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Minutes — May 2016 Executive Committee Meeting

2016 Council and Committee Meetings

Attendance

Committee Members Present

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

Council Member Present

  • Ruth Mason

Guests Present

  • Brittain Ayres
  • Brooke Hohfeld
  • Cozetta Lamar

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Wendy Jones
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in the Jennings Room at the Doubletree Austin Northwest — Arboretum, 8901 Business Park Drive, Austin, TX 78759. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 3:04 PM.

  1. Introductions
    Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

  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 3, 2016, Executive Committee meeting as presented.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Report
    Council Chair Durheim reported the expected absences for the meeting which include Hunter Adkins, Kimberly Blackmon, Dana Perry and John Thomas. Kristine Clark and Rick Tisch will attend meetings on Thursday but not Friday. Representatives from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) are not able to attend but will send Meghan Regis as a non-voting alternate. Durheim will also not be able to attend the meetings on Thursday or Friday and has asked Council Vice-Chair Kristen Cox to facilitate the Committee of the Whole and Council meetings.

    Durheim also reported that Justin Babineaux was named as the alternate representative from the Department on Aging and Disability Services (DADS) and has been through orientation and is therefore eligible to vote.

    Durheim provided an overview of her work with the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Employability for People with Disabilities where she serves on the sub-committee for Career Readiness and Employability. This group was convened by invitation only and was charged with identifying how state governments- can address the challenges and opportunities to deliver effective and meaningful education and training for people with disabilities. The group also made recommendations to address barriers to entering the workforce. Durheim participated in two national meetings that evaluated four policy areas:

    1. Career development and readiness with emphasis on person centered planning;
    2. Skill development and job exploration;
    3. Family engagement; and
    4. Awareness of education for all.

    She will provide an in-depth presentation on the group’s work at the August Council meeting.

  5. Executive Director’s Report
    Executive Director Stalvey reviewed stipend awards that were approved during the past quarter to the following applicant:

    • Texas Parent to Parent: Events stipend for up to $6,000 for the 12th Annual Texas Parent to Parent Conference on June 17–18, 2016, in San Marcos.

    Stalvey also noted that the Project Development Committee will consider an increase to the total annual stipend amount from $75,000 to $100,000 and individual awards from $6,000 to $7,500. Staff are also exploring opportunities to promote stipends to broader audiences.

    Stalvey provided an update on TCDD staff noting that Sonya Hosey has returned to full-time duties but elected to step down from the Grants Management Director position and will be working as a Grants Specialist with additional responsibilities for quality control and special projects. Cynthia Ellison accepted the Grants Management Director position and has transitioned into that role. A Grants Management Specialist position remains vacant and will be posted for applications beginning next week. A candidate was selected during a previous posting and accepted the offer but then declined prior to the start date, choosing to stay with current employment.

    Stalvey provided further staff updates to note that Josh Ryf’s position has been reclassified to a Communications Director position in response to expanded efforts in communication and marketing. Communications activities are no longer under Public Policy and is now reflected as a separate division on the TCDD organization chart. Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry’s responsibilities have also increased to add additional federal reporting requirements, Committee support, and supervision of planning staff so her position is being evaluated for reclassification to a Director position. Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton is retiring on May 31, 2016. Her position has been posted for applications with the intent to have a new Public Policy Specialist in place in advance of the 2017 legislative session.

    TCDD staff recently completed the biennial Survey of Employee Engagement. Results show an overall score of 371 which is an increase from 362 in 2014. Scores over 350 are considered to be desirable with scores over 400 noting a “highly engaged workforce”. The management team is exploring ways to address the lowest scoring areas and may look and external as well as informal staff development based on staff input.

    Stalvey discussed modifications to this quarter’s Council meeting agenda. These changes were implemented in response to member suggestions and comments in previous quarters and will be evaluated for effectiveness. A summary of modifications include: an optional, informal session will be held at 8:30 AM on Thursday morning to allow members to ask questions about the agendas or materials. At 4:00 PM on Thursday, a “workshop” session will allow members and staff to share resources. The focus this quarter will be to gather Council member personal stories that Communications Director Ryf can share in member recruitment and other pubic awareness activities. At 4:30 PM on Thursday, following the Committee meetings, the Executive Committee will reconvene to consider any unfinished business and allow for a debrief of the Project Development Committee and Public Policy Committee meetings as well as plan for Committee reports at the Council meeting. Friday’s Council meeting will include a grantee presentation and allow more time for discussion of the systems change impact of the project. Stalvey also noted that a survey has been prepared for members to evaluate not only the schedule changes but the effectiveness of the meeting format and materials. Upcoming Council meetings will include preparations for the 2017 legislative session by focusing on key policy items that are expected to be addressed as well as providing support for Council members to be involved.

    Stalvey discussed recent marketing and outreach activities to raise awareness of TCDD. She noted that Ryf and Executive Assistant Koren Vogel have participated in seven statewide conferences and local events with personal discussions about TCDD resources with over 250 people, increased email subscriptions by 120 and identified 15 potential new Council members. Council members Lora Taylor and Ruth Mason attended grantee sponsored events in the Houston area with Ryf and Vogel.

    Stalvey further discussed recent and upcoming meetings with leadership from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). She is introducing herself to agency leadership and exploring options to collaborate on systems change activities.

  6. Grant Activities Reports
    Grants Management Director Cynthia Ellison reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report noting that seven audits were completed during the quarter without any significant findings. The audit of Imagine Enterprises was still pending. She also reviewed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report noting that four onsite reviews were completed during the quarter and that all monitored projects are complete. She reviewed the Risk Assessment of TCDD Projects and the Committee discussed the language of “funding issues” as a risk activity. It was noted that “funding issues” refers to reimbursements, spending patterns, budgets, and the amount of funding for a project that automatically places it in a higher risk category. Members discussed terminology for this risk category to ensure it accurately reflects what is reported.

    Operations Director Martha Cantu provided an update on the status of the contract with Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS) to distribute travel funds for public members of advisory committees. Amy Sharp in her new position as director of TCDS along with other new project staff met with Cantu and Stalvey to become oriented with the process and reporting is now current. TCDS has contacted active workgroups to let members know that travel funds are available and has conducted surveys to individuals that have used the funds to determine their level of participation in their respective groups.

    Executive Director Stalvey reported that Megan Morgan who was the TCDD Public Policy Fellow with the Arc of Texas recently resigned her position to accept a counseling position at Safe. This will end that project about three months early. A Request for Proposals (RFP) is currently posted for Public Policy Fellows and the Committee is expected to review applications for these new projects during the August meeting.

    Stalvey also reported on the progress for the Partners in Policymaking project. Staff are working to post for applications for an in-house contractor who will manage the project while working closely with TCDD staff. Due to the amount of the contract, it is being reviewed through the state Comptroller’s office and will be posted once that process is complete.

    Another contract with the DD Network Partners to manage the training on Alternatives to Guardianship and Supported Decision Making is being developed.

  7. TCDD Quarterly Financial Report
    Operations Director Cantu presented a new format for TCDD financial reports. The new format provides the same information but uses simplified terms such as “spend” and “assign” instead of “obligate” and “liquidate” and includes dates for when funds need to be assigned and spent. A corresponding pie chart shows a summary of numbers as presented in percentages of funds. Committee members discussed if there was a need to list previous year’s funding as a separate column in the report and it was suggested that the current year be listed first because the previous year’s total is already included in the current year column. Cantu further explained that the main goal is to show how much of current year funds need to be assigned and spent and by what dates.

    Cantu also reviewed the Operating Expense report which also has new formatting. It shows the approved budget amounts for the year for each category, the amount spent to date past and the amount left to be spent in the fiscal year. She noted that due to changes in staffing, adjustments were made to increase that category by $45,000 by adjusting amounts in categories where it was not needed such as professional services and out of state travel. The total amount of the Operating Expenses budget did not change. Members did not express any concerns regarding the financial reports.

  8. Consideration of Continuation Grant Awards
    TCDD Grants Management Director Cynthia Ellison reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Enabling Programs Inspiring Communities for its enabling technology project. The project developed an application (app) for an iPad to assist employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to maintain inventory in vending machines. Funding has been requested for the final ten months of the project to increase the modules available on the app and continue training the individuals participating in the program. No concerns were noted for this project.

    Committee member Lora Taylor informed the Committee that she and Council member Ruth Mason, along with Communications Director Josh Ryf, recently attended an open house for this grantee and described the work as “stunning”. She was impressed with the training provided to the participants as well as the process of the app. She added that training is being implemented for students in Houston Independent School District beginning at age 14. Taylor also noted that this grantee, separately from TCDD funding, employs individuals with I/DD as vendors for Papa John’s pizza at the Houston Rodeo as well as Houston Texans and Houston Rockets games with great success including “vendor of the year” awards. She encouraged all Council members to visit TCDD grantees and personally see the good work. Mason added her positive impression of the product and the training and noted that there is work to adapt the app to other industries from food service.

    MOTION: To approve up to $225,000 in continuation funding to Enabling Programs Inspiring Communities for the final year of a five-year Enabling Technology project.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 1)

    Grants Management Director Ellison reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Strategic Education Solutions for its enabling technology project. This project developed computer modules to assist individuals with autism as well as I/DD with job search skills as well as “virtual job coach” functions. In the remaining 10 months of the project, the grantee will continuing training, and will focus on sustainability in finding funding to maintain the modules.

    MOTION: To approve up to $224,465 in continuation funding to the Strategic Education Solutions for the final year of a five-year Enabling Technology project.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim
    SECOND: Kristen Cox
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 2)

    Ellison reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Imagine Enterprises for the fourth and final year of a statewide Self Advocates as Speakers project. The project will reach the number of required trainees upon completion of the third year and will exceed the required number in the fourth year. Participants have presented to local, regional, and statewide organizations. The final year will focus on sustainability and will develop curriculum to be presented on the high school level.

    MOTION: To approve up to $125,000 in continuation funding to Imagine Enterprises for the final year of a four-year Self-Advocates as Speakers project.
    MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 3)

    Ellison reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to VSA Arts of Texas for the fourth and final year of a statewide Self Advocates as Speakers project. During the first three years, this project has expanded from the Austin area to Houston and El Paso and will conduct classes in San Antonio during the final year. Self-advocates complete a six-week training course focusing on story-telling and interview practice and participants have presented in showcases, webinars and conferences. The final year will focus on continued training and finalizing the training manual.

    MOTION: To approve up to $125,000 in continuation funding to VSA Arts of Texas for the final year of a four-year Self-Advocates as Speakers project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Gladys Cortez
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 4)

    TCDD Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas for final ten months of a health and fitness project. This project adapted Get Fit New Jersey to Get Fit Texas beginning as a home based program serving 88 individuals in the first year. In the second year, the project moved to public locations such as the YMCA and expanded to serve 200 individuals. 250 have been served in the third year and the grantee expects to serve 300 in the fourth year. The program works with both adults and children and provides quantitative as well as qualitative data to show participant improvement. The grantee has partnered with organizations for potential sustainability such as school districts, YMCAs and the Richmond State Supported Living Center. No compliance issues or concerns were expressed for this project.

    MOTION: To approve up to $250,000 in continuation funding to Epilepsy Foundation of Texas for the final ten months of a five-year Health and Fitness project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Gladys Cortez
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 5)

    Grants Specialist Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Region 17 Education Service Center for the fourth of a five-year Family Involvement in Schools project. The objective of this project is to increase family involvement for students with disabilities by participation in Admission, Review & Dismissal (ARD) meetings as well as other school activities. The goal is that one family member for every four students with disabilities will be involved in schools. Project activities encourage family attendance in collaborative events such as BLOCKfest training, hippo therapy and back-to-school conferences. Families for which English is a second language have been a focus of this project. No concerns or compliance issues were noted.

    MOTION: To approve up to $300,000 in continuation funding to Region 17 Education Service Center for the fourth year of a five-year Family Involvement in Schools project.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 6)

    Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Texas Advocates for the second year of a three-year Self-Advocate Grassroots Community Organizing project. The project will help self-advocates learn advanced leadership skills and work with community organizing groups to make changes so that people with I/DD are included in their community. Texas Advocates made an administrative decision in October 2015 to become more independent from the organization providing fiscal and administrative resources. This move required Texas Advocates to restructure internally and they requested a temporary “hold” on the project for a few months. A new workplan that included new staff and plans to continue the project was presented by Texas Advocates in February and was approved by TCDD. Due to this delay, an updated quarterly report for this plan has not yet been received to determine if the project is back on target. During the continuation review for the final year of the project, the Committee may choose to consider the months that the project was not active and extend for those months. TCDD staff are satisfied with the plans that have been established to continue the project. Executive Director Stalvey clarified the delay in the project noting that the”hold” was to prevent unnecessary termination of the project. TCDD Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry noted that Texas Advocates is the only statewide self-advocacy organization for which the leadership is comprised entirely of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

    Texas Advocates project staff Brooke Hohfield and Brittain Ayres were present at the meeting and confirmed to members that project activities are resuming and that they are optimistic they will meet the goals of the project.

    MOTION: To approve up to $100,000 in continuation funding to Texas Advocates for the second year of a three-year Self-Advocate Grassroots Community Organizing project.
    MADE BY: Mary Durheim
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 7)

  9. Review Panel Recommendations
    Planning Coordinator Cordry and Planning Specialist Danny Fikac presented the review panel recommendations for Leadership Development and Advocacy Training projects. Cordry noted that 11 proposals were received but only 10 were considered because one did not include a budget or supplemental materials. Four proposals were not recommended for funding. The panel ranked six proposals and Fikac and Cordry provided a brief summary in the order of that ranking.

    The Committee discussed how many projects could be approved and it was noted that funding was originally allocated for up to four projects but that funds were available for additional projects if the Committee chose to fund more. It was noted that projects would begin according to staff availability for monitoring and that was expected to be no more than 2 per year. Chair Durheim directed staff to determine the order of project start dates.

    Paso Del Norte, located in El Paso, proposed a partnership with Volar Center for Independent Living to provide culturally appropriate training for a minimum of 100 participants based on the Partners in Policymaking model. The review panel liked that the plans included work in a high-poverty area with Spanish speaking participants and that plans for sustainability were included. Concerns included lack of plans to address modification of the curriculum to meet the needs of individuals with I/DD and timelines for the objectives may need to be changed to obtain project staff but it was felt that any issues could be resolved through workplan and contract negotiations.

    Family to Family Network proposes to train 100 individuals in the greater Houston area and partner with Houston Center for Independent Living and/or Houston Community College and include Imagine Enterprises Project Speak graduates present as part of the training. Strengths include the organization’s strong network and reputation for supporting both families and people with disabilities and including them in a meaningful way. As with other proposals the timeline needed to be more specific and budget needs clarification. The Committee discussed the diversity of the organization and it was noted that recent events and activities hosted by Family to Family included a diverse audience. Fikac reviewed the application to highlight plans for training conducted in Spanish or Chinese languages or with certified translation services.

    Easter Seals of Central Texas is located in Austin but will coordinate with local chapters to provide training not only in central Texas but in the lower Rio Grande Valley and Dallas/Fort Worth. Through a partnership with VELA, separate but simultaneous trainings in Spanish and English could be held where the need exists. Strengths included a broad network and strong presence throughout the state. Concerns include the need for more accuracy in the timeline and better definition of roles of project staff.

    The Arc of Texas proposes to extend and expand current TCDD leadership and advocacy Project MOVE while incorporating components of the Public Policy Fellows project. However since the application, the policy fellow resigned her position so it is unknown if that could still be included. Strengths include historically strong projects with TCDD with a wide impact to raise public awareness. Concerns were that the policy platform may not be what the trainees choose to focus on and that the project was heavy on staff. There was an emphasis on group training and not individuals.

    Advocacy for Living in Mainstream America (ALMA) proposes leadership and advocacy training to Spanish speaking self-advocates and family members in El Paso, Potter and McLennan counties. The work will only be in designated poverty counties for the under-served. They have previously had an Outreach and Development project through TCDD. Strengths include a long-standing history in the Latino/Latina community which should empower and build strong advocates. Concerns include an unclear organizational structure and lack of an annual financial audit or accrual accounting system as well as a focus on family members instead of self-advocates.

    Texas A&M University (TAMU) proposes to continue a current leadership and advocacy project — Project LEAP as TAMU LEAP-2 providing training to 100 students in Educational Service Center Regions 4 and 6. LEAP was based on a previous TCDD Youth Leadership Forum project and the review panel noted strengths of a large network and significant resources. The panel felt the proposal was innovative but supported by a strong logic model and evidence based curriculum. The project plans to recruit youth to participate in project activities. Concerns include that it is a continuation of existing training and non-traditional partners do not appear to be included. There is also not a specific plan to address diverse populations.

    MOTION: To approve grant funding of up to $75,000 per year for up to five years to Paso Del Norte, Family to Family Network, Easter Seals and Texas A&M University for Leadership Development and Advocacy Training projects.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Michael Peace

    Committee members were in agreement that further consideration of proposals from ALMA and the Arc of Texas was not necessary. Members agreed that they wished to fund proposals from Paso Del Norte and Family to Family Network but wanted to continue discussion on proposals from Easter Seals and Texas A&M University.

    Concerns were expressed about the proposal from Easter Seals because there is an apparent delay in Spanish translation services for the first year of the project. It was noted that this organization would be a new grantee for TCDD and has the strength of a sizable organization with a good reputation. Cordry expressed that Spanish language materials are available for other subjects but because leadership and advocacy is a new topic it may take some time to obtain translations. It was also noted that there was a plan in place to account for the translation.

    Members expressed concerns over the proposal from Texas A&M University for various factors. It was noted that this is continuation of a current program instead of a new project. The large geographic area and population seemed problematic to train only 100 students.

    MOTION: To approve grant funding of up to $75,000 per year for up to five years to Paso Del Norte, Family to Family Network, and Easter Seals for Leadership Development and Advocacy Training projects.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously. (Attachment 8)

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

  11. Other Updates
    Executive Director Stalvey thanked members for submitting their Personal Financial Statements to the Ethics Commission and noted that state agency representatives were no longer required to file these statements.

    Committee member Gladys Cortez noted that she was asked to participate in with the Mission, TX Parks and Recreation Department on the 10-year master plan for that community and she was able to provide input on inclusive and adaptive sites.

Recess

Chair Durheim recessed the Executive Committee at 6:17 PM.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Committee Members Present

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

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Reconvene

Chair Durheim reconvened the Executive Committee in the same location on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 4:35 PM.

  1. Committee Chair Debriefing
    Committee members discussed the Committee of the Whole, Project Development Committee and Public Policy Committee meetings as well as the optional sessions before and after the meetings for members. Executive Director Stalvey noted that quite a few people attended the morning session and staff were able to informally address member questions. It also provided members with a networking opportunity. It was agreed that this time was beneficial for members and recommended to continue at the next quarterly meeting. Members also attended the afternoon session with Communications Director Joshua Ryf and provided personal stories for him to use in future social media opportunities.

    Project Development Committee Chair Gladys Cortez reviewed the executive summaries that will be recommended for approval during the Council meeting. Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reviewed the three position statements that will be recommended for Council approval and other Committee discussion.

    Members also discussed how to include guests at future meetings to ensure full participation.

Adjourn

Chair Durheim adjourned the Executive Committee at 5:02 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council