Supported Decision-Making New York (SDMNY)

In the summer of 2015, the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a five-year, $1.5 million grant “to develop and distribute educational materials and pilot supported decision-making models with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who reside throughout New York State.” In December of that year, the grant was awarded to a consortium of Hunter College/CUNY, the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation (formerly, the New York State Association of Community and Residential Providers, NYSACRA) and The Arc Westchester, in collaboration with Disability Rights New York (DRNY).

Since that time, the Supported Decision-Making New York (SDMNY) project partners are working to inform and educate a wide variety of stakeholders about supporting decision-making, regularly making SDMNY also regularly presentations at statewide conferences and other venues for providers, guardians, self advocates, and the court system. SDMNY has also designed and is implementing two pilot programs. The first, the diversion program, seeks to divert persons with I/DD from guardianship, and the second, the restoration program, aims to restore rights to persons with I/DD currently subject to guardianship. To date, SDMNY has established pilot program sites in New York City, Westchester County, the greater Rochester area, Long Island, and the Capital region, where its trained facilitators are assisting decision-makers (persons with I/DD) to develop supported decision-making agreements (SDMAs) that can help them exercise their right to make their own decisions and to receive the decision-making support they want in order to do so.

Among its many collaborators, SDMNY is working for systems-level change by engaging the NYC Department of Education to include support decision-making in planning for transition-age youth, with the CUNY Theresa Riggio Scholars to make supported decision-making a part of inclusive post-secondary education, and with the New York State Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to ensure that SDMAs will be recognized by actors in the disability service delivery system.

Our Partners


Hunter is the largest college in the city University system with undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 170 areas of study, and includes preeminent graduate schools of Education, Social Work, Nursing, Health Professions, Urban Public Health, and the Brookdale Center on Healthy Aging and Longevity.

The City University of New York is the largest urban university in the country with over half a million students, 11 senior colleges, 7 community colleges, and 5 graduate and professional schools, all with a historic commitment to academic excellence and the provision of equal access and opportunity.

New York Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation

The New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies is a statewide association with approximately 200 member agencies, providing services to persons with intellectual disabilities for more than 35 years. NYSACRA is a catalyst and leading advocate for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the agencies that support them.

The Arc of Westchester

The Arc of Westchester is the largest agency in Westchester County supporting children, teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its mission is to empower its clients to achieve their potential by strengthening families and encouraging personal choices, abilities and interests, so that they may enjoy fulfilled lives and an inspired future.

Disability Rights New York

Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is the Protection & Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program (P&A/CAP) for persons with disabilities in New York, advocating for their civil and legal rights. DRNY envisions an inclusive world that provides equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities, one that is free from discrimination, abuse and neglect.


  • Carrie Bateman, Chief of Staff, Division of Specialized Instruction and Student Support, New York City Department of Education, New York, NY
  • Kimberly Berg, Program Planner, NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Albany, NY
  • Naomi Brickel, Director of Community and Family Education, Westchester Institute for Human Development Westchester, NY
  • Victor Calise, Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office for Persons with Disabilities, New York, NY
  • Tina Campanella, Principle Investigator, National Resource Center on Supported Decision-Making Washington, DC
  • Leslie Ann Caraballo, Parent Advocate; Citywide Council on Special Education; Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York Advocacy Council, New York, NY
  • Bernard Carabello, Founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS); Institutional survivor, Willowbrook State School, New York, NY
  • Louis Cavaliere, Executive Vice President, Developmental Disabilities Division, Services for the Underserved (S:US), New York, NY
  • Suzanne Chen, Parent; Outreach Coordinator, New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative, Queens, NY
  • Natalie Chin, Assistant Professor of Clinical Law; Faculty Director of the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, NY
  • Rebekah Diller, Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Co-director, Bet Tzedek Civil Litigation Clinic, New York, NY
  • Chester Finn, Self-advocate; Vice President of Advocacy & Self-Advocacy, Community Empowerment Programs, Inc. (CEPI), Albany, NY
  • Stuart Flaum, Parent advocate; Special Needs Planning Adviser, Brooklyn, NY
  • Bob Fleischner, Co-director, Supported Decision-Making Project, Center for Public Representation (CPR), Northampton, MA
  • Lisa Friedman, NYS Bar Association, Sections on Trusts & Estates and Elder Law & Special Needs, New York, NY
  • Heather Green, Transition Program Educator, Shenendehowa High School, Saratoga County, NY
  • Hon. David Guy, Surrogate Judge, Broome County, Binghamton, NY
  • Beth Haroules, New York Civil Liberties Union; Willowbrook class counsel, New York, NY
  • John Hatton, East End Disabilities Associates, Inc., Suffolk County, NY
  • Robin Hickey, Parent Albany, NY
  • Gerald Johnson, Self-advocate, activist, author, and institutional survivor, New York, NY
  • Michele Juda, Executive Director, Parent to Parent of NYS Schenectady, NY
  • Julian Kane, Student, SKILLs Program, Cooke Center Academy, Queens, NY
  • Arlene Kanter, Bond Schoeneck & King Distinguished Professor of Law; Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program, Syracuse University College of Law, Syracuse, NY
  • Hon. Peter Kelly, Surrogate Judge, Queens County, Queens, NY
  • JoAnn Lamphere, Deputy Commissioner, Person Centered Supports at NYS Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Albany, NY
  • Regina Lehman, Associate Professor & Program Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, NY
  • Tirza Leibowitz, Associate Director for Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Initiative, Open Society Foundations, New York, NY
  • Lori Lerner,Coordinator of Family Services, Developmental Disabilities Division, Serving the UnderServed (S:US)
    New York, NY
  • Carol Lieb Himes, Coordinator, Special Education, Early Intervention & ACCES-VR Mediation Programs, New York Peace Institute, Brooklyn, NY
  • Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres, Surrogate Judge, Kings County, Brooklyn, NY
  • Diana Mendez, Parent advocate; Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE); The ARISE Coalition; Advocates for Children, Queens, NY
  • Marc Anthony Mendez, Student and Self-advocate, Queens, NY
  • Michael Middleton, Klara & Larry Silverstein Dean of the School of Education, Hunter College, New York, NY
  • Martha Mock, Associate Director, Institute for Innovative Transition, Warner School of Education & Human Development, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • Tara Moffett, Chair, NYS Bar Association Committee on Disability Rights, Albany, NY
  • Arfa Mujahid, Parent advocate, Queens, NY
  • Ari Ne’eman, Chief Executive Officer,; Founder and former Director, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN
), Washington, DC
  • Shain M. Neumeier, Self-advocate; PADD Staff Attorney Analyst, Disability Rights New York (DRNY), Albany, NY
  • Hon. Juanita Bing Newton, Judge, NYS Court of Claims; Dean, NYS Judicial Institute, White Plains, NY
  • Tara Anne Pleat, Co-editor, NYS Bar Association Elder Law & Special Needs Journal, Saratoga County, NY
  • Katie Riordan, Division Head, SKILLs Program, Cooke School and Institute, New York, NY
  • Sheila Rothman, Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Co-author, The Willowbrook Wars, New York, NY
  • Leslie Salzman, Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law; Co-director, Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic New York, NY
  • Diana Sanabria, Chief Clerk, Surrogate’s Court, New York County, New York, NY
  • Lisa Severino, Self-advocate, Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS); Chairperson, Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Caucus, Queens, NY
  • Sheila Ellen Shea, Director, Mental Hygiene Legal Services, Third Judicial Department, Albany, NY
  • Hon. Jo Anne Simon, Assembly member, NYS Assembly, Brooklyn, NY
  • Gloria Smith, Parent advocate; Citywide Education Council for District 75, New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn, NY
  • Marna Solarsh, Special Needs Attorney, Scarsdale, NY
  • Jennifer Teisch, Project Coordinator, AHRC New York, NY
  • Laura Traynor, Director, ReServe New York, New York, NY
  • Barbara Wale, President & CEO, Arc of Monroe County, Rochester, NY
  • Eric Yetter, Guardianship Coordinator, Achieve, Inc., Binghamton, NY



Kristin Booth Glen, Project Director

Kristin Booth Glen is currently University Professor and Dean Emerita at CUNY School of Law. In 2012 she retired as Surrogate Judge of New York County, where she had jurisdiction over guardianships of persons with intellectual disabilities and wrote several groundbreaking decisions in that area. She has written and lectured widely on the human right of legal capacity and supported decision-making, serves on the Advisory Boards of the National Center on Supported Decision-Making and the Center for Public Representation/Nonotuck Supported Decision-Making Pilot Project, the New York State Bar Association Disability Rights Committee, was a Commissioner on the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights, and served as an ABA observer to the Uniform Law Commissioners’ revision of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Procedures Act (UGPPA).

Matthew Smith, Esq., Project Coordinator

Matthew Smith, Esq. is the Senior Project Coordinator of Supported Decision-Making New York (SDMNY). He has worked on pressing disability rights issues in the United States and abroad (Mexico, Argentina, and Bangladesh) and serves as a Research Associate at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. He has authored amicus briefs in cases involving the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and his research has appeared in journals (ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Nordic Journal of Human Rights) and books (Derechos Humanos: Retos y Perspectivas, Oxford University Press (forthcoming)). He also serves on the board of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), a not-for-profit that advocates for deaf prisoners. He received his J.D. from American University and his B.A. from Harvard University. Most importantly, he is the proud brother of a college graduate with Down syndrome.

Joan Cornachio, Education and Training Coordinator

Joan Cornachio is the Education & Training Coordinator for SDMNY. She has been an advocate and private consultant to families of students with I/DD and autism for the past 15 years in New York and Western Massachusetts, helping students and families access resources and programming through their local school districts. She has also had a long career as a music educator and program director in both mainstream and segregated settings. She has used music to build awareness of disability and diversity by directing inclusive choirs for young people with and without disabilities in performances and showcases. She holds an M.S. in Education from Syracuse University with a concentration in Disability Studies. As the mother of two children, including a young adult with I/DD, she has witnessed first-hand the viability of supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship.

Gina Riley, Ph.D., Faculty Associate

Gina Riley, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist and Clinical Professor and Co-Coordinator of the Adolescent Special Education at Hunter College/CUNY. Dr. Riley has over fifteen years experience working with teens and young adults with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disorders. She is also a seasoned academic, with years of teaching, research, and supervisory experience within the fields of special education, psychology, school psychology, and mental health counseling. Dr. Riley’s research interests include intrinsic motivation, Self-Determination Theory, Cognitive Evaluation Theory, Supported Decision-Making, online/distance learning in higher education, and homeschooling, unschooling, and other alternative learning environments. Gina can be seen in the Fox 5 special Autism: Life on the Spectrum,  offering some of her expert input.