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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 22, 1999



The President today announced his intent to reappoint Robert Dinerstein, Ann Forts, Sally Jochum, Deborah Spitalnik, and Cathy Ficker Terrill as members of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation (PCMR).

Mr. Robert D. Dinerstein, of Bethesda, Maryland, is a professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs at American University, Washington College of Law, where he has taught since 1983. Prior to coming to the Washington College of Law, he was an attorney for five years at the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, where he litigated cases concerning conditions in state mental retardation, metal illness, and juvenile institutions. For many years, he has taught a disability law seminar at the law school. He is the author of numerous publications and has made many presentations related to the field of developmental disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other subjects. Mr. Dinerstein is a former president of AAMR's Legal Process and Advocacy Division. He has served on various boards of directors and committees that address legal issues for people with mental retardation, including the Maryland Disability Law Center, Mental Disabilities Rights International, and the District of Columbia legislative task force. He is co-editor and co-author, with Stan Herr and Joan O'Sullivan, of A GUIDE TO CONSENT (AAMR, 1999). Mr. Dinerstein has an A.B. degree from Cornell University and a J.D. degree from Yale Law School.

Ms. Ann M. Forts, of Moultonboro, New Hampshire, is only one of two self-advocates ever appointed to this committee. She currently also serves on the board of directors of the Direct Support Professionals Association of New Hampshire and the Lakes Region Community Service Council. Previously, she has served as a board member of the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC); the New Hampshire Developmental Disabilities Council; and the New Hampshire American Association on Mental Retardation. She is founder of two fundraising initiative, the Ann "UP" Fund for the benefit of NDSC and The Annie Forts "UP" Syndrome Fund to help children with Down syndrome all over the country. She also serves as editor of the "Down Syndrome Headline News." Ms. Forts is a popular, nationally recognized motivational speaker and advocate for the needs and rights of people with disabilities, especially those with mental disabilities. She has served as keynote speaker at many national, regional and local conferences, seminars, colleges and schools.

Ms. Sally Ann Jochum, of Olathe, Kansas, is currently an Assistive Technology Specialist for the Johnson County Developmental Supports in Lenexa, Kansas.

Ms. Jochum complies and coordinates an information database regarding assistive technology as well as designing and implementing the screening and assessment process. She provides training and consultation on assessments and implements support plan needs for the consumers she serves. Ms. Jochum is a member of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), and was Chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Retardation Next Generation Leadership Symposium. Ms. Jochum received a B.A. from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dr. Deborah M. Spitalnik, of Stockton, New Jersey, is the Executive Director of the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Development Disabilities of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics. A co-author of the diagnostic manual of the American Association on Mental retardation, Dr. Spitalnik trains medical students, resident physicians and other professionals in the field of developmental disabilities. Dr. Spitalnik has developed innovative health care models for people with developmental disabilities and is involved with policy development, technical assistance and curriculum development in managed health care for people with disabilities. A frequent consultant to state agencies, she serves on the Governor's Council for the Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the New Jersey Developmental Disabilities Council and The Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention. She has been serving as Vice-Chair on the President's Commission on Mental Retardation. Dr. Spitalnik received an A.B. from Brandeis University, an Ed.M. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Temple University.

Ms. Cathy Ficker Terrill, of Elmhurst, Illinois, is the Vice-President of the Brian Injury Association, Inc., headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a non-profit, national agency that strives to create a better future for people with brain injury through prevention, research, education and advocacy. 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 American Association on Mental Retardation 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 was named the ARC Illinois Professional of the Year. Ms. Terrill received a B.A. degree from Clarke College in Iowa and is completing a Master's Degree at the University of Illinois on Disability Policy.

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.