Consumer Advisory Council

The Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) guides the Rural Institute on the work we do, and the work we should be doing. Council members help Rural Institute staff:

  • Set priorities (decide what things are most important to work on)
  • Develop work plans and products
  • Advocate for people with disabilities
  • Deliver training
  • Review and evaluate activities
  • Connect to Montana communities 

The CAC does this by meeting four times per year, with project-specific committees meeting more often. CAC members also participate in other Rural Institute meetings and events. Self-advocates and family members are offered a stipend for their participation on the council.

The CAC is made up of 12-15 people with disabilities, their family members, and professionals in the field, who provide their opinions and leadership on disability issues in Montana. Council members serve one-year terms and may reapply at the end of their term.

CAC Background

The Community Advisory Council (CAC) for Montana’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities) fulfills the requirements of the Developmental Disabilities Act of 2000, which mandates every Center to establish a consumer advisory committee comprised of the following:

  • A member majority who are individuals with developmental disabilities and family members
  • A representative of the State Protection and Advocacy System and a representative of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • A representative of a self-advocacy organization
  • Representatives of other organizations, including the parent training and information centers, Assistive Technology, relevant state agencies, and other community groups concerned with the welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
  • A diverse population reflective of the state

Join the Rural Institute CAC

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana is seeking self-advocates and family members of individuals with disabilities to serve as members on the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council (CAC). The members help the Rural Institute review programs and develop strategies to best reach and serve individuals with disabilities, families, and professionals in Montana. For more information, contact Kim Brown or Apply to Join the Rural Institute CAC.


Members of the CAC are expected to:

  • Learn about Rural Institute projects by attending Rural Institute conferences and webinars whenever possible and by visiting the Rural Institute website.
  • Attend the scheduled Council meetings, which will usually take place four times per year (one time each quarter)
  • Notify Rural Institute staff in advance if they are not able to attend a Council meeting (CAC members who miss two out of any four meetings may be replaced)
  • Serve on Council task forces and/or work groups as needed
  • Read, review and comment on Council-related materials sent to the CAC
  • Let Rural Institute staff know if there are ways they can help members participate more fully in Council activities
  • Share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions about Rural Institute activities with the CAC
  • Represent the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council at local, regional, and state events
  • Work as a team member
  • Understand and practice meeting rules
  • Keep important information confidential (talk about it only with other CAC members at the meetings)


The Rural Institute will support members to participate in CAC meetings by:

  • Reimbursing travel expenses for meetings
  • Providing an accessible meeting space, materials, and accommodations, as required, so all members can participate
  • Creating an environment that encourages everyone to practice leadership skills
  • Sharing information about the activities of our partners in Montana and across the country

Contact us or apply to be a CAC Member

If you are interested in helping to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities by serving on the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council, please contact Kim Brown or Apply to Join the Rural Institute CAC.