Supporting Families

Harbor Island 1

Respecting Cultural Differences as We Promote Autonomy and Supported Decision-Making

Friday, November 3
10:45 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Harbor Island 1

Target Audience: Professionals

This session will explore how to promote two of The Arc’s core values – self-determination and diversity. With the guidance of a skilled facilitator, this session will bring together professionals who are members of diverse communities and a self-advocate to discuss how we respect cultural difference as we work to promote the autonomy of people with I/DD.

Last year, The Arc adopted a new position statement that emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the autonomy of people with I/DD is recognized. We are working to support people with disabilities to build the skills they need to make their own decisions, with or without support, and to make sure that these decisions are honored. At times, the disability community values may appear to be at odds with certain cultural values. Often, families of people with I/DD are protective and concerned about letting their family members live independently. We will be more successful in promoting autonomy if we respect the cultural values of all communities and discuss the importance of self-determination within the context of different cultures. The panel will explore how to address those apparent conflicts in our communities and with families.

Learning Objectives:

Tony Anderson

Executive Director
Valley Mountain Regional Center
Stockton, California


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Dara Baldwin

Senior Public Policy Analyst
National Disability Rights Network
Washington, District of Columbia

Born in Torrejon, Spain, Ms. Baldwin is the Senior Public Policy Analyst for the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) in Washington, DC. NDRN is the nonprofit membership organization for the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP). Prior to this position, Ms. Baldwin was an ADA Compliance Specialist in the DC Government, a Policy Analyst at The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and a Sr. Policy Analyst on Criminal Justice issues

She works on NDRN's diversity and cultural competency team and is responsible for working on coalitions to assist with better legislative outcomes. Ms. Baldwin worked on 12 bills that passed in Congress and were signed by President Barack Obama during his term in office.

Ms. Baldwin has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration both from Rutgers University, Newark, NJ.


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Nicole C. LeBlanc

Regional Advocacy Specialist
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration
Silver Spring, Maryland

Nicole LeBlanc has a keen ability and interest in public policy and excels at communicating the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to public officials. Nicole is a natural leader, chosen by her peers due to her unwavering commitment to speaking the truth to power. She has presented keynotes on the dignity of risk at statewide self-advocacy conferences. In August Nicole moved to Silver Spring MD for the Paul Marchand Public Policy internship at AUCD, where she interned from September 2016 - March 2017. During her 6 months at AUCD she attended numerous CCD policy meetings, hill visits and researched the Trump administration on where they stand on various issues such as IDEA, civil rights, Medicaid etc. From May to August Nicole served as a part-time Transit Organizer for Americans for Transit, where she collected petition signatures opposing bus/rail service cuts.


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Robin Shaffert

Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support
The Arc
Washington, District of Columbia

Robin Shaffert is the Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support at The Arc of the United States. Robin leads the Center for Future Planning. Previously, she was the Policy Director for the Caring Across Generations campaign, a coalition of over 200 diverse organizations committed to reforming long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. Robin served as Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), where she led AAPD's participation with Workforce Flexibility 2010 and the Campaign for Disability Employment. She was Deputy General Counsel of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., an associate at Latham & Watkins and a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Norma L. Shapiro. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Dartmouth College and studied for a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Hamburg.


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Barbara Yoshioka Wheeler

Associate Director
Los Angeles, California

Barbara Wheeler Ph.D., R.N. has an undergraduate degree in Nursing and a Ph.D. in Special Education. She has worked with the USC University Center for Excellence in DD Research Education and Service (USC UCEDD) for 35 years, with 20 of those years as the Associate Director. She is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She served on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation for five years during the Clinton administration. Much of her career has focused on studying and addressing racial disparities across many systems of service. Her recent work has focused on building the capacity of ethnic-focused parent groups to address racial disparities in Purchase of Service (POS) expenditures in California's regional center system.


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Grace Huerta

Founder and President
Exceptional Family Center

Grace Huerta is the Founder and Board President of the Exceptional Family Center, an organization formed to address the need for a culturally sensitive response to a diverse I/DD community. She is a graduate of The Arc of California Partners in Policymaking, is the former Board President of the Kern Regional Center, former Board Delegate of the Association of Regional Centers, and a former member of H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection Family Resource Center. Grace is also the co-founder of Aspire Affordable Housing and is a collaborative partner of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Grace is the mother of two children with developmental disabilities. The love that Grace has for her children and the challenges that she has overcome gives her the passion and determination to become a community advocate for parents of children with developmental disabilities.


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