David Whalen founded Disability Awareness Training (DAT) in September 2004. He specializes in training law enforcement, emergency responders, human service providers, public, private, and school transportation, corporations and businesses, places of worship, and educators. The training is designed to both sensitize and educate the audience on all aspects of disabilities including, but not limited to, definitions of disabilities, etiquette and interaction skills, stigma and misperceptions, proactive approaches to community inclusion and integration, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and overcoming barriers through advocacy. Specific topic areas include emotional disturbance/mental health awareness and responsiveness, developmental disabilities, co-morbidities and dual diagnosis, and pertinent legislation. He has presented to over 500 audiences.
David Whalen has worked in the disability field for most of his career. He spent 17 years at Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara serving individuals with developmental disabilities. As Vice President of Program Operations, David established groundbreaking programs recognized statewide, including a fully operational greenhouse, an on-site nature trail, rehabilitation counseling in schools, collaborative certification with the county alcoholism department, and a sensory integration room. He chaired the agency's safety committee for seven years and developed their wellness program. Dave worked for one year serving low income medically frail seniors as Director in a Long Term Managed Care (Pre-PACE) program. He has developed a comprehensive plan to serve seniors with developmental disabilities that is currently being implemented in agencies.
David served on the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (DD Day) committee from 1993 to 2008. A former co-chairperson, he was instrumental in making DD Day the largest single day conference in New York State dedicated to the field of developmental disabilities
He served as President of the New York State Association of Day Service Providers, dedicated to Day Treatment and Day Habilitation providers. Under his direction, the Association established collaborative relationships with statewide associations in the field. David has worked with the State of New York in establishing policy, regulations and staff training.
Dave was instrumental in starting the Diocese of Buffalo's Disability Action Team. A committee developed with the intent to ensure that the Catholic churches in WNY best serve their parishioners with disabilities. He has taken his initiative and introduced it to other faiths in the area. Dave was commissioned by the Bishop in September 2009 to be the Parish Disability Advocate at Sts Peter and Paul RC Church.
Mr. Whalen was appointed to the NYS Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Quality Assurance Real Choice committee, addressing the quality of care of individuals with disabilities.
Dave is President of the Buffalo Alumni Chapter of St. Bonaventure University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (1984) and his Masters of Science in Education degree in Counseling Psychology (1986). Mr. Whalen has established the four ideals of the alumni association: spirituality, socials, volunteerism and university support. He oversees some 10 events per year and works with the university on various initiatives and projects. In 2009, he was awarded the Alumni of the Year by the university.
Mr. Whalen became active in the Challenger Baseball League, Skating Athletes Bold at Heart (SABAH), and the Committee on Special Education (as both a parent representative for the Williamsville School district and the State of New York). He also is the President of the Board of the Williamsville Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (SEPTSA) and past Vice President of the PTSA council. Dave is past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Parent Network of WNY, a non-profit agency serving parents of children with disabilities. He was also appointed to Chair the Town of Amherst's committee on disabilities. He developed the innovative Disability Education & Awareness for Municipalities Training (formerly Town Hall Training) whereby he trains advocates to work within their municipality on disability matters, including how to start a committee so town governments will understand and be responsive to the needs of individuals with disabilities in their communities. This initiative was presented at the national FEMA Get Real II conference in Arlington, VA. In March 2011, David accepted an invitation to the White House for an historic MOU signing between FEMA and the National Disability Rights Network. In April 2015, he became a FEMA-certified Access and Functional Needs Trainer.
David is co-founder of Access Buffalo, a progressive initiative to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access restaurants and hotels in the Buffalo area. DAT trains college students to do accessibility reviews in restaurants throughout Western New York. In August 2010 he became a certified ADA trainer through the Region II Northeast ADA center.
In January 2010, the New York State Board of Regents appointed him to a three year term on the New York State Independent Living Council and in the fall of that year he wrote a collaborative grant with Niagara University and received a three year (since extended two more years) NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council grant to develop Disability Awareness Training for First Responders. Arkansas Council on Developmental Disabilities funded the same program beginning in October 2014. In March 2011, Erie County (NY) appointed Dave to sit on the Disability Advisory Board. In January 2014 Dave accepted an invitation to join the advisory council of the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability. Also, he accepted an invitation to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police focus group, "Mental Health of Arrestees and How It Impacts our Officers." Dave attended the Senate Hearing on April 29, 2014 Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety while also providing written testimony. He accepted an invitation to join the Niagara County Behavioral Health and Justice Committee in March 2015. He is in the final stages of signing an MOU to develop Law enforcement disability awareness training for the Department of Justice's Community Relations Services.
Dave is currently contracted with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to revise and upgrade the Basic Course for Police Officers recruit training.
He resides in Williamsville, NY with his wife Sandy and their twins David and Rachel.
|Appointments & Committees:|
|Behavioral Health and Justice Committee-Niagara County, NY||March 2015-present|
|International Association of Chiefs of Police
'Mental Health of Arrestees and how it impacts our officers' focus group
|National Center on Criminal Justice and Disabilities
Advisory Council Member
|Erie County (NY) Disability Advisory Board||March 2011-present|
|NYS Office of Emergency Management
Human Services Committee
|Niagara University First Responder Disability Awareness Training
Statewide Project Director
|ADA Trainer Network - Certified ADA Trainer||August 2010-present|
|New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC)
(NYS Board of Regents appointment)
|Access Buffalo Co-Founder/Project Coordinator||September 2009-present|
|Ss. Peter & Paul RC Church Parish Disability Advocate
(Commissioned by the Bishop)
|Town of Amherst (NY) Committee on Disabilities – Chair||March 2008-present|
|Diocese of Buffalo (NY) Disabilities Action Team||April 2007-present|
|Williamsville CSD Special Education PTSA President||September 2007-present|
|Williamsville CSD Special Education PTSA||September 2005-present|
|Williamsville CSD CSE Parent Representative||February 2005-present|
|Challenger Baseball Coach||2005-present|
|Central Amherst Little League-Challenger division VP||February 2015-present|
|St. Bonaventure University Buffalo Alumni Chapter President||1997-present|
|NYSILC Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair||January 2011-December 2015|
|National Association of ADA Coordinators Member||January 2012-June 2014|
|Williamsville CSD PTSA Council Co-Vice President||July 2010-June 2012|
|WNY DDSO Resource Allocation Board||August 2009-Dec 2012|
|NYS OPWDD QA Real Choice Sub-Committee||June 2008-Dec 2012|
|New York Makes Work Pay Summit||October 2009, Sept 2010|
|NYS OPWDD WNY DDSO CSE Parent Representative||2006-2010|
|Including Samuel Panel Member – Canisius College||April 2008|
|Buffalo Niagara Professional Alliance Panel Member||April 2008|
|Parent Network of Western New York Board of Directors||April 2002-April 2008|
|Parent Network of WNY – Board of Directors Chair||April 2007-April 2008|
|WNY Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day Committee||1993-2008|
|Partners in Policymaking Graduate||2007|
|Williamsville CSD Shared Decision Making Committee||2005-2007|
|Buffalo Niagara Partnership Medicaid Review Committee||2005|
|Finding your Future Transition Conference Coordinator||March 2005|
|Volunteers of America NYS Task Force – Serving Seniors w/DD||September 2004|
|WNY Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day Co-Chair||1993-95|
|New York State Association of Day Service Providers
President: 1998-2002, Vice President: 1996-1998
|NHL Buffalo Sabres||February 2015-present|
|Erie County (NY) Fair||January 2012-present|
|Town of Hamburg (NY) Recreation Dept||January 2009-present|
|Buffalo Wheelchair (West Seneca, NY)||January 2007-present|
|Innovative Placements (Buffalo, NY)||October 2010-December 2011|
|Independent Retirement Advisors (Amherst, NY)||January 2008-December|
|Vanner Insurance (Amherst, NY)||October 2007-December 2009|
|Boulevard Van City (Wheatfield, NY)||June 2007-June 2008|
|Philadelphia Insurance-Philadelphia, PA||January 2008-present|
|AT&T (through Kelco Computing Solutions)||February 2010-September 2010|