Date & Time
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Location Virtual Program
Ticketing Free

Join the Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium for a free, virtual program on the region’s deinstitutionalization movement.

From the Era of Institutions to the Innovative Options of Today!

Featuring two impactful short film screenings, a keynote address, and a thought-provoking panel discussion, the program will offer valuable insights and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing home- and community-based disability services in the modern era.

Learn about the beginning of the deinstitutionalization movement in Western Pennsylvania from the short film, “From Wrongs to Rights,” and hear how advocates in the early 1970s fought to gain rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Be among the first to see the new short film, “Polk Center 1897-2023: A Reflection,” which offers a unique perspective on the institution’s 2023 closing and the remarkable evolution in community living over the last half-century.

Listen to Jill Jacobs, Commissioner for the US Administration on Disabilities for the Administration for Community Living, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reflect on the history of advocacy, the right to community living, and the current challenges to the future of home and community-based services.

Engage in a dynamic discussion with three esteemed experts in the field of home- and community-based services: Kristin Ahrens, deputy secretary of Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs, Hope Dittmeier, executive director of Mattingly Edge, and independent consultant Christopher Liuzzo who has a wealth of experience in the field.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to engage with thought leaders, explore disability history, and contribute to the ongoing conversation about the future of home- and community-based services. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive future for all members of our community.


9 a.m. – Opening Remarks

9:05-9:15 a.m. – Film Screening: “From Wrongs to Rights”

9:15-9:30 a.m. – Exclusive Premiere: “Polk Center 1897-2023: A Reflection”

9:30-10:15 a.m. – Keynote Address by Jill Jacobs

10:15-11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: Shaping the Future of Community-Based Services

11 a.m. – Closing Remarks


This virtual event is free with advance registration. Please register today to reserve your spot.

ASL interpretation will be provided at the event as well as closed captioning for the event, including videos. If you require additional accommodations, please email

Event Partners

The Consortium is grateful to the following organizations who made this event possible:

Funding for this event was provided by A.W. Mellon Foundation.

Event offered in partnership with the Senator John Heinz History Center

Filmmaking services for “Polk Center 1897-2023: A Reflection” provided by ArtifactLA.

Event planning support provided by our Executive Committee, including staff members from Temple University Institute on Disabilities, Achieva, and the Heinz History Center, as well as community advocates and activists.