THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON NAMES MEMBERS TO THE PRESIDENT'S COMMITTEE ON MENTAL RETARDATION
The President today announced his intent to appoint Lorenzo H. Aguilar-Melancon, Robert D. Dinerstein, Ann Forts, Ruth Luckasson, Tom E.C. Smith, Deborah Spitalnik, and Cathy Ficker Terrill as members of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation.
Lorenzo H. Aguilar-Melancon, of El Paso, Texas, 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 Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) of Texas and a Governor's appointee to the Texas Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Intervention. Mr. Aguilar-Melancon is an active member of the Life Management Center, an agency that raises funds for programs and improvement of services for parents of children with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. He received a B.F.A. and an M.A. from the University of New Mexico.
Robert D. Dinerstein, of Bethesda, Maryland, is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at American University's Washington College of Law. He has taught at the law school since 1983, and was director of its clinical program from 1988 to 1996. Mr. Dinerstein also teaches a seminar on law and disability, and has given numerous presentations on the Americans With Disabilities Act. He is an active member of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), serving as President of its Legal Process and Advocacy Division of AAMR (1990-1992) and co-editor of AAMR's revised Consent Handbook. Mr. Dinerstein received an A.B. from Cornell University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Ann Forts, of Moultonboro, New Hampshire, is one of two self-advocates ever appointed to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation. She is currently a member of the New Hampshire Developmental Disabilities Council and the Board of Directors for the New Hampshire area American Association on Mental Retardation. Ms. Forts is founder of the Ann's "UP" fundraising initiative for the benefit of members of the National Down Syndrome Congress and recently established the Annie Forts "UP" Syndrome Fund. This new fund is the first fund established on a nationwide basis to help people with Down Syndrome to improve their lives and to establish scholarships in the field of developmental disabilities. Ms. Forts is a popular, nationally recognized speaker and advocate for the needs and rights of citizens with disabilities, especially those with mental retardation.
Ruth Luckasson, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is Regent's Professor of Special Education and Coordinator of Mental Retardation Programs at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. She teaches courses, conducts research, advises students, and provides other services to the university and the community. Ms. Luckasson is also Chair of the American Association on Mental Retardation's Ad Hoc Committee on Terminology and Classification, and the former Chair of the Arc Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Committee. She received a B.S. and an M.A. from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from the University of New Mexico Law School.
Tom E.C. Smith, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is an Associate Dean and Professor in the College of Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). He has served as the Executive Director of the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities for the Council for Exceptional Children since 1994, and is a past President. At the UALR, Dr. Smith teaches graduates courses in Special Education. He has authored ten textbooks, numerous book chapters, and more than thirty journal articles relating to education in the field of mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. Dr. Smith formerly served as Chairperson of the Department of Special Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received a B.A. degree and an M.E. degree from the University of Mississippi and an Ed.D. from Texas Tech University.
Deborah Spitalnik, of Stockton, New Jersey, is the Executive Director of the University Affiliated Program of New Jersey (UAPNJ), a program that provides pre-service interdisciplinary training in developmental disabilities to student trainees, continuing educational programs to persons already working in the field of developmental disabilities, and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. As an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Dr. Spitalnik trains medical students, resident physicians, and other professionals in the field of developmental disabilities. She has served as a Governor's appointee to the New Jersey Developmental Disabilities Council and the Governor's Council on the Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Spitalnik received an A.B. from Brandeis University, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Temple University.
Cathy Ficker Terrill, of Elmhurst, Illinois, has been the Vice-President of Quality and Strategic Planning at Ray Graham Association since 1993, a non-profit, local community agency that provides support to people with developmental disabilities. Ms. Terrill was recently elected as Vice President of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR). She has completed extensive strategic planning in post-communist countries, as well as Saudi Arabia, to create and expand services for people with disabilities in developing countries. She is a long-time advocate who has held many positions in the field of developmental disabilities, previously serving as Director of the Illinois Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities, Chief of the Bureau of Long Term Care, and the ARC Residential Services Director in her state. Ms. Terrill has served on numerous boards at the local, State, and national levels, including the AAMR Board of Directors and the Illinois Early Intervention Council. She has received numerous awards and citations, including an AAMR Fellow Award, the Association for Persons with Severe Disabilities Burton Blatt Award, and the ARC Illinois Professional of the Year. Ms. Terrill received a B.A. degree from Clarke College in Iowa.
The President's Committee on Mental Retardation was created by Executive Order in May, 1966. The Committee provides advice and assistance to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services and publishes an annual report regarding the concerns of the mental retardation community.