The programs and speakers are all in place for the 2018 Alabama disABILITY Conference, coming up March 5–7 in Montgomery. This year promises to be another great conference, with programs that span a wide range of subjects that speak to self-advocates, care givers, family members, and professionals. The lineup includes a full day of QDDP (Qualified Developmental Disability Professional) training.
We will also have strong participation from our the leadership in State government, with talks by Lynn Beshear, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw, Commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitation Services, and Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor. Governor Ivey has been invited to speak, and is a tentative yes, dependent on her schedule.
Many of you know that for a number of years, the conference was held in Gulf Shores at a beautiful venue on the water’s edge. We loved the location and the venue, but when we encountered a conflict in timing with The Arc of the US annual conference and were unable to secure a favorable date at the same venue, we made a decision to move to Montgomery. This was in part because it put the conference in a location more convenient to more of our local chapters and in part to put us in closer proximity to the State legislators, giving us greater visibility with that very important group.
It turned out to be a good decision, with attendance jumping by about 30 percent. Sponsorship and number of exhibitors also rose, and access to speakers from within various governmental departments was improved. We are looking to build on that success with this year’s conference, which is being held in the same venue.
Historically, the conference has been moved around the state geographically, sometimes being held in Huntsville and Birmingham. This is something the Board of Directors Executive Committee discussed in a recent retreat. But we’d love to have your feedback on the subject. Would you like to see the conference be in the same location every year or change locations periodically? What locations would you like to see? Would your local chapter be willing to host a conference?
Likewise, do you have a preferred time frame? March was chosen for 2017 to coincide with the Legislature being in session. Would you prefer later in the spring, maybe in the summer, or return to a fall time frame? This conference is really for you, and as such, we truly want and value your input on what you’d like to see.
Use the Contact Us form to submit your thoughts or email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.