Minutes — May 2015 Executive Committee Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Kristen Cox
  • Michael Peace
  • Lora Taylor

Committee Members Absent

  • Gladys Cortez

Council Members Present

  • Andy Crim

Staff Members Present

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

Call To Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in the Limestone 2 Room at the Marriott Austin South, 4415 South IH-35, Austin, TX 78745. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 3:45 PM.

1.  Introductions

Committee members and staff were introduced. It was noted that Gladys Cortez’ flight had been delayed accounting for her absence.

2.  Public Comments

No public comments were offered.

3.  Consideration Of Minutes

The minutes were reviewed and no additions or corrections were noted.

MOTION:  To approve the minutes of the February 4-6, 2015, Executive Committee meeting as presented.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Michael Peace

The motion passed unanimously.

4.  Grants Activities Report

Council Chair Mary Durheim revised the order of the agenda to prioritize items requiring certain TCDD staff member participation so that those items could be addressed earlier allowing staff to leave the meeting when finished.

Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and noted no issues or concerns. She discussed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions report and noted that most of the items indicated as “pending” on the report have completed the requested paperwork since the time of printing. Ellison further reported on the risk assessments for the projects that will be considered for continuation funding and noted no concerns.

Executive Director Roger Webb discussed staff concerns about delays in receiving the “final report of expenditures” and a final payment request from some grantees. He noted that this can create complications in assuring TCDD funds are fully expended and in knowing the amount to award for the following year. This situation is not common, and is generally limited to larger organizations such as universities that are not dependent on TCDD funds for cash flow. Webb and grants staff have discussed options to withhold a portion of that final payment request with the amount of withheld funds increasing over time. He advised that if Council members wish to amend Council policies to specify time constraints for reimbursements, TCDD may need to publish a proposed rule revision in the Texas Register in addition to amending Council policies. The Council could review and approve posting a proposed Rule revision for public comments during the August meetings. Any comments received could be reviewed at the November meeting, and a final Rule adopted. At that same meeting, the Council could approve an amendment to Council Policies with more specificity about the process. Once approved, staff can provide guidance to grantees and likely would include a new “assurance” for grantees to acknowledge as a condition of receiving DD funds. Committee members directed staff to research how other councils handle this issue and draft proposed revisions to policy. Webb will also discuss with TCDD’s general counsel.

5.  Consideration of Outreach and Development Proposal — Center
for Accommodations and Support Services

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry reviewed the purpose of the Outreach and Development projects and noted that one additional project can currently be funded. One proposal was received during the quarter from the University of Texas at El Paso Center for Accommodations and Support Services. Per the proposal, the organization would train and support 15 Hispanic students with disabilities to receive culturally appropriate leadership and advocacy training through a Photovoice project. This would be an expansion of a current project. TCDD staff review suggests that the mission of the department is not in line with the purpose of Outreach and Development projects to increase access to culturally appropriate services. Committee members did not offer a motion regarding this proposal therefore no action was taken.

6.  Consideration of Continuation Grant Awards

TCDD Grants Management Specialist Susan Mihalik reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Educational Programs Inspiring Communities for an enabling technology project. During the first three years of the project, an inventory management application for use with tablet computers (iPads) was designed for use by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants in the program manage inventory in vending machines and assessments show increased familiarity with the iPads and the modules for the application. The fourth year of the project proposes expansion to other businesses with possible test sites such as Papa John’s pizza or other fast food chains. Mihalik discussed the lack of employment outcome data from the grantee and Committee members requested that this be provided.

MOTION:  To approve up to $225,000 in continuation funding to Educational Programs Inspiring Communities for the 4th year of a 5-year enabling technology project with the request for additional data by June 30, 2015.

MADE BY:  Lora Taylor

SECOND:  Michael Peace

The motion passed unanimously.

Grants Management Specialist Mihalik reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Strategic Education Solutions for an enabling technology project. The project has developed an online Virtual Job Coach program that assists adults with cognitive disabilities with career planning, job search and sustaining employment. During the first three years of the project, 50 modules have been designed for the program and have been used by 25 participants. The fourth year goals include expansion to additional pilot sites and identifying additional distribution partners. No concerns were expressed regarding this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $224,925 in continuation funding to Strategic Education Solutions for the 4th year of a 5-year enabling technology project.

MADE BY:  Michael Peace

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously.

Mihalik next reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Imagine Enterprises for a Self-Advocates as Speakers project. This project recruits, trains and supports self-advocates from diverse backgrounds to present in local and state venues where their message will have an impact. Project goals include training at least 15 participants per year — 15 were trained in the first year and 24 were trained in the second year. Many of the participants have presented at venues such as school board meetings, civic organization meetings and conferences such as Texas Advocates and Inclusion Works. The project will continue training participants, develop additional sites for training and modify curriculum as needed. No concerns were expressed for this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $125,000 in continuation funding to Imagine Enterprises for the 3rd year of a 4-year Self-Advocates as Speakers project.

MADE BY:  Kristen Cox

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously.

Mihalik next reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities for a Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellows project. She reminded members that Chris Masey is the fellow in this project. Mr. Masey provided information to Council members during the February meeting on advocacy strategies in preparation for legislative visits. Masey is focusing on the policy areas of employment, early childhood intervention and personal attendant wages and is providing training for young self-advocates as well as attending meetings, legislative hearings and other workshops. He will continue these activities for the second year of his fellowship. No concerns were noted for this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $67,500 in continuation funding to Coalition of Texans with Disabilities for the 2nd year of a 2-year Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellows project.

MADE BY:  Lora Taylor

SECOND:  Michael Peace

The motion passed unanimously.

Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones presented the executive summary for continuation funding to the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas for the Get FIT Texas health and fitness project. This 12-week health and wellness program serves adults with developmental disabilities in the rural areas surrounding Austin, Dallas, Plano, Houston, San Antonio and Lubbock. In the first three years of the project, over 250 participants have developed an at-home “Get FIT” plan. Participants have shown a 30%-60% improvement in fitness measures, body composition measures, quality of life scores and health screen tests. Jones reports there are no compliance issues with the project and no other concerns were noted.

MOTION:  To approve up to $250,000 in continuation funding to Epilepsy Foundation of Texas for the 4th year of a 5-year health and fitness project.

MADE BY:  Lora Taylor

SECOND:  Michael Peace

The motion passed unanimously.

Grants Management Specialist Jones presented the executive summary for continuation funding to Region 17 Education Service Center (ESC) for a Family Involvement in Schools project. Region 17 ESC has worked to build collaborations with schools in 4 districts and provide training for parent involvement. In the first two years of the project, more than 450 parents have been trained and over 250 have attended ARD meetings. Scholarships have also been provided for parents to attend conferences on Autism, Inclusion and Building Strong Families. Goals for the third year include continuing with trainings and increasing the number of home and school activities that districts provide to parents of students with disabilities. No issues or concerns were noted for this project.

MOTION:  To approve up to $300,000 in continuation funding to Region 17 Education Service Center for the 3rd year of a 5-year Family Involvement in Schools project.

MADE BY:  Lora Taylor

SECOND:  Kristen Cox

The motion passed unanimously.

7.  TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

TCDD Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial report noting that there is $221,392 remaining from FY 2014 funds that will need to be obligated to grant projects by September 30, 2015.

The Notice of Grant Award for FY 2015 was received and TCDD received funds in the amount of $4,742,116. This was a decrease of approximately $62,000 from FY 2014 funds even though there was a slight increase expected. Executive Director Webb and directors from other DD Councils have questioned officials with the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) but were assured that funding was calculated correctly using the current formula. Discussions are in progress to review the funding formula, specifically the “hold harmless” provision and how it effects funding in years with only a minimal increase in appropriations.

TCDD funding projections suggest a slight shortfall for FY 2016 that staff view as very manageable. Expected savings from operating expenses and unused grant funds will even out the projected negative balance, even if all planned projects are implemented with current timelines.

Cantu reviewed the current year Operating Expense budget, noting that 46% of budgeted amounts have been expended for the first 6 months of the fiscal year. TCDD staff examined expenses for staff benefits during this year and discovered that health insurance premiums for TCDD retirees are charged back to TCDD. Staff were unaware of this expense until now and will plan accordingly for FY 2016. For FY 2015, the variance will be covered by savings from unused salaries, professional services and out-of-state travel.

Staff and Committee members discussed activities to be included in the FY 2016 Operating Expense budget and noted that a planned training on “Undoing Racism” will be a new expense. The details of this training are being processed but it is expected to be available for interested staff, some Council members and possibly advocates from other organizations. Committee members supported adding this activity to projected expenses for FY 16.

8.  Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Committee members reviewed updated conflict of interest disclosure information for Council members and staff. No concerns were noted

9.  Chair’s Report

Chair Durheim reported on absences that were expected during the meetings including Mateo Delgado, Dana Perry and John Thomas. She also noted that she received a resignation from Diana Kern who is serving in a hold-over capacity from her term that expired February 1, 2015. Kern noted that health issues prevent her from continuing with Council activities and her resignation will be forwarded to the Governor’s appointments office.

Durheim discussed Committee assignments for members and noted that Lora Taylor has agreed to Chair the Public Policy Committee. She replaces Kristen Cox who was elected as Council Vice-Chair. Taylor has asked Kristine Clark to serve as Vice-Chair of that Committee. Other Committee assignments include Andy Crim to the Project Development Committee noting that he was not assigned to a Committee in his previous terms as Council Vice-Chair. New members Ruth Mason, Michael Peace and Brandon Pharris have requested assignment to the Public Policy Committee and John Thomas has requested assignment to the Project Development Committee. To maintain a balance of members on each Committee, Mateo Delgado and DARS representative Jennifer Kaut have agreed to move to the Project Development Committee. Council Vice-Chair Cox becomes Chair of the Audit Committee and past Committee Chair Crim remains on that Committee along with Scott McAvoy and John Thomas. Taylor rotates off the Audit Committee to serve as Chair of the Public Policy Committee.

Durheim next reported on succession planning activities and the search for an Executive Director. She noted that 123 applications were received with 35 considered to have met the minimum education and experience for screening. The selection team reviewed those applications in detail and scored each based on the applicant’s documentation of their knowledge, skills and abilities. Seven applicants have been selected for interviews which are scheduled for May 27–29, 2015. The selection team expects to interview 2–3 finalists in early June. Durheim further noted that there will be an expected vacancy from the time of Executive Director Webb’s retirement on June 12, 2015, until the new director can begin the position, possibly in mid-July or early August. Durheim discussed options to handle the vacancy including the appointment of an acting director from current TCDD staff or the hiring of an interim director from outside the agency. She noted that her preference is to follow current TCDD Emergency Backup procedures which name Operations Director Martha Cantu as Acting Director.

MOTION:  To appoint Martha Cantu as TCDD Acting Executive Director during the vacancy between Roger Webb’s retirement and the start date for the new Executive Director.

MADE BY:  Mary Durheim

SECOND:  Lora Taylor

The motion passed unanimously. Executive Director Webb discussed the duties of an Acting Executive Director to continue key activities without disruption and to have clear signatory authorization for various business matters. Cantu will be a point of contact for the designated state agency and other entities as well as coordinate collaborative efforts between the TCDD management team to carry out agency business.

Durheim discussed the NACDD conference planned for July 21–23, 2015 in Sparks, NV. Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry and Communications Coordinator Joshua Ryf will attend and Durheim offered the opportunity to other Executive Committee members as part of the conference included training for Council leadership.

Durheim reported that TCDD’s Sunset Bill, HB 1679, was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that morning and was passed unanimously. The bill continues TCDD as an agency through 2027. The next step is approval by the full Senate.

10.  Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb reviewed stipend awards that were approved during the past quarter to the following applicants:

  • Texas Parent to Parent: Events stipend for up to $6,000 for the 11th Annual Texas Parent to Parent Conference on June 11–13, 2015, in San Marcos.
  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America: Speakers stipend for up to $6,000 for the 2015 National Conference on Childhood Apraxia of Speech on July 9–11, 2015, in San Antonio.
  • Harris County Department of Education: Speakers stipend for up to $4,900 for the HCDE Summer Autism Institute on June 22–25, 2015, in Houston.
  • University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center: Events stipend for up to $4,750 for the Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research Conference on July 25, 2015, in Denton.

Webb provided an update on the TCDD staff and reviewed an updated organizational chart that includes the new Planning Specialist position. Interviews for this position have been conducted and a selection is expected in the next few weeks. Ashley Ford was recently selected as the new Public Policy Assistant and began with the agency on May 1, 2015. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Texas State University and completed an year-long internship with State Representative Zerwas during the 83rd Texas Legislature. Webb also reported on the extended medical leave of Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey noting that she has been under doctor’s care since February but has been working part-time from home as her health allows. Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison has been coordinating many of Hosey’s duties during her absence.

Webb provided members with a list of proposed legislation that may impact state agencies. He noted that significant changes will be made to the way agencies handle contracts but that TCDD is already in compliance with those directions.

Adjourn

Chair Durheim adjourned the Executive Committee at 5:51 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council