2021 SLN National Conference
2021 Conference Summary
The SLN’s 8th conference, held June 18th-19th, with post conference workshops on June 22nd, 23rd & 24th, as a virtual, international event, was a huge success! We had over 275 people registered from 37 states and 16 countries, including Rwanda, India, Japan, Portugal, Kenya, Nigeria, Slovenia, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Scotland, England, Indonesia, Brazil, and South Korea! The conference theme of Strength Through Connection resonated throughout the conference. Attendees spent the weekend learning from international leaders in the sibling movement and making connections to last a lifetime.
The Conference kicked off on Friday with four pre-conference workshops. Then attendees learned about the sibling movement and enjoyed a Sibling Happy Hour where we got to connect and create community. We also got a lot of great information from the breakout sessions and then ended with a wonderful session to learn Mindfulness Techniques.
Day Two of the conference started with Yoga. We had an amazing Keynote presentation by Lisa Matthews, DC Chapter Representative on the SLN Board of Directors, followed by a discussion facilitated with Richard Mullen. Then we went into small groups for engaging discussions where we had time for attendees to share and learn from each other. Then, we had a fabulous Sibling Panel where we heard from siblings with a range of perspectives about their experiences. After the panel, we divided into small groups so attendees could share some of their stories. Additionally, we had four great topics for breakout sessions and then ten amazing Table Talks for people to choose from.
Our Special Event in the evening was fabulous! We started the evening with Dinner with Don Meyer, who is often considered to be the Father of the Sibling Movement. Don showed us how to make Pasta Puttanesca while sharing stories of his work with siblings. Then, we enjoyed eating our meal together while watching the film 3Conversations in April by sibling and filmmaker Susan Hamovitch.
Our three post conference sessions were held on June 22nd, 23rd and 24th and covered future planning topics & tools and the perspectives of siblings from around the globe.
Throughout the conference, we were delighted to be joined by the 30 recipients of the SLN’s Equity & Inclusion Scholarship from 14 different states and 6 different countries (including Kenya, Nigeria, Slovenia, Ireland, Rwanda and Canada)! Thank you to all donors for your generosity, applicants for participating and to the Scholarship Selection Committee for making this a reality!
The SLN is truly grateful to everyone for making the conference such a success! Our Board of Directors is a group of engaged sibling leaders and our Conference Planning Committee was committed to creating a conference that fostered a community of support. Joining from all across the world requires resources and commitment and we are so thankful that we had the chance to meet each person who attended the Conference. And thank you to our 36 sponsors for their support of the conference.
We would also like to extend another thank you to our generous conference sponsors! Check them out on the sponsors tab!
Thank you for making our first virtual conference a success!
We are already looking forward to the next conference in 2023!
2021 NATIONAL SIBLING LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONFERENCE
STRENGTH THROUGH CONNECTION
June 18-19, 2021
Post-conference sessions offered on June 22, 23, and 24
An All Virtual Experience
We are excited to share information about the 2021 National Sibling Leadership Network Conference! This entirely virtual conference is on June 18 and 19, 2021 with post-conference sessions offered on June 22, 23, and 24. Conference registration is now open! With the unique challenges facing our world, this Conference, our 8th, will be our most innovative and important Conference yet. Recently, the needs, opportunities, and challenges for families of people with disabilities have changed significantly. The 2021 National SLN Conference theme of Strength Through Connection will examine what this means for siblings of people with disabilities.
The SLN Conference is a unique event that helps to grow the sibling movement by bringing together siblings of people with disabilities and sibling supporters (parents, relatives including people with disabilities and professionals). Attendees at the conference will connect and learn about the sibling experience, hear from national experts on sibling services and supports, explore new research initiatives, learn about pressing issues related to COVID-19, and learn about advocacy opportunities.
The 2021 SLN Conference will be held through Zoom. Participants will be able to connect through their computer or by calling in. For those connecting by computer, we encourage you to have your camera on, if possible, for our interactive sessions. We hope to foster a sense of community during our conference. We will provide opportunities for participants to see and hear each other. There will be spaces where we will breakout into small groups in Zoom for lively discussions among peers.
The 2021 Conference theme is Strength Through Connection and we intend to really foster connections across the distance throughout with interactive small group sessions. While we can’t replace the in-person feel of being together and making relationships, we have structured our conference schedule to create spaces for participations to actively engage with each other for peer support and to share information. We will have numerous small group breakout sessions throughout.
Preliminary Schedule At A Glance
Download the Conference Program HERE
Click on the days for event descriptions and lists of breakout sessions.
|Pre-Conference Workshops (Friday, June 18) – $20 each or $40 for CEUs*
|Choose 2 1-hour sessions
|Day 1 SLN Conference (Friday, June 18) –$25
(Join BOTH Day 1 & 2 Day SLN Conference (June 18 & 19) and receive a $10 DISCOUNT: $45)
|Welcome and The Sibling Movement
|Sibling Happy Hour with Interactive small group activities
|4 Concurrent Breakout Sessions – choose 1
|Mindfulness Techniques to Enhance Well-being
|Conclude for the day
|Day 2 SLN Conference (Saturday, June 19) –$30
(Join BOTH Day 1 & 2 Day SLN Conference (June 18 & 19) and receive a $10 DISCOUNT: $45)
|Keynote Presentation by Lisa Matthews
|Engaging small group discussions
|Sharing our stories in small groups
|4 Concurrent Breakout Sessions – choose 1
|Table Talks (30 mins) – choose 1
|Special Event: Dinner & Movie Night (Saturday, June 19) –$30
|Dinner with Don Meyer: Cook pasta alongside Don
|Movie: 3 Conversations in April (11 minute film) and conversation with sibling filmmaker, Susan Hamovitch
|Post-Conference Workshops – $18 each or $40 each for CEUs*
|Dive into a unique workshop topic each night (Future Planning, Charting the LifeCourse, and International Sibling Panel)
*Continuing Education Units will be provided by The Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). IDHD at UIC is approved and licensed through the State of Illinois to issue Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for:
- Advanced Practice Nurses, Registered Nurses, and Licensed Practical Nurses
- Clinical Psychologists
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors
- Licensed Dietitian Nutritionists (RD)
- Nursing Home Administrators
- Occupational Therapists
- Physical Therapists
- Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professionals
- Speech Language Pathologists
- Siblings of people with disabilities. The conference is targeted to meet the needs of adult siblings who have a brother or sister with any type of disability.
- People with disabilities. Self-advocates are important to the sibling movement and we encourage people with disabilities to come and share your sibling perspective.
- Parents, Sib-in-laws, and family members. Families can learn a lot at this conference and share their perspectives.
- Professionals. Professionals, including researchers, can gain a stronger understanding of the sibling relationship and ways to support siblings throughout the lifespan.
- Sibling supporters. Anyone who is a friend or colleague to siblings and their families is welcome.
Do you need financial support to attend the SLN Conference?
Here are some ideas:
We have intentionally structured the SLN Conference’s registration fees so that you only pay for the portion of the Conference that you are able to attend.
- Reach out to your DD Council to see if they have a fund for people with disabilities and their families to tap into for training. Some states have funds with training dollars for family members. You could apply to get the cost of the conference covered.
- If you have a sibling chapter in your state (Chapter list here), see if they have funds available to support siblings from their state to attend the conference.
- The SLN Equity and Inclusion scholarships are being awarded. The application has closed.
Keynote Speaker: Lisa Matthews
D.C. Chapter Representative, Sibling Leadership Network
Lisa Matthews currently serves as a board member of the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) and is the SLN DC Chapter Representative. She is the former Chair of the DC Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC Council), Executive Committee and a current member of the State Plan and Implementation Committee for the DDC Council. Prior to joining the DDC Council, she was a graduate of the DC Advocacy Partners Program (DCAP) where she was able to develop skills in advocacy and policy making. Lisa is compassionate about navigating the disability system to better understand her role as a sibling and support her brother and other individuals with disabilities and their families. Her goal is to educate, elevate and empower others to identify and solve problems that will bring perspective and positive change in their lives.
Lisa’s insight as a sibling of someone with a disability has inspired her to advocate for and with families to raise awareness of their needs to the disability community and beyond. Her proven passion as a civic leader and advocate has led her to serve as a panelist and moderator for BIPOC sibling roundtable discussions, provide written testimony to the DC Council, co-lead as newsletter editor and designer to educate families and community stakeholder about autism, and help launch recreational and job readiness programs in her community. Lisa also serves on boards focused on issues not limited to ensuring community integration for individuals with disabilities, homelessness, empowering women and their children in transition, and support for at-risk youth.
Lisa currently lives in Washington, DC and works as the Chief Grants Officer for a non-profit organization. She enjoys writing poetry, is a contributing author of two books and is an honored listee in Who’s Who in America.
Dinner with Don
Join Don Meyer as we cook the dinner he’d make you if you came to his home! We’ll make Pasta Puttanesca, a delicious pasta with a slightly racy backstory. Puttanesca has a sunny, southern Italian taste that can be enjoyed year-round—even in the middle of winter! It’s easy to make and can be easily tweaked for vegetarian and vegan eaters. We’ll provide you with a list of ingredients and kitchen tools to have available. Once we’re on air, we’ll enjoy a favorite beverage, chat, and get busy cooking!
Don Meyer Bio:
Don Meyer is the founder and former director of the Sibling Support Project and the creator of the Sibshop model.
During his 28 years with the Sibling Support Project, Don conducted workshops and trainings in all 50 states, throughout Canada, and in ten additional countries leading to the creation of 500 Sibshops worldwide.
He is the author or editor of six books on sibling issues, including Views from Our Shoes, The Sibling Survival Guide, and Sibshops: Workshops for siblings of children with special needs. The online groups Don created–SibNet, Sib20, and SibTeen—provide peer support to thousands of brothers and sisters every day.
In 2019, Don received the Sibling Leadership Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Although retired, Don continues to support the work of the Sibling Support Project and presents keynotes, workshops, and seminars on sibling issues nationally and internationally.
Enthusiastic about all sorts of food, Don loves to cook for loved ones. For over 30 years, Don has prepared Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinners–once for 50 people!
Movie night featuring 3Conversations in April and conversation with the filmmaker, Susan Hamovitch
3Conversations in April is the filmmaker’s recordings of the first phone calls she’s ever made to her brother — an older man with autism, who does not use words to communicate — as she attempts to find ways to provide something familiar in her brother’s upended life. Her quest to communicate has been made ever more urgent because her brother has just recently been diagnosed Covid positive and placed in complete isolation in his group home, miles away.
As the filmmaker gives Alan ever cheerier pep talks from her apartment in Brooklyn, she is never certain about whether he understands that it’s she whose voice he is hearing at the other end of the phone.
Meanwhile, the viewer will watch as darker themes emerge — the series of illogical and unfeeling policy decisions made by a system that governs the care of those with intellectual disabilities, the worried lives of the staff through a steady interspersing of titles and reenactments, the film gradually reveals some unsettling realities.
Susan Hamovitch Bio:
Susan Hamovitch is a sibling and a filmmaker. Ms. Hamovitch’s career as a filmmaker was always channeled towards documentary, beginning more than thirty years ago when she served as associate producer on a training film about tenant law. After that initial taste of film production, she went on to study aspects of the craft and art, receiving an MFA in Television and Radio from Brooklyn College.
Upon graduation, Ms. Hamovitch almost immediately began work on her first feature length documentary, titled Without Apology. The film is a family saga, telling the story of her brother, Alan, who has autism, and because he never used words to communicate (he’s what is often termed non-verbal), it’s a tale which by necessity is refracted through the differing lenses of her mother, father and herself. As in a modern novel, the experience of Alan is different for each of them. The larger society of mid-century America, of course, plays a significant, often very disturbing, role in the family’s experience. The film found a ready audience in the disability community across the United States, and screened in several film festivals as well, garnering some awards, including Best Feature Documentary in the Brooklyn Arts Film Festival and Best Audience Award at the Hearts and Minds Film Festival. For more information on the film, please visitFor the direct experience of the film, you can check out where it’s available for viewing.
Ms. Hamovitch is currently an active part of her brother’s life. Now the only surviving close member of his family, she’s taken on the role of Legal Guardian in order to be an effective advocate. Susan currently resides in Brooklyn NY with her husband. Retired from teaching film and documentary studies, she teaches t’ai chi (virtually these days) and happily welcomes new students!
The Halpern Family Foundation in memory of Janet Lee Halpern
Carver and Associates
The Keiling Family
Richard and Ellen Russell
The Sibling Collaborative