Yesterday was my last day at The Arc of Illinois. What an honor this has been for me. The Arc has enabled me to work with the best advocates across this great country and in Illinois. The Arc has allowed me to get to know you and advance our mission here in Illinois. Your faith and support of me over the years is deeply appreciated. I was truly blessed with a courageous board of directors and staff.
Today I would like to share with you some of the significant milestones in my 25 year career as the Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois.

Jim Mommsen & Bob Beggin were on the Search Committee
that hired me!

When I first started, The Arc and families were not at the table, any table in Illinois public policy. The thought of including individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in that arena was unheard of. The charge of the board of directors to me was to change the current state of affairs and provide leadership by bringing individuals, families and The Arc to the table.
Also on my agenda was the Bogard Consent Decree. At the time, it was the largest consent decree in the nation and still may be. I had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest public policy legal attorneys in the states. The decree was about the inappropriate placement of individuals with IDD in nursing home. The implementation of this consent decree was a phenomenal success. Among other supports/services the consent decree created CILA and freestanding Individual Service Coordination Agencies around the state.
Today lawsuits continue to be the way we change the disability system here in Illinois. The good work of legal advocates and court monitors in Ligas are now protecting community services and fighting for rebalancing the system. With the uncertainty in our nation’s Capitol, that may be the way for our future.
In those early days staff recruitment and retention were also an issue. So I became actively involved in working in coalition fighting for higher wages and benefits and that fight continues today.
The Arc has authored and was instrumental in creating numerous disability policy legislation. We worked with many talented and honorable legislators. We worked with good and decent people in the various administrations with a common mission of supporting individuals with IDD. We also worked hard with families and people with IDD to testify before legislators, committees and commissions on the importance of community inclusion and building a network of advocates for community.
Some of the legislation we worked on that I am most proud of included:
• Prohibition of Capital Punishment for Individuals with IDD
• Many Special Education Transition Bills
• The Early Intervention Act
• The Disability Services Act of 2003
• Protection of Individuals with IDD who had been sexually abused
• Delegation of Special Education Students Rights
• Brittany’s Law
• PUNS Waiting List
• Special Education 22 Law
• Prohibition of Aversive Behaviorial Therapies
• Employment First
Working with our partner the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, we became very active in advancing the self-advocacy movement here in Illinois. Creating a very real place at the policy table for individuals with IDD. We created the Going Home Campaign hosting rallies in the Capitol, talking to the media, meeting with editorial boards and filming success stories. The creation of the Speak UP & Speak OUT Summit with ICDD continues to be a contemporary leadership training summit for individuals with IDD. Last year the Summit had over 525 individuals attending!
Tony & Tim
The Arc has become the voice of rebalancing the disability system as a civil right. We are fighting for full inclusion for infants, children & adults in their home communities close to family and friends. Regrettably, Illinois continues to be a very institutional state with seven fully operational state institutions.
The Arc has become a major player in the media by taking our message for inclusion and rebalancing to the public and policy makers. I have had the opportunity to work with many brilliant communications exerts over the years to our great advantage. The Arc is the place to go for reporters and the media. We are respected by newspaper editorial boards around the state.
The Arc has also produced numerous videos and documentaries featuring that everyone can live a full life in the community. Check out a few here! We have used social media to spread our message but so much more can be done in this area.
Some of the highpoints of my career in The Arc include:
• Rallies in the State Capitol and The Arc Media Work
Vincent Smith 
• Developing a Statewide Network of Advocates including Self-Advocates, Families and Providers
• Working with Tremendous Legal Advocates and Even Court Monitors!

Ronnie Cohn & Tony

• The Arc of Illinois Award and The Arc of the United States Award presented to Governor Quinn for his championship of progressive Disability Policy
Paula Vanier & Governor Quinn
• The Signing of Employment First

Governor Quinn signing the Employment First Legislation into law!


• Being Honored by the Illinois House of Representatives for my work in The Arc!

Barbara, Tony, Speaker Madigan & Rep Zalewski


• Special Invitation Arc Only by President Obama and his team at the White House!
President Obama addressing The Arc


The Arc of Illinois Delegation

I am extremely proud to have been your Executive Director at The Arc of Illinois. I am only one of 38 state executive directors in the nation, a close fraternity of outstanding advocates that I have learned so much from.

In addition, we have created excellent resource and advocacy programs for individuals and families including:
The Illinois Life Span Program, the 411 of disability services
The Ligas Family Advocate Program, providing resources and advocacy for class members moving off of the waiting list and more.
The Family Transition Project, a network of people with IDD and families who have transitioned out of state institutions.
The Arc’s Family to Family Health Information Center, providing resources to families who have children with special health care needs.
• The State Chapter of Family Voices
The Consumer Stipend Program, a grant from ICDD where we distribute $100,000 per year so individuals with IDD and families can attend important educational events.
• Bringing and Sustaining the Family Support Network under The Arc’s Umbrella
The Arc’s Board of Directors, their courage and commitment to advocacy and inclusion led by Board President Terri Devine and the continued support of so many Past Presidents. What an opportunity to serve they have given me.
But I am most proud of The Arc Team, our staff. They are an incredible team of advocates always helping me through the minefields of Illinois politics, always standing with me against those who would deny freedom and the dignity of risk for the individuals we are here to serve.
The Arc Team!
I leave The Arc in great hands and commitment to our leadership for full inclusion for everyone. That will not change.
Meg Cooch, the New Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois is a person we can all be proud of. She is leader who will write the next chapter in the organization we all cherish – The Arc.
Terri & Meg 
Thank you, each and every one of you for your support these past 25 years. You have no idea how much that support has carried me through the years.
Thank you to my family and most of all to Barbara as we begin this new journey in our lives.

Until we meet again good friends.

Lead on!

Tony Paulauski's signature
Tony Paulauski
Senior Advisor
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
708-828-0188 (CELL)