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Meet the Staff

Director's Message 

Welcome to The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute website. The Family Institute was developed as a resource for families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) starting in January of 2014.  Our goal is to help families find the tools and resources they need to navigate the system of care. We are dedicated to providing timely information and bridging the gap between service changes and families. We will do this by providing advocacy and education on services, transition and system issues, individual issues and so much more.

We invite you to browse through our site where you will find links to all 21 county chapters of The Arc, monthly E- Newsletters, timely updates, action alerts, webinars, and fact sheets pertinent to issues being addressed today.

If you are in need of guidance and support, I strongly encourage you to call us at The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute. You can reach us at 732.828.2022 or you can fill out The Problem Report Form located on our home page.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Lisa Ford
Director, The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute

Michael Pearson Jr. is the Assistant Director of Children’s Advocacy for The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute. Formerly, he was the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project. Michael came to The Arc of New Jersey in 2017 from The Arc of Monmouth County, where he worked as a Vocational Counselor. He is a knowledgeable consultant for disability legislation, including the ADA, IDEA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Michael is a graduate of Monmouth University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. He is an advocate for people with I/DD and their families, and an ally of the disability-rights movement.

The goal of his unique position is to assist families in navigating the Early Intervention (EI) and CSOC systems, while also advocating for increased accessibility to these systems for underserved populations. With a focus on being the go-to place for information about EI services, The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute will continue to develop innovative webinars, workshops, and training material for families and community providers. Michael also works closely with state legislators to allocate a much needed increase of funding for EI services in New Jersey. The benefits of Early Intervention are well- documented, and funding MUST remain a top priority to ensure that families receive the best services possible.

Cheryl Crick earned her degree in Public Relations from Rowan University and works for The Arc of New Jersey as the Coordinator of Family Advocacy and Advocacy Services. Through The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute, Cheryl empowers New Jersey families that have a loved one with an intellectual and developmental disability to become personally involved in public policy and advocacy, and provides caregivers with the necessary resources and education to access the appropriate support and services for their loved one. Cheryl is involved with several disability related committees, task forces and coalitions throughout the state and in 2013 Cheryl graduated from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities’ Partners in Policymaking program. However, one of Cheryl's most important roles is that of a sibling. Her older brother has autism and an intellectual disability. In 2017 Cheryl became a Certified Sibshop Facilitator to help support younger siblings that have a brother or sister with an intellectual or developmental disability.