UCP Guides Affiliates, Partners & Allies Through New Approach to Serving People with Disabilities to Achieve Full Inclusion, at Annual Conference


Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114, lcozzi@ucp.org
Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168, akubertsmith@ucp.org

UCP Guides Affiliates, Partners & Allies through New Approach to Serving People with Disabilities to Achieve Full Inclusion, at Annual Conference 


Attendees explore new thinking about research, education, employment and services


Washington, DC (May 15, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) guided its affiliates, partners and allies to transitioning to a new approach to serving people with disabilities, during the 2012 UCP Annual Conference, themed Transitioning to Tomorrow, April 25-28 in Washington, DC. The conference explored new ways of thinking in research, education, employment and services in order to create a better future for people with disabilities.


  • More than 150 participants–UCP affiliates, partners and allies–gathered in Washington, DC to tackle a new approach to successfully serve people with disabilities.
  • UCP presented Awards for Excellence to nine recipients, including affiliates, individuals and companies, whose exceptional activities, achievements and dedication exemplify the UCP mission, along with the help of three actors:
    1. Emmy-nominated actress Cheryl Hines, a UCP Celebrity Ambassador and member of the UCP Board of Trustees;
    2. Actress Meredith Eaton, known for her breakout role in the ABC hit series Boston Legal, and granddaughter of one of UCP’s founders, Nina Eaton; &
    3. Actor RJ Mitte, a UCP Celebrity Ambassador, known for his role as Walter White Jr. in the Emmy-nominated AMC drama Breaking Bad.
  • Five new members were appointed to UCP’s national Board of Trustees.
  • Photos are on Facebook, and information is online.

Press releases that follow:

  1. UCP Presents Awards for Excellence at 2012 Annual Conference

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 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.



Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114, Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168, 

UCP Presents Awards for Excellence at 2012 Annual Conference 

Recognizes exceptional activities, achievements and dedication to
exemplify the UCP mission

Washington, DC (May 15, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) presented the Awards for Excellence at UCP’s 2012 Annual Conference, last week in Washington, DC. The Awards for Excellence are presented annually to UCP affiliates, individuals and companies whose exceptional activities, achievements and dedication exemplify the UCP mission to educate, advocate and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities.

“UCP is proud to honor leaders in advancing the civil rights movement by promoting full inclusion for people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, former UCP President & Chief Executive Officer. “The Awards for Excellence are a tradition that UCP take seriously; the winners truly help make UCP’s mission a reality by advancing independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a spectrum of disabilities.”

The eight 2012 UCP Awards for Excellence were presented to the following nine recipients at the Opening Reception and the Awards for Excellence dinner and presentation, during the Annual Conference, themed Transitioning to Tomorrow.

  1. The 2012 Kathleen O. Maul Leadership Award was presented to Rick Forkosh, Executive Director of UCP Heartland, for his leadership and strong commitment to UCP. The award is presented to an exceptional executive director in memory of Kathy Maul, a remarkable executive director at UCP of Suffolk who died young and left a legacy of leadership ability and strong commitment to UCP. Forkosh received a painting by artist, Maurice “Mo” Higgs, as part of Art Enables, a studio and gallery in Washington, DC for emerging artists with developmental disabilities.Forkosh began his career working in the disability field in 1979, managing a group home with eight men. Soon later, he was promoted to Assistant Director of Residential Services, until 1983, when he joined UCP’s St. Louis affiliate–now UCP Heartland–in as Director of Adult Services. Forkosh was appointed Executive Director in 1985, and since then, the agency’s $750,000 budget now has around $9.75 million under management. UCP Heartland has won several awards at the local, state and national level for some of its new and innovative programs and supports under Forkosh’s leadership and has been continuously accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for the past 30 years.

    “It is clear that Rick has proven leadership ability, but what about Rick the man?” asked former UCP President & CEO, Stephen Bennett, during the Opening Reception at the 2012 Annual Conference. “His peers would call him passionate about the mission, tenacious about civil rights, a formidable executive with a dry sense of humor, and a gentle giant of a man who loves a good debate! I remember one Monday morning years ago, calling Rick to touch base, and when I asked how Rick was doing, he explained he wasn’t so well. It turned out that he had been up driving UCP clients around all Sunday evening after an agency had closed, and he was trying to find them a place to sleep. You don’t hear about type of dedication often, and Rick is a UCP executive who has dedicated his life to helping people with disabilities, no matter the circumstance.”

  2. The 2012 Chair Award was presented to The Medtronic Foundation, and is given to an individual, organization or company whose impact and support for UCP and its mission is deemed exemplary by the national Board of Trustees Chair. The Medtronic Foundation received a painting by artist, Darnell Curtis, as part of Art Enables.Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation stand as a model of aligning corporate philanthropy with the needs of the real people they serve. Medtronic has a long-time commitment to innovation, pushing the boundaries of medical technology to transform the lives of people with disabilities and chronic disease. The company’s sponsorship of the Medtronic Foundation and its work has created strong supports for patients and families, including many in the UCP network. Through programs like PatientLink, the Medtronic Foundation builds awareness, educates and advocates on behalf of patients and their families, to improve the lives of people living with chronic disease and disabilities.

    “UCP has been proud to partner with Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation to bring vital resources to people that need them most,” remarked Bruce Merlin Fried, Chair of UCP’s national Board of Trustees, during the Opening Reception at the 2012 Annual Conference. “We are grateful for Medtronic’s foundational support of our programs, including My Child Without Limits and now Brave Kids.”

  3. The 2012 Ritter Legacy Award was presented to UCP of Maine for its monthly YouTube UCP NEWS broadcast. The award honors an affiliate that has produced exemplary communications through a variety of media that increase public awareness about people with disabilities, the programs of the affiliate and the national UCP brand through the use of the official UCP logo, colors and messaging.UCP NEWS was created with a goal to share news and information related to UCP of Maine’s agency and mission, on both local and national levels, expanding the UCP message in ways that would otherwise be impossible. Utilizing the popular YouTube media platform, UCP NEWS has the ability to reach people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, friends, neighbors and even elected officials online. Because of UCP NEWS, UCP of Maine is able to raise awareness and advocate in a more modern way, reaching across many generations.
  4. The 2012 Nina Eaton Program of the Year Award was presented to UCP of San Luis Obispo County for its CIP Tours program, resulting from its extraordinary contribution to the quality of life of people with disabilities, enabling individuals served to become more independent, productive or integrated into the family or community.CIP Tours is a program that allows adults with disabilities to have inclusive vacation experiences. There are 12 big trips each year, which have included Disneyland, San Diego, Las Vegas, Jamaica, Alaska and many Participants save money in advance and participate in the trip planning, and support staff is trained to promote full independence and inclusion of all participants. CIP Tours CIP Tours provides a true vacation experience for individuals with disabilities.

    Nina Eaton was one of UCP’s founding members and passed away only a few weeks ago. Nina’s granddaughter, Meredith Eaton–a movie and television actress, known for her breakout role in the ABC series Boston Legal and the movie Unconditional Love–attended the Awards for Excellence to present the award in honor of her late grandmother.

    Speaking about her grandmother, Meredith Eaton, remarked, “Nana frequently spoke about her wish for a more accessible world for the disabled community. Imbued with a sense of compassion and determination, she always felt there was still so much more to do… Her imprint on this organization is ever lasting and the stories that we all have about this gorgeous, white haired lady with the effervescent smile and humanistic spirit will live on in our hearts forever.”

  5. The 2012 Outstanding Youth Award was presented to Brooke Arnold, nominated by UCP of Baton Rouge, for significantly enhancing the lives of people with disabilities through care giving, volunteerism, advocacy, innovation or fundraising.Arnold has been an unwavering supporter for families of children with disabilities served by the UCP of Baton Rouge for nine years — quite a feat considering she is only 19 years old. As an individual with a disability, Arnold uses her experiences overcoming challenges to inspire and encourage those around her. She has formed and participated in support groups for parents and individuals with disabilities and even started her own popular Facebook support group called CP and Me. Arnold has volunteered at UCP of Baton Rouge’s Capably Arts program, co-led a Siblings group, spoken as part of a fundraising appeal at an annual breakfast event, and participated in UCP of Baton Rouge’s 5K Run, Walk & Roll. She even secured a grant from the Clay Aiken Foundation for a wheelchair accessible swing for a local playground. Arnold changes perceptions of people with disabilities by living her life with an unparalleled “can do” positive attitude, increasing CP awareness in her community and becoming a role model for others.
  6. The 2012 Universal Accessibility Design Award was presented to Patrick Baechle of Baechle & Associates, for designing the Alleghenies UCP Blair County Community Service Center. The award is presented to an individual, business, government or governmental agency that has provided leadership developing a universally accessible environment by creating new tools modifying the environment, enhancing independent living or achieving a barrier-free environment.The Center was designed beyond meeting building codes and ADA accessible standards by Baechle & Associates to make a more enjoyable environment for those who strive for dignity and independence while living with a disability.

    Enhanced features were incorporated to accommodate those with special needs, particularly those who have difficulty interpreting and reacting to sensory information, reaching and manipulation disabilities and poor coordination abilities. Some of these features include additional room in corridors for large wheelchair turning, exceptionally spacious restrooms with simple push button locks and door openers, a strobe light fire alarm system, impact resistant walls, an accessible kitchenette, a vehicle canopy and a curbless sidewalk at the drop off area.

    These and other planned facility improvements show creativity and innovation while exceeding the accessibility standards. Because of the insight put in to the facility’s design, the final product meets the needs of multiple generations and multiple facets of the community, including those with and without disabilities.

    The community center provides a fully accessible space for Alleghenies UCP programming, training and public events, including assistive technology demonstrations and training, certified personal care aide training, consumer art workshops, computer classes for individuals with disabilities utilizing available adaptive equipment, consumer cooking classes and many more community supported social clubs, entertainment events, support groups, public gatherings and trainings.

    “Thanks to the work of Pat Baechle, the Alleghenies UCP Blair County Community Service Center furthers the UCP mission to support individuals with disabilities, and the center supports community needs by treating all persons with respect and raises public awareness for the need to accessible facilities,” said Bruce Merlin Fried, Chair of UCP’s national Board of Trustees, before presenting Baechle with his award, during the Awards for Excellence dinner and presentation.

  7. The 2012 the Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year Award honors exceptional individuals who, through volunteering, has made an outstanding contribution to UCP. 2012 had so many exceptional nominations that the Awards Committee chose two recipients.The first awardee was Tim Noonan, nominated by UCP Central Pennsylvania. Noonan has donated more than 1,600 hours of service over 10 years to the betterment of the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania’s Perry and Cumberland counties. Noonan is the co-founder and co-chair of the Cumberland-Perry Residential Task Force, an initiative seeking residential solutions for people with intellectual disabilities. He worked to expand the scope of the Task Force to include Employment and Respite services and secured funds so these essential programs are provided to families at minimal cost. As a result of his hard work and determination, more than 120 individuals were placed in one of 15 new group homes, 12 apartments and in family living arrangements. Many other people received the support they needed to live fuller lives in their community, receive job training and placement and support transitioning from school to adult life.

    The second Ethel Hausman award recipient is Micki James from UCP of the Inland Empire. James has been a UCP volunteer for more than 60 years. Along with her late-husband Dennis James, she played an integral part in UCP’s history, and her impact has been incredible. Her son, Brad James, accepted the award on her behalf.

  8. The 2012 Life Without Limits Award was presented to Bonnie Peterson, nominated by UCP of Central California, as an individual with disabilities who has demonstrated leadership and achievement of such caliber as to be a significant role model to individuals with and without disabilities.Peterson was born in 1949, when children with disabilities were not encouraged to expect to have lives as full productive citizens. However, Peterson gracefully overcame every obstacle that came her way. She built a life that included a marriage of more than 40 years. She and her late husband lived their lives as full citizens, and they educated their community to the reality that people with disabilities are simply people.

    Peterson is a mother, a grandmother, a business owner and an active community volunteer, whose compassion and care seemingly know no limits. She is also a published author. In We Climbed Every Mountain, Bonnie shares with the world what it has been like to live her life as a person with a disability. She describes in her book, and exemplifies in her journey through life, that no obstacle is too great no matter what the odds against one may be. Bonnie has not just accomplished ordinary things in extraordinary ways, but she has taken hold of the extraordinary and made is part of an ordinary, “just like any other person” kind of life.


Individuals who volunteered significant time with UCP affiliates were also recognized as Victory 100 winners. In 2011, Victory 100 winners included 182 volunteers from 13 UCP affiliates, who volunteered a total of 28,120 hours. Each volunteer dedicated at least 100 hours of service by participating on a board, assisting in fundraising activities, and performing other needed volunteer work.



Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114, Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168, 

UCP Elects Five New Members to National Board

New cohort brings depth in changing landscape for people with disabilities

Washington, DC
 (May 15, 2012) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) elected five new members to its Board of Trustees during its 2012 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, including the following:

  • Michael A. Burke, Jr. is a co-founder and principal of Thrive Office, a newly formed innovative, shared workplace community based in New York City, focusing on emerging trends in the workplace based on the evolving preferences of a new generation of workers. His background is in commercial real estate and direct sales. Previously, Burke worked in the commercial office brokerage business in the Washington, DC metro region for Cassidy Turley and Avison Young. Burke has a personal relationship with the disability community as his youngest brother has CP.  Throughout his professional career, he has been actively involved in multiple philanthropic organizations centered on disability issues and advocacy, and was a key component in founding ABLE, UCP’s young professionals outreach program.
  • Ruth Gullerud is retiring this month as Executive Director of UCP of West Central Wisconsin, where she has worked since 1977. Previously, Gullerud was an advocate and guidance counselor with the Women’s Community Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; a member of the Wisconsin State Board for People with Disabilities, a member of the Wisconsin Exceptional Education Council for Department of Public Instruction, and a member of the Board of the Accreditation Council on Services for People with Disabilities. Gullerud currently serves on the Eau Claire County Advisory Committee on Specialized Transportation and the Wisconsin Alliance for Self-Determination.  A recipient of several outstanding leadership and management awards, Ruth had the pleasure of hosting the Ruth Gullerud Show, focused on the world through challenges of disability.
  • Melvin “Chip” Hurley has over 30 years of healthcare and management experience in accounting, auditing and consulting with two “Big 4” professional services firms (18 years at E&Y and four years at PwC); two national consulting firms (nine years at Navigant Consulting and currently at Berkeley Research Group, LLC); and three years corporate management experience with Helix Health, a five-hospital integrated healthcare delivery system. He has extensive experience in leading hospital improvement projects, supporting mergers and acquisitions of hospitals, providing litigation support, and conducting audits of hospitals. Hurley previously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of UCP of Central Maryland, and as a licensed CPA, FHFMA, Hurley currently serves as Chair of UCP’s Audit Committee.
  • Linda Cox Maguire has been a consultant at Maguire Associates since 1985 where she leads initiatives in global markets and heads up projects across company service lines. She began her career in the corporate world, before she returned to higher education where she served in leadership positions in admissions for nine years. Maguire chaired the Board of Trustees at Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., is corporator at a local hospital, and is currently vice president of the Board of Directors for UCP of Metro Boston, of which she has also been past president. Maguire received her bachelor’s degree from Douglass College of Rutgers University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Boston College.
  • Rob White is Chief Executive Officer of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, a UCP affiliate based in Sydney, Australia. With 26 years of service with the organization, and 12 as CEO, White has a deep appreciation of the key issues that face service providers, government, clients and families. Cerebral Palsy Alliance was the first international affiliate of UCP. Since 2005, the affiliate’s Research Foundation to raise funds to promote international research into prevention of and cure for CP, raising over $23 million (AUD) and approved $4.9 million (AUD) in research grants to international researchers in the field of cerebral palsy, to date. White has been an active member of the National Disability Services New South Wales State Committee for 11 years, previously held the position of President of Cerebral Palsy Australia, and has sat on a number of state and national committees serving the interests of service providers in the disability field. White has a Masters in Psychology and an MBA.

Coming off the national board at the end of the fiscal year on September 30 are Bruce Merlin Fried, Board Chair; Michael Burke Sr., Vice Treasurer; and Cheryl Hines, who will remain in her capacity as UCP Celebrity Ambassador. All plan to remain very engaged with UCP support, advocacy and events.

To view UCP’s Board of Trustees, please visit ucp.org/about/board.

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Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114, Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168, akubertsmith@ucp.org
Ned Semonite: 978-831-3195, nsemonite@vgocom.com

VGo and UCP Demo Advanced Assistive Control Solutions
Robotic Telepresence

Organizations have partnered to develop new tools for people with disabilities to expand their independence

Nashua, NH & Washington, DC,
(April 26, 2012) – VGo Communications, the leader in robotic telepresence, and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) today announced a partnership to collaborate and work together to define and deliver accessibility enhancements to VGo’s robotic telepresence solution. A demonstration of prototype voice activated remote robotic telepresence driving controls will be seen by attendees of the 2012 UCP Annual Conference, Transitioning to Tomorrow, in Washington, DC.

“We saw what VGo was doing for homebound students and realized that with some usability enhancements, VGo could be a dramatic life altering tool for many people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, former UCP President and CEO. “Imagine the opportunities and quality of life improvements for people who currently cannot go places because their disability prevents access or makes it too expensive. UCP is excited to be working with VGo to make this technology available to people with disabilities so they can live life without limits.”

“We’re very excited about jointly developing specific usability enhancements for people served by United Cerebral Palsy,” said Peter N. Vicars, CEO of VGo. “Our users today find controlling a VGo with their computer mouse or keyboard keys very easy, but indeed not everyone can use a computer in a traditional way.  We know how impactful VGo has been for students that are homebound and can’t go to school.  Soon VGo can be available to other disabled people so they can move around in a distant place without first having to get themselves there.”

For more information about VGo, visit www.vgocom.com.

About VGo
VGo Communications, Inc. develops and markets visual communications solutions for the workplace. The company was founded in 2007 by experienced successful veterans of the visual communications and robotics industries. VGo has leveraged the recent trends of widespread wireless high speed networks, lower specialized component costs and the universal acceptance of video as a communications medium to become the Robotic Telepresence market leader.

With the VGo solution, an individual’s presence is replicated in a distant location such that they can interact and perform their job in ways not previously possible. Now they can see, be seen, hear, be heard and move around in any remote facility –just as if they were there. VGo enables: healthcare providers to deliver lower cost services and improved quality of care, businesses to increase productivity of remote and travelling employees, and homebound students to attend school – all with a great user experience and at an affordable price.

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