ADvancing States Recognizes Three Leaders in Aging and Disability Services with Awards

On August 31st, ADvancing States honored three leaders in aging and disability services with Arthur S. Flemming and Katie Beckett Awards.  ADvancing States and its board of directors are proud to announce that Dan Timmel and Bob Kafka were selected to receive the Arthur S. Flemming award, and Jamie Kendall was presented with the Katie Beckett Award.

The Arthur S. Flemming Award

In 2016, for the first time in the nearly four decades that ADvancing States has issued the Flemming Award, two individuals were selected to receive this honor: Mr. Bob Kafka and Mr. Dan Timmel.

Bob Kafka co-founded ADAPT of Texas, a grassroots civil rights group for people with disabilities, in 1984. He has served in the capacities of local, state and national organizer ever since. In addition, he co-founded and is co-director of the Institute for Disability Access, a disability rights consulting group based in Austin, Texas.

Bob served in the Army from 1966-1967, and earned his M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Houston in 1977. Bob has worked with a large number of disability rights organizations over the past 30 years, including serving as the Executive Director and later President of the Texas Paralyzed Veterans Association.  Bob has also worked with Houston’s Coalition for Barrier Free Living, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and was the cofounder and president Southwest Wheelchair Athletic Association.  He was a member of the Home and Community Based Services Committee for CMS and the Robert Wood Johnson Blue Ribbon Panel on Personal Assistance Services.  He also serves as a Board member of the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS), the Association of People with Severe Handicaps (TASH).

“As a Texan, I can tell you firsthand the impact that Bob has had on the system – both in our state and across the nation,” said ADvancing States President Gary Jessee.  “He has been one of the strongest advocates you could imagine regarding deinstitutionalization, home and community based services, and the full inclusion of people with disabilities for a very long time and the results truly speak for themselves.” 

Dan Timmel started his career as a Hospital Social Worker working on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) providing crisis counseling to families in their time of greatest need.  Dan then worked at the county level in Public Health where he tracked Children’s Adverse Events.  In this space, Dan analyzed events resulting in the death of children.  From here, Dan joined CMS, where he focused on Medicaid Long Term Care Policy. 

Dan’s focus at CMS has been on the well-being of persons served in institutions.  He is a masterful public servant who is passionate about looking after “the other 1 million Medicaid beneficiaries” who live in nursing facilities or other institutions. One of Dan’s many responsibilities at CMS was oversight of the federal PASRR program (Preadmission Screening and Resident Review).  PASRR ensures that all persons with disabilities who enter nursing facilities get the disability services and supports they need. 

Dan took this one small, largely unrecognized program, and through his leadership, educational outreach, and masterful use of collaborations with states, PASRR professionals, vendors and others, turned it into a powerful tool to identify persons to be served in the community versus a nursing facility, and to identify the services critically needed by in nursing facilities, improving the lives of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities across the nation.

“Several of my staff were fortunate enough to work with Dan at CMS, and they always talk about how he is knowledgeable, compassionate, and steadfast in his work” said Martha Roherty, ADvancing States Executive Director.  “It can be hard to remember the people who these programs serve and to keep everything in perspective when you work in the Federal government, but Dan has always done a great job of making sure that everyone understands how abstract policy can truly impact people’s lives.”

About the Award

Since 1978, ADvancing States has chosen one individual in the field of Aging to receive the annual Arthur S. Flemming Award.  Dr. Flemming spent years in public service, culminating with his role as the U.S. Commissioner on Aging.  He served as the Commissioner on Aging until 1978. The core of what is now commonly called the national Aging Network, consisting of state agencies on aging, sub-state area agencies on aging and thousands of service providers grew out of his leadership.  He was involved in the planning of the First White House Conference on Aging in 1971 and fought throughout his career for the dignity and rights of older adults, as well as justice for all persons.

The Katie Beckett Award

ADvancing States and its board of directors is proud to award the 2016 Katie Beckett Award posthumously to Jamie Kendell.  Jamie Kendall served as the Acting Director of Independent Living at the Administration for Community Living in the U.S Department of Health and Human Services until her untimely death in November of 2015.  Jamie began her federal career working at the Administration for Children and Families at HHS and has also worked at the Social Security Administration, developing policies for low income families and individuals with disabilities.  Jamie was a tireless and fierce advocate for children and people with disabilities, and dedicated her career to promoting independent living and improving the lives of all individuals, including those with disabilities.

“Those of us who knew Jamie will always remember the remarkable energy and dedication she brought to her work every day.  She was an incredible advocate, but she was also able to succeed in the highest levels of government without losing focus on the people she was called to serve,” said Martha Roherty.  “We were deeply sorry to hear of her passing, but we know that her legacy will live on as millions of individuals with disabilities live independent, community-based lives.”    

Katie Beckett’s mother, Julie, added, “Forty years ago when Katie was born, people with disabilities were sentenced to a life in a hospital or institution through no fault of their own.  Now, due to the hard work from individuals like Jamie, children and people of all ages with disabilities have hope for a barrier-free future.”

About the award

Born with medical support needs, Katie spent the first years of her life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Though her family and doctors wanted Katie to live at home, there was at that time, no Medicaid coverage for medical services provided in the community.  Fighting to bring her daughter home, Julie Beckett challenged this policy, and was ultimately successful in carving out an exception in the Medicaid program that allows children with disabilities to receive services in their homes and communities.  Thanks to her mother’s tireless advocacy, on December 19, 1981, Katie moved home.  Known as the “Katie Beckett Waiver” since its inception in 1982, this monumental policy shift has allowed more than 500,000 children to live at home and have access to the treatment they need.  Since 2011, ADvancing States has chosen an individual whose work has promoted the ideals of independence, dignity, and self-determination for individuals with disabilities to receive the Katie Beckett award.  

News date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2016