LEAD Parent Graduation Ceremony

By Heidi Cooley-Cook


October 25th was a day of learning, information sharing, networking, and empowerment for over twenty individuals from across the Commonwealth.  In the morning, Support Group Leaders came from all corners of the state to review statewide resources and collaborate with each other.  Amy Cooper-Puckett, Policy Liaison for the Department of Behavioral Health Developmental Intellectual Disabilities, provided an overview of the state’s various waivers and discussed the Community Autism Forums and the Kentucky Interagency Council for Autism Spectrum Disorders.   The Leaders then discussed their group’s strengths and highlighted successful activities.  This proved to be time of inspiration for several Family Support Group Leaders - walking away with new ideas to take back to their communities.  Together, challenges were reviewed and prioritized.  Initial brainstorming was done that morning and the group will continue to meet remotely and take steps to overcome and/or combat the challenges identified.


Following the morning’s workgroup, participants transitioned to the graduation and pinning ceremony for the first cohort of Family Leaders.  The Family Leaders are part of a new initiative for the KATC.  These individuals applied in early 2013 to join the KATC’s Family Network (link to the Family Network page).  Sixteen individuals from ten counties came together in May for two days of intensive training through collaboration with the Council on Developmental Disabilities.  The group then engaged in enrichment sessions monthly via webinar with the final two enrichment topics presented in-person on October 25th.  Pamela McDaniel, Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Heidi Cooley-Cook, KATC, kicked of the afternoon and Larry Taylor, KATC Executive Director, followed with a presentation on Special Education Law for Families.  Donovan Fornwalt, CEO of Council on Developmental Disabilities, joined Senator Julie Denton for an empowering session on Legislative Advocacy.  The nine Family Leaders in attendance were then pinned.  Please join me in congratulating the 2013 KATC Family Network: Family Leaders - Pat Benningfield (Bowling Green), Ashley Bradford (Lexington), Whitney Durham (Corbin), Debbie Gilbert (various – Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs), Trish Hicks (Webbville), Donna Littrell, Bronston), Alicia Owens (Bowling Green), Shelley Shepherd (Bowling Green), and Terri Srinivasan (Maysville).  Ally Brooks (Oak Grove) was not able to join us for the graduation, but was also pinned a Family Leader!


The second cohort of Family Leaders will begin in Spring 2014 - space is limited so please apply now!


Heidi Cooley-Cook is a Family Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center where she provides direct training and technical assistance to families.

KY Autism Training Center Fall 2013 Newsletter November 2013