GCDD e-news


GCDD E newsletter December 2022

A Digital Newsletter from the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities   •   December 2022

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities newsletter from keeps you up-to-date on the latest news from what’s happening with public policy in Georgia to COVID-19 updates to upcoming events. This issue has a special feature remembering the legacy of Lois Curtis and a recap of the 2022 midterm elections in Georgia.

In This Issue:


A Message from GCDD Executive Director

D'Arcy Robb A teenage girl pleading for aid for her brother. A young man sharing the story of the isolation that defined his life for decades. Provider after provider, talking about the near impossibility of providing care when you can pay staff less than what a McDonald’s employee makes. And parent after parent, sharing some of the most challenging realities of their families’ lives. The stories had a common theme—how families are scraping support together for their loved ones with disabilities, under circumstances that would try even the most resilient souls. Situations that families currently deal with include waiting years for a waiver or struggling to find providers even once a waiver is secured, or having their child placed in an out of state residential treatment center with no support at discharge once they return home.

These are just a few examples of the testimonies that the Senate Study Committee on People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Waiver Plan Access has heard over the past few months. These stories can be incredibly hard to listen to. And yet, a common theme at the committee’s November meeting was hope, which makes me think of Lois Jeanette Curtis.

People reading this know that Lois was sent to live at Georgia Regional Hospital when she was just 11 years old. She spent her teens and twenties in and out institutions. Somehow, some way, Lois never lost her hope that things could be different. She was famous for calling her attorney and asking when she could get out. Not only did she get out, but Lois and Elaine Wilson paved the way for people with disabilities all across the country to live in the community, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in their favor in Olmstead v. LC.

Lois is no longer with us, but her legacy shines every time someone in the disability community speaks a hard truth while holding onto hope that things can be better, and putting in the good, hard work to make it so.

By shining a light on what so many Georgians with disabilities and their families are experiencing, we’re setting ourselves up to change things for the better. That brings me great hope!

D'Arcy Robb, Executive Director

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

GCDD Welcomes New Public Policy Fellow

Aaron QuickAaron Quick is the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (GCDD) new Public Policy Fellow. He has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and a master’s degree in Social Work from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Currently he is enrolled in the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work Policy, Planning and Administration, and Social Science Ph.D. Program at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. His area of research in the Ph.D. Program is Criminal Justice. Through his education, Quick has experience doing legislation and policy analysis. He said having a bachelor's and master’s degree in social work has equipped him with significant knowledge and competency to work with people with disabilities, using the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, and ableist speech in the workplace, and in agency policy. Additionally, he has worked for the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity at North Carolina State University, volunteered at Canine CellMates, a rehabilitation program in Atlanta, Georgia, and was a research assistant for In Her Hands, a Georgia Resilience and Opportunity (GRO) Fund flagship project also in Atlanta, Georgia.

With his degree focusing on policy and leadership, Quick’s goal is to become a legislator one day. A motto he lives by is “Slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be so learn to enjoy the journey.” He has an older brother who lives with autism and therefore has a personal connection working with and creating spaces for individuals living with developmental disabilities. In his free time, Quick enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and bicycle riding. He also enjoys flying and taking aerial footage with his drone, traveling to different countries like Spain, Italy, and France, and singing karaoke with friends.

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

2022 Midterm Elections Recap

Public Policy for the People provides public policy updates as it pertains to people with disabilities here in Georgia.

Georgia State Capitol BuildingHello Advocates,

The polls are closed, and votes are in. We are excited to give you an election recap of Georgia's elections that were held on November 8. Georgia saw a robust early voting turnout with over 1,668,609 votes cast beginning October 17. Compared to 2018’s early voting turn out, which was 1,192,688, there was an increase of 475,921 early votes. A total of 3,964,068 votes were casted throughout Georgia's elections.

This election determined one of Georgia's two United States Senate seats as well as Georgia’s elected offices of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, labor commissioner, agriculture commissioner, superintendent of Georgia, and insurance commissioner.

In Georgia, if neither candidate receives 50+1% of the vote they are forced to go into a run-off election. Georgia’s U.S. senate seat will be going into a run-off between Senator Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. The run-off election will be held on December 6 and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To check and make sure you are registered for this upcoming election, you can click here. Early voting started on November 28, and ended December 2. For more information on Senator Warnock’s and Herschel Walker’s campaign goals and initiatives, you can watch our candidate video here.

Here is a breakdown of wins and losses during Georgia's elections. Election winners are highlighted and underlined.


Brian Kemp 53.43%
Stacey Abrams 45.87%

Lieutenant Governor: 

Burt Jones 51.39%
Charlie Bailey 46.43%

Secretary of State:

Brad Raffensperger 53.23%
Bee Nguyen 43.99%
Ted Metz 2.78%

Attorney General:

Chris Carr 51.86%
Jenifer “Jen” Jordan 46.60%
Martin Cowen 1.53%

Commissioner of Agriculture:

Tyler Harper 52.97%
Nakita Hemingway 44.83%
David Radudabugh 2.19%

Commissioner of Insurance:

John King 54.10%
Janice Laws Robinson 45.90%

State School Superintendent: 

Richard Woods 45.19%
Alisha Thomas Searcy 45.81%

Commissioner of Labor:

Bruce Thompson 52.08%
William “Will” Boddie 45.33%
Emily Anderson 2.59%

This is not a full list of candidates that either won re-election or are newly elected. To find your specific state house member or state senator you can find out who they are by visiting the Open State's website and going to the Secretary of State’s website to find their specific race.

Soon we will find out who will be the second U.S. senator that represents the intellectual and developmental disability community, but our advocacy does not stop at the polls! Now is the perfect time to reach out to your newly elected or re-elected legislator and make sure they understand the issues in the disability community. GCDD will be happy to help support your advocacy in any way we can! For more information, visit www.gcdd.org.

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

Remembering Lois Curtis and the Olmstead Decision

Lois CurtisLois Jeanette Curtis, whose wish to live life on her own terms became what we now know as the Olmstead decision, died on November 3, 2022, at age 55. Curtis, who was known as an advocate, artist, sister, and friend, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in her home in Clarkston, Georgia. 

Diagnosed with both an intellectual disability and mental illness at a young age, Curtis spent her teens and early twenties living in many institutions across the state of Georgia. Like so many people during that time, the warehousing of people with disabilities was normal and living outside of those walls was only a dream. After more than twenty years of moving from one mental institution to another, Curtis met an attorney from Atlanta Legal Aid named Susan Jamieson. That meeting led her to make one request from Miss Jamieson, “Can you please get me out of here?”

In 1995 Atlanta Legal Aid took Curtis’ request (along a similar ask from Elaine Wilson), in the form of a lawsuit, to the Supreme Court. The suit filed against Tommy Olmstead, who was then Georgia’s Commissioner of Human Services, demanded that the state move Curtis to a group home or smaller community-based housing where she could receive more appropriate community-based care. Curtis would become the lead plaintiff in Olmsted v L.C. in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that warehousing people with mental illness in institutions was discrimination under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Shy Girl by Lois CurtisWhile the Olmstead decision focused on those living in psychiatric hospitals, subsequent cases after that ruling solidified that Olmstead applied to all state and Medicaid-funded institutions, including nursing facilities.

Gillian Grable, head of community outreach at the Institute on Human Development and Disability, met Curtis when she was a teenager. Grable attended the Supreme Court Olmstead hearing and recalls, “The justices were peppering the attorneys with questions, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said something like, ‘What does that mean if everyone needs 24/7 care?’  When O’Connor announced that she was retiring from the Supreme Court to go home to Arizona and take care of her husband who had Alzheimer’s disease I found it curious. So many of us from all walks of life could and would benefit from the hallowed belief that we all need support at times to make our contribution to our community.”

Once free to live in her community, Curtis found joy in advocating for increased access to the arts. She was a self-taught artist—most well known for her brightly colored portraits which showcased her love of people. Later in life she fell in love with music and expressed herself through singing. 

Curtis was laid to rest at Atlanta’s South-View Cemetery which is often referred to as the Civil Rights Cemetery. It earned this nickname as it is the final resting place for more than 80,000 African Americans, many of whom were leaders in American history and the struggle for freedom and equal rights.

Lois Curtis’ spirit lives on as many still fight for the chance to live and thrive in their community, as was the promise of Olmstead.

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

2023 GCDD Advocacy Days

GCDD Advocacy Days Logo 2019FThe Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is looking forward to a changemaking 2023 session! The 2023 session will bring many new opportunities, including GCDD’s popular advocacy day events. We heard from the community about preferred methods and topics of GCDD’s advocacy days, and we’re excited to provide you with additional details.

We heard from the community that a hybrid event was preferred, so we went to work crafting what we believe will be the most effective strategy for hosting our annual advocacy days next year. During the 2023 session, we will again host three advocacy days, but this time they will take place over two days. Each event will consist of a virtual portion where we discuss the topic and how best to prepare ourselves for advocating followed by an in-person opportunity for advocates to meet GCDD staff and partners at the Georgia State Capitol to advocate for the issues in person. For the first time since 2019, we are thrilled to be able to be back in person advocating with you all under the Gold Dome! Although we encourage attendees to attend both days, attendance at Day 1 is not required for you to join us on Day 2 at the Capitol.

Mark your calendars for the following 2023 Advocacy Days dates and times:

  • Inclusive Post Secondary Education (IPSE) Day:
    • Virtual Day 1: Tuesday, January 24
      • 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. OR 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
    • In-Person Day 2: Wednesday, January 25*
      • 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Waivers and Wages Day:
    • Virtual Day 1: Wednesday, February 15
      • 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. OR 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
    • In-Person Day 2: Thursday, February 16*
      • 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • Advancing Employment First and Ending Subminimum Wage Day:
    • Virtual Day 1: Tuesday, March 7
      • 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. OR 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
    • In-Person Day 2: Wednesday, March 8*
      • 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

To Register for Advocacy Days, click here.

*Advocacy Days dates are subject to change based on the legislative session calendar

Please be sure to look out for more details about how to sign up and participate with us during the scheduled Advocacy Days. As always, visit GCDD's website to stay up to date with all the latest GCDD advocacy opportunities and information.

GCDD Public Policy Team:
Dr. Alyssa Miller, Public Policy Research and Development Director: 
Charlie Miller, Legislative Advocacy Director: 

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

Project SEARCH Employment Preparation Model Kickstarts Careers for Georgians with Disabilities

Project SEARCProject SEARCH LogoH helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) improve their quality of life, maximize their independence, and enhance their community engagement through meaningful, competitive employment. The Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work Program is a unique, business-led, one-year employment preparation program that takes place entirely at the workplace. This international program has operated in Georgia since 2000. In the past five years, Project SEARCH Georgia has successfully led more than 430 individuals to careers in competitive integrated employment.

Project SEARCH Georgia operates 25 sites at businesses and hospitals that facilitate training for people with IDD. With a recent $1,225,000 Congressionally Directed Spending grant, Project SEARCH is opening eight new sites in Georgia, expanding opportunities in rural Georgia for students and young adults.

Project SEARCH Georgia prepares students and young adults ages 18-26 for careers at training sites through a 36-week training program, which includes classroom instruction and three, nine-week internship rotations. The sites may train students in their last year of school or young adults. Because more funding is available for students than young adults no longer in school, most of Project SEARCH Georgia’s sites only serve students; however, the new grant is allowing Project SEARCH Georgia to open eight new sites that will serve young adults. Four of the sites will serve only young adults, and four of the sites will by hybrid, serving both students and young adults.

Bonnie Seery, Ph.D., a former teacher, special education director, and employment specialist, coordinates Project SEARCH Georgia and is passionate about preparing individuals with IDD for employment. “I knew that there were a number of individuals that we were missing while still in school. They would go through school, but that didn’t mean they would have successful employment when they left school,” said Seery. “This is the group we’re really working to reach with the new sites—people who want to work that could be successfully employed with right training and job skills.”

Workforce participation and competitive, integrated employment bring more than just a job for people with IDD. Opportunity and inclusion in the workplace and competitive, integrated employment; it also bolsters self-worth, independence, and overall quality of life for individuals who are often given fewer opportunities and devalued in the workplace.

“The difference you make in communities’, families’, and individuals’ with IDD lives is astounding,” said Seery. “Their confidence—and self-worth—is built up through successful employment in desirable careers.”

For a job to be considered competitive, integrated employment, workers must be paid a competitive wage and work alongside people with and without IDD. Competitive, integrated employment does not include jobs paying subminimum wage—a legal practice of paying people with IDD less that the minimum wage—or segregated workplaces, like sheltered workshops, that employ people with IDD in separate programs that do not include people without IDD.

Project SEARCH Georgia needs more funding support to ensure the program’s sustainability. While the Congressionally Directed Spending grant brought a surge of new sites, it is only a one-year grant. The Project SEARCH Georgia team is enthusiastic and dedicated to keeping new and existing sites active. The program is actively seeking support from the state of Georgia for financial support to staff adult programs and funds to maintain the new and current sites.

For more information, visit www.projectsearch.us/find-a-program.

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

GCDD Storytelling Project's Book Release & Author Reading

GCDD Book Launch PromoJoin the GCDD Storytelling Project's Book Release and Author Reading. Please tune in and hear authors from the Georgia Council on Developmental Disability's Storytelling Project read their published works! The Cow Tipping Press Book Authors are:

  • Ronald Bovell
  • Wesley Ford
  • Derek Heard
  • Christopher Fleming
  • Kyleigh Kramlich
  • Kristian Thomas
  • Tina Wheeler
  • Jessica Winowich
  • Joshua Williams 

The event is Wednesday, December 7 at 12:00 Noon on Facebook Live at http://bit.ly/3GRFWMp. This event will be provide CART/ASL support.

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

CalendarSpotlightHeader 1123x192

Tuesdays with Tootle
December 6, 6:30 p.m.

Engage with Stancil Tootle, an experienced disability advocate, and his guests in a conversation to educate yourself and the community on critical current events and disability issues. Join Tuesdays with Tootle every Tuesday at 6:30pm.

Learn More

BlueStarDivider 1129x63

Did you enjoy the e-newsletter?

Give Feedback


Tags: GCDD, Developmental Disabilities, enews, newsletter