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Minutes – Executive Committee Meeting, Nov. 2, 2011


Staff Members Present

Guests Present

  • Chynna Burwell, attendant
  • Leticia Finely, attendant

Call to Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on November 2, 2011, in the Creekside Room at the Sheraton Austin at the Capitol Hotel, 701 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. Council Vice-Chair John Morris called the meeting to order at 3:34 PM.

1. Introductions

Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

2. Public Comments

No public comments were offered.

3. Approval of Minutes

The Committee reviewed the minutes from the August 3, 2011, Committee meeting. No revisions were offered.

MOTION: To approve the minutes of the August 3, 2011, Executive Committee meeting as presented.

MADE BY: Hunter Adkins

SECOND: Susan Vardell

The motion passed unanimously.

4. Chair’s Report

Executive Director Roger Webb indicated that Council Chair Brenda Coleman-Beattie was absent due to family matters. Webb discussed with Committee members that Coleman-Beattie submitted her resignation to Governor on October 6, 2011, due to increasing demands on her time to tend to family obligations. Coleman-Beattie will remain Chair of the Council until the

Governor designates someone to that position, but has asked Vice-Chair John Morris to serve as Acting Chair following this quarter’s meeting until a new Chair designation is finalized.

Webb reviewed the excused absences for these meetings including Rick Tisch, Kristen Cox, Mike Benz/Amy Sharp, Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development, Dana Perry, Diana Kern, Andy Crim.

Webb also reviewed the status of Council Member appointments and noted that Gladys Cortez of McAllen, who was appointed to replace Marcia Dwyer, attended orientation earlier in the day. The appointee to refill Rene Requenez’s position withdrew her name from consideration before it was finalized. Kristine Bissmeyer and Joe Rivas have been appointed to new terms which expire in 2017. Appointments have not been made to replace Requenez and Deneesa Rasmussen, who resigned, and Mary Durheim who is still serving in a “hold-over” capacity until her replacement is named. Cindy Swain has been designated as the representative from the Texas Education Agency and also attended new member training and orientation. Coleman-Beattie has asked Rivas to Chair the Public Policy Committee, asked DADS representative Jeff Kaufmann to join the Audit Committee in the position vacated by Marcia Dwyer.

5. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Webb indicated that selection teams are reviewing applications for the Public Policy Director and Grants Management Director positions and expect to schedule interviews later in November. Webb also noted that Public Policy Specialist Cassie Fisher has returned from maternity leave.

The TCDD People First document will be printed in a college textbook giving TCDD credit for that material. The FY 2012-2016 State Plan has been submitted to the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and is currently being reviewed in a new peer review process by other Council Executive Directors and staff. ADD expects to provide feedback to Councils by mid-November.

Webb noted that the inaugural Texas Formula One Race is planned for the Austin area on November 18, 2012. While this date is not in direct conflict with the Councils usual fall meeting dates of November 7-9, 2012, hotel prices for that time period are expected to be very high due to the arrival of race crews and media. Staff suggest scheduling the fall 2012 meeting for October 24-26, 2012, when prices should be more reasonable. Committee members agreed with the proposed dates.

Webb indicated that DD Councils are currently funded under a Continuing Resolution through November 19, 2011, at FY 2011 levels. The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended level funding for FY 12, but the House Appropriations Committee could not agree on various appropriations bills. The National Association of DD Councils (NACDD) expects “mark-up” for Health and Human Services programs in late December. Separately, the “Super Committee” is tasked with identifying $1.3 trillion in savings by November 23, 2011, and Congress would be required to vote on those reductions without amendments. It is unknown at this time if the Committee will agree on those recommendations which would mandate an 8% reduction in funding for domestic programs for FY 13. That could result in a reduction for TCDD of approximately $400,000.

Webb reviewed the Council’s approval of solicit a contract to provide training for grantees regarding project sustainability. Operations Director Martha Cantu indicated that a Request for Quotes (RFQ) was posted on September 29, 2011, and closed October 20, 2011. Three proposals were received and reviewed by Cantu, Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry and Senior Grants Management Specialist Sonya Hosey. Staff and TEA contracts personnel will meet with the top applicant to review their proposal. Unless difficulties arise, staff expected to start that contract January 2, 2012, with the project operating throughout the calendar year.

Webb and Cantu reviewed a draft Survey of Employee Engagement that will be conducted with TCDD staff in spring 2012. The survey includes standard questions for all state agencies and any additional questions requested by each agency. Committee members were asked to provide suggestions to Cantu of additional questions for TCDD.

6. Grants Activities Report

Senior Grants Management Specialist Hosey reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and the Grants Monitoring Exceptions Report and noted that no concerns were found by staff. Annual independent audits from two grantees were forwarded for desk review, and six on-site visits were conducted during the past quarter with no outstanding concerns.

7. Appeal of Funding Decision

Webb reviewed the Committee’s decision during the August 2011 meeting to not award continuation funding to Parents Anonymous to support additional Gulf Coast of Texas African American Family Support Conferences (GCTAAFSC). Although the project was successful, staff and Committee members agreed that the grantee did not comply with expectations of the original request for proposals and the approved workplan sufficiently to warrant continued funding. TCDD staff and a number of organizations from the Houston area were very involved in aspects of conference planning and contributed to a successful event. Parents Anonymous, based in California, did not have or establish a local presence in Texas as indicated in their proposal and TCDD staff provided considerable effort to work with the grantee and assist in coordinating some efforts with local agencies, advocates and stakeholders who helped with the conference.

Parents Anonymous has appealed the decision to not approve continued funding for the project. Webb reviewed materials provided to members including the notification of Parents Anonymous that continuation funded was not approved; Parents Anonymous’ appeal letter; an acknowledgment that TCDD received the appeal; TCDD’s appeals process; and a summary report to the Committee concerning the review process and information provided by Parents Anonymous in this appeal. (Materials available upon request.) Webb noted that Parents Anonymous did not provide any additional information related to the issues outlined, nor did they suggest that the TCDD did not follow existing procedures. Staff recommend maintaining the original decision to not provide continuation funding to Parents Anonymous for this project. The Project Development Committee will be reviewing a proposed Executive Summary to solicit new applications from organizations involved with the first event to continue support for the Gulf Coast African American Family Support Conferences. Committee members discussed the appeal and agreed to affirm the decision to not continue funding to this grantee.

MOTION: To sustain the decision to not award continuation funding to Parents Anonymous for the GCTAAFSC project.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: John Morris

The motion passed unanimously.

8. Continuation Grant Awards

Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Texas Parent to Parent for the Public Policy Collaboration project. (Attachment 1) In spite of a delayed start-up following water damage to their office, the project trained 126 self-advocates and 219 family members to provide public testimony. Committee members discussed the number of participants targeted for year two, and asked if policy leaders are aware that they have been “adopted” by an advocate. Staff will provide that information at the next Committee meeting.

MOTION: To approve funding of up to $61,780 to Texas Parent to Parent for year two of the five year Public Policy Collaboration project.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Joe Rivas

The motion passed unanimously

9. Consideration of New Grant Awards

Planning Coordinator Cordry provided a brief overview of recommendations from the independent review panel of proposals received for four Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Cordry first discussed proposals for Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training projects. This RFP authorized up to six projects for up to $75,000 per year for up to three years. Cordry noted that the summary memo provided to members in the meeting materials mistakenly indicated the projects’ duration was up to five years; the actual authorized duration is three years. Eight applications were received for this project. The review panel recommended seven applications as fundable and ranked those in a preferred order for funding. Cordry noted that the project proposed by NAMI Texas, Inc. may not train the number of individuals called for in the RFP because it is a “train the trainer” module, but the project expects to be sustainable and have long-term impact. She also noted that the Arc of Dallas proposal is an expansion of a prior project from 1996 and that the Arc of the Gulf Coast was determined to be a “riskier” project because it proposes to develop a new “self-advocacy” club for high-school aged youth with and without disabilities, and this club will have to compete against many other clubs for members.

Cordry discussed each proposal in more detail with Committee members Members discussed approving seven projects if sufficient funds are available.

MOTION: To approve funding of the requested amounts for Leadership Development and Advocacy Skills Training projects, not to exceed $75,000 per year for three years, to Texas Advocates, Texas A&M, NAMI Texas, The Arc of Dallas, The Arc of Texas, The Arc of the Gulf Coast, and Texas State Independent Living Council.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Hunter Adkins and Joe Rivas

Vardell asked staff to further clarify with Texas A&M that they understand that this will be their third project until at least 2013.

The motion passed unanimously. (Attachments 2-8)

Cordry next reviewed proposals for Inclusive Faith-Based Communities Symposium projects. This RFP authorizes up to 4 projects for up to $75,000 per year for up to three years. Projects are expected to host 2 symposiums for faith-based communities to gain and share information about how to support and fully include people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The review panel ranked three proposals as a tie for the first-ranked proposal, and deemed one additional proposal as fundable. Four other applications were not considered fundable although one was considered to have an excellent idea but it was beyond the scope of this RFP.

During discussion, members noted that one proposal had a significant number of “needs” identified by the review panel. TCDD staff advised that those items could be addressed by revisions to the workplan before awarding funding, and did not overall reflect the quality of the proposal. Members also noted that one project serves counties in west Texas where there are not many resources.

MOTION: To approve funding of the requested amounts, not to exceed $75,000 per year for three years, for Inclusive Faith-Based Communities Symposium projects to OneStar Foundation, The Arc of Greater Tarrant County – dba IDD Needs Council of Tarrant County, Jewish Family Services of Dallas, and West Central Texas Regional Foundation.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Joe Rivas

The motion passed unanimously. (Attachments 9-12)

Cordry reviewed the proposals for Enabling Technology: Collaborating for the Future projects. This RFP authorized up to 3 projects for a combined total of up to $750,000 per year for no more than five years to develop and demonstrate technology that enables people with disabilities to gain and maintain competitive employment or participate more fully in classroom settings. Although the number of applications was less than hoped for, two projects were deemed fundable while two other proposals were considered as not fundable.

Committee members discussed the proprietary arrangements for technology developed through these projects. TCDD staff indicated that TCDD’s general counsel recommended including language in the grant award that outlines a shared ownership between TCDD and the grantee. Members discussed the timelines for developing technology and noted that often there are setbacks and other obstacles that need to be taken into account. Members also noted that for the projects to be successful there needs to be appropriate marketing strategies and observed that many consumers may not have the financial resources to purchase what is developed. Morris noted that in his position with the Texas Technology Access Program, there are many applications available for people with disabilities but he has not seen anything focused on employment or job coaching. Members also mentioned that changing technology could limit the future usefulness of a product if operating software updates render an application incompatible.

MOTION: To approve funding not to exceed $225,000 per year for Enabling Technology projects to Educational Programs Inspiring Communities, Inc. and to Strategic Education Solutions, LLC, for up to three years with the option of funding for years four and five.

MADE BY: John Morris

SECOND: Joe Rivas

The motion passed unanimously. (Attachments 13-14)

Cordry and Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed proposals for Health and Fitness for People with Developmental Disabilities projects. This RFP authorized two projects with funding up to $250,000 per year for up to five years. Eight applications were received and four were recommended as fundable. Members noted that the applications from Texas Tech and Texas State Independent Living Council (SILC) are research projects, and the Texas SILC project refers to a “control group” which would necessitate the need for an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Council Member Crim provided information on this requirement and noted that if the group does not plan to publish their research, an IRB may not necessary.

MOTION: To approve funding for Health and Fitness projects not to exceed the requested amounts to Any Baby Can, Epilepsy Foundation Texas, and Texas SILC.

MADE BY: Susan Vardell

SECOND: Hunter Adkins

The motion passed with one member opposed and no abstentions. (Attachments 15-17)

10. TCDD Quarterly Financial Report

Morris reminded members that the TCDD Operating Budget for FY 2012 approved during August 2011 meetings limited funds for out-of-state travel to FY 11 levels. Funds available for out-of-state travel will support travel for one member to the Southwest Disability Conference that occurred in Albuquerque in October, (Joe Rivas); Morris and Kristen Cox to attend the NACDD Fall Conference in Washington, D.C. in November; one member to attend the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington D.C., next spring; and Morris to attend the ADD Technical Assistance Institute next summer. Morris will travel twice due to his obligations as a member of the NACDD Board. Webb commented that he and Morris have discussed support needs for members while in travel status such as attendant needs, respite, etc., and that those additional costs should not limit who can travel. This is a difficult situation since the Council wants to be mindful of budget constraints of other agencies. Morris indicated that at this point all planned travel will be funded but there are not funds available for additional events trips.

Cantu reviewed the Quarterly Financial Report. The Summary of Funds shows that all funds for FY 2010 have been expended. Cantu and Webb noted that operating expenses for FY 2010 and 2011 were expended from FY 10 funds due to the limited number of current grantees available for awarding funds. This results in more FY 2011 funds for grants which can be obligated through FY 2012. With projects now approved for funding, staff do not anticipate concerns after the current year. Cantu noted that she expects TCDD will end FY 2011 with $770,000 carried forward to FY 12 for obligation. The Committee had no questions and found no concerns.

11. Conflict of Interest Disclosures

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


Vice-Chair Morris adjourned the Council meeting at 6:05 PM.

Roger A. Webb
Secretary to the Council