Who We Are

Who We Are

The mission of the CDDC is to advocate in collaboration with and on behalf of people with developmental disabilities for the establishment and implementation of public policy which will further their independence, productivity, and integration.

Change it Anyway

Changing systems can be frustrating, confusing
and time consuming;
Strive to change them anyway.

If you speak out for change,
they may accuse you of being self-serving;
Speak out anyway.

If you make changes that work,
they may pretend to be an ally or persist with attacks;
Make change anyway.

If you make honest attempts at change,
they may undermine your efforts;
Attempt change anyway.

What you spend years developing,
they may undo overnight;
Develop it anyway.

If your innovations are successful,
they may be jealous;
Innovate anyway.

The progress you achieve today,
they may forget tomorrow;
Make progress anyway.

Create positive change the best that you can,
and it may never be enough;
Give it the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and the person relying on the system;
It was never between you and them anyway.

This is dedicated to all those involved in changing human service systems to work better for people that rely on them for support.
Adapted by Michael Steinbruck from The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith and Do it Anyway by Mother Theresa.

Announcing the Recipients of the Dan B. Davidson Annual Awards for Excellence in Inclusion, July 24, 2013

These awards recognize outstanding examples of inclusion of people with disabilities, and honor Dan Davidson, who died in 1996 at the age of forty-one. Defying the odds, Davidson had followed his dream of living independently in the community. To celebrate his spirit and memory, the Developmental Disabilities Council recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated visionary practices providing exemplary supports for people with disabilities leading to meaningful lives in their neighborhoods and communities.

The Dan B. Davidson Awards are an annual event to recognize both individuals and agencies that have gone beyond the usual, provided ethical leadership, and have participated in cutting edge experiences.  Sadly, the practices are typically based on the person, and tend to fade when the person leaves.  However, for the time individuals are present, they have had great impact on an individual or a practice or policy.  The following individuals and agencies fit the above criteria.

Awards were given to individuals, agencies or organizations that have demonstrated visionary practices providing exemplary service and supports for people with disabilities that lead to inclusion as active and valued members of their communities.  With these awards, the Council recognizes outstanding examples of inclusion in the following categories:

  • Education  
  • Employment
  • Inclusion in Community

Awardees were recognized at the Council's annual celebration on July 24, 2013. Awardees were honored for their efforts with a $500 honorarium.

Excellence in Employment

Katie Taliercio was nominated by Nathan Anderson for her work on a new website that gives people of ALL abilities the opportunity to use a video resume to tell their employment story.  The site is not exclusive to disability, but is an inclusive tool in which anyone can host their personal story and resume.  This is a reflection of Katie's tireless desire to find employment for those she works with as well as her heart for an inclusive community. 

Larry Ruiz Excellence in Inclusion in Community

Peer mentors at Boulder High, nominated by Anastasia Lawhead, are an amazing group of students under the direction of teacher Pilar Chissell who facilitates peer interactions and friendships in which Anastasia's son Jesse, participated.  It was Jesse's best year ever and several of the mentors have developed genuine friendships that have continued during non-school time.  "One of the mentors who is very brainy said he never had very high regard for the 'in group' at Boulder High until he observed a few of them interacting with my son."  

Belly Belles, a dance group of fifty participants, was nominated by Marilyn, Mike and Annie Green for their positive inclusion of Annie Green in their belly dancing troupe.  At a recent fundraising dance event, the director mapped out who would be 'spotting' Annie in each number they performed.  Relationships have formed in the group and two members are now part of Annie's circle of support.  When Annie dances with the group there is no paid support involved.  She is simply a part of a group of women who all support each other.

Ellie Valdez Honeyman Excellence in Education

Mesa View Elementary School in Grand Junction was nominated by Lewis Jackson for their inclusion practices as well as positive behavior support practices.  The once segregated special education classroom now has the students participating much or most of the day in general education with large gains in educational progress, again attesting to the power of inclusion to achieve results. Watch the news story about the school-wide assembly at which the award was presented in October 2013.

Phylis Fagrelius, dance coach at Ouray High School, was nominated by Rick Noll, parent of Joe.  The Ouray dance team performs at each of the home basketball games and is an important part of the community.  Phylis taught Joe how to take his passion for dance and fit it into a team performance.  With Phylis' vision, Joe was coaching to full and equal participation on the team, enhancing his self-esteem, and providing an opportunity for Joe to demonstrate that he is a member of the school community, and a young man with much to contribute to the broader Ouray community. 


Faith Gross of the Legal Center in Denver nominated by Julie Reiskin, for her work on voting rights and accessible voting.

Mitch McKinney and Loren Blakely nominated by Barry Rosenberg for their commitment to living independently in the community.

Diane Holscher nominated by Renee Walbert for her long commitment to families via her work with Parent to Parent of Colorado. 

Ed Arnold nominated by Gerrie Frohne, Denver Fox, Sheryle Hutter and PADCO for his work in getting the Home Care Allowance reinstated in Colorado. 

Mark Simon nominated by Julie Reiskin for his many years of work in the legislative arena on a totally voluntary basis. 

The Grand Junction office of the Legal Center nominated by Beth Wills and Reggie Jaramillo for their strong advocacy in getting Beth Wills out of a nursing home and living back in the community.

Darren and Jim Eisman of Racing Underground nominated by Kathy Leszcynski for their inclusiveness in many racing events on the front range, including the tandem riding of Kathy and her son, Jason.

Jeanie Benfield nominated by Kristin Castor of Pueblo for her subtle approaches to changing systems on a day by day basis with her individual and collective actions.

Mariah Waldvogle nominated by Patricia Archuleta for her role as a host home provider who has gone beyond common supports to include participation of Jake in the local radio station as a DJ on the "Jakariah Show". 

The Fall 2013 Newsletter, 
Between the Lines
, is available now.

Click here for the newsletter, or 
call the Council at (720) 941-0176 to have a copy mailed to you.

The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
 is seeking applications for membership on the Council 

The Council seeks applications throughout the year from interested citizens of Colorado.  Appointments by the Governor are generally made effective July 1 of any year, but can be made at any time during the year when a Council member resigns their position.

Click here for the biographical sketch and application form for Governor appointment to the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, and  for additional  information about Council membership.  

About the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council:

The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council is a 24-member body appointed by the Governor to advise the Governor and General Assembly on matters affecting persons with developmental disabilities under the federal definition.  United States Public Law No. 106-402 (the Developmental Disabilities Act) mandated creation of a Council on Developmental Disabilities in each state and in all U.S. possessions and territories.  The CDDC was established in 1977. The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council functions independently, advocating for the development and implementation of public policy to further the independence, self-determination and community inclusion of Coloradoans with developmental disabilities.

Check Upcoming Events for information on conferences and events 
in Colorado and around the nation.

The Council meets every other month, and the meetings are open to the public. Please join us! Click here for a schedule of upcoming Council meetings.

Grant Projects and Activities
Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council 

Council Grants:

Community Organizing in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Counties

Thepurpose of the community organizing grant is to fund community organizing efforts that result in an increased sense of community and security among citizens, a strengthened power base of citizens, and the active and meaningful inclusion of all citizens in efforts to solve community-identified problems in rural communities outside the Denver metro area.  The focus of the project is to have individuals with disabilities integrate into existing areas of community organizing or activities as they currently exist.  The goal is to move individuals with disabilities who are isolated and often only interact with paid staff, from the role of client to that of community partner and citizen.  Collaboration with non-disability groups is critical to the grant.  Recipients of Council funds are expected to include people with all types of disabilities in natural proportions to the overall community population in order to create and/or improve community coalitions whose purpose is to design and implement solutions to community -identified problems.

The Community Organizing in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Counties grant is one of five projects employing various strategies for community organizing, funded by the Council.  It is the single project designed to connect individuals with disabilities to typical neighborhood activities and organizing efforts.  The grantee, the Valley Settlement Project (VSP) shall address the social isolation of certain members of the community as well as the reliance on paid providers as a surrogate for true social interaction.

The Valley Settlement Project shall identify and cultivate community partners to develop and support community-based coalitions and informal partnerships that will reduce the social isolation of ten individuals by including them in community coalitions in the three counties of Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties.  

Community Transportation Solutions

The purpose of these grants is to fund community transportation solutions that support the mission of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, and that are conducted by local coordinators in two communities throughout Colorado. Collaboration with non-disability groups is critical to the grant, with developmental disability as a secondary issue to the need for a variety of community groups to collaborate in addressing community transportation issues. Readily accessible and extensive transportation is difficult to find where transportation networks have been developed, and impossible in many areas in Colorado where networks are not developed. Many communities have found that local and community-derived solutions are more cost-effective and user friendly than more formalized programs funded by state and federal dollars. Recipients of Council funds have identified and cultivated community partnerships that include people with and without developmental and other disabilities in order to create and/or improve community coalitions whose purpose is to design and implement their community transportation solutions. Both projects have used person- and community-centered approaches that actively and meaningfully include adults and youth with disabilities and family members in all project activities. The projects have developed Action Plans that will be implemented in the coming year. The implementation of these Action Plans will result in broadening community awareness of the need for extensive and accessible transportation options for all members of the community, including people with developmental disabilities. 

Community Transportation Solutions in Arapahoe County Colorado

Project work during the first year of the grant to the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, d/b/a Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC), included the creation of an LCC (Local Coordinating Council for Transportation Access and Mobility) for Arapahoe County, and assuring that assistive technology was available and supported, as needed, and social media and other state-of-the-art technology were incorporated in the work of the Project. Work during the second and final year of the project will include a gaps analysis to further identify and describe the needs for transportation services throughout Arapahoe County, and an expansion of the current train-the-trainer program, On the Move. Through the implementation of the Action Plan developed in the first year, DRMAC will support ongoing collaboration with community leaders and organizations, and the active inclusion of people with disabilities and family members to identify all local transportation needs and to expand and enhance transportation options for all citizens in Arapahoe County. By the end of the grant DRMAC will issue a White Paper describing the transportation issues and needs in Arapahoe County, and the LCC's role in addressing those issues and needs.

Community Transportation Solutions in Weld and northern Adams Counties

Access and Ability, in Gilcrest, Colorado, during the first year of the project, cultivated new and existing relationships to address the fact that readily accessible and extensive transportation is not available in the rural regions of Weld and northern Adams Counties. The project identified community partners in order to develop and support community-based coalitions and partnerships, and described the need for and to create transportation solutions in the region. Additionally, the project shall addresses the needs of Spanish speaking communities in the region and youth and adults with developmental disabilities and their family members. Community organizing events and focus groups that were held during the first year of the project resulted in the creation of a region-wide Action Plan. Project work during the second, and last, year of the project will include the implementation of the Action Plan. This will include the creation of rural community cells in communities along the I-25 corridor, and creating options in the Highway 85 regions for the development of community transportation solutions in and among these communities. Other project work will entail expanding outreach and advocacy efforts such that communities not yet involved with the Project are made aware of the Action Plan and outcomes of the community transportation coalition, receiving and providing training on eligibility and use of different transportation services to the community at large, analyzing and choosing a model or models for expanding or creating available transportation, and supporting community cells to look at unconventional, non-grant funded organizing of community groups to create solutions to local community needs for transportation

Investigation of Bullying in Colorado

Watch this video from The Bully Project: 

Through this grant project, OMNI Institute shall describe the types of situations in which bullying of people with developmental disabilities is most likely to occur, such as in schools, workplaces and other venues. The investigation shall also describe how bullying is defined in various contexts (cultural, social, social networking, relational, and etc.), how bullying is being monitored by a variety of entities, how and where data are being collected and distributed, and whether the range of sources of data can be compared. Finally, the grant project shall result in recommendations for further monitoring, examples of best practices and successful strategies that may be implemented.

Local Leadership Development
The Council funded three local leadership development projects for 2011-2012, and three more projects for 2012-2013. The purpose of the training is to increase project participants' knowledge and understanding of the history of the disability rights movement and the dynamics of system change in order to further social justice. Participants develop and carry out individual and community leadership projects. In addition, the Council brought the three projects to Denver for a joint session focused on engagement in the legislative and public policy processes at the State Capitol. Participants who complete the inclusive leadership development training shall have the knowledge, skills and experience to create positive system and policy changes that shall enhance and create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to further their engagement in civic activities in their community.

Local Leadership Development -- Denver metro area

The Denver Metro Community Parent Resource Center was funded for the first year of Local Leadership Development, and will continue with a new group of participants in 2012-2013.  The Denver Metro Community Parent Resource Center will conduct local inclusive leadership development for adults with developmental disabilities and family members of children with developmental disabilities from culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse populations as well as those from low socio-economic background who live in Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties, with a strong emphasis on areas in enterprise zones.  

Local Leadership Development -- Southern Colorado

For the 2011-2012 grant, Southern Colorado Developmental Disabilities Services undertook local inclusive leadership development for adults with developmental disabilities and family members of children with developmental disabilities through the integration of adult learning, popular education theories, and various topics focused on leadership development for 12-15 participants from Huerfano, Las Animas and Otero Counties in Southern Colorado. 

Local Leadership Development -- Roaring Fork Valley

Valley Life for All was funded for 2012-2013 to conduct the Local Leadership Development Project for adults with developmental disabilities and family members of children with developmental disabilities in the Roaring Fork Valley region of Colorado.  Valley Life for All will build on the community development and grassroots organizing accomplished, in part, through the Council's grant to PEAK Parent Center to conduct Taking Charge! in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Local Leadership Development -- Weld County

Access and Ability was funded for the first year of Local Leadership Development, and will continue with a new group of participants in 2012-2013. Access and Ability will conduct local inclusive leadership development for adults with developmental disabilities and family members of children with developmental disabilities from unserved and underserved populations in the region of Weld County and northern Adams County, including those residing in rural communities, Spanish speaking communities, and individuals whose disabilities affect their behavior. 

Project SEARCH in Colorado

Conducted by Employment Link, the project will replicate the essential components of Project SEARCH, which are: 

1) Lead coordinating agency that has an emphasis on business and familiarity with human resources in medium to large companies, as well as having experience with job development, coaching and follow-along for people with disabilities who have jobs in non-congregate settings; 

2) Business partner (e.g. hospital, bank, or university) that provides one classroom for 15 students and internships; 

3) Local agency partners. For example, Vocational Rehabilitation or a Center for Independent Living employs the internship support/job coaches; the school district employs the classroom teacher and recruits students; 

4) Technical Assistance from Project SEARCH consultants and the Project SEARCH curriculum; 

5) Students with disabilities and family members who are project participants shall have the opportunity to act in an advisory capacity with other project partners.  
Project SEARCH is ongoing in Aurora, Boulder and Fort Collins. In 2012-2013 Project SEARCH will expand into two more communities in Colorado.

Watch the YouTube video about Project SEARCH at Children's Hospital in Aurora.

SELN -- State Employment Leadership Network

The State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) is currently comprised of 25 states, and is co-sponsored by The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) and the University Center for Excellence for Massachusetts, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), located at the University of Massachusetts/Boston. The project is a collaborative project among the two sponsors and member states, and provides support and technical assistance to the states.  Member states' agencies that provide services and supports to people with developmental disabilities agencies have made a commitment to improving employment options and outcomes for people with disabilities and others who rely on public dollars for support.

Expected Outcomes:

The Council's funding would secure technical assistance from ICI/NASDDS to support the Division for Developmental Disabilities (DDD), the Division for Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), and other agency and community partners to:

  • Complete a comprehensive assessment of existing statewide policies and practices designed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Colorado's existing developmental disabilities employment support policies, practices and infrastructure.
  • Informed by the results of the self-assessment Colorado's SELN would prepare an annual work plan comprised of goals, objectives and activities Colorado intends to pursue in order to improve employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Colorado's SELN would also develop an employment data reporting and display system to track the progress of employment on a state-wide basis and provide data to make administrative and program decisions to enhance employment options and outcomes for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Participate in SELN-sponsored activities, such as national meetings, monthly peer-to-peer teleconferences, and the development and dissemination of issue papers.
  • At the July 25, 2012 Council meeting, the Council voted to continue membership in SELN for a second year, and to provide additional funding for travel to the annual national SELN conference for at least three people.  

Statewide Analysis of the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Colorado Public Schools

The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People (The Legal Center) has been instrumental in bringing about systemic change to impact law, regulation and practices surrounding the dangerous use of restraint and seclusion as a disciplinary measure for children with disabilities. Since 2007, The Legal Center has conducted 46 investigations. However, The Legal Center does not hear about all abusive instances of restraint, and the people of Colorado do not know how widespread the practice is. The comprehensive statewide study of the use and frequency of restraint and seclusion is necessary to enable The Legal Center, along with the Colorado Department of Education and the Council to combine resources in addressing this multifaceted problem. The expected outcomes are for recommendations for the types of training and other resources needed by schools and school districts, recommendations for more close monitoring of individual schools and districts for compliance with the law , and recommendations of legislative or policy changes or funding appropriations needed to facilitate change-over to positive behavior supports and away from the use of seclusion and restraint

WatchOur Words

CO Watch Our Words (WOW) is an in-house project of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. WOW addresses the Council's objective to support leadership training by people with disabilities and their family members for other people with disabilities and family members who may become leaders in Colorado by continuing to conduct trainings in facilitated communication. WOW members are people with disabilities, their family members and other citizens whose mission is to train other people with disabilities, family members and interested citizens to use facilitated communication as a means to advocate for themselves and to increase the visibility and active presence of people with disabilities in many arenas.  WOW's trainings have been designed and conducted by WOW members who are users of facilitated communication, with assistance from family members and others who are facilitators for FC users. WOW has modeled and encouraged leadership and participation by people with disabilities in a variety of ways, from initiating and participating in person-centered planning meetings to taking leadership positions in community organizations.

The 8-minute video of a group discussion at the 2008 Conference sponsored by the Institute on Inclusion and Communication provides valuable and entertaining background information:

The Council has supported the development of this self-advocacy group of facilitated communication users through a grant that includes payment to a coordinator.  While her role is crucial to the ongoing work of WOW, it is the WOW members who are FC users who play the key leadership roles.  What is significant about WOW as a self-advocacy organization is that the FC users themselves lead the monthly meetings.  They have determined the agenda for each meeting, and have initiated the practice of cross-training facilitators who attend WOW meetings so that they learn to facilitate with different FC users. The FC users developed the training curricula and agendas for the in-home and large-group FC trainings.   WOW is following best practices, in common with others who train large groups, in that the FC users of WOW are the most important presenters at the large-group trainings.

Council Activities: 

The Council publishes a quarterly newsletter that is posted on its website and sent to the 3800-member mailing list. Minutes from Council and committee meetings are posted on the Council's website, as well as pertinent articles and links to informative websites and publications. The website is presented in three formats; English, Spanish and accessible to screen readers. 


Please see the list of Council committees, read notes on committee meeting activities, and consider attending any committee meeting you may be interested in.

            The Council's Legislative and Public Policy Committee meets bi-weekly at the Capitol during the legislative session, January through May.  

Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
Five-Year Plan 2012-2016
Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Promote and support the development of leadership and self-advocacy capacity among people with disabilities and their family members.

            Objective 1: Support leadership training by people with developmental disabilities and their family members for other people with developmental disabilities and their family members who may become leaders in Colorado.

            Objective 2: Promote and support the development of leadership, self-determination and self-advocacy capacity among people with developmental disabilities and their family members through a variety of strategies, including state-of-the-art technology.

            Objective 3: Support policy-making groups to actively include people with developmental disabilities and family members in decision-making processes.

            Objective 4: Serve as a representative voice of the cultural competence and cultural diversity interests and concerns among Colorado citizens with developmental disabilities.

            Objective 5: Support and expand participation of people with developmental disabilities in cross-disability and culturally diverse leadership coalitions.

            Objective 6: Establish or strengthen a program for the direct funding of a State self-advocacy organization led by people with developmental disabilities.

Goal 2 : Support the development of broad community coalitions that include people with developmental disabilities in natural proportions to address community-identified issues.

            Objective 1: Support local grassroots efforts in Colorado communities, with emphasis on rural areas, to contribute to the development of such efforts as accessible transportation, affordable housing, employment, inclusive recreation or meaningful participation in community policies that expand access and inclusion.

Goal 3: People with developmental disabilities will be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, seclusion and restraint related to differential treatment because of disability in any settings.

             Objective 1: The Council will investigate and establish an effective means for ongoing monitoring of the frequency with which people who have developmental disabilities experience instances of abuse, neglect, exploitation, seclusion and restraint.

             Objective 2: The Council will work to implement successful strategies to decrease and ultimately prevent instances in which people with developmental disabilities experience abuse, neglect, exploitation, seclusion or restraint.

             Goal 4: Support and sustain community inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in real jobs that offer real wages where non-disabled community members work.

              Objective 1: Participate in and support a network of agencies providing education, training, employment and other supports to employers, community members and people with disabilities.

             Objective 2: Support the cultivation of natural supports within non-segregated employment settings that foster job retention, skill achievement/enhancement and employee success.

             Objective 3: Promote and increase the active participation of people with developmental disabilities in designing the approach and implementation of employment strategies.

        Goal 5: Improve the quality of life, and increase real choices for people with disabilities to live in their communities by providing them the resources they need to live a quality inclusive life.

             Objective 1: Support or lead a collaborative approach to the development of a long-term strategic plan to increase public awareness and understanding of the gifts and abilities of people with developmental disabilities in Colorado, both those receiving services and those on waiting lists, as well as the supports they need to be contributing members of their communities.

             Objective 2: Engage in public policy and advocacy activities that encourage and result in the simplification and coordination of systems and resources for the support of people with developmental disabilities.