Director Linda McDowell Offers Thoughts Post Summit

Posted on September 9, 2015


Dr. Linda McDowell - NCDB Project Director

As most of you in our Deaf-Blind Technical Assistance (TA) Network know, a few months ago I became the director of the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB). In February, after 16 years directing the Mississippi Deaf-Blind TA project, as well as implementing several other systems change, teacher training, and family support projects, I moved to Oregon to join with staff at the national project. 

Linda McDowell at podium at Summit group meeting

                                                Director Linda McDowell addresses session participants

For the past 7 months, I have taken the opportunity to engage in as much dialogue as I could, hoping to learn, and seeking clarity on the work in place and the work to follow.  Summit 2015 came quickly. Thank you for your participation at our annual meeting – the conversation, the collective planning, the feedback and suggestions.

Several years ago the deaf-blind network (the national center and the state projects) was charged with finding national solutions to national problems, identifying efforts that would improve the lives of every child in every state.  The result has been national initiatives to focus on this grant cycle and during each Summit - Early Identification and Referral, Literacy, Transition, Interveners and Qualified Personnel, Family Engagement and Child Count.  The initiatives represent the common content that helps our technical assistance network touch the children and their families and achieve the outcomes we seek – learning and participation in a meaningful life.  How we touch the children, their families and their service providers, are our common technical assistance practices.  Other sessions at Summit addressed these topics as well – building our community and network engagement, the process of implementation, project and data management, and future directions.

Even with two days, there was not the time at Summit for all of us to have focused conversation on each initiative.  It is my hope that, collectively, we can address the difficulties, expand the successes, use the effective common practices, and make the necessary modifications for successful implementation of each of the initiatives.  As we move into year 3 of our grants, I believe this is the perfect time to invite additional and expanded discussion of our collaborative work.  This blog is the first in, what I hope to be, a series of posts designed to encourage all states to engage in the tools and processes developed for each of the national initiatives. 

As a start, I would like to direct you back to the 2015 Summit materials on the NCDB website. There you will find per each of the national initiatives and our common practices of TA: (1) the pre-Summit material intended to sum up collective work that has been done to date, (2) Summit notes, and (3) Summit action steps that indicate again that together we can do a better job at making a difference for every child in every state.  

Viewing the materials from each session can be helpful to you whether you participated in a session or not.  Within these materials are activities, tools and processes that will help you within your state efforts. You may find additional ways to link to other states for implementation partnerships when limited resources make it very difficult to implement on your own.  You will also notice opportunities for sharing successes from your own state and your partnerships as a way to contribute to the success of this network.

Forum posts will also be coming to the network from each of the initiative and technical assistance practices leads, giving summaries of what has been developed, what is developing, and the various ways a state project might elect to engage in implementation.  Conversation will be encouraged and I expect they will include discussion of difficulties, potential modifications, and stories of success.  Check in with the Initiative Groups on the NCDB website for these evolving conversations.

Please feel free to contact each initiative lead for more specific information on these groups:

Early Identification: Megan Cote

Literacy: Nancy Steele

Transition: Mike Fagbemi

Interveners and other Qualified Personnel: Amy Parker

Family Engagement: Megan Cote

Child Count: Mark Shalock

Technical Assistance Practices leads are as follows:

Network Engagement: Sam Morgan

TA Implementation Practices: Peggy Malloy

Evaluation: Mark Shalock

Future Directions: Linda McDowell

In the next few weeks, we will begin a series of Wednesday webinars, continuing throughout the Fall, and into the Winter and Spring.  These webinars will provide more in-depth information and allow for questions and suggestions on each of the national initiatives and common technical assistance practices.

I will open this webinar series on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, noon PST.  This will be an opportunity for me to offer some post-Summit clarification on direction – addressing questions, hearing concerns, and listening for suggestions related to any one of the initiatives.  As always, this NCDB webinar will be recorded and you can contact me afterwards for more conversation.  I am looking forward to this opportunity to connect with you all again. 

As I mentioned earlier, Summit came very quickly and focusing at this year’s meeting was, for me, a challenge.  My brother was in the last days of his life. He was quickly losing his five and a half year battle with ALS. My thoughts were on him and our family.  He passed away August 9.

As we begin this next year together, I am looking forward to talking and listening, creating open dialogue about the work in front of us.  I hope you will join me during the September webinar

Comments (5)

Linda, I am really sorry to hear about your brother. I hope you and your family are doing as well as possible....

Summit was really an exceptional event for me and so many other people I talked with. The sharing of ideas seeing friends and making new connections.... It's really a great thing to work in the field of deafblindness.

I am very appreciative of the efforts of NCDB to solicit and nurture new ideas. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we accomplish!

Chris Montgomery

Posted Sep 29, 2015 by Chris Montgomery

Linda thank you for your valuable thoughts on this last year's summit. I gained a lot of useful and valuable information from attending summit and by participating in the initiatives on an ongoing basis afterward. I did not realize your brother was sick and suffering and I am so sorry for what he had to endure in the last part of his life and I'm sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences.

Stacy Aguilera

Posted Sep 28, 2015 by Stacy Aguilera

I so much appreciated the pace and structure of Summit and the opportunity to plan and be deliberate in the work for this year. It has been very exciting to watch as you, Linda, have looked closely at the ongoing work and shaped a vision for all of us working together. I think a conversation with you is a great way to begin year 3 of our grants and I hope that members of the network will come prepared to talk about all of it...the successes, the hopes and the how are we ever going to do all of this!

Gail Leslie

Posted Sep 27, 2015 by Gail Leslie

How incredible that this tiny field has the benefit of such an excellent, collaborative, national structure! I am always amazed at the power of this group. I look forward to the year ahead and MORE joint dialogue! Cyral

Cyral Miller

Posted Sep 26, 2015 by Cyral Miller

Thanks Linda for sharing with us your ideas and thoughts related to the 2015 Summit, and making all the proceeding information accessible.
I'll be attending the webinar to continue the wonderful dialogue initiated at the Summit about more parental involvement in different state projects.
Looking forward seeing you and a nice number of friends in the next webinar.

Clara Berg

Posted Sep 10, 2015 by Clara Berg

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