Arizona Department of Education and Raising Special Kids

This Voices from the Field interview series features select OSEP federally-funded parent centers and state education agencies who have well-established and high-functioning collaborative relationships. In April of 2021, CADRE staff interviewed leaders from the Arizona Department of Education (Lori Bird) and Raising Special Kids (Chris Tiffany, Kathy Gray-Mangerson) to learn more about what makes their partnership so effective. This hour-long interview provides viewers with tips and takeaways that may help others improve their own relationships and establish new ones. Use the companion question guide below to navigate the interview. An expanded timestamp outline, offering specific responses, is also available for download. CADRE is extremely grateful to Lori, Chris, and Kathy for devoting their time and energy to this interview.

Key Takeaways from the Video

  • Productive partnerships act as a bridge between agencies and parents to share knowledge and perspectives.
  • Relationships and regular communication allow us to be pro-active instead of reactive, and nimble in meeting emergent needs.
  • Provide access to information and opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives (e.g., joint trainings, committee memberships, interagency meetings).
  • Promote mutual respect of perspectives, even when there is disagreement, and assume positive intent from others.
  • Communication between agencies needs to be intentional, continuous, and responsive.
  • Formal agreements help facilitate continuity of communication.
  • Encourage a culture where the value of partnering is passed on and connections are maintained.   
  • Work to ensure accurate information is shared in family-friendly ways.
  • Relationships take time and find opportunities to build connections wherever possible.

Question Guide

  1. Introductions (1:23)
  2. The organizations and programs (1:55)
  3. Describe the relationship between agencies (4:51)
  4. How did the relationship between agencies become stronger? (11:18)
  5. What are the values that you share? (17:49)
  6. What are the benefits your partnership brings to families? (22:07)
  7. What makes the collaboration possible? (31:41)
  8. Any suggestions for maintaining these connections in the face of turnover? (41:30)
  9. Any final advice to help others improve their collaboration? (51:02)
  10. Final considerations (58:03)


Interested in other interviews with leading voices in the field of special education dispute resolution? Get more here: