The Edmond Sun

Local News

March 21, 2013

Fallin appoints members to Blue Ribbon panel

State has 7,000 on developmental disabilities waiting list

OKLA. CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin appointed the members of a Blue Ribbon Panel for Developmental Disabilities. Fallin created the panel by executive order Thursday, and announced its formation last month at the Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities in Norman.

Two Edmond residents are among the 11 appointees.

There are almost 60,000 men, women and children with intellectual disabilities in Oklahoma. Currently, the state has a waiting list of more than 7,000 people requesting services from the state’s Developmental Disabilities Service Division.

The new panel will develop a comprehensive plan to support individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families, starting with recommendations to address the state’s growing waiting list for DDSD services. It also will research and analyze best practices for the comprehensive delivery of high quality services.

“Our goal as a state is to be a resource that allows men, women and children with intellectual disabilities the ability to realize their full potential, to live their own lives, and to do so as independently as possible,” Fallin said. “This new panel is composed of people with personal and professional experiences that can help us to pursue this goal and improve services.”

Panel members include:

• James Nicholson of Oklahoma City. Nicholson is retired from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, where he served for more than four decades. He served most recently as the Director of DDSD. He will serve as chairman of the panel.

• Ann Trudgeon of Oklahoma City. Trudgeon is the executive director of the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC). She has been with the ODDC since 1989. She will serve as an ex officio member on the Blue Ribbon panel.   

• State Sen. Greg Treat of Oklahoma City. Treat was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2011 and represents District 47. He currently serves as the vice chairman on the health and human services appropriations subcommittee.

• State Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City. Nelson was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representative in 2009 and represents District 87. He currently serves as the chairman on the A&B Human Services committee. Nelson is also on the conference committee on human services and human services committee.

• Wanda Felty of Norman. Felty is the community leadership and advocacy coordinator for the Oklahoma LEND (Leadership Education for Health Care Professionals Caring for Children with Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities). She is also on the board of directors at the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council to which she was appointed by Gov. Fallin in August 2012 and she has a daughter with an intellectual disability.

• Rene’ Daman of Edmond. Daman is the director of the Oklahoma Autism Network at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has been with the Department of Rehabilitation Science since 1999. She has provided training and technical assistance for providers who support children with autism and their families in early intervention, educational and community settings.

• Michael Upthegrove of Norman. Upthegrove is an adult with an intellectual disability. He previously served on the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council from 2001-09.

• Deanna Banta of Shawnee. Banta is an adult with an intellectual disability and is president of Oklahoma People First, a nonprofit self advocacy group that promotes equality for people with developmental disabilities.

• Robin Arter of Duncan. Arter is the executive director of Duncan Group Homes, a nonprofit agency that provides assistance for people with intellectual disabilities. She is on the Governor’s Advisory Committee at the Oklahoma Office of Disability Concerns.

• Nancy Ward of Oklahoma City. Ward is co–chair of the Oklahoma Self Advocacy Network, which seeks to strengthen the self-advocacy movement in Oklahoma and to increase the inclusion and independence of people with disabilities. She is an adult with an intellectual disability.

• Deborah Decker of Norman. Decker is a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a parent of a child with an intellectual disability. She is the current president of the Sulphur Springs Special Needs Retreat and a parent leader at, a support network for parents with children with special needs.

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