Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers
For the Abilities Expo workshop series, we select presenters whose individual lives are as relevant to the Community as the issues they are addressing. Our speakers have years of experience and are highly knowledgeable in their fields. Their accomplishments precede them and many are recognized nationally and within their state for their ongoing work with people with disabilities. All our speakers have apparent and non-apparent disabilities, work in the disability field or are the sibling or parent of a person with disabilities.
Jeff Bell is an author, mental health advocate, and radio news anchor. His two books, Rewind, Replay, Repeat and When in Doubt, Make Belief, have established Bell as a leading voice for mental health awareness and "Greater Good" motivation. Bell served for eight years as a national spokesperson and board member for the International OCD Foundation and lends his support to numerous mental health organizations. He is the 2007 recipient of Mental Health America's prestigious forWARDS Award, for "moving the cause of mental health forward," and the 2017 winner of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco's Mental Health Champion Award. In 2011, Bell co--founded the nonprofit A2A Alliance, aiming to showcase and foster the power of turning adversity into advocacy. Bell is a 25-year veteran of broadcast news and currently co¬anchors the KCBS Afternoon News, two-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in America.
Heather Despres, M.Sc
Heather Despres, M.Sc. is serving as the Director of the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program. Her prior experience in cannabis testing laboratories, as well as environmental and pharmaceutical labs, brings with it over 10 years of working to ensure that the products made for medical cannabis patients is safe. Heather has degrees in chemistry and bio-molecular science from Clarkson University as well as a Master's in Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Danielle Van Lerberg
Beginning her career in 2014 in the cannabis retail space, Danielle Van Lerberg has explored various career avenues within the cannabis industry and is now Client Services Manager at CannaSafe Analytics, LA's premier cannabis testing laboratory. First receiving a Bachelor's of Science in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University then her Master of Arts in Organizational Development, Danielle applied her passion for education and knowledge of business administration to the cannabis field. She grew beyond that of her initial retail role and began her career in dispensary management and operations as Project Manager at Magenta Business Solutions, a boutique scale cannabis consulting firm the eventually evolved into a creative agency. There, Danielle helped manage the operations of six dispensaries across Southern California while simultaneously creating all branded merchandise and marketing materials for the businesses. One of Danielle's greatest accomplishments was creating a budtender training program that was rolled out at all six cannabis collectives. In earlier 2018, Danielle took a leap of faith and left Magenta Business Solutions to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor, starting a cactus and succulent farm stand with her fiancé. This short break from the cannabis space revitalized her passion toward the industry and illuminated the growing number of opportunities within the industry. She realized there was much more to cannabis industry than the retail world offered. In October 2018, Danielle joined CannaSafe Analytics as a Tier One Client Support Specialist and is now head of the department.
Laurent Roffé and Aïcha Nyström
Laurent Roffé and Aïcha Nyström are the husband-and-wife team behind Tapooz Travel. Prior to founding their accessible travel company, their diverse professional backgrounds included architecture, technology, business consulting, design and photography. Aïcha and Laurent have lived, worked and traveled across Europe, Africa, South America, the Middle East and the United States. They have been involved with the disability community for many years, including volunteering as accessible outdoors expeditions leaders.
Since the inception of Tapooz Travel in 2012, Aïcha and Laurent have organized accessible trips for hundreds of clients, from individuals and families, to small group travel. Today, the company operates in over 27 (and growing) carefully selected destinations in the US, Canada and worldwide. Their deep experience and hands-on expertise translate into the ability to customize accessible trips to the specific requirements and budget of their travelers. Tapooz Travel is a member of ENAT, the European Network for Accessible Tourism.
Kendra Garcia, COTA/L, ECHM
"The OT Strategist"
Kendra Garcia, COTA/L, ECHMKendra Garcia COTA/L, ECHM, "The OT Strategist" is an Amazon's #1 bestselling author of the book Life beyond the Diagnosis. She works as a pediatric-adult occupational therapy provider, Autism mom-advocate. She is also a home modification consultant, public speaker, Autism parenting expert/coach and contributor for the Huffington post & Autism Parenting Magazine. You can connect with Kendra at MediaRelations@KendraGarcia.TV and on social media at @TheOTStrategist on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Jay Gupta is the Director of Pharmacy and Integrative Health at Harbor Homes in Nashua, NH, as well as an MTM consultant and Yoga Therapist. He is also the co-founder of RxRelax, LLC and YogaCaps, Inc., where he focuses on chronic disease prevention and sustainable lifestyle change. Additionally, he is on the medical advisory panel for a medication safety project. Jay delivers keynotes and lectures at conferences and seminars across the USA. He is a chief faculty member for multiple training programs, including the RxRelax Therapeutic Yoga Certification for Healthcare Professionals. In 2017, he received the Cardinal Health Generation Rx Champions Award for community-based drug abuse prevention. He has also received recognition from the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) for Excellence in Innovation and from the New Hampshire Business Review (NHBR) for Business Excellence. He is also the co-author of a number of audio-visual tools, including: RxRelax for Insomnia, Relaxation Capsules, RxRelax Seated Therapeutic Yoga and Subtle Yoga for Rejuvenation.
Mark R. Thompson, AIA, is PVA's Associate Director of Architecture Services. He joined PVA in 2016 after thirty years of private sector architectural design and construction experience as a lead project designer, business owner and real estate developer. Mr. Thompson developed his architectural expertise delivering public and private projects in the commercial, healthcare and educational markets valued in excess of $800 million.
Since being with PVA, Mr. Thompson has successfully advocated to maximize accessibility on multi-family housing, commercial, government and healthcare projects serving veterans throughout the United States. He has also provided technical assistance to veterans and civilians who are planning renovations to their homes specifically focused on improving accessibility.
Mr. Thompson is a licensed architect in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a Master of Architecture from Oklahoma State University.
Kristen Graham is currently serving as Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant for Sutter Health as part of the Workforce Insights Planning & Strategy team. She is responsible for the overall strategy, execution and measurement of Diversity Recruitment for Sutter Health. Additionally she evaluates recruitment processes and strategies of critical pipelines and is a subject matter expert for Talent Acquisition related to the implementation of the systems new Human Capital Management platform. Prior to this role, Kristen was an Executive Recruiter focused on VPs, CNE, CFO, and CEO roles supporting the Bay Area. Her career with Sutter began in 2016 as a Recruitment Team Member, supporting Sutter Medical Foundation, Sutter Davis and Sutter Coast Hospitals. Prior to her time at Sutter, spent almost 9 years in the contingent and direct hire recruitment world. Kristen graduated from California State University, Fresno with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics.
Cindy Kolbe has been a lifelong disability advocate—even before her youngest daughter's spinal cord injury. Cindy ran a nonprofit, managed group homes, and worked at a state institution. She also volunteers for disability and mental health nonprofits. Cindy's new memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, shares her battle with depression and guilt after her daughter Beth's injury. They shared unexpected adventures from their small town in Ohio to Seattle, Harvard, Capitol Hill, and around the world. Cindy is a writer with a blog and more than 50 articles since 2016 in Power of Moms, Motherly, AbleThrive, This Is My Brave, Reeve Foundation, Grown & Flown, and other media. She hopes her writings will help others with challenges. Find her at strugglingwithserendipity.com, on Instagram (@cindybkolbe), Facebook (Struggling with Serendipity), and Twitter (@cindy_kolbe).
Eraina Ferguson MAR, M.Ed
Eraina Ferguson is a creative nonfiction writer currently penning a memoir about raising a daughter with autism and deafness. She is also the curator of My Good Life, a media platform for families with special needs children. It includes her journey as a mom who earned three academic degrees including one from Yale while raising her daughter. Her story was featured in "The New Haven Register" and she was featured on The Real. She holds an M.Ed in Education and an MAR in Religion from Yale University.
Learn more about her here: erainaferguson.com
Karen Trolan is a long-time Martial Arts teacher and student. After her first-degree Black Belt, she began teaching Safety and Self-Defense to Realtors since Realtors are often vulnerable and she understood the challenges since she was a Broker and Manager. She continued through many ranks and styles of Martial Arts and continued teaching, unfortunately hearing about Realtors that would have assaults. Then, she started training in a new art, when her abilities changed. For the last decade, Karen Trolan has been grappling with the paraplegia she suffered in the crash of the private plane she was piloting. She has since worked with several Grand Masters to create a martial art based on a sitting position. She has taught in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as sharing her techniques to Martial Arts Grand Masters and students in Europe. She is passionate about helping others know safety and self-defense. She has recently been inducted into the Martial Arts Munich Hall of Honours in Europe and also into the "Legends of Martial Arts" Hall of Fame.
Christian grew up in Calgary, Canada, and competed at the semi-professional level in mountain biking and snowboarding. Injuring himself in a snowboarding competition, Christian turned his attention to adapted sport, using his training as a machinist to build and modify equipment. He has worked at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology as an instructor in the manufacturing and automation department and at the University of Calgary, managing complex projects for engineers developing adaptive equipment. Christian led a design team at Stryker Corporation, and holds numerous patents in the adaptive mobility field.
Lainie Ishbia, MSW
Lainie is on a mission to help people with invisible disabilities look & feel their best. She holds a MS in Social Work from The University of Michigan and has been a well respected speaker and educator for over 20 years on all topics relating to self-esteem and body image.
Lainie, who has an inherited neuromuscular disorder, wears AFOs (leg braces) and once struggled with extremely low self-esteem and depression. In 2017 she founded Trend-Able.com, a Fashion + Lifestyle blog & resource website. Her articles, fashion boards and posts help others with disabilities, find hacks, adaptiveclothing, and tools for living their best lives. Her savvy and witty articles have been featured on The Mighty,MDA.org, LER Magazine, Getbackuptoday.com and more!
Estela was diagnosed with a progressive form of neuropathy called, Charcot-Marie-Tooth at 4 years-old. Her younger sister followed 3 years later. From that point forward, their parents became heavily involved in advocacy and fundraising for CMT & Muscular Dystrophy throughout New York. "I was lucky enough to be thrown into the nonprofit world at a very young age. We were raised in a community that was incredibly passionate and dedicated to improving and saving lives. Returning to the disability arena has been a 'Full-circle Moment' for me; I'm back where it all began." Estela's professional background in interior & product design, marketing, and creative direction brings an unexpected approach to connecting the disability community to wellness, empowerment and health.
She is the moderator for the CMT-Connect webinar series and recently testified in front of the FDA this past September to bring awareness and patient perspective to stakeholders and rare disease policy makers.
Dr. Linda M. Schultz (Nurse Linda)
Linda M. Schultz, PhD, CRRN is a leader and provider of rehabilitation nursing for 40 years, most recently developing Activity Based Rehabilitation strategies. She has directed programs at an international level including the Christopher Reeve recovery project at Washington University in St. Louis. She is certified by the Association of Rehabilitation Registered Nurses. Dr. Schultz writes the interactive Ask a Nurse Blog, an evidence-based community forum, conducts monthly international webinars hosting discussions and questions from individuals with paralysis and has created emergency pocket cards concerning the topics of sepsis and Autonomic Dysreflexia, in coordination with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Foundation. As a researcher, Dr. Schultz focuses on the concepts of promoting bladder and bowel continence and skin integrity. She has completed a national analysis of urinary continence in the elderly population utilizing NIH data. The results of these findings have been used to establish protocols by the AHCPR.
Systems Change Advocate, Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities
Ben McMullan is the Systems Change Advocate for Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities San Mateo. Ben is a Graduate of the University of Mississippi. Ben has served in various roles within the local independent living centers in the Bay Area including: Independent Living generalist, travel training coordinator, and outreach specialist. As the systems change advocate, Ben organizes local community members to advocate on systemic issues affecting the disability community. Ben has developed local relationships within the disability community during his 8 years of experience as a systems change advocate. Ben is currently the Chair of the Paratransit Coordinating Council at San Mateo Samtrans. Member of the voting Accessibility Advisory. Ex-Officio member of the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities.
Assistive Technology Coordinator, Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities
Vincent Lopez is the Assistive Technology Coordinator for the Center for Independence for Individuals with Disabilities. Vincent comes from a technical and customer service background starting as a bicycle mechanic from the age of 15Vincent has recently completed CSUN Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program in 2017. Vincent enjoys learning how things work and finding ways to make the items "better" by thinking "outside of the box" for solutions.
Assistive Technology Specialist, Skyline College Disability Resource Center
Kim Saccio-Kent is an assistant professor at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. As the Assistive Computer Technologist for the Disability Resource Center, she provides one-on-one assessment and support for students as well as teaches classes on educational and assistive technologies.
In order to bring you a stellar conference program, we have selected presenters whose individual lives are as relevant to the Community as the issues they are addressing. The majority of our speakers hold advanced degrees in their field. Their accomplishments precede them and many are recognized nationally and within their state for their ongoing work with people with disabilities. All our speakers have apparent and non-apparent disabilities, work in the disability field or are the sibling or parent of a person with disabilities.
Angela Madsen is an American Paralympian sportswoman, in both rowing and track and field. In a long career, Madsen has moved from race rowing, to ocean challenges before switching in 2011 to athletics, winning a bronze medal in the shot put at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Madsen, along with team-mate Helen Taylor, is the first woman to have rowed across the Indian Ocean. She wrote an autobiography, published in 2014, titled Rowing Against the Wind. Learn more at www.rowoflife.com
Julia is a pilates instructor at the Riekes center. She teaches various approaches to mindful practices. She introduces her students to mindful practices using the Franklin method which uses embodied anatomy and dynamic neuro cognitive imagery. She has degrees and certifications that have brought her to her own amalgamated method which she builds on according to the group. She strives to pass on tools to aid individuals in managing self-care.
Rushina Patel discovered yoga while visiting family in India in 1992. Upon returning to Oakland she started taking classes at Piedmont Yoga Studio and has been learning, practicing, and rediscovering yoga ever since. In 2003, she completed the Piedmont Yoga Studio Advanced studies Program at Piedmont Yoga Studio. While primarily studying with teaches in the Iyengar tradition, she's also explored other hatha yoga methods and loves how there is a yoga practice to meet the needs of every body. Rushina has been fortunate to have studied with several wonderfully gifted teachers over the past 19 years and she's happy to share what she's learned.
Ability Tools, formerly the AT Network, is California's Assistive Technology Act Program. Ability Tools, formerly the AT Network, is California's Assistive Technology Act Program. They provide a variety of services for Californians with disabilities of all ages. Their services include: AT Exchange marketplace, device lending libraries, financial loan program for AT, information and referral, and reuse program in affiliation with organizational partners. In addition, we provide in-person and webinar trainings, technical assistance to organizations on AT issues and coordinate the California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition. Ability Tools offers a FREE membership to anyone interested in learning more about AT and looking to connect with other like-minded individuals via the Ability Tools listserv. Ability Tools is made possible through funding from the Department of Rehabilitation, financed by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration with funds allocated by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004.
Learn more: www.abilitytools.org
Julia Carver is a movement therapist and a certified Pilates instructor. She became a Certified Franklin Method educator in 2014 and became an advanced educator in London after completing her masters in Movement Therapy.
Grace Art and Wellness Program
The Grace Art and Wellness Program is a therapeutic recreation center which serves adults with mental illness and other cognitive disabilities.
The therapeutic and recreation staff is committed to creating a place where instead of isolation and marginalization, there is safety, acceptance and meaningful engagement with others. Members are provided with support in maintaining and improving their mental health and level of functioning through the modalities of therapeutic recreation and expressive arts. The Center's goal is to serve the social, recreation and therapeutic needs of adults with mental illness and other cognitive disabilities.
Drop in activities include art groups, process and support groups, sports and fitness activities, nutrition and psychological programs which teach daily living skills. Grace also offers access to fitness equipment, a computer lab, a pool table and other lounge type areas where members can relax with music, television and socialize with others.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/TherapeuticArtandWellnessGrace
Earthquake Country Alliance
The Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) is a public-private partnership of people, organizations, and regional alliances that work together to improve preparedness, mitigation and resiliency. ECA provides information and resources to help everyone who lives, works, or travels in earthquake country get prepared to survive and recover quickly, by following the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety.
Learn more at www.earthquakecountry.org
Variety Children's Charity of Northern California
Variety - the Children's Charity of Northern California is dedicated to delivering life-enriching services and needed funds that build better futures for the children of Northern California, from the Oregon state line down to Bakersfield. We have proudly served the greater Northern California region since 1947 and have evolved into a leader of programs to support the needs of disabled, critically ill and disadvantaged children without proper access or coverage by insurance, hospital services or government agencies. Unlike most charitable organizations that focus on a single area problem or issue, Variety focuses on multiple unmet needs of children who are sick, disadvantaged or live with disabilities and other special needs at a local, national and international level. Our aim is to maximize the real, long-term positive social impact for all children. Variety welcomes the support of any person who shares our ideals and objectives – the profound and long-term life changing benefits your donation and support delivers to a child cannot be overstated.
Learn more at www.varietync.org.
Canines for Disabled Kids
Public awareness and education are very important to CDK – so important that they travel the country to talk to students of all grade levels, civic groups, religious groups, and businesses about assistance dogs. CDK also offers different ways to help educate the public about service dogs including Educational Presentations, Booth Event Participation, Americans with Disability (ADA) consulting. Members of CDK staff and volunteers travel all over the country for these opportunities. Please contact us to learn more about how we might participate in your school, business, or community event.
Learn more at https://caninesforkids.org.
Auti Angel, star of Sundance Channel's Push Girls
In 1992 Auti Angel, a professional dancer on her way to stardom, faced devastation when she experienced a life threatening auto accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. However, through years of many trials, Auti Angel has been able to reinvent herself as shining star. Auti Angel has experienced life challenges that would later become her tool to help mentor others through their struggles. Returning to her first love of dance, she pioneered wheelchair hip-hop dancing worldwide and has continued to pursue her career in music and acting; showing this industry that she is Unstoppable! One of the stars on the critically acclaimed docu-series "Push Girls" (Critics Choice Award Winner), Auti has also appeared in the HBO film "Musical Chairs," where she not only stars as Nicky but also wrote, sang, and co-produced the movie's song "Baile Baile" (available on the movie soundtrack at iTunes). Auti Angel has been seen on several major TV talk shows sharing her story of triumph over tragedies. She has been featured on: "Good Morning America", "The Marie Osmond Show", "The Jeff Probst Show", "OMG Insider", "Access Hollywood Live", "CNN", "The Katie Couric Show", "Latina Magazine", "US Magazine", "New York Times", "Los Angeles Times", and "Los Angeles Magazine" just to name a few. Auti Angel has become a true symbol of survival and overcoming adversity. She inspires, motivates, and empowers audiences. She shares how perseverance and setting goals have helped her overcome obstacles, embrace change, and how to maintain a productive life. "Once a dancer … Always a dancer!"
Learn more at www.autiangel.net and www.autiangel.com
Micah was thrilled to be part of the amazing cast and crew of the ABC network television show, Speechless. At age 15, Micah made his feature film debut in Jason Reitman's Labor Day, opposite Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Micah was recently named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 – Class of 2018, which acknowledges the inspiring work of young entrepreneurs and youthful visionaries. Micah is honored to have been chosen to stand alongside such extraordinary individuals making a difference in our world today. Additionally, Micah was featured in Variety's 2017 Youth Impact Report, received the 2018 Trailblazer Award from UCPLA, and received a 2017 Teen Choice Award Nomination, for Choice Comedy TV Actor, for his work on Speechless. Micah, along with the cast and executive producers of Speechless received the 2017 Catalyst Award for "Television Show of the Year" and the 2017 Television Critics Association's Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming." They were also selected as the 2016 recipients of the SAG-AFTRA Disability Awareness Award for raising visibility and awareness to disability issues within the entertainment industry. Micah uses his voice to be a constant advocate for others with disabilities and is a proud ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Shane's Inspiration.
Representation: Paradigm Talent Agency in New York
Twitter/ Instagram: @micahdfowler
Moves Made 4 Me™
Moves Made 4 Me™ is a life-skills based dance method created by Veronica Vasquez and Raymond Garcia. It's presented to the public as a life-skills program that utilizes dance for those who learn non-traditionally! This program is designed to illustrate movement through developmental milestones for individuals with a developmental, physical and mental disability. It's benefits also reach typical developing individuals. There are SIX CLASSES within the program and each focuses on a different developmental milestone adapted for different age groups. Students are introduced to a variety of dance styles in a scripted format and through curricular support we address emotions, class transitions, and self-regulations. So, all individuals can feel successful and confident in the learning process. It's more than a program, it's a full curriculum that grows with an individual throughout their life. © Moves Made 4 Me 2018.
For more information on taking our classes, teaching our classes or offering our classes at your location, please check out our website www.movesmade4me.com
The Skate Connection
The Skate Connection is a Federal Non profit 501(c)(3) committed to providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to skateboard together and cultivate an integrated community deeply rooted in the love for skateboarding. Founded in 2011 by Adam Grijalva, The Skate Connection is a simple, dynamic organization that has sprouted from a small crew of skateboarders to a movement that is reaching communities all across southern California and connecting the hearts of skateboarders worldwide. At The Skate Connection, we don't create skateboarders or make friendships rather we just receive new members into our community and provide an authentic skateboarding experience so they may encounter the transforming love of skateboarding.
Learn more at www.theskateconnection.org
Abigayil Tamara, MA, MSW, and Nathan, service dog from Canine Partners for Life
Service dogs have changed Abby's life by allowing her to gain greater independence, advocating for herself and others about assistance animals, promoting issues related to the ADA and accessibility, meeting and having amazing experiences on a daily basis, and creating opportunities to speak in front of large groups about service dogs, and ways to make one's life more meaningful. Canine Partners for Life (CPL) in Cochranville, PA makes the gift of independence possible. CPL provides service dogs for individuals with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities including seizure alert, cardiac alert, and diabetes alert dogs. CPL service dogs are placed nationwide, though diabetes alert dogs are restricted to within a 100 mile radius of the CPL facility.
We Adorn You
Painters from "We Adorn You" have been face painting for Abilities Expo shows since 2009! They are based out of Los Angeles and New York City and have been in operation since 2007. Their experienced California-based artists will travel to your home or event site, whether in Los Angeles or somewhere throughout Southern California. Each event is unique and they can tailor to any theme, style or idea; children and/or adult birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, company picnics, photo shoots, trade shows and many more!
Learn more at www.weadornyou.com