Who we are:
The Director of Advocacy Supports and the regional advocacy specialists are self-advocates. Advocating for ourselves and others, we can support people who receive DDA services to get the supports they want and need.

What we do:
Regional Advocacy Specialists

  • Build relationships with self-advocates, self-advocacy groups and providers
  • Support other self-advocates to learn about and understand DDA services
  • Coordinate and conduct a seven week training with a group of Self-Advocates
  • Provide general support to people receiving services from DDA
  • Develop and conduct additional training that meets the needs of Self-Advocates in their regions

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What we offer:
In response to feedback from self-advocates, we will offer training on topics that people need. To ensure all self-advocates statewide receive the same information, at least one training will take place in each region every quarter. Self-advocates are encouraged to contact the regional advocacy specialists for support for any individual issue about DDA.

  • Do you understand how your IP is written?
  • Do you want to know how to get different or more services from DDA?
  • Do you want someone to explain DDA processes in terms that make sense to you?
  • Do you just need support to fill out DDA paperwork?

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To get answers and support: We, the regional advocacy specialists are here to assist.

Meet the Team:

Edward Willard is the Director of Advocacy Supports in the DDA Headquarters Office. He has personal knowledge of the delivery system having experienced the full range of services available to people with disabilities. He worked at the Maryland Department of Disabilities as director of peer-to-peer outreach. He started working at DDA coordinating training and advocacy for The New Directions Waiver. Then he became the statewide coordinator for the End the Wait NOW!! Campaign for people on the waiting list in need of services. In 2013, he returned to DDA as an independent advocate for self-directed services and in October 2014 he was promoted to Director of Advocacy Supports. In addition to his responsibilities at DDA, he was appointed to The Maryland Commission of Disabilities. Email Edward at Edward.Willard@maryland.gov.

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Angelina Washington is the DDA Southern Maryland regional advocacy specialist. She also has a visual impairment. She has been advocating for herself and her family for over 28 years and has made use of that experience, and learned more, throughout the positions she has successfully held. She has worked with Independence Now Inc., The Center for Independent Living and the Maryland Department of Disabilities with Money Follows the Person. She also worked with the Department of Social Services in the Office of Community Development, Program Support and the Supportive and Transitional Housing Program. Email Angelina at Angelina.Washington@maryland.gov.

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Jessica Stine is the DDA Western Maryland regional advocacy specialist. She is a person with a visual impairment. She uses adaptive technology along with braille, to support her productive life. Due to her own determination, strength, and support from others, she has been able to not only advocate for herself but for other individuals with disabilities. She earned her Associates Degree in General Studies in 2003, and more recently her Paralegal Degree. Also, while attending community college, she was able to give the school helpful ideas on making their campus more accessible for people with disabilities. During that time, she also worked at the Arc of Washington. She won the Self-Advocator of the Year award, and another for being successful using technology in the workplace. Email Jessica at Jessica.Stine@maryland.gov.

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Goli Balakhani is the DDA Central Maryland regional advocacy specialist. She received her Associates degree in general education from CCBC. Due to an accidental fall, she ended up in a nursing home facility. In 2008, after much struggle, she transitioned back to living independently. She completed her Bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology from Towson University in 2010. She is a licensed Support Broker and has worked as a volunteer with Courtland Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, National Institute of Mental Health and Bais Yaakov Middle School in Baltimore. She has been advocating for a life of her choosing and for people with disabilities for many years. Email Goli at Goli.Balakhani@maryland.gov. If you are a Self-Advocate, and you would like to know the Advocacy Specialist in your region, please contact Edward Willard at Edward.Willard@maryland.gov.

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Warren Mallick is the DDA Eastern Region Advocacy Specialist. He graduated from Pocomoke high school in 2008. While in high school, Warren completed classes in computer repair and was highly recommended for the A+ Certification. Warren acquired many skills independently while still living with family. Eventually, Warren moved out on his own and found the necessary resources to support him. Warren has knowledge about Respite, Residential, Community Learning, Job Coaching, Personal Support and Case Management. Warren gained this knowledge through personal experience receiving DDA Services. He is the Statewide Specialist for Transitional Youth. His goal is to ensure people with disabilities have services they need in the community.

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