The Next Generation of Freedom and Self-Determination: Supported Decision-Making and the ABLE Act, Achieving Better Life Experience

Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act breaks new ground in exploring opportunities for eligible individuals with significant disabilities to rethink their future goals regarding work, income saving and investment, and community participation. The beneficiary of an ABLE account is also the owner of the account. Over 25 states are now considering legislation to set a framework for the establishment and administration of ABLE Accounts. Who will make decisions about savings goals and disbursements from ABLE accounts? Are there less restrictive options for account owners than guardianship and the removal of decision-making authority?

Supported Decision-Making and the ABLE Act, “Achieving Better Life Experience” Presentation
Supported Decision-Making and the ABLE Act, “Achieving Better Life Experience” Presentation Handouts
Supported Decision-Making and the ABLE Act, “Achieving Better Life Experience Transcript
Lisa Mills, Public Policy Chair, TASH
Allison Wohl, Executive Director of the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE)
Jonathan Martinis, Legal Director, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities
Lisa A. Mills Ph.D., the Public Policy Chair at TASH; is currently a consultant on disability employment policy and systems change working in fourteen states under various contracts with state government agencies and federally funded initiatives. She has 25 years of experience in the field of disabilities with a primary focus on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Prior to becoming involved in the area of employment, Lisa worked on self-determination, self-advocacy and supported decision-making through a Robert Wood Johnson grant in Wisconsin. She assisted self-advocacy leaders in Wisconsin to establish People First Wisconsin, a statewide, independent non-profit organization and acted as their administrator for six years. She also worked as a consultant in Dane County, Wisconsin on the roll out of self-directed services, including development of self-advocacy and self-determination training resources and supported decision-making resources.

Allison Wohl, the Executive Director of the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE), a national membership organization that promotes the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community. After fifteen years in corporate America, having worked in the federal practices of several “Big Four” consulting firms, as well as at GE, Allison knew it was time to leave her busy life as a consultant for the even busier, but more rewarding world of disability advocacy, after the birth of her youngest son Julian in 2009, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Allison received her MBA from the College of William and Mary and her undergraduate degree from SUNY Binghamton. In addition to Julian she is the mom of two other boys.

Jonathan Martinis, Legal Director, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and Project Director, National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making. Jonathan Martinis has over 20 years’ experience representing people with disabilities in cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Social Security Act and other civil rights laws. In 2013, he represented Margaret “Jenny” Hatch in the “Justice for Jenny” case, which held that Ms. Hatch has a right to use Supported Decision-Making instead of being subjected to a permanent, plenary guardianship. He also represented the plaintiffs in Brinn, et al. v. Tidewater Regional Transportation District, the first case to hold that people with disabilities have a right to paratransit transportation on a next-day basis, and Winborne, et al. v. Virginia Lottery, which held that the Lottery must ensure that premises selling Lottery tickets, including private businesses, are accessible to people with disabilities.

Michael Morris, the Executive Director of Burton Blatt Institute and Executive Director of National Disability Institute (NDI) has over 25 years of experience in research, knowledge translation, and system change activities advancing community participation and economic self-sufficiency for individuals across the full spectrum of disabilities. Morris’s undergraduate degree, political science with honors, is from Case Western University, and his law degree is from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, GA. In 1981, Morris was named the first Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Public Policy and worked for Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker as legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped. He next served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee. Morris then worked at United Cerebral Palsy Associations as Director of Government Relations, then Director of Community Services, and finally National Executive Director. During his 14-year tenure, his leadership put focus on assistive technology’s role in employment, education, communications and daily living. Morris’ proposal for policy development led to passage by Congress of the Assistive Technology Act. Read more.