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Minutes — Executive Committee Meeting, August 4, 2010


Call to Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on August 4, 2010, in the Big Bend A&B Room at the Hyatt Regency Austin, 208 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704. Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie called the meeting to order at 3:31 PM.


Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

Public Comments

Lisa Rivers, project director of the Texas MicroBoard Collaboration project at the Arc of Texas, offered comments regarding their request for continuation grant funding. In response to a question from Coleman-Beattie, Ms. Rivers agreed to hold her comments until that item was discussed by the Committee.

Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed draft minutes of the May 5, 2010, Committee meeting. No revisions were offered.

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the May 5, 2010, Executive Committee meeting as presented.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously.

Chair’s Report

Chair Coleman-Beattie reviewed various items with the Committee including:

  • Kimberly Blackmon, Dana Perry and Susan Vardell will be absent from meetings Thursday and Friday. Andy Crim has agreed to chair the Project Development Committee meeting.
  • Angie English of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will be present at the Committee of the Whole to read a governor’s proclamation in recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and give a presentation on Texans with disabilities.
  • DADS representative Don Henderson recently retired, and DSHS representative Dr. Lesa Walker plans to retire soon. Jeff Kaufmann has been designated as the representative of DADS.
  • Sandy Graham was recently appointed as the alternate representative from the Texas Center for Disability Studies.
  • Council members Margaret Christen and Lora Taylor and Council staff Joanna Cordry and Roger Webb attended the ADD Technical Assistance Institute in June.
  • Council member Susan Vardell and staff members Lucy Walker and Wendy Jones have been approved to attend the NACDD Annual Conference in Orlando in September.
  • The national Disability Policy Seminar will be held in the spring in Washington DC.
  • Coleman-Beattie discussed her recent decision to approve continued funding of travel support for various public members of certain Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) advisory committees through the 2012-2013 biennium. TCDD asked HHSC to request authorization for travel expenses for those committees in the FY 2012-2013 Legislative Appropriations Request. However, given the current financial outlook for the state, funding is not expected to be available. Coleman-Beattie approved continued funding for this activity to ensure participation by individuals with disabilities and their families on these advisory committees with an understanding that TCDD and HHSC would work toward an eventual transition of that expense to the agency budgets.
  • Members were advised to expect public comments related to the agenda item about a proposed moratorium that is being proposed by Advocacy Incorporated (AI) on admissions to state supported living centers.
  • Council members will be asked for input concerning dates for November meetings to accommodate a presentation regarding state plan development.

Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb provided updates on TCDD staff including the return of Angela Lello from maternity leave and the absence of Melissa Loe to maternity leave. Grants Management Director Patrice LeBlanc will not be present at this quarter’s meetings due to family obligations.

Consideration of Continuation Grant Awards

The Executive Committee reviewed the continuation grant award for the Texas Microboard Collaboration project of the Arc of Texas. Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones explained that the project proposes to expand PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) training provided by the project to individuals and organizations that may not expect to establish a microboard. Arc-Tx is requesting to increase funding for the third year of the five year project from the planned $82,900 to $92,000, and requests a modification of the project workplan to include additional PATH facilitator trainings and to include training of a staff member to become a certified PATH trainer. Jones noted that the requested funding is equal to the amount awarded for year two although the original proposal from Arc-Tx called for DD funding to decrease in year three. Jones also noted staff concerns regarding the request for funding international travel (to Canada) for the PATH facilitator training as well as a general concern about how this changes the scope of the project from what was originally approved by the Council.

Ms. Rivers, Texas Microboard Collaboration Project, explained that the success of the program has expanded beyond their staffing capabilities and beyond their travel budget. The proposal for an Arc-Tx staff member to become a certified PATH trainer would allow the Arc to eliminate bringing in trainers from Tennessee for PATH trainings. Coleman-Beattie clarified that the project is meeting the intended objectives of the initial workplan but project staff propose expanding the program to meet the increased demand for PATH training. She also noted that approving the additional funds may set a precedent for other projects to request additional funding when those projects are also capable of expanding. Rivers commented that the additional funding would also increase the project’s potential for sustainability. Coleman-Beattie asked if funding for years four and five could be decreased by at least the amount of the requested increase for year three. Rivers agreed that a subsequent decrease of at least the amount of the requested increase would be acceptable. Members also discussed a concern about the need for travel to Canada and did not feel this was an appropriate use of grant money even if it was technically allowable. Rivers noted a possibility of obtaining other funds for that travel or the possibility of training being offered in the states and indicated Arc-Tx would not want that item to be a determining factor.

MOTION: To approve funding to the Arc of Texas for up to $92,000 for year three of five for the Texas Microboard Collaboration provided that the total funding for the project by year five is equal to the total funding requested in the original proposal and that funds cannot be used for international travel (i.e., travel outside the U.S.)

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Mary Durheim

Ms. Durheim noted her reservations about setting a precedent for other grantees, but acknowledged the expanded training outcomes and more likely sustainability may justify the increased funding amount. The Committee ask TCDD staff to request that the Arc develop a “non-compete” contract with the individual certified as a PATH facilitator.

The motion passed with Mary Durheim opposed. Susan Vardell and Cindy Johnston abstained. (Due to flight delays Vardell and Johnston arrived at approximately 4:25 PM at the mid-point of discussion on this topic.)

Executive Director’s Report (continued)

Webb attended the Texas Council for Community Centers annual conference in June and was particularly impressed with a presentation on communication strategies. He also attended the ADD Technical Assistance conference and the NACDD business meeting in Arlington, VA in June.

Webb welcomed Melissa Rosser as the new Public Policy Assistant. Rosser began with TCDD on June 1, 2010.

Webb reviewed the TCDD Planning Calendars highlighting the Audit Committee activities that will take place during the next quarter.

Webb and Grants Management Specialist Sonya Hosey reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report noting no concerns.

Staff have continued to monitor the situation regarding former TCDD grantee Texas Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (TACCRRA) which was linked to Family Connections, an Austin non-profit organization that lost funds through apparent embezzlement by its executive director. TACCRRA staff have determined that TCDD funds were correctly used for staff salaries, facility rental and other larger expense items, and are continuing to verify some remaining expenses.

Stipends grant applications were approved for the following organizations:

  • Texas Advocates for $5,963 for the 2010 Annual Convention in Corpus Christi, TX, August 6-8, 2010
  • NAMI Texas for $5,980 for the 2010 Annual Conference in Dallas, October 22-24, 2010

Webb reported that TCDD recently received separate stipend applications from the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) and VOLAR Independent Living Center for a jointly-sponsored conference in October. TCDD staff interpret the current stipends RFP, approved by the Council, to allow up to $6,000 per event. Staff have advised both organizations that each may receive half of that amount for their co-sponsored conference, or $6,000 combined. Webb noted that the RFP could be reviewed by the Committee next quarter and revised to address this type of situation should that be the Committee’s preference, but that meeting will be after this event.

Emergency Back-up Plans and Succession Planning Procedures

Webb presented the draft Emergency Back-up plans for TCDD executive staff and the Succession Planning Procedures for the executive director. He introduced Don Tebbe of TransitionGuides who developed the plans after meeting with staff and reviewing their job functions and working relationships with other staff. Tebbe explained the need for emergency back-up plans for the entire team as well as for a planned departure of the executive director and outlined the process for developing the plans.

It was noted that the succession planning document was designed to be a lasting document for the agency whenever there is a planned vacancy in that position. The emergency back-up plans are more specific to each person who occupies that position and should be revisited annually. Individuals are named in the document instead of listing their job titles because each plan should be viewed as a “contract” between the staff members to cover certain job functions. If staff changes occur, the plan would need to be reconfigured. During the process, Tebbe worked with staff to show how the plans were developed so that future plans could be written internally. Webb noted that developing the plans has allowed staff to discuss and clarify internal procedures and identify the need for additional written procedures in some areas.

MOTION: To recommend Committee of the Whole and Council approval of the Emergency Back-Up Plans and Succession Planning Procedure.

MADE BY: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously.

Independent Review Panel Members

Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry presented a document highlighting the process for reviewing applications for members of independent review panels that review applications submitted in response to Council RFP. Cordry indicated that applications are reviewed for conflicts of interest or other disqualifying situations, are categorized by strength in issue areas and placed in the “pool”. The Executive Committee approves the names in the “pool” bi-annually. Individuals for each panel are subsequently approved by Executive Director Webb.

Council members previously expressed an interest in an alternative review process to review Public Policy Collaboration Activities applications. The Committee’s suggestion to invite a LBJ School of Public Affairs class to serve as the review panel was determined to not be a workable option, but the faculty member who discussed this suggestion with Cordry was willing to add her name to the list of possible reviewers. TCDD staff propose that the Executive Committee approve a specific pool of potential reviewers for these proposals in consideration of the extensive work by the Council to develop the RFP for public policy collaboration activities. Cordry reviewed the individuals proposed for consideration by the Committee for this review panel.

MOTION: To approve the individuals proposed as potential independent review panel members to review applications for Public Policy Collaboration Activities projects.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously. Cordry also noted that one individual on the list is from New Jersey but would participate by conference call if selected.

Procedures for Unsolicited Requests for Extensions

Webb and Cordry presented a revised process for reviewing Unsolicited Requests for Extensions from current grantees based on the changes requested by the Committee at the May meeting. Members discussed an additional requirement that the grantee has accomplished the expected activities and tasks of the project barring any extenuating circumstances.

Members also discussed the process to prioritize any approved project in the future project funding priorities list and agreed to refer any extension approved by the Executive Committee to the Project Development Committee only if it will delay other projects.

MOTION: To approve the revised process for reviewing Unsolicited Requests for Extensions, adding an expectation that the grantee has accomplished expected activities and tasks of the project, and adding that approval of the Project Development Committee will also be required if an extension would delay initiation of other prioritized projects.

MADE BY: Rick Tisch

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously.

Consideration of Grant Awards (continued)

Grants Management Specialist Hosey presented three additional projects for consideration of continuation grant awards.

Easter Seals ASSET AmeriCorps project trains members to support persons with disabilities as they transition to independent living. Staff have no concerns with this project

MOTION: To approve continuation funding of up to $100,000 to Easter Seals for the third and final year of the ASSET AmeriCorps project.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously.

Texas A&M Research Foundation Youth Leadership and Advocacy Project provides leadership training for youth with disabilities including an annual forum and other activities. Staff have no concerns.

MOTION: To approve continuation funding of up to $75,000 to Texas A&M Research Foundation for the fifth and final year of the Youth Leadership and Advocacy Project.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

The motion passed unanimously.

Texas A&M University Brazos Valley Employment Project has requested a 4 month extension beyond the end of their project August 31, 2010, to complete training and assistance to two high schools. The project indicates this request, if approved, will result in sustainability for these two sites. The project requests $11,134 and staff feel that this extension would have a positive impact on the outcome of the project.

MOTION: To approve extension funding of up to $11,134 to Texas A&M University for four additional months of the Brazos Valley Employment Project.

MADE BY: Brenda Coleman-Beattie

SECOND: Mary Durheim

The motion passed unanimously.

Consideration of Review Panel Recommendations for African American Family Support Conference

Cordry reminded Committee members of the RFP for a state-wide African American Family Support Conference modeled after the one currently hosted by Austin-Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC). She then presented the review panel recommendations for the three proposals that were submitted.

The panel found two of the three proposals fundable with a strong preference for the proposal from Parents Anonymous which appeared to require less work on the part of TCDD staff as well as ATCIC in their mentoring capacity. Cordry noted that clarifications on funding and increased match would need to take place prior to awarding the grant. A proposal from the Arc of Greater Houston was viewed as needing considerably more work to reproduce the conference faithfully to the original. The third proposal did not meet the goals of the RFP. A risk assessment was provided for all three proposals that ranked each as a “moderate” risk. It was noted that Parents Anonymous is based in California with chapters in Texas and the conference would be held in the Houston area.

MOTION: To approve the recommendation for to award up to $50,000 to Parents Anonymous for the first year of the African American Family Support Conference project.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously. Coleman-Beattie abstained.

TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

The Executive Committee reviewed the TCDD quarterly financial report. Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed current expenditures and expected expenses for the remainder of the fiscal year. No concerns were noted. Cantu also recommended a change to the budget report (page 4) to eliminate a chart of projected balance/deficit for each fiscal year since this information is provided in other areas of the budget report. Coleman-Beattie reiterated that the information won’t be “hidden” and all Council members should ask for clarification of the budget whenever needed.

Consideration of TCDD FY 2011 Operating Budget

Cantu and Webb reviewed the proposed operating expense budget for fiscal year 2011. They noted that the proposed budget assumes federal funding for TCDD at the same funding level as FY 2010 since Congress has not approved appropriations for next year. It was noted that the 18th FTE (full-time employee) has been budgeted although that position is not being utilized at this time. Coleman-Beattie requested a footnote to indicate the difference in budget and expenditures relative to position vacancies, etc. Cantu noted increases for the budget due to increases for utilities, rental, cost for meeting accommodations, and need to rent off-site storage space. Decreases were noted in salaries, professional services and out-of-state travel.

Coleman-Beattie noted that 64.5% of TCDD funds are budgeted for grant projects and 34.5% are budgeted for operating expenses. Webb indicated that funds available for grant projects will increase during the year as some funds budgeted for staff operations will not be needed. The Committee engaged in a lengthy discussion regarding the budget and the need for balance between funds that are available, obligated and actually encumbered.

Coleman-Beattie stated that the Committee generally supported the budget as reviewed, however, approval should be deferred to the entire Council to support transparency and full board knowledge and accountability.

Memorandum of Understanding Between TCDD and TEA

Cantu presented the annual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between TCDD and the designated state agency, Texas Education Agency (TEA). No changes are proposed for the coming year.

MOTION: To approve the MOU as proposed between TCDD and TEA for the period September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011.

MADE BY: Mary Durheim

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Committee members reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosure statements from members and staff with no noted concerns.

Other Updates

Cordry provided information about her outreach activities regarding minority outreach.

Webb noted that the Oklahoma DD Council has inquired about TCDD positive behavior support activities and a future learning session between both agencies is in preliminary discussions.


Chair Coleman-Beattie adjourned the Council meeting at 7:10 PM.

Roger A. Webb
Secretary to the Council