By Jill Hinton, PhD 

A photo of a poster colored in by event participants showing Philadelphia City Hall

The 2024 START National Training Institute on May 6-8 in Philadelphia, PA was a resounding success! We had 254 registrations for individuals representing 26 states and Washington, D.C. with an overall satisfaction rate of 93%!

Our 2024 SNTI experience offered us all a time to reflect on our understanding of resilience and each of our roles in promoting and sustaining individual and collective resilience. This was a gathering of like-minded people who are committed to building communities from a strength-based perspective while honoring the stories of those who have faced barriers. What was our collective learning from this gathering? 

Resilience is a dynamic and evolving process as opposed to a static personality trait.  We can no longer view resilience from a narrow lens. The personal journeys shared by speakers like Dan Tomasulo and Richard Chapman provided us with insight into this truth. Dan shared his evolving journey of failures and successes that shaped him, how resilience waxed and waned over the years, and how people on the path supported him. Richard reminded us to always see people with IDD as active agents in their own lives which is directly related to promoting resilience.  

We have to understand resilience outside of the concepts of competencies and independence. In the IDD field, there is a history of measuring success and resilience based on the outcome of becoming more ‘independent.' The reality is that none of us are independent – we are interdependent. And interdependence is a pathway to building resilience. Richard described this as ‘shared citizenship’ – we are all in this together! 

Resilience is a shared and ordinary process held up by connectivity and community. Throughout the three days of SNTI, the critical nature of relationships with community partners was on display. Sessions demonstrated ways to create access to appropriate healthcare, inclusion and belonging in education, and equitable and just treatment in the legal system. We can truly only build resilience through our community relationships.  

We left SNTI with the challenge to think critically about whether we are asking people to adapt internally without addressing the adverse conditions that create the need for resilience. Andy Arias was adamant in making this point – that we are all called to address social justice issues that affect people with IDD. And this means thinking outside of our ‘cute’ boxes and not letting the status quo get in the way. Shawn Aleong reminded us that there are intersections of ‘-isms’ like racism and ableism and that these systems of oppression pile up on people. We cannot promote resilience without naming and addressing these systemic barriers with intentional action.   

How did we leave SNTI 2024?  With the hope that we embody… 

  • Discomfort about seeing resilience as static character trait, so we can speak truth about community resilience 

  • Anger about ableism, racism, all forms of oppression so we can work for justice and belonging for all people 

  • Passion and audacity to believe that we can make a difference in the lives of people with IDD 


The sessions were wonderful. They were really applicable and I am taking a lot of ideas back with me. 

The speakers this year were amazing. Having someone who experiences disabilities speak about reality- keeps things real. I also left with a sense of hope and recharged. ​

There was so much excellence this year that I plan on taking back to my team. I learned about important IDD policy efforts across the country and attendant resources, got re-energized about START research, and got some practical skills-oriented content that will benefit my staff tremendously. It was also great to network and feel in solidarity with other START programs. Finally, I feel challenged in a good way by the self-advocates at the table. I felt so thankful for that leadership and for NCSS for making space for it. 


2024 START Awards

Congratulations to all our 2024 START Award recipients!

The Janel Burroughs Award (START Resource Center Counselors and Resource Center Directors) 

Adria Little (North Carolina -East) 

Mallory Willis (North Carolina-Central) 

START Therapeutic Coaching (Coaches and Coaching Team Leaders)       

Juliana Hartsog (California-San Diego)     

Alexandra Smith (North Carolina-Central) 

START Team Member (Certified START Coordinators and Team Leaders)     

Evelyn Espinoza (California-Central Valley) 

Yakira Evans (California-East Bay) 

Amy Huff (North Carolina-West) 

Casey Wells (Iowa) 

START Team Leadership (Clinical Directors, Program Directors, and Medical Directors) 

Rose Hazlitt (New York-Region 1)  

Chelsie Moody (California-East Bay) 

Yenifer Gallegos-Mejia (California-Central Valley)

START Network Partner (Adult Services)        

Mirella Quaranta (California-multiple programs) 

START Network Partner (Children's Services)       

Mary Beth Hooks (North Carolina – Central and East) 

Care Coordination/Case Management/Service Coordination   

Melissa Ackernecht (New York-Region 2) 

A group of several people posing for a photo on a stage in a hotel conference room

2024 START Research Poster Awards

Congratulations to all our 2024 START Research Poster Award recipients!

1st Place: CA START North Bay

Homelessness & Crisis: Who Will Answer the Call?

Ikema Ross, Florentina Mendoza Jimenez, Hayley Garnic

2nd Place: NY START Region 4 Triborough

Gynecological Disparities in IDD

Chelsea Shepard, Katy Stratigos, Oruada Oruada, Calvin Muza

3rd Place: CA START Golden Gate

Sleep Patterns and Wellbeing

Stephanie Parker and Alyssa Smith 

Honorable Mention: CA START San Diego

Evaluation of Psychotropic Polypharmacy in California START Programs

Wajdi Akef Fakhoury and Symone Pompey

Community Honorable Mention: IntellectAbility

Efficacy of the Curriculum in IDD Healthcare eLearn Course for Clinician Training

Craig Escude and Lorene Reagan