The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Promoting Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, Integration and Inclusion
MNDisability.gov

Positive Behavior Supports

Mike Mayer

Tell us about yourself, your education, your background and your current work.

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Mike Mayer: Mike Mayer, I am the senior partner of Community Resource Alliance. Derrick Dufresne is my business partner and I am also the clinical director of the ACT Process in the state of Illinois as we are moving people into the community.

My background started off working in direct supports with people who had disabilities when I was actually about 15, 16 years old and discovered that I really enjoyed it. My sister had both intellectual disability as well as mental illness; and, as a brother, we were constantly trying to figure out what we were going to do to help her. So, we did a lot of trial and error kinds of learning with her when she was young. One of the things that I finally decided was is that it seemed that nobody knew the answers about what to do, really. There was a lot of finger pointing and a lot of blaming but not a whole lot of answers that could help a family figure out how to help a, a child, a sibling, who had significant challenges. And I just made a decision that’s what I was gonna… that’s what I was gonna wind up doing.

So I went to university and studied and I went to special ed because that was the answer at the time, was go to special ed and you can figure out everything. And then I started figuring out there was a whole lot that they needed to know about psychology and those kinds of things, so I just kept kind of moving through. Did my graduate work at California Lutheran University in severe and learning disabilities. Did some postgraduate work with the Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis, and then eventually went on and finished the whole PhD thing.

It’s been an interesting experience. For twelve years before I joined CRA, I was the executive director of the Institute on Complex Disabilities and our organization basically was responsive to demands from across the country to try and figure out what could they, what could we, do to help people who didn’t seem to be able to be helped by the traditional models and systems of supports. And so we spent a lot of time developing tools and resources and approaches that actually seemed to make a difference in people’s lives. And when I finally discovered just how to fully integrate the things that I had learned from my education and from the Institute on Applied Behavior Analysis, and positive behavior supports was emerging, we started pulling those things in more and more and more, and that’s basically how we got to where we are now.

And, one of the major projects that CRA is working on at this point is the ACT Process as it’s known in the state of Illinois. It’s the Active Community Care Transition. What we’re doing is customizing supports for individuals who are transitioning out of state-operated facilities into the communities and we’re working with the providers to help them develop their competency and capacity. We’re doing comprehensive assessments and, in some cases, some pretty unusual kinds of things because we’ve got folks who have lived in those institutions for many, many years. So we’re, we’re in the process of helping them to be able to successfully transition into the community.

But we still do consulting and training literally all over the world. The last couple years have been primarily in the US, but we have, Derrick and I, have both traveled to several foreign countries and done a similar kind of work.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.