The 2015 Disability Caucus
     Dedicated to the memory of David Stewart

2015 WV Disability Caucus

The West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council, along with many partners, hosted the 2015 Disability Caucus: "Leadership - Rise Up!" at the Charleston Marriott on June 22-26, 2015. June 22nd to noon on June 24th was reserved for youth with disabilities ages 16-26.

The Caucus is a statewide conference for people with disabilities providing training on leadership, self-advocacy, peer support, and disability rights laws. People with disabilities, family members, and advocates statewide attended the Caucus and had the opportunity to develop skills, network, and develop strategies for addressing the issues facing West Virginians with disabilities.

National speakers and a variety of training sessions and activities were held to develop new leaders. Hundreds of people with disabilities, family members, and advocates from across West Virginia attended the Caucus.

The ADA is 25 this year, and we celebrated June 25th at the Charleston Marriott Hotel during the 2015 Disability Caucus. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

To celebrate, we had a panel presentation on the history, progress, and future of the ADA. Panel members included, Marian Vessels - Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Information Center; Mark Derry - President of Eastlake, Derry & Associates; and our Youth Leaders. The evening also included, party food, music and dancing, and an opportunity to take the ADA Pledge.

The 2015 Disability Caucus included an Awards Luncheon June 26th at the Charleston Marriott Hotel. The WV Statewide Independent Living Council presented awards to recognize leaders in the disability community and the independent living movement in West Virginia. WV Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant, was the guest speaker and presented the awards.


Speakers & Facilitators


Natalie Tennant

Natalie Tennant is West Virginia's 29th Secretary of State. Throughout her administration, she has been a leader in promoting open and engaging government and business friendly initiatives. Tennant has streamlined the Secretary of State's Office to make it more efficient and cost-effective while improving services for voters, candidates, business owners, and citizens who depend on the office for important information about charities and administrative law.

In 2013, thanks to years of cost saving and efficiency programs, Secretary Tennant was able to return $3 million of taxpayer money to general revenue. She remains focused on conserving tax payer dollars and providing government transparency.

Under Tennant's leadership, the Secretary of State's Office has met unprecedented challenges and promoted bold initiatives. One innovative effort Tennant has taken in transparency is live webcasting and social media so citizens can have an unfiltered look at what actions her office is taking.

West Virginia has also emerged as a leader on the national stage when it comes to making it easier for deployed military to vote using a safe and secure internet connection. Secretary Tennant also has more investigations and convictions for election law violations than any other secretary in West Virginia's history.

Secretary Tennant currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with husband, Erik Wells, and daughter, Delaney.

Michael Beers

Michael Beers is the Transitions Coordinator at Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula, Montana. He has been a delegate and staff at the Montana Youth Leadership Forum since 2001. Michael was appointed to the President's Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities Youth Advisory Council, served as President of the Alliance for Disability and Students at the University of Montana, a student disability rights group, from 2003-2005, and is a member of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) Board of Directors. He is the co-leader of BALLS - Building Advocacy and Learning Leadership Skills, a transition curriculum taught by youth with disabilities for youth with disabilities, and YODA - Youth Opening Doors through Advocacy, a social advocacy group for youth with disabilities aged 13 - 30ish. Michael is an active member of APRIL's Youth Steering Committee, is a youth peer mentor, and has been a key player in the development of APRIL's youth peer mentoring program.

In addition to his IL and advocacy work, Michael has been performing as a stand-up comic for about 12 years. A large portion of his act is based on his own life growing up in Montana with his mother and his three sisters, their dogs, and a disability. He also ventures into some social and political commentary and cashes in on the subtlety of everyday life with a perfectly paced on-stage composure which is hilarious and wholly likeable.

Allie Cannington

Allie Cannington, hailing proudly from the Bay Area, is driven to push boundaries within spaces of advocacy; to listen, to learn and to support bringing folks to the table whose voices and experiences are often diminished, siloed, or silenced. She believes that if advocacy is approached intersectionally, it will inherently catalyze progress and solidarity within and across movements. Since graduating from American University, Allie has served as the Youth Transitions Fellow for the National Council on Independent Living through the HSC Foundation.



Marian Vessels

Marian Vessels is the Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Serving in this role since 1996, she is responsible for assuring the Centers' provision of information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the six-state Mid-Atlantic Region (DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV). The Center is one of 10 regional centers comprising the ADA National Network, funded by the US Department of Education's National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Among her primary areas of expertise are networking, training and providing guidance on the ADA in employment, state and local government, arts and hospitality issues. Vessels is spearheading the ADA National Networks' Hospitality Initiative.

Marian has over 30 years of experience in the disability and health fields. She was the Executive Director of the Maryland Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and the Director of the Maryland Governor's Office for Individuals with Disabilities. She also served as the State of Maryland's ADA Coordinator. She was a Senior Health Educator for the Baltimore City Health Department. Marian had a gubernatorial appointment to the Maryland State Rehabilitation Council of which she was chair. She holds a BS in Community Health Education from California State University at Long Beach. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Towson University, and has received numerous awards for her commitment to disability issues and health education, including the Center's receiving the 2013 Kennedy Center LEAD award for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership.


2015 Disability Caucus Awards


The 2015 Disability Caucus included an Awards Luncheon June 26th at the Charleston Marriott Hotel. The WV Statewide Independent Living Council presented awards to recognize leaders in the disability community and the independent living movement in West Virginia as follows:

2015 DISABILITY AWARD RECIPIENTS

Outstanding Public Official of the Year - Michael Meadows, WV Division of Rehabilitation Services

Elected Official of the Year - Don Perdue, WV House of Delegates

Outstanding Personal Assistants - Charlotte Roth, Morgantown, WV and Peggy Johnston, Parkersburg, WV

John Lipscomb Advocacy Award - Tracy White, Cross Lanes, WV

Independent Living Hall of Fame - Mark Derry, Morgantown, WV

WV Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant, was the guest speaker and presented the awards.


2015 Disability Caucus Sponsors


The West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council is the primary sponsor of the Disability Caucus, through a generous grant from the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services. The Council gratefully recognizes the contributions of the steering committee, exhibitors, donors, advertisers, and additional sponsors.

Additional Caucus Sponsors Include:
Appalachian Community Fund
Center for Excellence in Disabilities at WVU
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation - Quality of Life Grant
Fair Shake Network / Common Counsel Foundation
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Sisters Health Foundation
Toyota
Unicare
WV Advocates
WV Bureau for Behavioral Health & Health Facilities
WV Developmental Disabilities Council
WV Olmstead Office
WV PTI
WV State Rehabilitation Council
WV SILC Members
Jeri McDonald
James Qualls

WV DRS Christophe Reeve Foundation Toyota Olmstead WV Advocates WV CED title= Unicare Fairshake Network Sisters Health Foundation WVSILC WVPTI Appalachian Commnity Fund Mid-Atlantic ADA Center SRC BBHHF Common Council WVDDC

Additional thanks go to the following:
Job Corps for providing PAS
Appalachian CIL & Mountain State CIL for assisting with transportation



Many organizations and individuals have offered their support to the Caucus by purchasing advertising in the Caucus program and exhibit space at the caucus.

Caucus Advertisers


Appalachian Center for Independent Living, Inc.
Fairshake Network
Handypro of WV
Job Squad, Inc.
Mountain State Parents CAN
Northern WV Center for Independent Living
Olmstead Office
Runyan & Associates Realtors, Sherry Taylor
WV Advocates
WV Division of Rehabilitation Services
WV Fair Housing Action Network
WVDHHR - Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Earnest Covington
WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities

Caucus Exhibitors


AARP West Virginia
Amramp
Appalachian Center for Independent Living, Inc.
Boll Medical
Bridge Valley Community and Technical College
Central WV Consumer Affairs
Fair Shake Network
Handypro of WV
Job Squad, Inc.
Mountain State Center for Independent Living
Mountain State Parent, Child & Adolescent Network
Northern WV Center for Independent Living
People First of WV
Ron Yost Personal Assistance Services
WV Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
WV Developmental Disabilities Council
WV Division of Rehabilitation Services
WV Fair Housing Action Network
WV Human Rights Commission
WV Leadership Academy
WV Olmstead Office
WV Statewide Independent Living Council
WVU Traumatic Brain Injury Program
WVUCED Specialized Family Care Program

Caucus Patrons


The following individuals made a patron donation:

Vanessa & Karl VanGilder
Katie & James Milhoan
Jan & David Stewart
Ashlynn Hope Young
Daniel & Ann McDaniel


Visit our Facebook and YouTube pages to see photos and videos of the Caucus events:
2015 WV Disability Caucus 2015 WV Disability Caucus