente, Matthew Koupal “How to Develop a Micro-Business” Competitive employment is not always ideal for every individual with a disability. That does not mean there are not alternative solutions, possibly through the development of a “micro-enterprise” business model. By no means is a micro-business a small task, but through this presentation, the presenters will discuss how to create and develop such a business for a person with a disability that can be immensely productive and meaningful.


8:00 – 8:45 a.m. The Arc of Illinois Annual Membership Meeting

The Arc of Illinois Annual Membership meeting will take place on day two of our convention. The agenda will include a presentation of the slate of board members and a review of the work done the previous year. All members of The Arc of IL are welcome to join us.

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome: Amie Lulinski, Executive Director, The Arc of Illinois

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Brian and Benji Rubin – Rubin Law, A Professional Corporation “Alternatives, One Size Does NOT Fit All: Supported Decision Making, Powers of Attorney, and Guardianship” Brian Rubin, a parent, and Benji Rubin, a sibling, of Mitchell Rubin who has Autism, will explain Guardianship (Limited and Plenary), and the alternatives, including Supported Decision Making (new law), Powers of Attorney, and related matters.
  • Daniel Cochrane – UIC “The Skills You Needs to Self-Advocate for Assistive Technology” The transition from K-12 education to postsecondary settings require a lot of self-advocacy skills. Self-advocacy for technology use is often overlooked even though it’s important for access to the community.
  • Carole Rosen – The Arc of Illinois, Going Home Coalition “Voices for Change: Challenges and Successes Building Community Capacity” Self-advocates share compelling personal stories interwoven with current data illustrating the ongoing challenges and progress of building community capacity to create a pathway towards closure of Illinois’ seven remaining state operated developmental centers.

10:15 – 11:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

  • Carol Nesteikis- LRIDD “Supporting People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System” A discussion on how too often people with intellectual and developmental disabilities because ensnared in the criminal justice system because of the cognitive difference caused by their disabilities.
  • Andy Conover – St. Louis Life, Andy Hubble – Weston Bridges“Investing in Social Skills for Succesful Post-Secondary Outcomes” Improved social readiness can have a direct impact on a student’s success in high school and beyond. This 60-minute presentation will cover how students can increase social skills preparedness.
  • Rahnee Patrick– Director, Division of Rehabilitation Services “Let’s Talk” Rahnee Patrick, Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), wants to meet with self-advocates to hear their opinion about hour DRS is doing in serving and assisting people with disabilities. This session is for self-advocates only.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Keynote “Resiliency, Advocacy and The Fine Art of Parenting”

presented by Adiba Nelson

Being a parent is one thing. Being the parent of fiercely independent sassafras who just happens to be disabled is something else altogether! In this talk I’ll be discussing the highs and “highers” of learning to be the fierce advocate my child needed, which in turn led to me advocating within my community, and then globally. I’ll be discussing the importance of inclusion and accessibility as well as one of the drawbacks of inclusion that I could have never seen coming, but spoke LOUDLY to the importance of being part of a community.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Keynote “How Learning and Teaching About Relationships and Sexual Self-Advocacy Increases Healthy, Satisfying Relationships and Helps Reduce Sexual Abuse”

presented by Katherine McLaughlin – Elevatus Training, with Tia Nelis

Self-advocates are telling us that they want and need sexuality education because those topics are important to live a full life and they didn’t receive this education in school or their programs. We also know the rate of sexual abuse among people with I/DD is 7 times higher than the general population. One way to help prevent abuse, and support healthy, satisfying relationships, is with teaching relationships and sexuality education.

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

  • Dani Chatwood, LaTasha Grant- UCP Seguin “Diversity within DisabilitiesPresenters will discuss intersectionality of identities and experiences of identities and experiences of people with disabilities and how to expand our understand and approach to better serve others.
  • Taylor Sweeting “Why Can’t You Understand Me?” This presentation will give participants a perspective of autism from an autstic individual’s viewpoint. Information contained in this presentation is both knowledge based, statistics, and historical accounts. It also borrows from this presenter’s personal journey of living with autism and gives demonstrations of what living with autism is live from his perspective.
  • Shannon Benaitis – Albatrosss Training Solutions, Emily Fencl, Sheila Lullo – Clearbrook “Those Curriculum Binders are Old News: How to be More Current?” For adults with IDD, meaningful days are filled with intentional activities are a frequent target that providers rarely meet. Learn how 16 agencies collaborated to create an online database of 800 fun, purposeful, age-appropriate activities.

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.

Annual Convention Main Menu

Thank you to our Sponsors!

VIP Sponsor
Keynote Sponsor
Rubin Law
Champion Sponsor
Lifes Plan
Inclusion Sponsors