Public Policy

Harbor Island 2

Engaging a Village: Promoting Independence & Inclusion through Supported Decision-Making

Friday, November 3
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Location: Harbor Island 2

Target Audience: Self-Advocates

Supported and informed decision-making are key tenets of independent living for people who receive services and supports through the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities service system. Individuals with I/DD desire to make their own choices and live independently. Yet despite the many advances in self-advocacy made in recent decades, for many with an intellectual and/or developmental disability supported decision-making (SDM) as an alternative to guardianship either is unknown or denied to them because of legal or logistical obstacles. Indeed, relatively few states embrace the concept, holding instead to longstanding, externally-imposed methods for making life decisions on behalf of individuals who are entirely capable of making such determinations for themselves given the proper structure of external supports.

In this session, we will explore how government agencies, advocates, providers, the health and legal systems and other stakeholders can work together to make sure each person has the opportunity to live the life he or she chooses. Session presenters will discuss how to engage persons with I/DD and those who support them in their individual decision-making; identifying and addressing barriers to SDM that often are present; and establishing and evaluating a system of checks and balances to ensure appropriate levels of personal independence and external assistance. Particular attention will be given to the important, but frequently overlooked, role providers can play in this process.

In the summer of 2017, Optum will host a national symposium on this important topic. The Arc of the United States and The Arc of Arizona are participants in this interactive initiative, which includes experts from across the country who come together to discuss development of a framework for an effective system of supported decision-making that can be adapted for use nationwide. The outcomes of the Optum symposium will be discussed, as will the strategies explored to ensure protocols are in place that support decision-making at the individual level. Finally, the presentation will examine key legal restraints on SDM, as well as efforts that have successfully overcome them, and examples of existing programs that are increasing the opportunities for individuals with I/DD to select a supported decision-making model.

Learning Objectives:

Jon Meyers

Executive Director
The Arc of Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona

Jon Meyers has been Executive Director of The Arc of Arizona since 2013. Jon's background in the non-profit sector spans nearly 30 years and includes roles with organizations ranging from the arts to education to social services. He has held positions with, among others, Ronald McDonald House Charities, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Arizona State University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Based in Phoenix, he currently serves on the Governor's ASD Advisory Committee, Community Advisory Council of the Sonoran UCEDD at the University of Arizona, Arizona Legislature's Oral Health Stakeholders Workgroup, and is a member of The Arc's NCE Steering Committee.

Jon is a graduate of Santa Clara University with degrees in Theatre Arts and History. In his free time, he coaches a youth archery team and is mounting a fierce effort to learn to play the banjo. He resides with his family in Anthem, Arizona.


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Dan Ohler

Vice President - State & Local Government Programs
Marysville, Ohio

Dan Ohler currently serves as Vice President of State & Local Government Programs for OPTUM where he works directly with senior-level leaders in the intellectual and developmental disabilities service system, while also serving as primary liaison to national and state trade associations, including The Arc of the United States. Mr. Ohler has two decades of leadership experience, including serving as the CEO of a non-profit organization whose mission is integrated employment for people with disabilities and Executive Director of the statewide trade association representing Ohio's developmental disability boards. Dan served as President of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Development Disability Services in Washington, DC and currently serves on two non-profit boards that are focused on enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. Mr. Ohler has presented at numerous state and national conferences.


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Nicole Jorwic

Director of Rights Policy
The Arc
Washington, District of Columbia

Nicole Jorwic is the Director of Rights Policy at The Arc of the United States. She received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago. Ms. Jorwic served as a Senior Policy Advisor and Manager of the Illinois Employment First Initiative. Ms. Jorwic also served as the CEO/President of the Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities where she improved the lives of people with disabilities and assisted leadership in developing public policy driven best practices.


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Engaging a Village: Promoting Independence & Inclusion through Supported Decision-Making


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