From beginning to end, Wednesday at the TASH Conference was anything but dull. I’ll first say – again – that this conference wouldn’t be possible without the extraordinary support we receive from volunteers. These dedicated and hardworking folks have worked all day to ensure attendees have a smooth and welcoming registration, they stand wait in the hallways to offer directions to meeting rooms and they staff information booths so that all attendees get the materials and information they need. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This morning kicked off with a meeting to discuss national education reform. In addition to TASH board members and education experts, the participants also included Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Sharon Lewis, Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The conversation centered on the current state of inclusive education and opportunities for reform that meet the truly inclusive needs of students with disabilities. We’re working on a separate blog post for this one – so stay tuned.
As the first full day of the conference, a welcome reception was held and it was great to connect with old friends and see so many new faces. It was wonderful reconnecting with folks like Ed Bielecki, State Coordinator for Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong. Ed has been a longtime supporter of TASH and is helping to make lasting changes by working to empower self-advocates to make choices that improve and enrich their lives. The welcome reception also featured exhibit booths and special entertainment as conference attendees mingled.
A very special TASH Night Out was held to close the evening. Carol Quirk, president of the TASH Board of Directors, hosted a memorable evening that honored the legacy of 35 years of TASH. Since 1975, people have been attending the TASH Conference to learn, grow and share, and tonight we had a number of influential TASH members share their stories about the impact this organization has had on the lives of people with disabilities. Speaking were Ralph Edwards, Anne Smith, Shirley Rodriguez, Emily Titon, Susan Yuan and Sandi McClennen. Thank you all for your wonderful stories! Carol also presented special awards to departing board members, Nancy Ward and Curtis Richards.
Check back soon – we’ll be posting more updates on Wednesday’s TASH TECHs, the TASH Chapter Leadership Workshop and the discussion on national education reform.