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

Executive Leadership 2021 Speakers

Barbara Brent

Barbara Brent joined NASDDDS in 2012 and is the NASDDDS Director of State Policy. Barb provides technical assistance through in-depth analyses of state I/DD agency policies and practices, combined with reviews of federal changes and expectations, in order to assist states to increase quality, supports for people with disabilities and their families. She provides technical assistance in areas such as Medicaid, HCBS, managed care, behavior support and dual diagnosis, employment, supporting families, alternative payment models and integrated systems of care. Barb is also the NASDDDS project director for the National Community of Practice for Supporting Families, in concert with the University of Missouri and twenty states, designed to improve policies, practices, funding mechanisms, front door initiatives and community engagement in partnership with families and self-advocates. Prior to joining NASDDDS, Barbara served as the state director for the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), supporting over 33,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities, along with their families through a unique Medicaid managed care system in which DDD provides all acute medical, behavioral health and long term care services. With continuous focus on developing and enhancing in home and community supports and coordinated care, more than 87 percent of all people
receiving services and supports live in their family home or homes of their own. Barbara has been in the field of disabilities for over 30 years. She has a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis on employment and community living for people with severe disabilities. She has had the opportunity to work in both the public and private sectors in a variety of roles, including case management, early intervention, director of supported employment in Oregon, director of a vocational provider agency,
training director, UCEDD education coordinator, director of abuse prevention grants for children and adults with disabilities, and as the state developmental disabilities director in Tennessee. Some of her avocations include systems change, community development, facilitation, quality and bringing people together from across communities and government to create positive change.

Al Condeluci, Ph.D.

Dr. Al Condeluci has been a leader in community building, human services and inclusive advocacy work for the past 50 years. Holding a PhD and MSW from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Condeluci has been the CEO of CLASS (Community Living and Support Services) a major nonprofit, community building organization in Pittsburgh, PA from 1973 to 2019. He holds faculty status at the University of Pittsburgh in the Schools of Social Work, and Health, Rehab Sciences and is author of 7 books including the acclaimed, Interdependence: The Route to Community (1995) and more recently, Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change (2014). In 2018, he received the “Key to the City of Pittsburgh,” the highest civilian honor that can be given to a community member.  He serves as a consultant, advisor, and human service coach and is on a number of nonprofit boards and government commissions on state, local and national levels. He helped found, and convenes the Interdependence Network, an international coalition of professionals, family members, and consumers interested in community engagement and macro change. He can be reached at, or @acondeluci on Twitter.

Thane Dykstra

Thane Dykstra is  the President and CEO of Trinity Services. Thane holds a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition, he completed a pre-doctoral internship at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. While at Brown, he served as an assistant project coordinator at the university’s Center for Alcohol and Addictions Studies. Within Illinois state agencies, Thane has served on steering committees and work groups for the Department of Human Services (DHS)–both the Division of Mental Health and the Division of Developmental Disabilities–and the Department of Children and Family Services. He was appointed by the Governor to the state’s Quality Care Board, an advisory committee for the DHS Office of the Inspector General.

Theresa Eagleson

Theresa Eagleson has served as Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services since January 2019. Immediately prior to her appointment by Governor Pritzker, she was the Executive Director of the Office of Medicaid Innovation at the University of Illinois for four years. Director Eagleson had previously been the longest serving Medicaid Director in the state’s history, from 2007-2014. She has served in policy and administrative positions in state government since 1990, with a concentration in human services and healthcare.  Her career included Governor’s budget and policy teams under two previous administrations and  fifteen years at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.  

Secretary Grace Hou

Grace Hou has been appointed as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Hou most recently was the president of Woods Fund Chicago, a grant-making foundation that funds organizations that draw on the power of communities to fight the brutality of poverty and structural racism. From 2003 to 2012, she served as the Assistant Secretary at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) where she was responsible for the oversight of the agency’s six program areas. During that time, she was a key leader in the creation and implementation of the state’s nationally acclaimed Immigrant Integration New American’s Executive Order. Hou previously served as executive director of Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) and has been a vocal advocate for immigrant rights.

Nicole Jorwic

Nicole has demonstrated a commitment to working toward systems change that will create equal access, improved supports, and full lives for all individuals with disabilities, which is in alignment with the mission of The Arc. Nicole has served in various roles to this end, including her appointment as a Senior Director of Public Policy. Nicole served as the CEO/President of the Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities where she continued the Institute’s mission to improve the lives of people with disabilities and assisted the leadership of the state of Illinois in developing public policy driven best practices. Nicole is also an accomplished special education attorney and an advocate for students with disabilities.

Rie Kennedy-Lizotte

Currently Rie serves as Director of Employment Policy for the NationalAssociation of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services(NASDDDS). In this position she co-manages the State Employment Leadership Network in partnership with the Institute for Community Inclusion UMASS Boston to oversee a consortium of state I/DD agencies collaborating to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Previously, she was Director for Provider Development in the Georgia Office of Developmental Disabilities. She has worked as the service director for a county developmental disability system in Pennsylvania and as
Executive Vice President of Via of the Lehigh Valley, a community based organization that provided an array of supports/services. Dedicated to advocacy and influencing public policy in support of the civil rights of people with disabilities, she is actively involved in a number of local, state, and national organizations. Rie co-founded Person to Person:
Valley Citizen Advocacy, an organization connecting people without disabilities to people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. Rie also played a significant role in launching one of Pennsylvania’s first projects to support selfdetermination principles through individual self-directed budgets. Rie holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Peter Leidy

Peter Leidy has been learning from people with disabilities since 1983. For almost 20 years he worked for Options in Community Living, a supported living agency in Madison, Wisconsin. His roles included direct support, service coordination, recruiting and supporting direct service staff, community building, and administrative responsibilities. Peter consults with individuals, families, organizations, counties, and states in areas such as: supported living, self-determination, organizational development, positive behavior support, building community relationships, and supporting and valuing direct support staff.  Peter facilitates workshops, conducts staff training, and often speaks at conferences. Peter also writes and sings humorous and thought-provoking songs about human service and those who find themselves connected to it. He sings these songs wherever he can get away with it!

Mary Kay Rizzolo, PhD

Dr. Rizzolo has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of CQL | Council on Quality and Leadership since 2016, providing leadership concerning all operational, administrative, and strategic initiatives of the organization. Mary Kay holds an appointment as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) since 2011. Prior to joining CQL, Mary Kay was the Associate Director of the Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD), a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in Illinois. She also worked as the Policy Director of the IL LEND Program, Director of Evaluation for the Family Support Research and Training Center, researcher at the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities (University of Colorado), and a Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional in North Carolina.

Director Allison Stark

Allison Stark has committed her entire career to serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Allison most recently served as the President and CEO of Orchard Village, a nonprofit in the North Chicagoland area providing an array of community based services to individuals with I/DD. Prior to her 12 years with Orchard Village, Allison was a Program Manager at Resources for Living in Evanston, and a Home & Community Based Services Waiver Case Manager for Adult Care Management in Lafayette, Colorado. Allison holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago.  

Executive Leadership Main Menu