Minutes — November 2015 Project Development Committee Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings


Committee Members Present

  • Gladys Cortez, Chair
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Ivy Goldstein
  • Jennifer Kaut
  • Scott McAvoy
  • David Taylor
  • John Thomas
  • Rick Tisch

Committee Members Absent

  • Andrew Crim
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Barbara Kaatz, TEA
  • Dana Perry

Council Members Present

  • Brandon Pharris

Guest Present

  • Isabel Evans
  • Darryl Powell

Staff Present

  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Fernando Rodriguez
  • Danny Fikac
  • Linda Logan
  • Josh Ryf
  • Beth Stalvey

Call To Order

The Project Development Committee (PDC) met on Thursday, November 5, 2015, at the Horseshoe Bay Resort at 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657. Chair Gladys Cortez called the meeting to order at 02:17 p.m. A quorum was present.

  1. Introduction of Committee Members, Staff and Visitors
    Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered.

  3. Approval Of Minutes
    The Committee reviewed minutes of the August 6, 2015, Project Development Committee meeting.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 6, 2015, Project Development Committee.
    MADE BY: Scott McAvoy
    SECOND: John Thomas
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Remarks
    Chair Cortez thanked John Thomas for attending the Executive Committee meeting and for the questions and thoughts offered during the meeting.

  5. Member Updates
    Rick Tisch provided an update on his activities and involvement with The Center in Houston Texas. This organization is doing a bike ride fundraiser and asked for TCDD Council member support or help. Tisch will provide further information at a later date.

    Chair Cortez shared her involvement with the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Association Awareness Walk, which has been successful and continues to grow in participation and financial support.

  6. Staff Reports
    1. Status of New Projects
      Cynthia Ellison, Senior Grant Specialist, reported that a new grant issued to Light and Salt Association started on November 1, 2015.

    2. Projected Available Funds
      Martha Cantu, Operations Director, reported that TCDD has funds in both FY15 and FY16 that need to be used. All planned grants have been funded, and there is funding available for multiple projects. Cantu expressed that TCDD does not want to have to return funding to federal government.

      There was a discussion on how funds are allocated and obligated. TCDD can redistribute funding so money that needs to be spent this fiscal year will be used to fund projects that are ending. New projects are funded with money from the current fiscal year. Council Chair Durheim indicated that it would take an estimated one year to take a grant from a Request for Proposals (RFP) to awarding of funds. Staff suggested that the Higher Education projects might be supported to create a network across the state. Additionally, providing statewide training on alternatives to guardianship is potentially a large project.

      There were no additional questions for Cantu.

    3. Other Updates
      1. Partners in Policymaking (PIP)
        The committee discussed when Partners in Policymaking (PIP) would begin. There is work to be done to determine if TCDD should hire an employee or contractor and/or develop an RFP for the management of PIP. There are several issues to be considered. Cordry indicated that there would be further discussion at the February 2016 Council Meeting. A cost analysis should be ready by the next Council meeting which will determine the pros and cons of either having PIP as in-house process vs. having a grantee manage PIP.

      2. State Plan Goals and Objectives
        The committee discussed the draft of FY2017 2021 State Plan found behind Tab 10 of the Council Binder. The committee determined that there are currently no major changes to propose. The committee recognized that, as presented, the current State Plan goals and objectives are inclusive, well written and ready for public comment. Tisch agreed to present to the goals and objectives at the Council meeting on Friday.

      3. Possible Future Activities
        Higher Education

        1. The current Higher Education projects are successfully demonstrating how to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to earn degrees and certificates. The programs will most likely will be sustainable and one may be expanded. Staff recommend the Committee consider developing a network to develop strategies to expand programs like these across the state. The committee discussed how schools might include training in self-advocacy and improve the Admission Review Dismissal (ARD) process, such as promoting student-led ARDs.

        Guardianship Alternatives

        1. Disability Rights Texas will develop a project to train people, including attorneys, judges, and others, about alternatives to guardianship. Staff suggested development of a project to provide statewide training to larger audiences. Committee members suggested that staff research a personal supports network similar to a program in Canada and noted that Parent to Parent may already be developing a model. Information about this could be included in the training.

      4. Staff Activities
        Joanna Cordry, Planning Coordinator, updated the Committee on her activities and her participation on the planning committee for the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities’ Annual Summit. In addition, Cordry reported that three Request for Proposals (RFPs) were posted during this quarter:

        1. Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives
        2. Leadership Development and Advocacy Training
        3. Accessible Transportation Summits

        The TCDD Executive Committee awarded funding to the following organizations:

        1. Understanding Employment was awarded to National Disability Institute
        2. Stakeholder Training Guardianship Alternatives was awarded to Disability Rights Texas

        None of the proposals submitted in response to the Policy Fellow RFP were funded, and the Executive Committee requested that staff reissue the RFP. There are proposals submitted for two new RFPs that will be reviewed:

        1. Leadership and Development
        2. Transportation

        Staff is working with Nuvola-Network to develop various different types of interactive accessible online training templates. Staff will learn how to design effective curriculum. They will also be offering recommendations related to technology that TCDD might acquire in order to be able to hold video conferences that will meet the needs of the various stakeholders. TCDD staff is interested in webinar modules for training of grantee on the grants process.

      5. Staffing Updates
        Cordry informed the committee that Susan Mihalik, Grant Specialist, tendered her resignation and that TCDD is actively looking for a replacement.

  7. Future Project Funding Priorities
    The Committee reviewed the current list of projects and added the newly approved project Partners in Policymaking to the top of the list as the #1 priority. There were no additional changes to the list. Several of the priorities are ending and are coming off.

    Motion: To approve the Future Project Funding Priorities as currently listed with the addition of Partners in Policymaking project to the top of the list as the #1 priority and maintaining the list as currently ordered.
    Made By: Ivy Goldstein
    Second: Scott McAvoy
    The motion passed unanimously.

  8. Selection of TCDD Nominating Committee Member
    Chair Cortez lead a discussion on the importance and role of the Nominating Committee members. David Taylor agreed to be the Project Development Committee representative on the Nominating Committee.

    Motion: Chair Cortez lead a discussion on the importance and role of the Nominating Committee members. David Taylor agreed to be the Project Development Committee representative on the Nominating Committee.
    Made By: Scott McAvoy
    Second: John Thomas
    The motion passed unanimously.

  9. Work Place Bullying
    Council Member Brandon Pharris addressed the PDC on the development of a project that would hold employers responsible for not taking action on bullying in their workplace. This idea was originally presented to the Public Policy Committee and it was recommended that Pharris present his idea to the PDC.

    The committee discussed the potential development of resources that people can use to prevent bullying and to continue to promote awareness and action across community networks. The committee also discussed possible action by the Council. Pharris is interested in an RFP to provide training on this issue and advocacy to increase awareness in schools. Staff suggested the possibly of adding a section on bullying to future Leadership and Advocacy RFPs. Pharris would like to see the strengthening of current laws and passage of new laws. Current Texas law on the workplace bullying is vague and does not use the term “bullying.”

    Josh Ryf, Communication Coordinator at TCDD, suggested that this resource could be broken up into smaller modules and that TCDD can retool the current bullying in the workplace blog post.

    The committee is interested in getting more information on this topic. There were several comments that bullying in the workplace is also a transition issue. The committee is interested in seeing more research data, the development of anecdotal information as an educational tool and the creation of a position statement that could be added to any informational resources developed by TCDD. It was brought to the committee’s attention that DARS does free trainings for businesses on bullying. Council Chair Durheim informed the committee that bullying is also covered under Title IX and 504. Chair Cortez reminded the committee that no one on the council can personally benefit from TCDD grants.

  10. Support For a Statewide Self-Advocacy Organization
    The committee discussed the idea to support a Statewide Self-Advocacy Organization. This would be a new activity for TCDD and there are several concerns. The committee considered the option of providing funding and networking opportunities for advocate agencies. One of the concerns is that the supported organization would expect the funding and support from TCDD to be ongoing. The committee directed staff to do research over this topic.

  11. Other Discussion Items
    The committee discussed how TCDD could support and/or develop a project for additional training to provide transition counselors with education on Guardianship Alternatives and the issues associated with bullying. The committee discussed the issues and process involved in transitions, the role of transition counselors and transition specialists, and how this type of training could reduce bullying.


There being no further business, Chair Gladys Cortez adjourned the meeting at 04:14 p.m.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council