CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Dare To Reflect On The 2019 CQL Conference

Posted 11/14/19 via Capstone e-Newsletter
By Mary Kay Rizzolo | CQL President and CEO

Just last month, dedicated professionals connected to the human services field converged in Baltimore, MD, at the 2019 CQL Conference: Dare To Dream, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership and learn about best practices in supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. This group of more than 450 attendees represented 40 states in the United States, along with attendees from Canada and Australia.

They were able to experience five keynote addresses, listen in on a panel discussion, witness vibrant graphic facilitation services, choose from more than two dozen breakout sessions by more than 60 presenters, and meet 26 sponsors and exhibitors.

Whether you were able to attend the 2019 CQL Conference or not, this month’s Capstone e-Newsletter will detail some takeaways from the event, as well as share ideas and resources that you can apply to your work.

1. Celebrating A Rich History

We kicked off the conference with some reflection on our organization’s founding, describing some of the key milestones CQL experienced over the last five decades. Here are some of the highlights:

The ACF/MR, now known as CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, is created to develop quality standards for institutions

1970s & 1980s
CQL leads the transition to community-based services with national standards, later adapted by CMS, and incorporated into the historic Wyatt v. Stickney court decision.

CQL develops and releases the Personal Outcome Measures®, originally named the Outcome Based Performance Measures.

The Community Life® measures help advance the social and community context for quality of life, along with embracing concepts of Social Capital.

The ‘What Really Matters’ initiative takes shape and CQL releases a new accreditation ‘menu’ with multiple options for unique organizational needs.

2. Getting Motivated In The Grand Ballroom

The conference brought everyone into the grand ballroom, for some unique sessions that aimed to help attendees think differently, approach their services in new ways, and take action to positively impact people’s lives. Through five keynote presentations and a panel discussion, we explored a wide range of critical topics.

Joe Macbeth of NADSP delivers keynoteA lack of attention, lack of imagination, lack of adequate manpower

After laying out the many issues affecting direct support professionals, Joseph Macbeth, President and CEO of NADSP, delivered a dynamic presentation that made the case for a new approach to confronting the field’s workforce challenges. By using a recent credentialing report as a foundation, Joe described the importance of credentialing for DSPs, through competency-based certification.

How does the HCBS Settings Rule impact personal outcomes?

We were lucky enough to have an expert panel, including Alison Barkoff, Julia Bascom, Chester Finn, and Tia Nelis, cover not just what’s included in the HCBS Settings Rule, but especially the implications for those receiving services. Along with an engaging discussion, various resources were shared during the session, where people could access additional (and accessible) information about the rule and its effect on people’s lives.

“We have always been wrong about what we believe people with disabilities can achieve.”

Attendees were able to gain insight into the history of the human services field, and what the future may hold through a keynote by Michael L. Wehmeyer. He then bridged the past to the importance of issues like dignity, autonomy, and full participation, tied to the right to self-determination. He reminded us we are all in the Dignity Business.

All behavior is purposeful.

Through a thought-provoking presentation by Julie Gentile, we learned about the biological, psychological, social, and developmental keys to success in trauma-informed care. In case you weren’t able to see this powerful presentation at our conference, some similar themes were covered in a 2016 webinar recording from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

“Dignity is how we treat each and every person we come in contact with ... and it can be destroyed so quickly.”

Jason Buckles joined us with an entertaining and insightful look at risk, involving how we define, understand, and respond to it. He challenged attendees to reframe our roles as providing space and support for the duty of risk, via systems of dignified care.

Take some time to say "thank you."

From laughter to tears, we concluded the conference with an inspiring talk from V.J. Smith about the lasting effects of kindness, and how gratitude can make a significant difference in people’s lives. The main takeaway for attendees was recognizing the value of the personal connections we create and ensuring that we are thankful for those interactions.

3. … Then The Keynotes Came To Life!

We had an eye-opening treat at the conference, through Graphic Facilitation provided by Tim Corey of Colibri Facilitation. During keynotes, Tim shared his talents and brought sessions in the grand ballroom to life, with vivid imagery that captured the themes and overarching concepts of each presentation. Check out his impressive work right here:

CQL Conference: Graphic Facilitation

4. Insight Into Outcomes Data

On the second day of the conference, we started things off by reinforcing the critical role that supports play in people achieving outcomes. We went through some data pulled from CQL’s PORTAL Data System, and here are just a few examples of what we shared. When organizational supports are in place:

  • People with disabilities are 41 times more likely to interact with others in the community
  • People with disabilities are 66 times more likely to exercise rights
  • People with disabilities are 20 times more likely to have intimate relationships
  • People with disabilities are 36 times more likely to realize goals


5. Breaking It All Down In The Breakouts

Pepi Diaz Salazar presents breakout sessionAs we mentioned earlier, there were more than two dozen different breakout sessions at the conference, covering topics like technology, rights, person-centered planning, organizational culture, employment, and more. While we can’t highlight all sessions, here is some of the information shared during a few of the presentations:

Being The Hero of Your Life Through Informed Self-Advocacy

“In the past, we spent a lot of time speaking about self-advocates, but guess who we did not speak to?” asked Pepi Diaz-Salazar from The Arc Mid-Hudson. To establish a successful self-advocacy group, some of the suggestions Pepi shared include encouraging people to speak and listen, using videos to spark discussion, creating ‘focus group’ type conversations, and more.

Partnerships for Lasting Independence with Enabling Technology

In a session about technology, presenters from Core Services of Northeast Tennessee and SimplyHome shared numerous real-life stories about how technology can help facilitate outcomes, along with some tips to guide organizations in their journey. Some of those suggestions include:

  • Focus on outcomes –what does the person want to accomplish first – technology second
  • Identify your technology champions or supporters within your organization
  • Be prepared to address the “what if” scenarios and naysayers
  • You don’t have to be a technology expert

What's Next: Readying I/DD Organizations for Success in Alternate Payment Systems

Kim Zoeller of Ray Graham Association and Kathy Carmody of the Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities described strategies for success in an alternate payer system. To be prepared for the future, a few of the tips they shared were:

  • Explore and understand the culture, values, language and rules of non-state payors
  • Develop/enhance data collection systems to drive decision-making
  • Assess and address organizational capacity for success in an alternate payment system

TaDa: Let's Celebrate!

In describing their organization’s ‘TaDa Program,’ Jennifer Klouse and Alexis Haase of Trinity Services, Inc. discussed how it helped recognize the accomplishments of people supported. This included the ‘TaDa Awards,’ where achievements, successes, and other milestones were acknowledged. They created a TaDa committee, nomination process, structure for delivering certificates and prizes, and shared with attendees how it positively impacted people and organizational culture.

Living Life in Color

LyAnn Grogan and Laurie Kimball of KFI in Maine shared guidance and tools for support teams to promote inclusion, meaningful outcomes, valued experiences, and overall – help people live vibrant lives of their choosing! One of the tools they shared was the inclusion.com website, which lists information, resources, videos, and more to promote inclusion.

Sex And Relationship Cards6. The Sex & Relationships Cards Make Their Debut

Among the breakout sessions, we were excited to debut our brand new Sex and Relationship Conversation Cards, which help support staff and people receiving services initiate conversations about sex and relationships through interactive card games. 

Each set of the Sex & Relationship Cards include over-sized playing cards, blank cards for customization, a 40-page facilitator's guide, and information about 11 different card games for sparking conversation.

Attendees were able to play some games and try out the new cards!

7. Recognizing Excellence in Human Services

During the conference, we recognized a few organizations that demonstrate excellence through innovative and emerging practices, at the 2019 CQL Awards of Excellence.

The Arc Mid-Hudson - The Cornell Creative Business and Arts Center
The Cornell Creative Business and Arts Center, established by The Arc Mid-Hudson in New York re-purposed a sheltered workshop site, cultivating a synergy between businesses, the local arts community and people with disabilities. Learn More>>

CHI Friendship
In 2015, CHI Friendship in North Dakota began an initiative to reinstate rights for people they support. CHI Friendship developed creative and innovative approaches to eliminate and reduce restrictions. Learn More>>

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota – Olive Branch
The employees of Olive Branch, a supported living home for people with disabilities by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, are leading the way to true person-centered supports in the Fosston, Minnesota area. Learn More>>

Connecting at the conference8. Building Community At The Conference

There were a number of opportunities for attendees to connect with each other about their work, share ideas, swap stories, exchange business cards, and more! During breakfasts, breaks, a luncheon, and after each day’s events, people were able to interact and build community among like-minded support providers. Those who attended – and those who couldn’t make it – can stay connected by joining CQL’s Facebook e-Community.

9. Learning About The Latest Products and Services

In addition to networking with other attendees, people were able to meet with conference sponsors and exhibitors throughout the event. Along with 17 exhibitors at the conference, attendees were able to talk with our various conference sponsors including Corner Edge Solutions, Liberty Healthcare Corporation, Therap, The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), The 2020 Reinventing Quality Conference, DirectCourse, Anthem, and The Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, and SETWorks.

10. Our Attendees Made It An Amazing Event!

Of course, the success of the conference hinged on the experiences of those who attended, and we worked really hard to provide them with a memorable and valuable conference. We would like to thank all of the conference attendees for joining us to ‘Dare To Dream.’



Print edition of Capstone e-Newsletter 

CQL is offering a version of Capstone e-Newsletter that can be downloaded, printed, and shared. This online edition still contains the most robust information with hyperlinked resources, but this PDF version provides another way for you to share best practices.

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