The Arc’s 2013 National Convention, “Achieving Momentum” in Seattle, WA,
last weekend was an outstanding event for everyone. In addition to the variety
and number of sessions, I believe I was most impressed by the quality of The
Arc’s staff and the important work they are engaged in.

Here are some of my highlights at the convention.

No doubt the high point in the convention was when Governor Quinn won
The Arc’s Advocacy Matters Award.


 View his acceptance speech.

This award honors a significant advocacy victory in the past year that improved
the lives of people with I/DD. Governor Patrick Quinn has changed the face of
developmental disability services in Illinois by moving the state from a heavy reliance
on institutional settings, promoting person centered community living for people
with I/DD and emphasizing employment first. Governor Quinn’s “Rebalancing Initiative”
will reform the disability system in Illinois completely, resulting in the closure of 5
state run institutions by December 2014. Additionally, during this past year, 1550
individuals with disabilities were removed from the waiting list and now receiving
services. This initiative is the largest expansion of community services and supports
in decades. Governor Quinn has made himself readily available to The Arc of Illinois
and the disability community during his term and continues to work collaboratively
to support the inclusion of individuals with I/DD in the community.


 Brian Rubin addressing The Arc Convention


 Brian, Tony & Arc US President Nancy Webster accepting the
Governor’s Award.


Tony, National Conference of Executives President Tony Anderson &
Joe Meadours. NCE hosted a Pre-Conference for Exec’s, “No One Promised
You a Rose Garden, but a Few Less Thorns Would Be Helpful…” We also had
a half day session for State Executive Directors during which I did a presentation
on “Alternative Sources of Income for State Advocacy.”


Eric Matthes, Advocacy Program Coordinator at The Arc of King County, WA
There was a Self-Advocacy Pre-Conference as well, “Oh, the Possibilities:
Self-Advocates as Leaders in Your Community.” I really enjoyed this session
and Eric (pictured above) in his presentation stated, “He sees himself as a Self
Activist in the mold of Martin Luther King.” Another step forward for the self-activist
movement in the United States!


 Also presenting on leadership was our great friend, Joe Meadours! Joe is now
working in California with People First. I was also able to get together with Joe
for dinner and catch up with him. He is having a good life!


Buzz Bissinger and his son, Zack, did a presentation, “Our Families, Our Stories,
Our Lives.” Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author
(Three Nights in August, Friday Night Lights), was a keynote speaker. He spoke about
his latest book, Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary
Son. It is a presentation I will not soon forget.

 It was a fun convention as well. I enjoyed meeting with the Illinois Delegation including
Kyle Rick, Cindy Ferguson, Jeff Dean and Deb Sheppard. President Brian Rubin is
an exceptional President for Illinois and what a treasurer we have in The Arc US
President Nancy Webster! You go, girl!

 If you have not been to our national convention, put it on your schedule for next year,
September 30 – October 2, 2014 in New Orleans!

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)