New York Governor Launched IDD Advisory Council

Governor Hochul Announces Launch of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council on Domestic Violence

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council, which will strengthen the capacity of both the domestic violence and the intellectual and developmental disability systems to increase access to domestic violence services for individuals with IDD who are also survivors of domestic violence.  Through the Advisory Council, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council will work together to develop and implement skills training for intellectual and developmental disability and domestic violence service providers.  The Advisory Council will provide expertise and knowledge to inform project development, review and offer feedback on training deliverables, consult outreach strategies to promote accessibility, and participate in a pilot of training delivery.

“My mother opened a home for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, so strengthening services to vulnerable communities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is an issue close to my heart,” Governor Hochul said.  “The pandemic has tragically led to a rise in domestic and gender-based violence, which is why we are committed to ensuring that survivors can safely access the help and services they need.”

New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens said, “Individuals with disabilities experience domestic and sexual violence at extremely high rates.  As OPDV transforms gender-based violence service delivery systems to be more survivor-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive, we must lift the voices of those who have not previously had a seat at the table.  I’m proud to serve a Governor who recognizes the unique needs of individuals with disabilities and supports initiatives that create accessibility and equity for all.”

OPDV will work with a consulting agency that specializes in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to develop a comprehensive training on identifying and working with IDD individuals facing abuse.  This training will help both DV and IDD provider staff gain skills to respond to people with IDD who are experiencing DV and connect survivors with appropriate resources and supports.

Kerri E. Neifeld, Commissioner of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities said, “Women with disabilities are three times more likely to experience domestic violence than their non-disabled counterparts.  We must work to support and empower people with developmental disabilities who have experienced domestic and intimate partner violence and ensure their voices are heard.  I am grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul, OPDV and the NYS DDPC for their leadership in establishing the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council to improve the safety and wellbeing of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.  OPWDD is committed to partnering with our fellow State Agencies in this endeavor.”

New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Acting Executive Director Vicky Hiffa said, “We know that people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of domestic violence than people without disabilities.  The Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is pleased to partner with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence on this important initiative to educate staff at both IDD and DV provider agencies on how to recognize the signs of Domestic Violence for people with disabilities and to respond appropriately with accessible information and resources. We commend OPDV on selecting a robust Advisory Council to shape the project and are confident these members will help strengthen the project outcomes.”

The list of members is available below:

  • Nancy Nowak – Senior Advocate in the Protection and Advocacy for People with ID/DD Program, Disability Rights NY
  • Vanessa E. Eybers – Director of Employment Services, Camp Venture
  • Janna Kopacki – Director of Benefit Services, Southern Adirondack Independent Living Center
  • Michelle Cook – Tribe Care Manager Supervisor, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
  • Imani Whitfield – Crime Victim Advocate, Albany County DA
  • Alexa Donnelly – Deputy Executive Director, Person Centered Care Services
  • Anastasia Holoboff – Senior Legal Advisor, Women Enabled International
  • Laura Holland – Owner, All Ability Wellness
  • Mona Kelly – Paraprofessional, Amityville Public Schools
  • Andrew Richardson – Direct Support Professional, Heritage Christian Services
  • Susan Ruff – Advocacy Director, Southern Tier Independence Center
  • Tiffany Pavone – Project Director, Community Services for Every1