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.................................Monday, July 31................................ 

9:30a - 11:30a - Pre-Convention Special Event - by Invitation Only


Re-Framing Behavior: How Understanding Safety, Regulation and a Person's Sensory Needs Can Help Us Shift From "Managing" Behavior to Improving It. 

Presenter:  Greg Santucci, MS OTR, Executive Director, Power Play Pediatric Therapy 

12:00p - 2:00p



Opening Keynote Luncheon

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Re-Framing Behavior: Embracing Advances in Neuroscience and Using the Power of Connection and Collaboration to Help People Thrive. 

Presenter:  Greg Santucci, MS OTR, Executive Director, Power Play Pediatric Therapy 



Every human being wants to do well. Every child wants to succeed and make their parents and teachers happy. Likewise, adults want to please and be happy. However, it can be really hard sometimes, especially for those who are neurodivergent. Life is demanding more from people than ever before. While academic demands have changed, what hasn't changed is the course of human development. Current advances in neuroscience have taught us so much about 1) how the brain works and 2) what people of all ages need so they can feel safe, regulated, and ready to meet our expectations. We will gain a new understanding of "the why" of behavior and learn strategies to support people and improve their behavior and help them thrive.


2:00p - 2:30p    Break/Hotel Check In
2:30p - 3:30p    


Breakout Sessions I

Decision Making Through the Early Years

Presenter: Sara Thompson, Supported Decision-Making Community Resource Consultant

This session focuses on defining supported decision-making and how does it apply to ages 0-8. Additionally, we will talk about the importance of learning to make decisions at a young age and appropriate decisions or choices for children through age 8. Finally, we will discuss some tools that can be used to help with this process.

Creating a Sense of Belonging

Presenter: Jacqueline “Jacquie” Johnson, Director of Professional Development, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC)

Belonging is a key component of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Having a sense of belonging helps individuals feel socially connected and makes each person better able to reach their full potential. In this session, participants will engage in reflective and interactive exercises that will help them to understand characteristics for creating a sense of belonging. Participants will also explore tangible strategies to build belonging, including policies, programs, and practices.

Practical Self Defense

Presenter: Sensei Carla Dannouf

Accommodating each person's needs, this class will focus on safety in everyday life with tools and tips to help anyone to be more aware of their surroundings and to move through their day with safety in mind.

Disability, Race and Criminal Justice

Presenters:  Curt Gleeson, Asst. Commissioner of Crisis Services, Neli Latson, Disability Advocate, Brian Kelmar, Executive Director of Legal Reform for Intellectually Disabled, and Nancy Taylor

Numerous systemic problems related to disability, race, policing, prosecution, and incarceration often result in injustices for people with disabilities. This leaves people with disabilities and families plagued with fears for their future.  In this session, we will explore these issues from the perspective of a National Self-Advocate, local families facing these challenges, and Advocates working for policy change. A panel will examine the issues, discuss changes in Virginia that can help protect your family and look toward the future with the advocacy needed for us to create positive change together.

2:30p - 3:30p Board & Chapter Meeting -  
3:45p - 4:45p    


Breakout Sessions II

Empowering Sexual Health and Safety: Navigating the Online Environment for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

Presenter: Dr. Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, Founder & Behavior Education Consultant, Creative Approach Development Center

The purpose of this engaging and informative session is to provide invaluable knowledge and insights into the crucial topic of sexual health and safety in the online environment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). By addressing this subject, I aim to empower individuals with IDD to make informed decisions and foster healthy relationships.

Why One Size Does Not Fit All - Outreach to Latino Families

Presenter: Rosalia Fajardo, Director Multicultural Families, Independence Center of Northern Virginia 

How are Latinos different from mainstream families? How are Latinos different from each other? Why is outreach to Latino families so important? This workshop will share experiences from years of advocacy and connections with Latino families of children with disabilities in Virginia.

Who is in the Driver's Seat? Self-Determination at Any Age

Presenter: Meghan Hyatt, Program Specialist, VCU Training & Technical Assistance Center

Self-determination hinges on three main ideals: Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness/CAR. What do these terms mean and how can they be used to help guide transition? In this session, representatives from VDOE’s I’m Determined State-wide Project will discuss how to drive your own CAR and how this theory can be applied at any age. Participants will be introduced to several tools from, including the one-pager, and discuss how these can be used during any stage of life

Medicaid Updates

Presenters: Ann Bevan, Director of the Division of High Needs Supports at DMAS, Nichole Martin, RN, MSEd, Division Director of the Office of Community Living at DMAS

Hear the latest updates from DMAS on issues that affect you or your family. Learn about changes to waivers -- including the rules regarding legally responsible individuals providing care -- update on slots, rates and other changes in Virginia or from CMS.

5:30p - 9:00p Dinner, Awards, Annual Meeting, Dance 

..................................Tuesday, Aug 1................................. 

8:30a - 10:30a


Keynote Breakfast


Community, Interdependence, and Creating Change Within and Outside of Our Systems

Presenter:  Dom Kelly, Co-Founder, President & CEO of New Disabled South

New Disabled South is fighting for disability rights and disability justice in 14 states with a Vision of a South where liberation and justice for all disabled people is achievable.

This keynote session will critically examine the disability rights and disability justice movements, discuss the shift from indepdence to interdependence, and give concrete suggestions for how we can create lasting change by both working within our system of government, and mobilizing communities to create our own change outside of it.

10:30a - 10:45a    Break
10:45a - 11:45a


Breakout Sessions III

Complex Medical Care and Insurance - Making it Work for Your Family

Presenters: MaryAnn McNeil, Todd A. Bryant, SCC

For people of all ages with complex health care needs, insurance is CRITICAL and it is CONFUSING. Figuring out how Private Insurance, Medicaid and Medicare work can be overwhelming. Come to this session to learn some of the little known ways that insurance can help. We will learn about filing claims, getting specialty medicines and appealing denials. Representatives from the State Corporate Commission and Medicaid will join us to provide resources and to answer your questions. The Arc of Virginia also wants to hear from attendees what is working and what the challenges and barriers for people with complex medical care needs.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and Mental Health: Promoting Holistic Well-being

Presenter: Dr. Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, Founder & Behavior Education Consultant, Creative Approach Development Center

This enlightening session explores the vital connection between IDD and mental health, emphasizing the need to address mental well-being in individuals with developmental disabilities. Dr. Levi-Shackleford will delve into the unique challenges faced by this population, common mental health conditions, and factors contributing to mental health issues. Attendees will gain insights into promoting holistic well-being through person-centered approaches, enhancing communication and social inclusion, and empowering independence. This presentation aims to inspire attendees to prioritize mental health within the context of IDD for improved quality of life.

Romantic Relationship: What’s Good? What’s Bad?

Presenter:  Kendra Wormley, RSA Project Coordinator with the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC).

Relationships can be formed in a variety of places – at home, at work, and in the community. We all experience them. Being in a romantic relationship can be a wonderful experience and may have some challenges or difficulties. This session will cover what is dating, and examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Genetics: Navigating the Current Landscape

Presenters:  Allison Goodwin, M.S. CGC & Julie Bayer-Ville, M.S. CGC, MLS (ASCP), CMSCM, MBCM

This presentation will help attendees learn the potential reasons for a medical genetics evaluation, discuss what to expect during an appointment, and provide background information on some common genetic tests.

12:00p - 2:15p


Public Policy Luncheon


State of the State

Speakers:  Chief Deputy Commissioner, DBHDS Ellen Harrison. Deputy Director of DMAS, Tammy Whitlock. Commissioner, Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Kathy Hayfield. Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Education, Lisa Coons.

Hear from Virginia's Leaders about Public Policy that shapes the Developmental Disability System in the Commonwealth and have an opportunity to ask questions and learn about key issues and initiatives that directly impact our lives. 

Update from Department of Justice 

Speakers:  DOJ Staff Attorney, Kyle Smiddie

Hear from and have a chance to speak directly with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding where things stand with Virginia's Settlement Agreement, why it hasn't ended and what is next for building a robust community system for everyone in Virginia. ​

2:30p - 3:30p


Breakout Sessions IV

Youth & Young Adult Transition: Preparing for Work

Presenter: Lisa Coates, SOAR365

Youth and young adults with developmental disabilities must be provided access and opportunities to develop marketable skills to get jobs and stay employed. This is particularly important for individuals with disabilities, who may experience unique challenges finding and maintaining work. Young adults may experience a number of challenges ranging from societal misconceptions and low expectations to inaccessible programs and services. They should be supported to make informed choices about their work and careers and have the resources to seek, obtain and be successful in community employment. Individuals with DD often leave school with little community-based vocational experience or planning for transition from school to work or post-secondary education. This presentation will discuss and share best practices, school-to-work transition, training of staff and people with IDD, and how to advocate for a system that supports job readiness, skill development, and competitive, integrated supported employment.

Why Inclusive Individualized Housing Supports Make Good Business Sense - Roundtable Discussion

Presenters: Susan Henderson, Associate Executive Director, Hope House Foundation & Monica Karavanic, Executive Director, The Arc of Southside

If you're a provider who is trying or has tried to offer fully inclusive Community Living services, you know how challenging it can be. You also know that it's worth the effort. In this session, we'll explore the practical issues that providers face when trying to offer fully inclusive Community Living services. Two organizations that have been successful in doing so will share their experiences and then focus on interactive discussions with providers about how to redesign services to meet the needs of their clients and how to make it work for your business. Come prepared with challenges and questions so we can help you to overcome these barriers together. Pre-registration is required, as we want to be able to engage in meaningful and actionable discussions that you can use to build your business.

ALLY Self-Advocacy Alliance - Creating Change Together - Part 1

Presenters: Beth Kessler, Consultant, Jesse Monroe, Advocacy Coach, Shay Ruff, Advocacy Coach & Kate Short, Self Advocacy Advisor - The Arc of Virginia

Come partner with The Arc of Virginia and the ALLY Alliance to develop a shared policy agenda for the self-advocacy movement in Virginia! Help to identify the changes we need in Virginia so all people with IDD experience equity, support and belonging. Then help us create a work plan to get there. This work will guide our support of the self advocacy movement moving forward!

Preschool Programs in Virginia: Preparing our Youngest Learners for Kindergarten and Beyond

Presenters: Dawn Hendricks, Early Childhood Special Education Coordinator, VA Dept of Education, Kris Meyers, Associate Director of Quality Improvement. Tiffanie Meehling, Associate Director of Pre-K Programs

The Virginia Department of Education helps prepare all children for kindergarten by implementing many early childhood care and education programs. Virginia’s early childhood system must ensure that all children, including those with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), have quality teaching and learning experiences that meet their unique needs. Quality early learning experiences are an essential element to preparing children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. This session will provide an overview of Virginia’s programs and help participants understand state initiatives designed to provide high-quality programs and improve inclusion for young children with IEPs.

3:30p - 3:45p Break
3:45 - 4:45p 


Breakout Sessions V

Making Research More Inclusive

Presenters: Sara Lineberry, Evaluation Assistant & Angela West, Partnership for People with Disabilities at VCU

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have the right to be involved in research as team members and as participants. When researchers partner with people with IDD and their families, we can make sure that our work is important, useful, and based in the lived experiences of people most impacted. However, research can also be confusing and intimidating, which can make it hard for people with IDD to participate. We hope this session can start addressing these barriers to including people with IDD in research. In this session, attendees will hear from researchers from the Partnership for People with Disabilities and self-advocates from the ALLY Alliance about their work to make research more inclusive. We will then host a discussion with attendees about potential benefits of research, things to know about research projects, and how to get more involved for people who are interested.

ALLY Self-Advocacy Alliance - Creating Change Together - Part 2

Presenters: Beth Kessler, Consultant, Jesse Monroe, Advocacy Coach, Shay Ruff, Advocacy Coach & Kate Short, Self Advocacy Advisor - The Arc of Virginia

Come partner with The Arc of Virginia and the ALLY Alliance to develop a shared policy agenda for the self-advocacy movement in Virginia! Help to identify the changes we need in Virginia so all people with IDD experience equity, support and belonging. Then help us create a work plan to get there. This work will guide our support of the self advocacy movement moving forward!

Acknowledging and Addressing Racism in Special Education

Presenter: Cheryl Poe,Founder and Owner of Advocating 4 Kids LLC

In Virginia, Black students, but especially Neurodivergent students, are disproportionately expelled, suspended, restrained, and secluded more than their White counterparts. Our session will provide a brief history of racism in public education and define bias and institutional racism in the context of its implications in special education services and advocacy.

Unburden yourself!

Presenter: Tia Marsili, Director of Trusts, The Arc of Northern Virginia

81% of families worry about the financial future of their child with disabilities. The Arc of Northern Virginia professionally manages special needs trusts so you can unburden your family. Our trust allows your family to BE a family while we offer continuity, expertise and longevity.

Evening on Your Own in Richmond!

...............................Wednesday, Aug 2.............................. 

9:00a - 10:00a


Breakout Sessions VI

Shared Living Waiver Service 

Presenter: Deanna Parker, Director of Community Network Supports, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

The Shared Living service is a unique arrangement in which a person with a disability lives with and shares life experiences with a roommate of his or her choosing, in exchange for the roommate providing companionship, fellowship and limited ADL/IADL supports. A roommate may not be a parent (by kinship or legal relationship), grandparent, spouse, or guardian, but could be a friend, brother, sister, or cousin, for example. With this service, the roommate is not paid for providing supports to the individual. Instead, Medicaid reimburses the individual for the roommate’s half of the room and board in exchange for the supports being provided. The time that the individual and his or her roommate spend together and what they do is described in a written supports agreement that is developed with the input of both the individual and the roommate. Provision of the agreed upon supports is a condition for receipt of the roommate’s portion of the room and board. The Shared Living service is available to adult individuals ages 18 or older enrolled in the Community Living (CL), Family and Individual Supports (FIS) or Building Independence (BI) Waivers.

10:15a - 12:00p Brunch Closing Presentation

Voting Rights for People with Disabilities - What are Our Rights, and Where do We Go from Here?

Presenters: Rachel Loria & Beth Klein, disAbility Law Center of Virginia

This session will focus on Voting Rights for individuals who have disabilities. We will focus on what to expect when you go to voting polls and your rights as a person who has disabilities. We will examine where Virginia is heading and changes that dLCV is working towards for individuals with disabilities so that everyone’s voice is heard!

Advocacy Training: How to Talk So Legislators Will Listen -- & How to Listen So Legislators Will Talk

Presenters:  Matt Shapiro, Owner 6 Wheels Consulting, Lobbyist, Ashley Wright, Senior Director of Government Relations with Davis Consulting

Communicating effectively with your elected representatives is a skill every citizen can develop - and it is more important than ever to do so! Ashley and Matthew will discuss ideas for successfully engaging with decision-makers at all levels of the policymaking process, from emailing on a specific issue to visiting the General Assembly during an advocacy day. They will also cover strategies for navigating difficult conversations, redirecting negative interactions, and following up to maintain ongoing relationships with legislative offices. There will be a Q&A time, so come with questions - and leave with tools to empower your own advocacy and communication!

Supporting Children Ages 0-6 years Experiencing Developmental Delays and Challenging Behaviors in Childcare Settings

Presenter: Nikida Cromartie-James

Support and resources for inclusion of children ages 0-6 years in childcare settings who are experiencing developmental delays, challenging behaviors, or any diagnosis.

Awareness, Acceptance, Storytelling, and Media 

Presenters: Ben Breaux, Blogger, Neli Latson,  Disability Advocate, Charlotte Woodward, TikTok Influencer, Silfies Media

Hear from a panel of advocates to learn how they are using their life and their voices to raise awareness and acceptance through media and storytelling.  Then learn about the launch of a dynamic statewide Awareness Campaign that YOU can be a part of. Join the conversation about what the future holds for influence, belonging, and representation and how it informs the movement.


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