President Biden Appoints Wendy Strauss, Former GACEC Director, to PCPID

Last weekend, a celebration was held to honor Wendy Strauss, former executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC).  Wendy was selected to become a member of President Biden’s Committee for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) in 2021. The President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities serves as a federal advisor to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on matters relating to persons with intellectual disabilities. Individuals appointed to this Committee reflect the diversity of America and include people with intellectual disabilities and their family members, researchers, service providers and other professionals, community and business representatives, and systems advocates.

Wendy has over 40 years of experience working in the human service field, having recently retired after serving 23 years as the Executive Director of the GACEC, which seeks to improve the lives of Delawareans of all ages through advice and advocacy. Throughout her career, Wendy has worked for and with individuals with disabilities and their families to positively impact their lives through legislation, policies, and procedures.



Disability History and Awareness Month Poster Contest- Deadline Extended to November 30, 2022

The theme of this year’s poster contest is “Better Together!” The deadline to enter has been changed to November 30, 2022.  Click the link to learn more details and complete the form to enter the contest



entry from previous poster contest

Bay Health’s Project SEARCH is Rewarding for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Project SEARCH Bayhealth serves young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Typically, these are high school students who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of school eligibility. The goal for program participants is competitive employment.

Project SEARCH is a unique business-led, one-year, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at Bayhealth Hospital Kent County Campus. Each intern will have three internship rotations at Bayhealth Hospital working with a Bayhealth mentor and a job coach. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed work-based internships. Work-based learning opportunities help students attain the much-needed workplace job skills as well as social and communication skills.

75% of last year’s graduates have obtained employment with at least 16 hours a week and earning at least minimum wage!

On Thursday, January 13th, Pam Weir, Executive Director Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) met with Project Search interns and staff to take part in the Intern of the Month recognition ceremony. Pam with Nick and Pam with Project Search interns Joshua, Duncan and Nick.   

Project SEARCH Intern of the Month

Congratulation to the Project SEARCH Bayhealth Intern of the Month for December, Nick! Nick with Christy Betts, Special Education Transition Specialist

Nick did great work in his Rotation 1, Linen Department, he has great attendance! Nick is polite and consistently follows Bayhealth 5 Core Values! One of Nick’s fellow interns wrote:  “Nick continues to be helpful in the classroom as well as continues to step up work in and outside the workplace”

Pam noted, “this is an amazing program for transitioning students that can serve as a model for other districts considering adding this type of support. Way to go Nick!”Nick and Pam Weir

If you are a young adult ages 18 to 20 who would benefit from a fantastic transition program like Project SEARCH Bayhealth, the class of 2022-2023 is forming now! Contact Project SEARCH Bayhealth Instructor Dr. Erik Warner at to learn more.

The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens
The mission of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) is to serve as the review board for policies, procedures and practices related to the delivery of services for all residents with exceptionalities or disabilities in Delaware from birth to death. The GACEC also serves as the state advisory panel for agencies providing educational services and programs to children (birth through age 26) in Delaware through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The primary function of the GACEC is to advise and advocate as necessary in order to achieve its mission. The GACEC served as the State’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Children beginning in 1972 and was later renamed the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens to encompass the expansion of its role in Delaware. The passage of Senate Bill No. 20 in 2015 increased the role of the GACEC to include acting in an advisory capacity with the Department of Education and the Department of Correction on the provision of services to inmates with disabilities in the joint agency prison education system. Find out more: Call 302-739-4553 or  Visit the GACEC website

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy says that “The theme for NDEAM 2021 is ‘America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,’ reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from COVID-19 pandemic. 

NDEAM is observed each October to commemorate the varied contributions people with disabilities give to America’s workplaces and economy each year.  This year’s theme ‘America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,’ means a lot to people with disabilities. Visit NDEAM’s website for some great resources. 

The U.S. Census Bureau has key stats on people with disabilities found here.

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) provides individualized services to employers and people with disabilities by developing career pathways that join qualified employees to jobs, that result in a more inclusive workplace.

DVR’s services are many including an Office for the Deaf & hard of hearing, The APEX Program,  supported Employment, pre-Employment Transition Services, Disability Determination Services, and Benefits Counseling.   They have services for job seekers, employers and even vendors that work within the DVR programs. 

What everyone must remember, at work, it’s what people CAN do that matters.  Each has to look beyond personalities, physical or mental disabilities and allow capable, skilled people to utilize their skills in the workplace. Remember to see the Ability in disABILITY.

The Governor’s Advisory Council created Delaware Disability Website for youth transitioning into adulthood.  One of the main categories on the site is employment with plenty of resources for youth, parents and teachers. The mission of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) is to serve as the review board for policies, procedures and practices related to the delivery of services for all residents with exceptionalities or disabilities in Delaware from birth to death.

Retired Director of GACEC Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Wendy Strauss retired Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) was honored by the State Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) with their Lifetime Achievement Award for her twenty-three years of dedication to the disability community.

Wendy worked on numerous pieces of legislation with the Council and other disability advocates that positively impacted the lives of individuals with disabilities. She was instrumental in working with key stakeholders to get the Speech-Language Program in Delaware. Wendy and the Council led the team on the Seclusion and Restraint guidelines for the Department of Education and facilities. Another of her life-changing works was establishing School Resource Officer legislation requiring guidelines and training for school resource officers working with students in special education.

Wendy worked on creating disability awareness at the public school level, in childcare and preschools by focusing on disability history and the disability rights movement. The initiative resulted in House Bill 123 proclaiming October as Disability History and Awareness Month in Delaware and HCR 33 to present Disability History and Awareness Month in childcare settings.  The GACEC instituted a Disability History and Awareness Month Poster Contest. Students from across the state created works of art depicting specific topics people with disabilities face. The GACEC worked with many partners and schools across the state to have a book and coloring book developed and printed to share statewide. A curriculum was designed around the book and coloring book for preschool teachers and childcare providers to introduce friends with various abilities to their students as part of Disability History and Awareness Month.

The virtual awards presentation was held Sept. 22nd SCPD at the annual Life Conference.  Terri Hancharick presented the awards 

Additional awards were given to:

Andrea Guest – State Service Award

Representative Debra Heffernan – Legislative Service Award

Emmanuel Jenkins- Rising Star Award