SLN-Related December/January Update: November Meeting Notes and Elections

Happy New Year SLN members!


Just wanted to send a quick update. We’ve been busy at work following our November meeting. For more details about what was decided at the meeting, please refer to the attached notes. Let Katie or I know if you have any questions regarding these notes.  


Thank you to Shea and Katie for putting the notes together.


The steering committee and chapter representatives are currently holding a vote to decide on this proposed slate of nominations for the SLN Board of Directors. Results will be posted following the conclusion of the vote on January 12, 2010. See below for the nominations and bios. Please keep in mind the vote is currently open to steering committee members and the state chapter representatives of the SLN.


Website development is also underway, so please stay tuned this Spring.


Thanks and let me know if you have any questions.




John Kramer

Steering Committee Co-Chair

The Sibling Leadership Network




Here is a copy of the memo regarding the nomination for vote:

To:      Steering Committee & Chapter Representatives of the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN)


Katie Arnold, SLN Co-chair and Organization Committee leaders,

Joyce Clemons, Ohio chapter representative,

Ashley Coulter, Tennessee chapter representative, ashley.coulter@Vanderbilt.Edu

Derrick Dufresne, Policy & Advocacy Co-chair,

Tom Fish, Services & Supports Workgroup Co-chair,

Nora Handler, Illinois representative,

Tamar Heller, Research Workgroup Co-chair and Conference Committee co-leader,

Emily Holl, New York chapter representative,

Ann Kaiser, Research Workgroup Co-chair, ann.kaiser@Vanderbilt.Edu

John Kramer, SLN Co-chair, Policy & Advocacy Wrkgrp Co-chair, and Website co-leader,

Don Meyer, Services & Supports Workgroup Co-chair and Website co-leader,

Bryon Murray, SABE representative,

Essie Pederson, Conference Committee co-leader,


From:            SLN Ad-Hoc Nominations Committee

Joyce Clemons, Representative of Ohio Sibs (email:

Cheryl Rhodes, Georgia affiliate (email:

Angela Martin, Michigan affiliate (email:

Date: 1/5/2010

Re:     Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) Executive Committee Elections

The Nominations Committee is asking SLN Steering Committee and Chapter Representatives to consider the following ballot for nomination as the SLN for the Executive Committee

Chair: Katie Arnold (IL)

Vice-Chair: John Kramer (MA)

Secretary: Shea Obremski (KS)

Each statewide sibling organization was invited to appoint a representative to serve on the SLN Board of Directors. Currently, five states have statewide sibling chapters (IL, NY, OH, TN, WI). The following chapters have appointed these individuals to serve as their state chapter representative.


Illinois: Nora Handler

New York: Emily Holl

Ohio: Joyce Clemmons

Tennessee: Ashley Coulter

Wisconsin: To be determined


After the SLN Executive Committee is seated, the Executive Committee and State Chapter Representatives will appoint individuals to serve as Board of Directors Members-at-Large, Chair of Network Development, and Chair of Public Relations.

The Nominations Committee received one nomination for the position of Treasurer; however this individual has declined the nomination. If you are interested in being appointed to serve as the SLN Treasurer please contact any member of the SLN Nominations Committee.

The SLN Treasurer is the Chief Financial Officer of SLN. In this role he or she is responsible for the following: 

·         Monitoring of SLN’s finances and providing financial reports to the SLN Board of Directors;

·         Making recommendations on fiscal matters; and

·         Preparing and submitting federal and state reporting requirements;.and

·         Serving as the signature authority for fiduciary matters in accordance with Board decisions.




Chair: Katie Arnold (IL)


The SLN Chair is responsible for overall direction of SLN and ensuring the SLN is in line with the mission, purpose, and values of the organization.  In addition, he or she is responsible for the following: 

·      Setting the agenda for and presiding  over all Board meetings;

·      Ensuring that all committee and workgroup leadership is named and a reporting structure is developed to share information, keep committees accountable and on track;

·      Appointing Ad Hoc Committees;

·      Facilitating decision-making regarding policy and advocacy actions that are timely;

·      Representing or designating a representative for SLN; and

·      Serving as the signature authority of the SLN in accordance with Board decisions.


Biography: Katie Arnold grew up in New Jersey as the second oldest of four siblings with disabilities, including her sister who has a developmental disability. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Katie lived at L’Arche Chicago, a community based on mutual relationships where people with and without developmental disabilities live together. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago while working full time as the Community Support Coordinator in the Institute on Disability and Human Development. Katie provides education and training on various topics which include enhancing the direct support workforce, self-directed supports, supporting healthy relationships and sexuality for people with disabilities, family future planning and the sibling experience. Katie’s sibling experience has shaped her worldview in many ways and she is committed to supporting siblings of people with disabilities at both the state and national level. At the state level, Katie has been involved in the leadership of Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters (SIBS) and currently serves as the Secretary. While serving as co-chair of the SLN over the past year, Katie facilitated the group to create a more formal organizational structure that will strengthen the communication between the national and state sibling chapters. She has been instrumental in helping the organization work toward incorporating as a non-profit. Katie currently serves on the Board of the Arc of Illinois as well as the Chicago Foundation for Women. Katie shares her gained expertise in strategic planning for non-profit organizations by teaching the topic in DHD 547: Analysis and Comparison of For-Profit and Non-Profit Organizations. She further uses her skills in this area by donating her time to provide strategic planning for numerous non-profit organizations.


Briefly describe why the nominee should be considered for this position on the Sibling Leadership Network Board of Directors: I am committed to continuing the momentum of the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) and excited about the possibility of providing my skills and leadership abilities to guide the organization through the next phase of development. If selected as Chair of the SLN, I will be dedicated to listening to each person to ensure that every voice is valued. I will be especially attentive to the needs of the state/local chapter representatives, as well as the SABE representative, to ensure the organization grows in a way that works at the local level and remains committed to advocating WITH our brothers and sisters with disabilities. My leadership style is collegial and I have facilitation skills to run efficient and effective meetings that will keep the organization on track to reach its goals, while keeping in line with the mission, purpose, and values. My short term goals for the SLN include incorporating as a non-profit organization and charting a clear direction for the future through a strategic planning process. My long term vision for the SLN is to ensure that siblings have a strong voice at the table for key policy decisions and to empower siblings around the country with the support of chapters within the national SLN network. I look forward to the opportunity to work with a team of people from across the country that is dedicated to supporting siblings.


Vice-Chair: John Kramer (MA)

The SLN Vice Chair is responsible for assisting the SLN Chair with the above duties, in addition to the following: 

·      Assuming the duties of the President in his or her absence; and

·      Promoting fundraising, community outreach, and membership growth among the chapters.



Briefly describe why the nominee should be considered for this position on the Sibling Leadership Network Board of Directors: I would faithfully serve to support the chair and also to oversee the expansion efforts of the SLN. In this first “official” year there are lots of potential places to expand the network, and I am informing you all that if I am elected to the Vice Chair position, that I would fully plan on working towards that goal. I have a few states in mind including my own home state of Massachusetts as places to start. I also would like to begin developing technical assistance efforts to other states who are looking to begin a state or local level sibling organization. I firmly believe that a central task of the network is to make it easier for sibling organizations to form.


I do have one further recommendation for your consideration…In the absence of an outgoing chair position- someone who is in charge of developing and translating the “institutional memory” of the SLN- I would like to propose that for the first term only that the Vice Chair is put in charge of establishing and documenting the emerging history of the SLN. I would like to create/continue outreach by documenting and publishing the efforts of the group in new ways that take advantage of my the content and method knowledge from my doctoral training and combined knowledge of both how the research community and grassroots/community organizing community inform each other. This could take a lot of different forms- including publishing of papers, materials, etc.- anything that could establish the origins of this movement and provide some sense of the SLN in history. Even if we don’t publish something in this first year, I feel we need to lay the groundwork for the future leadership so that we at least know where we come from.  It is my belief that we do not want another year to pass before we start doing this in a systematic way- we need to capture the excitement of the present and translate that excitement to spur interest in the future growth of the network. So I think that developing this area complements the work of outreach and expansion of the Sibling Leadership Network as specifically outlined by the Vice Chair’s duties. I believe that through my long term history and relationships I have developed with many of the key sibling organizations involved in the SLN that I am the best person at this time to fulfill the duties of the Vice Chair.


Secretary: Shea Obremski (KS)

The Secretary of the SLN is responsible for managing the administrative details of the organization such as recording and disseminating meeting minutes.  Other responsibilities include: 

·      Record keeping and archiving meeting minutes from committees;

·      Scheduling meetings of the Board; and

·      Preparing correspondence.


Biography: Shea is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. Shea is the sister of a man with a traumatic brain injury and has spent her professional career identifying and developing supports and services that will improve her brother’s quality of life along with the lives of children with low-incidence disabilities. Her research interests include: communication skills and self-determination; technology use and on-going supports; parents with cognitive challenges; and the integration of positive psychology and disability studies. She has taken on multiple leadership roles within various local and national organizations. Shea has served as the Vice-President and President of the Kansas University Professionals for Disabilities, a graduate student organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for students to gain awareness of current and emerging issues in disability and network with local, state, and national leaders and organizations. She has served as the student representative to the Representative Assembly within the Council for Exceptional Children, and is currently on both the Student and Early Career Professionals committee and Children’s Supports Intensity Scale Development committee within the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Shea has also been a UCEDD trainee for over six years within the Association of University Centers on Disability. Upon completing her dissertation, Shea will return to her home town of Greenwood Village, Colorado where she will begin the important process of future planning with her parents and brother to ensure her brother Coley leads a safe, productive, and enviable life.

Briefly describe why the nominee should be considered for this position on the Sibling Leadership Network Board of Directors: She has been a member of the Sibling Leadership Network since 2007 and been an active member of the Policy and Advocacy Workgroup and Organizational Committee. She is dedicated to the mission of developing policies, supports, and services that allow siblings to become knowledgeable partners and advocates along with their brothers and sisters with disabilities. She is meticulous and strategic in her approach to matters, which makes her an ideal candidate for Secretary. Shea is honored to stand with such passionate individuals as those affiliated with the Sibling Leadership Network and if elected would work hard to further the mission and vision of the Sibling Leadership Network



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