News & Events

Central Aroostook Association, UMPI present renowned human rights advocate

Central Aroostook Association, in partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle, will host world renowned human rights advocate Clarence Sundram, J.D. for a presentation on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center. This event is free and open to the public.

Mr. Sundram is a nationally recognized expert on conditions in institutions and community programs for persons with mental disabilities. He currently serves New York State as Special Advisor to the Governor on Vulnerable Persons, and has served as the Special Master and Court Monitor in class action lawsuits in Washington, D.C. involving the rights of persons with mental disabilities.

He is best known in Maine for the oversight of the adult intellectual disability consent decree, serving as a special court master throughout the process of service realignment and building quality assurance processes.

During his talk on April 18, Mr. Sundram will speak about the historical evolution and reform of the human services system over the past 60 years and the ending reliance on large institutions with the development of community-based services. His leadership and perspectives through the transformation from an institutional model—including forces that led to abuse and neglectful care in these institutions—will be emphasized.

Mr. Sundram has participated in international efforts to reform mental health services in Argentina, Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, the Russian Federation, and Uruguay. He has consulted with international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

He has served as President of the Board of Directors of Mental Disability Rights International, a non-governmental agency that advocates on behalf of persons with mental disabilities worldwide. For 20 years, he served as the founding Chairman of the New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled, an independent state oversight agency charged with advising the governor and legislature, investigating deaths, child abuse, patient abuse, and financial fraud and abuse in programs serving persons with mental disabilities. He has also served as Vice-Chairman of the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Protection & Advocacy Systems (now National Disability Rights Network).

Mr. Sundram has also served by appointment as a member of court monitoring bodies in several landmark class action cases involving institutional reforms, and as a Court Monitor, Neutral Fact-Finder and Expert Witness. He has consulted in more than 20 states and Canadian provinces, and for the U.S. Department of Justice on issues of protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation; investigations; restraint and seclusion; and Quality Assurance and risk management.

He has testified by invitation before both Houses of Congress and before legislative committees in New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. regarding legislation dealing with abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

In addition, he has published numerous articles in legal and other professional journals, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences. He has appeared on such programs as Nightline, 48 Hours, and The CBS Evening News.

He has received several awards in recognition of his public service, including legislative resolutions by the New York State Senate and Assembly; Distinguished Public Service Awards from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of the University of Albany and from the New York State Association of Rehabilitation Facilities; Human Rights Award from the American Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association; a Special Award from the American Association on Mental Retardation; and the Humanitarian Award from the New York City Chapter of the Association for Retarded Children.

This presentation is part of Central Aroostook Association’s landmark achievement of celebrating 60 years of operation in 2019. The Association operates eight programs serving youth and adults with disabilities.

For more information about this event, contact Steve Richard at 207-764-0134 or email srichard@centralaroostookassociation.com.