UCP of Michigan Staff Invited to Attend Meeting Called by The Pope

Special thanks to Glenn Ashley, retired staff from UCP, for his assistance in working to help put this post together. 

UCP of Michigan’s Public Policy Specialist, Barb Valliere, was invited to attend the U.S. Regional Meeting of Popular Movements (RMOPM), which ran from February 16-19 in Modesto, CA.Part of international movements called by the Pope, the meeting in California brought together nearly 700 leaders from clergy members to grassroots leaders to provide input on a variety of social issues, including: job access and inclusion for people with disabilities, environmental issues, and racism. This meeting was the third in a series of international meetings (the previous two were held in Rome and Bolivia) aimed at bringing together members of the clergy and grassroots activists. For Barb, while the journey to California marked her first time on a plane, as Catholic woman with cerebral palsy it was an opportunity she could not pass up.

Ms. Valliere was one of three people invited from the Lansing, MI area to attend the meeting. Her invitation was a result of her leadership and work in community organizing efforts at the state and national levels. Initially, no one from the area was scheduled to speak, however, an issue with accessibility changed all of that. After requesting to be put in an accessible room, Barb was put in a room that was not accessible for her. The conference organizers were able to rectify the problem and accommodate her with another room. RMOPM asked her if she would like to address the entire assembly at dinner about the problem and her experience as person with a disability.

In her remarks to the assembly, she emphasized the importance of civil rights for people with disabilities. Attendees were reminded that when they plan events and invite people, to make sure to take care of their needs and have the event accessible to all, and to not assume that a space is accessible on word alone. She also encouraged other individuals with disabilities to advocate for yourself to ensure that your needs are met. Ms. Valliere made her point in community organizing fashion, encouraging event participants to move deeper into a  discussion on access and issues that affect the disability community.


Information for the blog was taken from movimientospopulares.org‘s press release.

UCP Celebrates the 17th Anniversary of The Olmstead Decision


The outcome of the Olmstead v. L.C. case began in Georgia where two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, saw constant segregation due to their intellectual disabilities. Their frequent trips to state mental hospitals brought attention to the fact that community support and personal choice for individuals with disabilities was lackluster, almost nonexistent. After being represented by an attorney at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Lois, and later Elaine, saw her position for removal of institutional bias being taken up to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration.

It was found under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), that discrimination against an individual with disabilities was illegal, and that the behavior portrayed towards both Curtis and Wilson held both legal and moral conflict.



Under the Olmstead decision, The Court stated that individuals with disabilities have rights that are inclusive of:

  • Prohibition in the segregation of individuals with disabilities in community living
  • The ability to receive services in integrated environments
    • Services received may be appropriate to individual needs
  • The ability to receive community based services rather than institutionally based ones, in the event that:
    • Community placement is the appropriate course of action
    • The individual in question does not oppose to the treatment being offered
    • The individual’s placement can be accommodated in a reasonable manner


As a section under the ADA, the Olmstead decision follows the anti-discriminatory nature that the ADA set many years ago. The ADA, which celebrates its 26th signing anniversary, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in a number of areas that include transportation, employment, government activities, and more. According to the Olmstead decision, unjustified segregation would violate Title II of the ADA, which stated that individuals with disabilities may not be discriminated against when it came to State and local government provided public services. This gave individuals with disabilities the right to choose where they were to live, instead of having economic factors coerce them into making decisions they may not otherwise wish to make. The Olmstead decision tied together the anti-discriminatory nature of the ADA by not legally binding individuals with disabilities to be institutionalized, meaning that there legally cannot be a system that will inevitably end up with a majority of the disability community in institutions.

For individuals with disabilities, these acts held the power to allow them to work in traditional office environments, live in community settings that foster independent lifestyles, receive equal opportunities when it came to a variety of traditionally implemented services, and most importantly, have the right to decide where to live, without economic or legal influences.

Here at UCP, we appreciate the previously implemented and ongoing efforts for integration, habilitation, and opportunity for expansion for those who live with disabilities. Many of our affiliates provide services that both directly and indirectly relate to the Olmstead decision. For example, most of our affiliates offer community living based services. Outlined below are a sampling of specific services that follow ideals set by the Olmstead decision.



  • Within the UCP of Central Pennsylvania lies In-Home and Community Support Programs, which offer a variety of training and support to individuals with disabilities in the realm of opportunities that allow them to participate further in the community around them. These community integration and in-home habilitation programs allow for an individual to feel as though they can be cared for and supported throughout processes in any environment that they choose. It need not have to be an institution that can provide habilitation, but rather, it can occur within the home, simultaneously alongside community support options.


  • Through UCP of Central Arizona, the Summer Program, as an extension of the Day Treatment and Training for Kids and Teens Program, works on even further enhancement and training of social, community, cognitive, and communication skills for kids and teens. This program focuses on the individual needs of each child, and exposes each individual to real life scenarios in preparation for community integration. This program, along with many other of it’s kind, provides services of transportation to and from the individual’s home/school, making it clear that such services, again, are not contingent upon whether or not an individual is residing at home or within an institution. Usually, habilitation skills are not necessarily provided for children outside of an institution setting, however, as can be seen from such programs, not only is the child free to reside wherever he/she may desire, but he/she may also be provided with many character building and habilitation services that otherwise would confine them to institutions.


In addition to skill specific programs, services such as Child Development, Respite Care, and Early Intervention are made available in a location of the individual’s choice, making it clear that community integration, and most of all, personal choice, is the priority when it comes to the creation and reformation of programs focused towards individuals with disabilities.

While disability rights and removal of bias and segregation from the disability community has seen great progress, there is much still much to be done.  On the 17th anniversary of the signing of the Olmstead decision, we at UCP wish to not only celebrate, but also take part in movements that further advocate for the rights that all individuals are entitled to.

We want to hear how the Olmstead decision has impacted your life! Share your stories using the hashtag #OlmsteadAction on social media.

Find out more information on the Administration for Community Living’s celebration of the Olmstead Anniversary here. 




Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org


Landmark legislation signed into law 23 years ago 

Washington, DC (July 26, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the following statement today in observance of the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), into law. This landmark piece of legislation stated that all Americans, regardless of ability, were afforded the same access rights.

“The signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a tremendous step forward for all Americans, and particularly for the disability community, but there is still much progress to be made in achieving the equality in access the law guarantees. In areas such as education, health care and employment, United Cerebral Palsy and many others in the disability community are still working to ensure that Americans with disabilities have the supports, services and access they need,” said Stephen Bennett, former President and CEO of UCP. “And so today, twenty-three years after the ADA made history, we urge everyone to keep fighting, advocating and pushing for the fair and full citizenship for people with disabilities.”

Learn more about UCP and how we are working to ensure a life without limits for people with disabilities, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.



Washington, DC (October 15, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) has elected four new members of its national Board of Trustees, and has elected four leaders to serve as officers of the Board.

The Board of Trustees plays a critical role at UCP, helping to guide the organization and its efforts to educate, advocate and provide support to people with disabilities across the country. With 18 members, including four officers, the Board is a diverse and active group that works together to move UCP forward toward its goal of creating a life without limits for people living with disabilities.

Selection of Officers

Edward G. “Woody” Connette, an attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, will lead the organization’s Board of Trustees as its new Chair, replacing outgoing Chair Bruce Merlin Fried, the DC-based Managing Partner of law firm SNR Denton.  Connette has long had an interest in public policy and litigation related to disabilities, health care and mental health. In his legal work, he has fought to protect the rights of people living with disabilities and challenged the living conditions and institutionalization practices in North Carolina and Tennessee. He is involved in several professional organizations and has also served on the Executive Board and as President of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. Connette’s volunteer work with disability groups stretches back more than twenty years, and he played a critical role in the merger of UCP and Easter Seals affiliates in North Carolina and went on to become Board Chair for the newly created Easter Seals/ UCP North Carolina and Virginia.

“On behalf of United Cerebral Palsy, and all of our affiliates, I am delighted to welcome Woody as our new Chair for our Board of Trustees,” said Stephen Bennett, former President & CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “Woody has been a valued part of UCP for more than two decades, and his commitment and dedication to bettering the lives of people living with disabilities is inspiring. We look forward to his leadership in the years ahead.”

“It is an immense privilege to be selected for this position with such a great organization,” said Connette. “United Cerebral Palsy is internationally recognized as a leader in the disability community, and I will do my best to help create a better day for those living with disabilities every day.”

Connette is joined by three other volunteer leaders, including:

·       Ian Ridlon, who has been selected as the organization’s new vice chair.  Ridlon is general counsel and director of Legal Services at the Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust. Mr. Ridlon has been involved with United Cerebral Palsy on the state and national level for over 15 years.  On the state level, he has been the Board Chair for several terms and has also chaired two other non-profit organizations created by the affiliate that provide independent living facilities for low income individuals with developmental disabilities. On the national level, he has previously served on the Board of Trustees and is a recipient of the 2004 Chairperson’s Award.  He has also served on numerous committees and was previously the chair of the nominating committee and the by-laws committee. and has served as a Board member for UCP of Rhode Island

·       Mark Boles will serve as the organization’s treasurer.  He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation at Frisco (Texas). With nearly 30 years experience as a healthcare executive, he has been involved with United Cerebral Palsy on the local, state, and national levels for more than 20 years, having received the Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year Award in 2003 and the UCP Chairman’s Award in 2004.

·       Pamela Talkin will serve as secretary of the Board of Trustees.  Talkin was sworn in on July 16, 2001 as the tenth Marshal of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Talkin is the first woman to hold the position. She was elected to UCP Board of Trustees in 2011.

New Members

These new leaders are joined by five new distinguished Trustees who were elected at UCP’s international conference this past April.  They include:

·       Michael Burke Jr., a co-founder and principal of Thrive Office, an innovative, shared workplace community based in New York City.

·       Ruth Gullerud, who retired in May as the Executive Director of UCP of West Central Wisconsin, in Eau Claire, where she has worked since 1977.

·       Melvin “Chip” Hurley, an executive with Berkeley Research Group, LLC, and former chair of the board of UCP of Central Maryland.

·       Linda Maguire, co-founder and consultant with Maguire Associates, a research-based consulting firm that has served educational clients around the world for the past 29 years. She is currently the vice chair of UCP MetroBoston and has received much recognition for her work with the UCP network.

·       Rob White, the Chief Executive Officer of Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney, Australia, who has decades of leadership experience in global civil rights movement for people with disabilities.

“We are grateful to these new officers and Trustees for agreeing to serve United Cerebral Palsy in such an important leadership role,” Bennett said.  “Our Trustees are one of the main reasons that UCP is able to serve hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities each year, and we are excited to begin a new year with their leadership contributions.”

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