I am honored that the Board of Directors selected me to be the Executive Director of The Arc Baltimore and humbled to follow such a groundbreaking leader as Steve Morgan. The past 10 months and 2 days have been exceptional. In July, I started by visiting with and listening to as many people we support, direct support staff and families as possible. Conversations, like the many I had and will continue to have, truly matter and will drive our future.
I believe we must remember, learn from and celebrate our rich history. We are an organization rich in passion, commitment and at the forefront of so many innovations in our field.
As you know, The Arc Baltimore was started by a group of parents who wanted and demanded more for their sons and daughters with disabilities. We were started through dialogue around a kitchen table. I believe that that same kitchen table experience will direct our path for the future.
We have many challenges ahead: dramatic changes in funding mechanisms and funding levels, a baby boomer workforce crises and a redefinition of our services with an expectation of greater accountability and transparency. The CMS Final Settings Rule challenges many of our systems limitations and we are embracing that.
The multi-generational faces and desires of the people we support are changing. Spanning from birth to ages 100, generations who once lived in institutions such as Rosewood, to children who, thanks to many advocates in this room, will never know those doors of segregation. Expectations and norms continue to change.
Where once our focus was on integration, and then inclusion, now our focus is on true BELONGING! We all know that simply being in the community, does not equate to being part of that community. Community is not a destination; but a vehicle for so much more. The richness of all our lives, is the acknowledgement of our own value and the quality of our relationships.
More than ever, we will be turning to you, our community at large, families, employers, donors and most importantly, the self-advocates for whom we work. The changes ahead, the paths we forge, must be walked together. Partnerships will be key. We cannot, nor should we, do this alone. Change is never easy, but we’ve been changing as an organization for the past 70 years!
I thank you for your continued support of The Arc Baltimore and look forward to walking this path together.