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On Thursday, May 23, The Arc of Massachusetts held the final event of its yearlong 70th Anniversary Celebration: 70 Years of Progress: Advocacy, Empowerment, and The Arc of Massachusetts.

A panel comprised of Former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Robert DeLeo, sibling and former Board Member Cynthia Haddad, and self-advocate and former Board Member Roger Walsh discussed the history of disability policy and advocacy through their personal experiences. Their insights and stories highlighted how much has changed and improved for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), as we have moved from institutions and segregation to inclusion and opportunities. They also provided the inspiration to continue fighting for progress and equality.

The 70 Years of Progress program was followed by The Arc’s Annual Meeting and Dinner. After the annual business meeting, attendees heard a panel discussion of the future of The Arc and advocacy in Massachusetts.

Panelists Anne-Marie Bajwa, President CEO of the Charles River Center; Jeff Keilson, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, Advocates Inc.; Janet Sweeney Rico, Ph. D., President of the Board; and Maura Sullivan, The Arc’s Deputy Executive Director shared their views of what The Arc means to them and how to continue to be effective in the coming years. Both panels were moderated by Executive Director Leo Sarkissian.

At the Annual Meeting and Dinner, awards were presented to four members of The Arc of Massachusetts community for their contributions in empowerment and advocacy: Jonathan Gardner, Chris Hubbard, Kelly Hutton, and Paula Thompson.

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