OPWDD update

Back in March, 2024, Kerry Neifeld announced her planned resignation as commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in New York. Now, it’s official.

Neifeld said her goodbyes this past week and Willow Baer, deputy commissioner of the department since June 2023, has been named acting commissioner.

Baer, first hired at OPWDD in 2015 as an associate counsel, has decades of experience in NYS government. If interested, her bio can be found at OPWDD here and on LinkedIn here.

Baer sent out a statement that included some very broad priorities based on OPWDD’s current strategic plan:

  • The use of emerging technology to support people to live more independently;
  • cross systems work to ensure people with developmental disabilities have better access to appropriate healthcare;
  • stabilizing OPWDD’s network of providers;
  • and ensuring a more responsive, equitable, and accessible service system through data-driven decision-making which is also informed more directly by the experiences of those using our services.

Of the hurdles she said “we still face,” the turnover in direct support professionals, worrisomely, was mentioned last.

OPWDD Strategic Plan Forums

FYI, if you want to learn more about OPWDD’s ongoing initiatives and progress, there are still upcoming opportunities to join a Strategic Plan Forum. These forums, which have been open to the public since May, focus on hearing feedback on the department’s  2023-2027 Strategic Plan.

An person in-person forum will be held July 9, and two statewide online forums on July 22 and 24. OPWDD will use the feedback to inform future agency priorities and direction. Register to participate in a forum using the links below.

In-Person Forum
Registration: OPWDD Strategic Planning Forum Registration (office.com)

  • July 9, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Lefrak Auditorium of the Price Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1301 Morris Park Ave., Bronx, N.Y. , 10461

Virtual Forums

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