Who is The Arc?
The Arc was founded in 1950 from a grassroots movement of families working to create services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). With more than 600 state and local chapters across the country, The Arc is the oldest and largest organization advocating for and serving people with IDD.
Learn more about The Arc.
Find a chapter of The Arc in your area.
What is The [email protected]?
Since its founding, The Arc has advocated for students with IDD to have access to educational supports and services. The Arc was a driving force in the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, which required schools to educate all students with disabilities for the first time. The [email protected] is The Arc’s newest initiative in special education. The mission of The [email protected] is to build the capacity of our nationwide network of chapters to provide individual advocacy that helps students with IDD and their families navigate the special education system. The [email protected] is available to chapter staff for technical assistance, training, and resources on special education advocacy.
As part of its program planning, The [email protected] conducted an investigation of existing special education advocacy practices. The investigation included a scan of academic research journals for articles on special education advocacy, identification of existing advocacy training programs, conversations with key special education advocacy stakeholders, and outreach to special education advocates in The Arc’s chapter network. The investigation report identifies a list of recommendations, which form the basis for The [email protected]’s current efforts.
The [email protected] Team
Katy (Lernihan) Schmid is the Director of Education and Tech Initiatives at The Arc. She graduated with honors from Longwood University earning her Master’s Degree in education with a K-12 special education certification as well as a K-6 general education certification. During her graduate school internship, she worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist. Following her internship, she accepted a position as a special education teacher in Arlington Public Schools (APS). The resources available at APS allowed for Katy to begin integrating technology into her classroom and she received national press for her use of technology for individuals with disabilities. After many years in the classroom she moved on to Fairfax County Public Schools, to oversee technology integration and implementation for secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities as an Assistive Technology Resource Professional. She immediately saw the impact that assistive technologies can have on the skill advancement of individuals with disabilities. As her passion for technology integration grew, she moved on to become the Director of Professional Services for Rethink First; an EdTech company focused on providing technology support for teachers and students. This allowed her the opportunity to work with school districts all over the Northeast as well as some of the leading experts in disability advocacy.
Katy’s work has been featured by ABC-DC news, TEACH.gov as well as NPR. She believes in The Arc’s mission, shares their values and has dedicated her career to better the lives of individuals with disabilities. Katy joined the team at The Arc in January 2016.
Shawn Ullman is the Senior Director of National Initiatives at The Arc. Shawn joined The Arc as Director of The [email protected] in April 2016. Before joining The Arc, she was a staff attorney for 11 years with Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services (DRDC), the protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities in the District of Columbia. In addition to directly representing children and adults with IDD in seeking services, she participated in numerous advisory groups and testified before the DC Council and several District agencies regarding the need for quality services for people with IDD from schools and state agencies to live, learn, and work alongside their nondisabled peers as much as possible. Prior to DRDC, Shawn was an Equal Justice Works Fellow for Ohio State Legal Services Association, helping to build the capacity of legal service attorneys throughout Ohio to represent students with disabilities and their families in special education matters. Shawn has written educational materials and given presentations to students, parents, educators, government agencies, and other community stakeholders regarding the rights of students and families in the special education process. Shawn received her bachelor’s degree in political science from DePauw University in 1997 and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2001.