Minutes — February 2015 Council Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Elaine Eisenbaum, UT CDS
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Barbara Kaatz, TEA
  • Sara Kendall, DARS
  • Penny Larkin, DADS
  • Ruth Mason
  • Michael Peace
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Amy Sharp, A&M CDD
  • David Taylor
  • Lora Taylor
  • Rick Tisch
  • April Young, HHSC

Council Members Absent

  • Andrew Crim
  • Diana Kern
  • Scott McAvoy
  • John Thomas

Guests Present

  • Ross Castillo
  • Analee Chaumont
  • Adrian Clark
  • Jane Cummins
  • Shiloh Gonzales, DARS
  • Dan Graves
  • Alyssa Martin
  • Darryl Powell

Staff Members Present

  • Roger Webb, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Sonya Hosey
  • Wendy Jones
  • Linda Logan
  • Susan Mihalik
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Friday, February 6, 2015, in the Hill Country B Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown Hotel, 6000 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 10:28 AM.

1.  Introductions

Council members, staff and guests were introduced. Elaine Eisenbaum was present as the designated alternate from the Center for Disability Studies however, as she has not been through orientation, Eisenbaum is not eligible to vote on Council actions.

2.  Public Comments

No public comments were offered to the Council.

3.  Consent Items

Chair Durheim asked for a motion to approve the consent items for the meeting which include the minutes of the November 7, 2014, Council meeting and the November 6, 2014, Committee of the Whole meeting as well as the excused absences of Andrew Crim, Diana Kern, Scott McAvoy and John Thomas.

MOTION:  To approve the minutes of the November 7, 2014, Council meeting and November 6, 2014, Committee of the Whole meeting as well as the excused absences as noted.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Hunter Adkins

The motion passed unanimously.

4.  TCDD Fiscal Year 2015 Internal Audit Plan

Chair Durheim noted that the meeting agenda would be rearranged to allow consideration of the Internal Audit Plan while the auditors were present. She introduced Alyssa Martin and Dan Graves of Weaver and Tidwell, LLP. Martin provided a brief overview of the risk assessment that was conducted with input from TCDD management. She reviewed 16 significant internal and external TCDD activities and noted that high risk areas include Grant Management and Administration, Website Maintenance, Financial Reporting, Accounts Payable and Disbursements and Human Resources and Administration. Graves discussed the FY 2015 Internal Audit Plan that was developed based on the risk assessment. He noted that the major audit activities proposed for this fiscal year are a procedures and controls review which will allow the new auditors to become better acquainted with TCDD operations. The risk assessment will be updated based on that review and follow-up on previous audit recommendations will be conducted. An Annual Internal Audit Report will be submitted at the end of the fiscal year as required by the Texas Internal Audit Act. Martin further noted that plans for FY 2016 and FY 2017 have been proposed to cover the areas of Grant Management and Website Maintenance but this can be reassessed as audit activities for FY 2015 progress.

Chair Durheim explained that a quorum was not present at the Audit Committee meeting but those present were in agreement of the proposed plans. Other members of the Audit Committee had previously reviewed the proposed plan and indicated their approval by email.

MOTION:  To approve the TCDD FY 2015 Internal Audit Plan as proposed.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously.

5.  Chair’s Report

Chair Durheim thanked members for their participation in visits to legislative offices noting that she heard several positive stories from those visits. Durheim reminded members of the upcoming Disability Policy Seminar to take place April 13-15, 2015, in Washington DC. Members who may be interested in attending should contact Durheim or Executive Director Roger Webb. She also noted that the NACDD Annual Conference will take place in July in Reno, NV.

6.  Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb recognized Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones for five years of service to TCDD.

Webb next reviewed the status of TCDD Sunset legislation. He noted that final recommendations presented at the December hearing were as expected with a statutory revision to change the end date of the organization in state law to 2027. Management recommendations direct the agency to monitor outcomes of grant projects for five years past the end of TCDD funding if project activities are expected to continue. An individual bill is expected to be filed to extend the expiration date of TCDD in state law, but this has not happened yet. Members will be advised as legislation is filed and progresses.

Webb provided an update on federal appropriations which included a 1.15% increase from FY 2014 for DD Councils. This is expected to result in approximately $45,000 for TCDD.

Webb again noted that his expected retirement date is June 12, 2015.

7.  Election of Council Vice-Chair

Chair Durheim reminded members that the Nominating Committee consisting of David Taylor, Hunter Adkins and Kristine Clark met during the past quarter to determine recommendations for the positions of Council Vice-Chair and Self-Advocate (Consumer) Delegate-at-Large to the Executive Committee. Taylor was elected to serve as Chair of the Nominating Committee. He reported that the Committee nominates Kristen Cox to serve as Council Vice-Chair. No further nominations were offered from the floor and Cox confirmed her willingness to serve in this capacity.

MOTION:  To elect Kristen Cox as Council Vice-Chair.

MADE BY:  David Taylor for the Nominating Committee (motions from Committee do not need a second)

The motion passed unanimously.

8.  Election of Self-Advocate (Consumer) Delegate-at-Large to the Executive Committee

Mr. Taylor reported that the Nominating Committee nominates Michael Peace as the Self-Advocate (Consumer) Delegate-at-Large to the Executive Committee. Peace accepted the nomination and no further nominations were presented.

MOTION:  To elect Michael Peace as the Self-Advocate (Consumer) Delegate-at-Large to the Executive Committee

MADE BY:  David Taylor for the Nominating Committee

The motion passed nimously.

9.  TCDD Education Position Statement Revisions

Prior to her election as Council Vice-Chair, Kristen Cox was serving in the capacity of Chair of the Public Policy Committee. Cox reported that the Committee discussed the TCDD Education Position statement including the draft revisions presented in meeting materials. The Committee agreed to those revisions and offered additional revisions. Cox reviewed all the revisions offered by the Committee.

MOTION:  To approve revisions to the TCDD Education Position Statement as presented by the Committee.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox for the Public Policy Committee

The motion passed The motion passed with Stephen Gersuk opposed. Cox thanked members for their input and work on the revisions to this statement. She noted that input provided prior to the meeting allows the Committee to have meaningful discussion.

10.  Future Activities for State Plan Implementation

Project Development Committee Chair Gladys Cortez reported on Project Development Committee discussion about the Executive Summary for Support Network for Faith-Based Inclusion. Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry reviewed the Executive Summary noting that the project will provide support for TxFIND (Texas Faith Inclusion Network for People with Disabilities) which will establish a collaborative organization to connect organizations and individuals interested in promoting inclusion in faith communities. The network will coordinate outreach, provide technical support, work with self-advocates to become leaders in their communities, develop materials on the topic and potentially establish a non-profit organization to continue the work past TCDD funding. The project is intended as a competitive bid process but the TCDD Inclusive Faith-Based Communities Symposium grantees have provided input on this project and its activities to continue the work started with those projects. Cordry reinforced that any organization is welcome to apply for the project.

MOTION:  To approve funding for the Texas Faith Inclusion Network for up to $75,000 per year for up to two years.

MADE BY:  Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.

The motion passed unanimously.

Cortez next reported on the Committee’s discussion about the Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives. Cordry reviewed a proposal to provide training to judges and attorneys on alternatives to guardianship. She noted that it is contingent on the passage of legislation that would make changes to the Texas Estate Code in favor of less restrictive alternatives to guardianship. There is no current opposition to this proposed legislation and it is expected to pass. A second proposal for training for individuals with disabilities and their family members on this subject will be offered at a future meeting. Cordry noted that Executive Director Webb has had discussions with the executive director from the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) who is in support of the legislation as well as training to implement its effect. The OCA executive director proposed a kick-off summit for this training with a key-note address from the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court to encourage attendance from judges throughout the state. Further discussion on the summit will take place and Cordry and Webb noted that if additional funding is needed for such an event, that proposal will be presented to the Committee at a future meeting. Webb also acknowledged the potential for collaborative efforts in the development of the training so the topic will be discussed with the DD Network partners (Disability Rights Texas, the Center for Development and Disability at Texas A&M, and the Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas).

MOTION:  To approve funding for Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives for up to $40,000 per year for up to three years contingent on successful legislative efforts on this issue.

MADE BY:  Gladys Cortez for the Project Development Committee.

The motion passed without opposition. Mary Faithfull abstained from voting.

Cortez reported that the Project Development Committee discussed Future Project Funding Priorities and included the new projects as the 4th and 5th priorities. No concerns were noted.

11.  Public Policy Recommendations

Public Policy Committee Chair Cox reported that the Committee discussed pending legislation on the use of medical marijuana but did not wish to make any policy recommendations on this or any other topic at this time.

12.  Grantee Presentation: Education Programs Inspiring Communities

TCDD Grants Management Specialist Susan Mihalik introduced Jane Cummins, Adrian Clark and Dr. Ross Castillo from Educational Programs Inspiring Communities. Cummins provided an overview of their organization which has been in existence since 2006 to provide training and employment options for people with intellectual disabilities. One option provides training in the management of vending machines where individuals earn minimum wage or higher to service these machines. Cummins described the Working with HEART TCDD funded project which has developed an iPad application to assist individuals in inventory maintenance for vending machines and noted that the technology can be expanded to any industry where inventory is required. Dr. Castillo described the implementation of the application for the 37 participants, many of whom had never seen an iPad prior to the training. The technology has allowed participants to fully engage in their work activities. Clark described her work activities in vending machines inventory and noted that training is included in the iPad application. Cummins further noted that discussion is taking place for expansion of the application to other companies such as Papa John’s Pizza or Jack in the Box with regional testing in those stores.

13.  Executive Committee Report

Executive Director Webb reminded members that the Executive Committee has been reviewing succession planning activities for the past several quarters. Council members were provided with a revised Executive Director position description as well as revisions to the succession planning procedures to replace the Executive Director. Webb noted that revisions to the procedures reflect the previous wishes of the Executive Committee as well as directions from human resources staff at Texas Education Agency (TEA) so that TCDD’s procedures follow state guidelines. Council Chair Durheim is the supervisor for the TCDD Executive Director and is therefore the hiring manager for the position. Since she is not a state employee it presents a unique situation in the hiring process. The Executive Committee will designate a transition team including the Council Chair, one member of the Executive Committee, two members of the Council, and TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu as a staff representation. That transition committee will guide the process and potentially serve as the hiring panel. Webb noted that he will not be part of the transition team or selection process to ensure objectivity. The selection team will review applications, conduct two rounds of interviews and determine a selection. Once the selection is made and entered into the TEA computer system, the human resources department at TEA will make the employment offer to the candidate and following an acceptance, the candidate will be contacted by Chair Durheim. Webb noted that the Executive Committee will reconvene following the Council meeting to determine the members of the transition team as this could not be finalized until after Council elections. Staff will work with the transition team to post the position for applications for 30 days. Recruitment efforts will be done through traditional advertisement as well as social media and nationwide job search sites. Durheim added that the transition team will take part in a modified training through TEA on the selection and interview process and noted that if members are interested in serving on the transition team, they should let her know. Webb further noted that a potential timeline to hire a successor will be provided to the Executive Committee and while it is unlikely that a selection will be made prior to the May Council meeting, it is hoped that a new Executive Director will be on board by mid-summer.

Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report. She noted the recommendations based on the desk reviews for Any Baby Can of San Antonio but indicated that no concerns were found. Hosey further reviewed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report and discussed the Arc of Dallas leadership and advocacy project, noting that at that corrective action was needed and once final documents were received no concerns were found.

Hosey reviewed the risk assessments for projects that were considered for continuation grant funding as well as the quarterly update for all TCDD projects. She discussed the Arc of San Angelo project that was to provide personal stories on alternatives to guardianship but was unable to complete this in a timely manner to be beneficial to TCDD public policy staff. The project will be concluded and reimbursement for completed activities is not expected to be the full amount approved for the project.

Hosey reported that the Executive Committee approved a new Outreach and Development project to Special Kids, Inc. and continuation funding for Any Baby Can (health and fitness), Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (higher education), Texas State Independent Living Council (health and fitness), VSA Arts of Texas (self-advocates as speakers), Texas Parent to Parent (public policy collaboration), and Texas Tech University (higher education). Additional information was provided in a handout. Chair Durheim further reported that continuation grant funding was not awarded to the Texas Tech University for the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project based on a lack of measurable objectives in the work-plan. Durheim noted that other projects from this grantee have been very successful and she appreciated the respect and professionalism of project staff even though funding was not continued. She also commended TCDD staff for their work in reviewing this project and all TCDD grant projects.

TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the TCDD Quarterly Financial Report noting that the Executive Committee had no concerns on the reports. Cantu next discussed a proposed amendment to the FY 2015 Operating Expense budget to correct estimated salaries and benefits for the year. Earlier calculations did not contain all of the approved staff positions or the 2% across the board salary increase provided to all state employees.

MOTION:  To approve amendments to the FY 2015 TCDD Operating Expense budget regarding staff salaries and benefits as presented.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim for the Executive Committee

The motion passed unanimously.

TCDD Executive Assistant Koren Vogel reviewed revisions to the Conflict of Interest Disclosures report for Council members and staff and noted that no concerns were expressed by the Committee. Members were encouraged to submit revisions as needed.

14.  Public Policy Committee Report

Public Policy Committee Chair Cox reported on the Public Information report and asked members to follow the instructions provided in that report to increase traffic to the TCDD Facebook page.

15.  Announcements and Updates

Council members discussed their experiences with legislative visits and Public Policy Staff members were commended for coordinating these efforts.

Council members also discussed dates of future meetings May 6–8, 2015, at the Marriott Austin South, August 5–7, 2015, at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos as well as November 4–6, 2015, and February 3–5, 2016.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the meeting at 12:14 PM.

Roger A. Webb, Secretary to the Council