Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Highlights from the NYS Association of Black & Puerto Rican Legislators Conference

On Saturday, February 13th, Sinergia Deputy Executive Director Michael Mitchell attended the Gouverneur Parents Association’s Twelfth Annual Seminar at the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Conference held at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York. The event drew hundreds of parents, service providers and vendors that serve people with disabilities and their families. In attendance were many distinguished guests including Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (right) and Diana Jones Ritter, the commissioner of New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).

Sinergia participated in a session entitled “Parents and Consumers: Identifying Needs and Finding Alternatives”, whose main purpose was to discuss ways to continue and improve services while working under the constraints of today’s tight fiscal environment. The session, moderated by Jose Rivera of UCP Nassau (left, with Willie Mae Goodman), included various service providers and OMRDD staff who all gave examples of initiatives they have implemented to continue or even improve services while saving resources.

The final speaker was OMRDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter, who while reminding all of the realities of operating under a tight state budget, also pointed out that OMRDD was the only NY state agency to actually be the recipient of an increase and the restoration of the trend factor. Ms. Jones Ritter also discussed her personal concerns on continuing to provide quality services while working under fiscal constraints. See a video of this portion of the commissioner’s speech below. Also on hand was Self Advocacy Association member Tony Phillips who eloquently reminded all that the business we are all in is to provide assistance to people.

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