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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 5, 1994



President Clinton today announced his intention to appoint the final eight members to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation. The appointees are Gisselle Acevedo Franco of California, Tom Smith of Arkansas, Robert Dinerstein of Maryland, Cathy Ficker Terrill of Illinois, Deborah Spitalnik Ph.D., of New Jersey, Lorenzo Aguilar-Melan?on of Texas, Ruth Luckasson of New Mexico, and Virginia Williams of Washington, D.C.

"We have now assembled a strong and dynamic group of advocates, self advocates, family members and professionals who share our common vision of moving from exclusion to inclusion, from dependence to independence, from paternalism to empowerment," the President said. "I look forward to the leadership that these dedicated appointees will provide to the committee."

Ms. Franco is a Staff Advocate and Director of Multi-cultural Outreach at California Protection and Advocacy Inc. She is active in many social service agencies and is a member of the California State Bar Committee on Disabilities and the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities.

Mr. Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He also served as the Director of Research and Evaluation of the University of Arkansas University Affiliated Program. He formerly served as Chairperson of the Department of Special Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Mr. Dinerstein is a Professor and the Director of Clinical Programs at the American University Washington College of Law. He is the former President of the American Association on Mental Retardation Legal Process and Advocacy Division, and a former trial attorney at the Department of Justice.

Cathy Ficker Terrill is the Assistant to the President of the Ray Graham Association, a non-profit organization. She formerly served as Executive Director of the Illinois Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Director of Residential Services for the Arc of Illinois.

Dr. Spitalnik is the Executive Director of the University Affiliated Program of New Jersey and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Mr. Aguilar-Melanon is the President of PERSPECTIVA, an architecture, planning, interior design, and construction management company. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the ARC of Texas and a Governor's Appointee to the Texas Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Intervention.

Ms. Luckasson is a Professor of Special Education at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque and the Coordinator of the Mental Retardation Programs. She is also the current Chair of the American Association on Mental Retardation Ad Hoc Committee on Terminology and Classification and the Chair of the Arc Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Committee.

Ms. Williams currently serves as a Senior Advisory to the Georgetown University Child Development Center where she recently retired as Associate Director for Community Planning. She is a member of the National Task Force on Cultural Diversity for the Administration of Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Williams has a long history of advocating for the rights of those with developmental disabilities. In 1957 she opened Washington D.C.'s first primary school for children with mental retardation.

The President's Committee on Mental Retardation consists of twenty-one members and advises President Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala on programs and services relating to persons with mental retardation.