top of page

2023 SDC Agenda



November 2nd, 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

Breakout Room One

Keynote: Val Bradley, 

President Emerita of the Human Services Research Institute


November 2nd, 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM 

Breakout Room One

Keynote: Paul Aronsohn, 

Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families


November 2nd, 2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Breakout Room One

Afternoon Welcome: Assemblywoman Angela McKnight

November 2nd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Breakout Room One

Title: Self-Advocacy: An Essential Element for Self-Direction Success 

Presenters: Pamela King, Advisory Board Member, NJ Statewide Self-Advocacy Network and Ashley Ritchey, MSW, LSW, Family & Advocate Education Liaison with the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Office of Education on Self-Directed Services 

Description: Self-direction is an approach to delivering home and community-based services that offers people with disabilities and their families increased choice and authority over how, and from whom, a person receives support. Self-advocacy is the worldwide civil rights movement led for and by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This webinar will focus on the relationship between self-advocacy skills and successful outcomes in self-direction. We will explore how self-advocacy can encourage people with I/DD to play an active role in the creation and implementation of their person-centered plan. We will also discuss how family members and professionals can support self-advocacy skill building across a variety of settings.


November 2nd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Room Two

Title:  Home Accessibility: Identifying and Removing Barriers 

Presenter:  Josh Bradley, Community Access Unlimited

Description:  This session will discuss common accessibility barriers within a home. We will also discuss renovation options to address home entry and exit, ramps, lifts, bathroom modification, home and kitchen safety. 


Some area we will cover:

  • Door Frames

  • Ramps

  • Lifts

  • Stairlift

  • Bathroom - low threshold vs roll in

  • Built in seat or shower chairs

  • Adjustable shower head/on-off valves

  • Grabbars

  • Toilet seat risers 

  • Non shattering mirror film or glass film.

  • Ceiling mounted track systems 

  • Automatic curtains

November 2nd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Breakout Room Three

Title:  Agency with Choice (AwC) Program Overview

Presenter:  Tashaya Daniels

Description:  This presentation will cover all policies and procedures for the Easterseals, Agency With Choice program. We will review enrollment, onboarding, benefits, compliance/training and any updates. This presentation can be attended by vendors, SC, ME,SDE or any person wanting to learn about AWC. 


November 2nd, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM 

Breakout Room One

Title: Mindfulness Basics

Presenter: Peter Marks, International Mindfulness Facilitator

Description: In this workshop, through interactive discussion and a practical exercise you will learn how to be more emotionally self regulated when in stressful situations and experience more happiness -for no particular reason.

November 2nd, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM 

Breakout Room Two

Title:  Until You are Understood...

Presenters:  Claribel Guzman, Advocate; Patty Kowalchuk, Provider Agency/friend of Claribel

Description:  Claribel and Patty will have a candid discussion about Claribel's experience as a woman who grew up requiring much assistance from her mother and then who freely chose to change that structure to allow both her and her mother to lead the lives of independent women. Claribel will share how her mother's continued emphasis on independence led Claribel to be the strong woman she is today. As part of the discussion, the importance of self-directing her services will be emphasized.

November 2nd, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM 

Breakout Room Three

Title:  Paving the Road to a Better Life- Breaking Down Systems of Support

Presenters:  Sheldon Schwitek- Director of People and Culture, Kristen Mathews, Director of Supports Brokerage

Description:  In New Jersey, people who self-direct some or all their services have an option to engage Supports Brokerage to assist with many tasks that fall outside traditional Supports Coordination and other eligibility-based community services. Supports Brokers act as allies whose role is to assist in developing a more robust person-centered plan. Supports Brokers can facilitate the development of Personal Support Networks, strong natural supports, and mapping the person’s communities to find available community resources.



November 2nd, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Breakout Room One


Title:  Creating High Quality Supports Brokerage Services

Presenters:  Patricia Brennan, Jessica Licona, and Colleen McLaughlin

Description:  This presentation will describe strategies for creating high quality Supports Brokerage services by cultivating positive relationships aimed at supporting people to self-direct their services effectively.  Presenters will discuss the evolution of the service in New Jersey and the importance of collaboration, Supports Broker networking opportunities, and ideas and experiences shared by people with disabilities and families in networking sessions facilitated by DDD's Office of Education on Self-Directed Services.

November 2nd, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Breakout Room Two

Title:  Supported Decision-making Made Practical

Presenters:  Michael Brower, Legal Director and Kelly McGuire, Staff Attorney 

Description:  Join two attorneys from Disability Rights NJ who will talk about supported decision-making as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship.  Participants will learn what supported decision-making means in New Jersey, how it can be used to avoid unnecessary guardianships, and some practical ways that people with disabilities and their supporters can promote the practice in their own lives.


November 2nd, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM 

Breakout Room Three

Title:  Technology for Accessibility is Technology for All

Presenter:  Josh Bradley, Community Access Unlimited

Description:  This session will cover technology to support individuals in all areas of life from communication aids to smart home technology all while linking the technology in a way to support independence and meet individualized goals.

Some items we will cover.

  • iPhone/iPad/Watch

  • Microsoft OS Accessibility

  • Smart Home - digital assistants (Alexa, Siri)

  • Touch Pad Locks

  • AAC

  • Camera/Motion Sensors



November 3rd, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM 

Breakout Room One

Title:  Shared Supportive Decision Making: My Voice Count

Presenter:  Frank Latham, Self-Advocacy Coordinator, Principal Presenter and other Self-Advocates; NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities

Description:  This presentation will look at some of the options for supportive decision making and how self-advocates voices should be valued and heard.

November 3rd, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM 

Breakout Room Two


Title:  Stepping into Self-Direction: Choice, Control, Empower, Energized!

Presenters:  Pamela Brooks, PPL NJ Sr. Account Manager & Herb Collman, PPL NJ Account Manager


Description:  Join this workshop to explore the benefits of self-direction under the Vendor Fiscal/Employer Agent model as administered by Public Partnerships. Find out what the steps are to enroll with Public Partnerships and be on your way to control who provides you service, at what rate and when!   

November 3rd, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM 

Breakout Room Three

Title:  Self-Direct Using the Charting the Life Course Framework

Presenter:  Christina Rappisi, Director of Support Coordination, Values Into Action NJ

Description:  Build the life you envision for yourself utilizing the Charting the Life Course Framework. This workshop will teach you how to use Charting the Life Course tools to self-direct your life. 

November 3rd,12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 

Breakout Room One

Afternoon Keynote: Dr. Jennifer Johnson

Deputy Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities (AoD)

November 3rd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Breakout Room One

Title:  Self-Directed Services after more than 2 Decades in Michigan


Presenter:  Jan Lampman; Owner, Community Drive

Description:  We will learn of the path that Self direction has taken in Micihgan.  We will learn about what worked to improve the lives of people who use the service system and what shortcomings we are still wrestling with in Michigan.

November 3rd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Breakout Room Two

Title:  Self Direction for All


Presenters:  Mercedes Witowsky, Executive Director at the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities and Parent Advocate Annette Smith, Parent Advocate Eileen Hurley, Parent Advocate and Past Chair of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities


Description:  Can Self-Direction work for everyone? Explore how Self-Direction works for individuals with complex medical and behavioral needs. Listen to families share their experiences and ways in which they assist their loved ones in achieving a self-determined life using Self-Direction.

November 3rd, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Breakout Room Three

Title:  Who's Doing What?

Presenters:  Patricia Brennan, MSW- Director of Office of Education on Self Directed Services, Waiting List, and Special Projects and Jessica Licona, MSW- Assistant Director of Office of Education on Self Directed Services, Waiting List, and Special Projects

Panelists: Joshua Godown, Bridges Support Coordination; Patty Kowalchuk and Steve Roosen, Royal Community Support; Kristen Mathews, Eiros Group; Tashaya Daniels, Easterseals; Kimberly Jackson, Public Partnerships LLC; Melissa Soules, All Heart & Soul; Natalie Trump, Family Member; Marie Trump, Self-Advocate

Description:  Join this informative session with the Director and the Assistant Director of the newly established Office of Education for Self Direction. Covering all roles in the NJ self directed system, this session will highlight what each stakeholder does to advance the opportunity and quality of self direction, and ensure people with disabilities are in control of their own lives. Discussion will focus on the responsibilities of the person directing their services and their family, the Vendor/Fiscal Employer Agent and Employer of Record; the Agency with Choice and the Managing Employer, the Self-Directed Employee, the Supports Broker, the Support Coordinator as well as DDD staff. 


November 4th, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 

Breakout Room One

Closing Keynote

Title:  Seeding Possibilities

Presenter:  David James “DJ” Savarese

Description:  We all yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves. We all want the freedom to pattern our own lives. For people with disabilities, that freedom is called self-direction.

Eiros white logo .png

Sponsored by

bottom of page