ACP (Association of Community Professionals) was registered as a non-profit corporation on April 14, 1981. The official purpose: to support and promote the development of quality opportunities for all persons with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities in the least restrictive community alternative.

ACP was founded for a variety of reasons, chief among them was a perceived threat to the deinstitutionalization movement. The Federal Developmental disabilities Bill of Rights Act had just been overturned in Federal Supreme Court, residents of Pennhurst (an infamous institution) had lost their appeal for community placement, and the AAMD (predecessor to AAMR) was seen to be strongly pro-institution.

The founders of ACP wished that the organization would provide a strong platform to support the initiatives of community programs by providing a strong philosophy, public advocacy, staff training, and public recognition of outstanding contributions to the field.

The original committee was: John Corcoran, Dave Powell, Lyn Rucker, and Lois Rood. The original 35 Directors included such luminaries as former Governor Norbert Tiemann and current Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

The first conference was held in Columbus on March 13, 1981. With the support of the regional providers, over 230 people attended. Bob Perske was the keynote speaker and a number of concurrent training sessions were provided.

Since its bright beginning, ACP has continued to maintain its emphasis on training and information sharing. As the national threats to deinstitutionalization subsided and community based programs became the norm, ACP's focus has shifted somewhat. While the organization, through its Board of Directors, continues to advocate at the state level on issues it believes affect the quality of services and supports in Nebraska, its primary focus has been the establishment of dynamic conferences presenting some of the best "thinkers and doers" in the field of disabilities. ACP has brought such people as: Dr. Matt Janicki, Dr. James Gardner, Art Dykstra, Angela Novak Amado, Connie Lyle O'Brien and John O'Brien, Jack Pearpoint, and Norman Kunc to present and train its membership.

In recent years, ACP established new goals for the organization, along with a new code of ethics and philosophy statement. The ACP continues to offer conferences of the highest quality each spring and fall. The organization is a strong supporter of the concept of full community memberships for everyone; with membership in the organization open to all in agreement. We embrace the future and all of its untold challenges and look forward to the day when "community" means "all".

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