Breaking Ground 97 - Partners Reunion 2019

by Ned Andrew Solomon, Director, Partners in Policymaking, Council on Developmental Disabilities

The Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute has been a core priority of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities since 1993. Nearly 600 Tennesseans – adults with disabilities and family members of people with disabilities – have graduated, successfully completing the seven-session training.

One of the annual activities of Partners is a Reunion Conference. In March of this year, 125 people attended this event, bringing together Partners graduates from across the state to network, learn, and have fun with the current Partners Class, national and local presenters, and a few other “friends” of the Partners program.

Waverly Ann Harris kicked off the festivities Friday with a keynote speech on personal accountability. Russell Lehman, a young man who has experienced numerous challenges and successes as an individual with autism, provided an inspirational closing keynote Saturday afternoon. In between, Partners new and old heard about Tennessee’s post-secondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities; how to promote social opportunities for persons with disabilities; and current state and federal disability related policy issues. They also listened to overviews of the Family Support Program, People First of Tennessee, and a Voting Project of Disability Rights Tennessee. And, no Partners Reunion would be complete without a Friday night dance with our favorite DJ, Ken Buono!

Hope to see you all back next year! The next Partners Reunion Conference will take place March 20 and 21, 2020, at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. For more information about Partners, please feel free to contact me at 615-532-6556b or at You can access an application for the 2020-21 Class online here.

a group picture of nine people sitting closely together and leaning on each other at the Partners Reunion
Photo of Martez Williams, Jessica Peggs, Adrian Campbell, Adrian Walker, Jeannette Childress, Angelica Allsup, Sarah Bynum, Allen Nesmith and Cheron Evans - by Larry Graves of G & G Photography