People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) need robust support and rights in order to live the lives they choose and have a good quality of life. None of that is possible without the passion and power of service professionals and advocates. In late July, The Arc brought together over 250 people in the IDD field in sunny Las Vegas for our Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). SLI is an intimate conference where leaders and rising stars can network and develop their careers, programs and organizations to serve their community better and adapt to emerging changes.
It’s also an excellent opportunity for The Arc’s chapter network and other disability organizations to mentor and learn from up-and-coming leaders bringing fresh perspectives to the field. Most importantly, SLI is a welcoming space for growth and camaraderie that helps people refuel to keep the fight for inclusion of the IDD community going strong.
While there is always a focus on the latest threats and opportunities in disability rights and services, we also work hard to bring speakers with inspiring ideas that help attendees shift their mindsets and grow in their effectiveness. These sessions were particularly thought-provoking and timely:
- Russell Lehmann, an internationally recognized motivational speaker, poet, author and Board Member for The Arc of the United States, gave a powerful presentation on “Inclusion: Not Just ‘in’ the Community But ‘of’ the Community.” Russell challenged assumptions on what true inclusion means and gave a glimpse into how he experiences our society as an autistic person. His takeaway: it’s not just about inviting people with IDD into our spaces; it’s about us wanting to be a part of their spaces, as well.
- Kevin MacDonald, CEO of Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, spoke about “Building Relationships – The Arc Way,” stressing that being a leader is all about relationships, not just relationships with people in high places. His takeaway: a simple conversation may turn into a lifelong friendship.
- Hassan Abdulhaqq, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Development and Engagement at AHRC Nassau, closed the conference with a lively talk on “Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the Workplace.” He gave practical tips on how to engage employees better and promote a healthy, positive working environment.
There is truly something for everyone at The Arc’s events. We hope you’ll join us for the educational and social event of the year, The Arc’s National Convention, taking place November 6-8, 2023, in New Orleans. We have a unique lineup of thought leaders from across the disability community and can’t-miss networking events that bring together professionals, self-advocates and family members. Register by September 15th at thearc.org/convention to get our early-bird rates!