Session Preview: 2022 Annual Conference

A preview of the sessions offered the 2022 CP State Annual Conference on October 24-25 (subject to change):


OPWDD Commissioner’s Update

Honorable Kerri Neifeld, Commissioner, NYS OPWDD

Kerri Neifeld, the Commissioner of the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will be the featured speaker on Monday morning. She will provide an update on OPWDD’s priorities and its response to the many issues facing people with disabilities, their families and the organizations and people who provide the supports and services critical to their ability to actively participate in their communities.

Family Advocacy Initiative

Barbara Crosier, Vice President, Advocacy and Government Relations, CP State
William DeVoe, Director of Communications and Advocacy, CP State

CP State, which was founded by families in the 1940s, continues to focus on our family roots and assisting parents navigate the lifespan of supports and services for their loved ones with I/DD. We’re putting tools in place to help families understand the jargon and complex s to successfully connect with decisionmakers and advocate through the lifespan of supports and services. This session will look at the mission of the CP Family Group, our move to a 24/7 advocacy strategy, and how we engage and encourage grassroots family advocacy.

An Update on The Telehealth Grant and Telehealth In NYS

Dr. Matthew Kaufman, Chief Executive Officer, StationMD
Charles Neighbors, Ph.D., MBA, Associate Research Professor, Director, Health Evaluation & Analytics Lab (HEAL), New York University

The Telemedicine Grant Project began early in 2020 and will be completing its third year early in 2023.  Analysis has demonstrated utilization and over 90% of encounters have had issues resolved without going to the ER or Urgent Care.  Initial independent analysis by New York University demonstrated effective implementation process and promising results in terms of providing equitable access to telemedicine for people with IDD that complements in-person healthcare. This model addresses barriers to and disparities in access to healthcare that affect people with IDD, including long ED wait times, inaccessible medical facilities, discriminatory or insufficiently culturally competent providers, and unavailability of individualized accommodations.  Though the project was initially deemed a “triage” program, it has effectively been used to address other gaps in care as well, including basic medication management and minor issues such as rashes, and conjunctivitis.  The program, nevertheless, complements and encourages care with the primary doctor, rather than replaces.  Multiple pathways toward creating a permanent reimbursement model for the program are being explored.

Eliminate Financial Waste Through Effective Risk Management

Frank Calo, Senior Vice President, Business Risk Specialist, OneGroup
Megan Coville, Senior Risk Management Consultant, OneGroup

Every loss sustained within an organization produces a waste of resources and undesirable outcomes.  This session will discuss how to identify the financial waste and how to manage it.  The session will focus on risk management as a system-based approach, as opposed to the traditional incident response approach.   Social Services organizations are currently struggling with a number of uncontrollable financial factors. Focusing on what you can control will eliminate the waste of valuable resources and fuel the funding of the most important mission, assisting others.


“We the People” DDPC Grant Team Presentation

Carol Blessing, Senior Extension Associate, Yang-Tan Institute, ILR School, Cornell University

Tia Tibbitts Levinson, Director of Development and Public Relations, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester

Jennifer Jones-Ruffing, Community Services Program Manager, Prospect Center of Center for Disability Services

Barbara Pettengill, Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Center for Disability Services

Scott Robinson, Day Program Administrator, Center for Disability Services

Dan Lukens, Self Advocacy & POMS Coordinator, Jawonio [Moderator]

We the People is a unique learning collaborative between people with disabilities, professional support staff and the provider network. By engaging in a blended learning theory-to-practice model, participants develop leadership and advocacy skills to influence change in their life or services.

The program uses a combination of on-line training resources, in-person facilitated instruction led by graduates of the 2021 course offered by CP Association of New York and select affiliate members.  Participants work in paired learning partner configuration: one person with a disability and one supporter throughout the program.

Participation in the learning collaborative will result in any number of positive impacts including, but not limited to: preparing individuals with disabilities to take on self-advocacy leadership roles in their life and in the community; providing competency training to staff and community partners; and, enhancing social perception about leadership capacity/potential of people with disabilities and/or support staff.

This presentation will use the online platform to provide an overview of the history and curriculum of the We the People training program and spotlight examples from former participants, including our affiliate partners, of its impact in their programs and discusses plans for future implementation.

Identifying That Your Best Employee Is About To Quit And What You Can Do About It

Richard D. Landau, Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C.

Agencies, and our industry as a whole, consistently struggled with staffing even before the pandemic. Often many employers either don’t see or don’t react to the signs an employee is looking to leave.  This session will focus on anticipating and identifying the signals an employee is sending that they are considering a move.  We will also focus on what actions an Agency can take, both in the short and long term, to potentially avoid a talent drain.

Ensuring Transitions Work For Everyone – Innovative Ideas And Challenges

Jenna Astridge, L.M.S.W., Director of Agency Outreach & Central Intake, Aspire of WNY

Nancy Champlin, Deputy Executive Director, Adult Services, The Center for Disability Services

Jeremy W. Earl, Senior Vice President, Education Services, Upstate Cerebral Palsy

There are many transitions in life that can be particularly challenging for individuals with disabilities and their families.   Our lives are filled with transitions: from preschool to a school age program, from SED to OPWDD and other adult supports, from OPWDD day services to employment, from home to certified residential or other housing options, from day services to “retirement” for older adults, etc.  All these transitions provide enormous opportunities and challenges.  This session will provide three Affiliates’ insights to how they’ve structured their programs and experiences to improve upon the many transitions people we support experience.   The goal is for attendees to obtain ideas that can be replicated and to help identify the challenges our systems present along the way.  As one of the panelists said, the pandemic has provided us an opportunity to rebuild supports and services to meet the 21st century and the needs and wants of people we support.  The world has changed, and we need to embrace the opportunities – we hope this session will provide attendees with insights to innovative solutions for transitioning.

Governor Hochul launches inaugural State Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month

Governor Kathy Hochul today launched New York’s first annual Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month Symposium, featuring both a full day event consisting of a vendor fair, workshops, entertainment and award presentations, and will also offer an online job fair aimed at highlighting the state’s commitment to supporting the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace next Tuesday, October 11. Governor Hochul also signed legislation (S.7578-C/A.8549-C) that will enable the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to establish a voluntary training and certification program for employers that hire people with disabilities; and another law (A.8915-B/S.7746-B) that creates a new threshold for what percentage of a preferred source contract must be performed by New Yorkers with disabilities.

“For the New York Dream to be a reality, we must continue making our state inclusive, integrated and accessible for all,” Governor Hochul said. “Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month recognizes how far we’ve come toward this end and a realization that there is more work to be done to expand the rights of people with disabilities and ensure they have the same opportunities in the workforce as all New Yorkers.”

Click here to read more.

CHOP delivers smiles (and equipment)

Another wonderful story of how our CHOP grants help New Yorkers with disabilities!

From CHOP awardee, Arc Herkimer:

On behalf of Arc Herkimer’s board, staff, and volunteers—and especially on behalf of the people with disabilities we serve—please extend my gratitude to the Awards Committee of the Community Health Outreach Project (CHOP). Thank you, also, for sharing this letter with your funder, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. I look forward to keeping in touch in the coming months and new year.
Your generous support facilitated the purchase of three Maxi Sky Ceiling Lifts, one Maxi Move (with two slings) and two Parker tubs. I am pleased to enclose a photo of Chloie and Kittie, our Direct Support Professional and a person we support, using the Maxi Move at our Cottage Street residence. Their smiling faces say it all!

CP State welcomes Jamie Salm as Executive Vice President

Salm Brings Years Of Legislative Policy And Budget Experience To The Disability Field

CP State is excited to announce that Jamie Salm will join the organization as its Executive Vice President, overseeing CP’s strategic plan, advocacy, and policy efforts.

Salm brings years of experience in state government to the disability field. She recently served as the Assistant Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, in the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; and has spent time in the Division of Budget, Board of Elections, and as a Legislative Director in the Assembly.


“We’re excited to welcome Jamie to this new role on the CP team,” said Mike Alvaro, President and CEO of CP State. “Jamie’s skillset will be an invaluable asset to New Yorkers with disabilities as we escalate our advocacy, education, and other supports we provide our Affiliates across the state.”

“I can’t wait to support CP State’s mission of advocating for those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and the agencies who provide direct services for them,” said Salm. “This is a perfect fusion of my skill and my passion to help people.”

Darrell Whitbeck appointed CEO of Ability Partners Agencies

Ability Partners Board of Directors has selected Darrell Whitbeck, current Chief Operating Officer (COO), as the next President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ability Partners Agencies.

Darrell began working for Happiness House in February of 2003 as an Occupational Therapist.  Due to Darrell’s hard work, intelligence and excellent work ethic, he was promoted into various positions throughout his career at Happiness House; serving as the Coordinator of QA and Clinical Department Coordinator, the Director of Adult Center-Based Services and Quality Assurance, Senior Operations Director of Clinical Services/QA.  He was promoted to the Vice President of Clinical Services and QA for CP Rochester and Happiness House in 2015 and has been serving as the Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President (COO) for CP Rochester and Happiness House since 2018.

Throughout Darrell’s career he has worked in and provided oversight to several agency programs and has a high level of knowledge with oversight regulations and compliance.  He has provided excellent leadership and oversight to the agencies’ operations.

While in the COO position, Darrell worked closely with Mary Boatfield, President/CEO and was part of her succession planning.

Darrell will continue to provide the exceptional leadership that Ability Partners Agencies has known.

Darrell will assume the CEO role in March 2023 upon Mary’s retirement and will begin transitioning with her over the next few months.

CP State Annual Conference October 24-25

Your Guide to the  2022 CP State Annual Conference!


View the conference brochure below for a complete list of sessions and events!

A few other conference items we wanted to be sure you were aware of:

We have scheduled down time – We understand it’s hectic rushing from one amazing session to the next, so we’ve dedicated some time to simply relaxing, networking, and catching up with your colleagues from across the state.

You won’t go hungry – We’ll have heavy hors d’oeuvres during Monday night’s awards program. Serving stations as well as passed hors d’oeuvres. Bring your appetite!

Enjoy Saratoga – We’re wrapping up Monday night’s awards program early enough for you to hit the town. Don’t know where to start? Look at this interactive map from our partners at Discover Saratoga.

Health Care Workforce Bonus excludes some frontline workers

On Wednesday, Governor Hochul announced the official launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program. Enacted in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget, the program includes $1.3 billion for recruitment and retention bonuses for health care and mental hygiene workers. Bonuses will be awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. The maximum bonus for each employee is $3,000.
However, in guidance released this week, the Department of Health (DOH) extended the bonus eligibility to patient-facing food service workers, janitorial/maintenance workers and medical secretaries/administrative support who are employed by hospitals and nursing homes, but not to those same workers in other settings, which includes many of those in our Affiliates.
New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) released a statement applauding the administration for including additional frontline employees, but expressing dismay that they would not apply to employees performing the same work in different settings.

Coverage of the statement was published in the Niagra Gazette and Crain’s Health Pulse
Additionally, NYDA and CP State President and CEO Mike Alvaro sent a letter to DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett asking DOH to, “swiftly address this inequity and extend the same employee title eligibility to our employees with equivalent titles, serving individuals with I/DD.”

NYDA calls for Direct Support Wage Enhancement in ’23 budget

CP State and its partners in New York Disability Advocates are calling attention to the pay disparity between state-operated and non-profit provider agencies. We’re also encouraging Gov. Kathy Hochul to to establish a new Direct Support Wage Enhancement for direct care staff in her 2023 executive budget.

Make your voice heard by sharing the thread below:

CP and other advocates urge Governor to sign bill expanding job opportunities

Preferred Source Modernization Bill passed Senate and Assembly Unanimously

Organizations representing New Yorkers with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, including those who are blind, sent a letter (below) to Gov. Kathy Hochul urging her to sign S.7578C/A.8549C, also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly at the end of session and would make the first significant updates in New York’s Preferred Source Program since its inception in 1975. The program was created in the aftermath of the Willowbrook scandal that exposed New York’s poor treatment of persons with disabilities.

The Preferred Source Modernization Bill:

  • Modernizes multiple terms within the Preferred Source statute including references to “workshops” and “severely” disabled.
  • Simplifies the process for approving Preferred Source contracts to make it closer to other diversity and inclusion contracting initiatives. Right now, the OGS review threshold is $50,000, a level set 14 years ago. The Rockefeller Institute recommended it be raised to $250,000. The bill raises it to $100,000.
  • Expands employment opportunities for people with disabilities by establishing that the disabled ratio required on a given contract be performed by people with disabilities from 75 percent to 50 percent. This recognizes the fact that much of the employment now takes place in community-based settings with competitive wages where persons with disabilities work side by side with people without disabilities.

Letter follows:

July 12, 2022

The Honorable Kathy Hochul

Executive Chamber

State Capitol

Albany, NY 12224


Dear Governor Hochul:

The undersigned organizations, through our member agencies, represent the majority of New Yorkers with a developmental, intellectual or physical disability, including those who are blind. We write today to respectfully urge you to sign S.7578C/A.8549C, also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill, which unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly this session.

This legislation brings New York’s landmark program of job support for persons with disabilities into the 21st Century. As you know, the Preferred Source Program was created in 1975 after the Willowbrook scandal. In one fell swoop, then-Gov. Hugh Carey and the Legislature turned New York’s treatment of persons with disabilities from national disgrace to national model. Only minimal changes have been made in the program since 1975.

S.7578C/A.8549C modernizes multiple terms within the preferred source statute including outdated references to “workshops” and “severely” disabled. It also creates new thresholds for what percentage of a Preferred Source contract must be performed by disabled, or otherwise qualified, persons to receive Preferred Source status. The threshold for OGS review is increased for the first time in 14 years.   Finally, it increases opportunities for competitive integrated employment.

By signing this unanimously passed bill, you will be strengthening the Preferred Source Program so it can support more people and turbo-charge its economic benefits for the state while remaining under the watchful eye of regulators and policy makers.

All these changes to the program were called for in two exhaustive reports by the Rockefeller Institute of Government (2019 and 2021)

You have clearly demonstrated your commitment to New Yorkers with disabilities, notably by your budget priorities, administrative appointments, and creation of the state’s first Chief Disabilities Officer. We and the people our organizations support thank you not only for your awareness of these issues but for your action on them.

Signing the Preferred Source Modernization Bill would build on this record and add to New York’s proper standing as a model of support for people with disabilities.


Mike Alvaro

President & CEO, Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State

Christopher T. Burke

Executive Director, NYS Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers who are Blind

Erik Geizer

CEO, The Arc New York

Russell Snaith

New York Alliance for Developmental Disabilities

Tom McAlvanah

Executive Director, Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies

Maureen O’Brien

President & CEO, New York State Industries for the Disabled

Michael Seereiter

President & CEO, New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation