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Board Update

At our recent annual Membership Meeting, we were excited to announce the newly elected Executive Committee members of The Arc of Illinois board for FY24: Kimberly L. Johnson, President; Randall Ramey, CPA, Treasurer; Vincent Smith, Director At Large; and Leanne Mull, MHA, Immediate Past President. Continuing in the role of Vice President is Kim Zoeller and Amy Newell will remain Secretary. We are grateful to Tavarus Wesley for his service as Executive Committee Member-at-Large.

In addition, we thank the following board members who are cycling off the board for their service to Illinoisians with IDD and their families through voluntary board service:  Emily Bryan (6 years), Benji Rubin (9 years), Melanie Stith (4 years), & Lieke van Heumen (5 years).

We appreciate the support of our membership – both individual, chapter and organizational affiliates – which affords us the opportunity to advocate locally and in Springfield. Join us today!

Personnel Changes

Congratulations to former Illinois Life Span Information and Outreach Specialist, Erica Stearns, on her new role as a Home Care Family Outreach Associate, which will allow her to provide specialized support to families of children receiving home care services through the Division of Specialized Care for Children. As a result of this incredible opportunity, we are hiring for a Southern Illinois Resource Specialist. Please visit our Job Opportunities board to learn about opportunities both at The Arc of Illinois and elsewhere.

Visit to Individual Advocacy Group

Recently, Meaghan Sitar (summer intern) and I had the pleasure of being hosted at the Individual Advocacy Group, an organizational affiliate of The Arc of Illinois, by Charlene Bennett, Ed.D. While there we learned about program offerings at IAG and got to meet Mr. Stanley Ligas and hear first-hand about his experience transitioning from into CILA. Thank you, Mr. Ligas, for your continued leadership.


Image description: Meaghan Sitar, Dr. Charlene Bennett, Stanley Ligas, and Amie Lulinski stand together, smiling, arm in arm in front of a wall with the Individual Advocacy Group logo on it.

Loyola University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry Resident Graduation

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Loyola University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry’s Resident Graduation ceremony. As mentioned previously, The Arc of Illinois, along with UIC/IDHD’s Susan Kahan, MA, LCPC, has been partnering with the Department of Psychiatry Residency Training Program Director, Theodote K. Pontikes, MD, MBA-HCM, DFAACAP, DFAPA, FACLP, to deliver a six-week seminar to psychiatric residents about the intersection of IDD and a cooccurring mental health diagnosis. We were delighted to meet psychiatric residents who have an interest in treating patients with IDD because of their own experiences with IDD as family members and volunteers. We look forward to continuing this partnership to increase the number of psychiatrists who have competency treating the IDD community.


Image description: Two smiling women (L – Theodote Pontikes, R – Amie Lulinski) standing in front of a banner with the Loyola Medical school logo on it in white on a maroon background.


It’s officially Fiscal Year 2024! Last Friday, June 30, Governor JB Pritzker signed 155 bills into law. The following list of bills have been signed by the Governor:

Bill Number: HB 2248 Description: Creates the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act. This restores civil rights protections under State law that have been or may be denied in the future at the Federal level. Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: HB 3224 Description: Students with disabilities and their parents must be provided with information about the availability of dual credit courses. Effective: Immediately

Bill Number: HB 3680 Description: Extra accommodations during emergencies at school may be taken into account when developing a student’s IEP or 504 plan. The bill changes the School Safety Drill Act to provide that when making decisions about lockdown drills, the student’s IEP or 504 plan team shall be included in the decision-making process. Effective: January 1, 2024

Bill Number: SB 2247 Description: Any entity may make a contribution to an ABLE account and it may also be referred to as the “Senator Scott Bennett ABLE Program” Effective: Immediately

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about our advocacy at The Arc of Illinois? Please reach out to me at sabrina@thearcofil.org.


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Partner with us to receive many benefits, training, and support of our mission through ongoing advocacy efforts. 


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July is Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month is a chance to unapologetically celebrate ourselves just the way we are. The Disability Pride Month Flag was created as an outward symbol of identity and resilience. Join The Arc of Illinois to celebrate our differences not just this month – but every month!



Speakers Interested in Presenting a Breakout Session at the 2023 Speak Up and Speak Out Summit

The Arc of Illinois is in the beginning planning stages for the 2023 Speak Up and Speak Out Summit (SUSO) funded by the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities to be held October 5-6, 2023. We are looking for people or small groups of people interested in sharing their experiences and expertise on topics such as community living, employment, personal choice and other topics of importance to people with disabilities. 

This year the theme is “Building a Better Future Together” and will focus on providing attendees with information to help empower them to use their voice to make positive choices and changes in their life. 

Below are the directions and information you need to send to us a proposal. Please submit your proposal to Kim Swanson at The Arc of Illinois, 9980 190th Street, Suite C, Mokena, IL 60448, or kim@thearcofil.org no later than July 7, 2023. Call Kim at 815-464-1832 x 1024 if you have any questions on the proposal process, topics or the deadline.

We look forward to your participation at the Speak up and Speak Out Summit 2023.

This event is funded by the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.



This communication is supported in part by grant number CFDA 93.630 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.


Mark your calendars for The Arc of Illinois Health Care Coverage Options and Benefits Conference

The Family to Family Health Information Center is pleased to present another popular virtual webinar on Health Care Coverage Options and Benefits on September 14, 2023.

Stay tuned for details and registration.

Illinois Secretary of State Services (SOS) for Persons with Disabilities

The audience will learn about the services for Persons with Disabilities provided by the office of IL Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulia.

Presented by Mr. William "Bill" Bogdan - Disability Liaison






Testing an Advocacy Program for Latino Families of Transition-Aged Youth with Autism

There is testing for the feasibility and effectiveness of a 24 hour advocacy program for Spanish-speaking, Latino families of youth with autism. During the program, up to 50 families will learn about adult disability services (e.g., vocational rehabilitative services, special needs trusts, housing, Medicaid waivers, and more) as well as develop advocacy skills. You may attend the program in the fall of 2023 or the spring of 2024. The program will be delivered over zoom for 2-hour sessions over 12 weeks.

We are asking participants to:

  • Complete three surveys about their advocacy, knowledge of disability services, empowerment, and unmet service needs
  • Complete a short evaluation at the end of each session and at the end of the entire program about the program

Please consider participating in this study if you are:

(a)  A parent and/or caregiver of a child (aged 12 and older with autism) (b)  Older than 18 years of age and live in Illinois AND (c) Identify as Latino and Spanish-speaking

In appreciation for your time, you will receive up to three $20 giftcards for participating in this study. Specifically, you will receive $20 after completing the pre-survey and attending the first session. Participants will receive $20 after completing the post-survey and the last session. Finally, you will receive a $20 giftcard after completing the six-month follow-up survey.  

For the flyer in English click here. For the flyer in Spanish, click here.

If you are interested in participating, go to the survey here:


If you have difficulty with the link or QR code, you can 

contact: Meghan Burke, meghanbm@illinois.edu, (217)300-1226

Virtual Future is Now (VFIN) Research Study

Online future planning for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) & their families for Illinois

Are you worried about what will happen to your loved one as you get older? Do you find the process of planning for the future overwhelming?

If yes, you might be eligible to join the VFIN research study, which is testing the effectiveness of an online future planning training at the University of Illinois Chicago for adults with IDD & their families in Illinois.

The VFIN research study will randomly assign families to be part of the intervention or control group. All family caregivers and adults with IDD will complete pre- and post- tests.

  • Families assigned to the intervention group will receive a 6-week training with weekly 1.5 hour Zoom classes from August 7- September 11, 2023 on Mondays and two Wednesdays from 7-8:30 pm CT.
  • Families assigned to the control group will receive access to the self-paced materials after the post-test is completed.

Learn more by visiting our website: https://sites.google.com/view/vfin-uic 

To participate, please fill out the form: https://uic.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5dukbZuT2l43TZs or contact Katie at: 312-996-1002 or kkeiling@uic.edu

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