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Recap: The 12th Annual NAME Conference

Beautiful weather greeted 265 attendees as they arrived in Niagara Falls, New York for the 12th Annual NAME Conference, September 16 – 19, 2014.  The conference was held at the Conference and Event Center - Niagara Falls, directly across the street from the official hotel of the 2014 NAME Conference, the Sheraton at the Falls.  Both sites are just a 5 minute walk to the magnificent Niagara Falls, and a 10 minute walk to our neighbors to the north, Canada.

NAME's federal partners from the Office of Special Education Programs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were not able to join us in Niagara Falls for this year’s conference.  However, we are hopeful that they will be able to join us next year in Baltimore, Maryland.

Fifteen organizations were sponsors of the 2014 NAME Conference, providing substantial financial support to the organization.  We acknowledge and are forever grateful to the following sponsors:

Gold Sponsors:
•    Fairbanks, LLC
•    Public Consulting Group, Inc.
•    University of Massachusetts Medical School

Silver Sponsors:
•    Sivic Solutions Group
•    Centris Group/Medicaid Direct
•    CompuClaim, Inc.
•    PresenceLearning

Bronze Sponsors:
•    Accelify
•    MJ Care, Inc.
•    Paradigm Healthcare Services
•    Go Solutions Group, Inc.
•    MSB Consulting Group, LLC
•    San Joaquin County Office of Education
•    Kinney Management Services LLC
•    Healthmaster Holdings, LLC

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Over 100 people attended our Welcome to the Conference: Overview/Orientation session, featuring NAME Conference Co-Chair Kelly Gicobbi (NY) as she gave participants a glimpse into the NAME organization and the activities planned for the week. Many of those attendees stayed for the NAME Academy: Introduction to School Based Medicaid session while others attended our concurrent Nugget sessions.  In the evening, attendees participated in one of three NAME Regional Town Hall meetings, providing an opportunity for colleagues from around the country to reconnect, share news of the past year and network with others from their respective NAME geographic regions.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Activities commenced at 7am with the 2nd Annual Anysia Drumheller Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/1 Mile Walk.  Fifty-four people participated in the event, far surpassing last year.  The event was won by Alexandria Fogarty of the Colorado School Medicaid Consortium.  Isamu Fairbanks of Fairbanks, LLC and Rebekah Helget of Special Services Co-op USD 32 tied for second place, with Dean Zajic of the Kansas State Department of Education coming in fourth.  Congratulations to all who participated and a big thank you to Lauren Holahan of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for organizing the event!

After NAME President Mark Smith (OH), Conference Co-Chair Steven Wright (NY) and NAME Executive Director John Hill (KY) welcomed all participants, a special welcome was delivered by Niagara Falls Mayor, Paul Dyster. The opening keynote address of I’m Here and I’m Ready!  Unleashing Your Potential was then delivered by New York State’s own Dr. John J. Pelizza (Pelizza and Associates).   Through humor, Dr. Pelizza showed us how to focus on what is really important in our personal, family and work lives.  The rest of the day provided attendees with Nugget and Breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics.  The day concluded with NAME’s annual Welcome Reception, featuring hors d'oeuvres, drinks and a chocolate fountain.  Local guitarist/vocalist James Jeckovich provided background music for the reception.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014
A Related Service Practitioner Panel Discussion started the day, featuring representatives from the American Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American-Speech-Language Hearing Association and the National Association of School Nurses.  Representatives from the Food Bank of Western New York informed attendees about their Backpack Program at NAME’s charity luncheon.  Through NAME’s silent auction efforts, a quilt raffle, and your generous contributions, NAME was able to donate $3,500 to the Backpack Program.  Thank you to all who contributed so generously.  Representatives from our federal partners from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the Council of Administrators of Special Education and the National Association of Medicaid Directors then presented attendees with federal updates. This popular "fireside chat" format provided these experts with the opportunity to share their knowledge and insight into what has been happening in Washington, D.C., on issues, legislation and decisions affecting Medicaid and Education.  Thursday afternoon concluded with a presentation by representatives from New York State on their School Supportive Health Services Program, New York State’s school-based services program.  

Two organized social events were offered on Thursday evening. The Old Fort Niagara Dinner and Tour provided 56 people the opportunity to step back in time to feast on an 18th century supper and tour buildings where French, British and American soldiers lived during the 18th to 20th centuries.  The Whirlpool, Wine and Whitewater tour offered 50 people the opportunity to sample regional wines and tour Niagara Falls State Park.

Friday, September 19, 2014
The NAME Regional Town Hall meetings concluded, providing a final opportunity for members to gather in their respective regions and reflect on the week and discuss what issues NAME should focus on in the coming year.  New NAME President Rena Steyaert (MT) took office, as did new NAME President-Elect, Tracy Brunner (IN) and other elected representatives to the NAME Board of Directors.  Baltimore, Maryland was announced as the site of the 2015 NAME Annual Conference.  The NAME Leadership Team participated in meetings through the weekend, planning long range organizational goals for NAME.

Thank You
The 2014 NAME Conference Committee would like to thank all those who attended this year’s conference, and is deeply grateful to all those who volunteered their time to plan and work the event.  The 2015 Conference Committee will study the results of all 2014 conference evaluations to prepare for next year. It is never too early to begin the process of securing approval for travel to the 2015 NAME Conference.  We think it will be worth your efforts!

•    2014 Conference Program and Presentations Links
•    2014 Conference Attendee Listing
•    2014 NAME Charity:  "Food Bank of Western New York"