Thursday, May 26, 2016

Here's What I Would Ask

I mentioned in my last blog post that Steve Walker, director of the mayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments, thought they would start reviewing candidates to succeed Laura Nuss this week.  So far, folks who would have expected to be involved in the first round haven’t been contacted.  Let’s hope there are some top-notch candidates who’ve expressed interest so things can get moving soon.  The annual meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDS) will take place in a couple of weeks, and I hope there will be some lively lobbying there to get more people interested in applying.

I won’t be at the table for the selection of the new director, but if I were here are some questions I would want to ask:

  •           What do you view as your greatest personal accomplishment in the past five years to improve the lives of adults with developmental disabilities?
  •           Besides closeout of the Evans case, what will be your #1 priority if you are chosen for this position?
  •           What is your personal record of advancing organizational change and motivating staff for sometimes unpopular reforms?
  •           What actions have you taken in previous jobs to foster public transparency and increase give and take with stakeholders, including families?
  •           How do you plan to approach the legislation on commitment that is currently under consideration in the D.C. council?
  •           As director, would you advocate for broadening DC waiver services to citizens with autism or other developmental disabilities who do not have an intellectual disability?

For background on any of these questions, a good start for candidates or other readers would be to click on the Advocacy label in this blog and read some of my past postings.  If you have additional concerns, post a comment!  There’s a lot of work ahead to make things better in our city for citizens with developmental disabilities, and we want to be sure the new director builds on past progress and takes our hopes for the future to heart.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Here's the Scoop

It’s taken some doing, but at last I have a fairly clear picture of how Laura Nuss’s successor at DDS is going to be chosen.  The selection process is being handled by the mayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments (MOTA), headed by Steven Walker (, in very close collaboration with the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, Brenda Donald (   Based on conversations with Steve Walker, this is how I understand the process will unfold.

The position already is being advertised, with outreach through a number of different channels normally used for executive-level positions as well as more targeted advertisements to reach those already in positions similar to the DDS director job who might be interested in applying.  MOTA has not yet collected a large enough pool of candidates to move to the first round of consideration, and Walker is eager to receive specific names of individuals he might want to reach out to.  So if you know of someone – for example someone good in a DDS director or deputy DDS director job in another state – it’s important to let Steve Walker and Brenda Donald know.                  

By May 23 or so he hopes to have a pool of at least 4 or 5 viable candidates so that the first round of consideration can start.  This first round is most important for the disability community, because this initial panel will include stakeholders in addition to D.C. government representatives.  “Stakeholders” will definitely include representatives of DDS-affiliated commissions such as the State Rehabilitation Commission (SRC), the State Independent Living Commission (SILC), and the Developmental Disabilities Commission (DDC).  (See my page, “Acronyms and Organizations You Should Know,” for more background on these commissions.)  Beyond these, there are plans to include organizations such as the Quality Trust (, University Legal Services (, and Georgetown’s University Center (, and hopefully also the Family Support Council and Project Action!  I have encouraged Steve to include representation by the local D.C. Autism Society chapter ( as well, since the DDS-administered Medicaid waiver will hopefully extend eligibility beyond those with intellectual disabilities on the new director’s watch.  (See my earlier post, “On the Spectrum in D.C.,” October 23, 2014, at

After the field of candidates has been narrowed to the strongest 3 or 4, in a second round of consideration MOTA, the deputy mayor’s office, and the National Association of State Directors of National Disabilities Services (NASDDDS, will examine these candidates and narrow them down to a final 2 or 3, with the final round including Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Donald, the city administrator, and the mayor’s chief of staff to make the final selection of an individual who will go before the council for final confirmation.

As I look at this process, I would anticipate that Andy will be acting throughout the summer.  I’ll do my best to keep you as informed as I can as I learn more about the timing.