Boston

September 13 - 15, 2019

The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C

Fri. 11am-5pm | Sat. 11am-5pm | Sun 11am-4pm

Register for Free

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.

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson

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.

Edward J. Walsh

Edward J. WalshEdward Walsh is the Founder and President of Access For Opportunity, a non-profit charity whose primary mission is to build several large apartment buildings of affordable wheelchair accessible housing in Massachusetts. Along with housing, AFO will also offer employment opportunities, free local transportation and a safe, comfortable and friendly living environment for the tenants of the building. Ed is a quadriplegic of 34 years due to spinal cord injury. He is the former national president of the Paralysis Research Organization and former assistant East Coast coordinator for a second national spinal cord Injury organization. He and his wife Lisa live in Salisbury, MA. They have two children and seven grandchildren. In addition to his work with Access For Opportunity, he is also a Life Coach with a Master Coach certification.

Sylvia Longmire

Sylvia Longmire is an accessible travel agent, accessible travel writer, and owner of the award-winning Spin the Globe blog and travel agency. She writes about the accessibility of her travel destinations, and has visited 48 countries—35 of those as a wheelchair user and 28 of those solo. Her writing on accessible travel has been featured in The New York Times, Lonely Planet, the Matador Travel Network, and New Mobility magazine. Sylvia is a service-disabled Air Force veteran and a subject matter expert on Mexico's drug war, having appeared in numerous cable documentaries and news programs. She is also the author of three books and the former Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016. Sylvia is a single mother of two boys who inspired her to form The PreJax Foundation, a nonprofit that provides college scholarships to students who have multiple sclerosis (MS) or a parent with MS.

Beth Kolbe Hardcastle

Beth Kolbe Hardcastle

Beth Kolbe Hardcastle works as a health policy lawyer in Washington, DC. Her clients and pro bono work include companies and nonprofits in the disability community. Paralyzed in a car accident at fourteen, she also serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit AbleThrive and shares her mom's passion for volunteering.
Not a swimmer before her injury, Beth traveled around the world on the U.S. Paralympic National Swim Team for five years, three of which she also swam on the varsity Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving Team as the first member with a visible disability. A Paralympian, she earned fourteen S3 American Records. A decade later, nine still stand.

Cindy Kolbe

Cindy Kolbe

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).

Dr. Linda M. Schultz (Nurse Linda)

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.

John Morris

John Morris

John Morris is one of the foremost experts in the field of accessible travel, drawing from his experience of nearly one million miles flown as a wheelchair user and triple amputee.

He educates people with disabilities through his accessible travel website WheelchairTravel.org and advises companies through his consultancy, Accessible Development Group. Known for traveling the world with one hand, a passport and his power wheelchair, he has become a strong advocate for accessibility and inclusion within the travel industry. John is an accessible travel thought leader who shares his vision for an open world with both travel providers and the community at large.

Kevin Lambert

Program Development Administrator, NEADS, World Class Service Dogs

Kevin LambertKevin Lambert currently serves as the Program Development Administrator at NEADS, World Class Service Dogs. Mr. Lambert focuses on both the Service Dogs for Veterans programs as well as the Social Dog program for children with Autism and other developmental disabilities. Mr. Lambert served as the Director of Special Populations Programs and Services for the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services from 2007 to 2015. Mr. Lambert assisted with the creation, implementation, and managed several community-based Peer Support programs for Veterans and their families. The programs focused in many areas to include Suicide Prevention, Housing First, Supportive Housing, Jail Diversion, and Re-entry from incarceration facilities across the Commonwealth. Mr. Lambert served in the United States Army as an Infantryman From 2005-2008 and participated in over 600 combat patrols and missions as a light machine gunner in IRAQ from August 2005 through December 2006. Mr. Lambert has an Associate in Science Human Services degree as well as a Certificate in Alcohol/Drug Abuse Counseling from Northern Essex Community College.

Dr. Thomas Wong, MD

Dr. Wong has lived, studied and trained in the Boston area his whole life. Initially trained as a pharmacist, he subsequently went to medical school and finished residency in Boston. After completing training Dr. Wong joined a primary care practice and continued to work there for 32 years before retiring in 2010. Having studied pharmacy and general medicine Dr. Wong as always had an interest in treatments and therapeutic benefit of various modalities including prescription and non-prescription therapies. Currently he finds an interest in evaluating the balances between traditional western medicine and alternative treatments including medical marijuana which in many situations are complimentary.

Lauren Dyer

Lauren DyerLauren Dyer is a married mother to two little ones. She was born with Spina Bifida, partially paralyzed at 20 during spinal fusion surgery, and has struggled with anxiety and her mental health for the majority of her adult life. She now educates others on her mental health difficulties and how it's greatly affected by her disability.

Lauren has always carried a strong passion for helping others living with a disability,  through the sharing of her personal disability and mental health journey and story. Like most people in life, she has been through her fair share of ups and downs. What sets her apart is the way she hasn't let her mental health and disability challenges defeat her. She is excited to be speaking at this year's Abilities Expo and teaching her techniques that have helped her rise up to every challenge that comes her way without letting anxiety and depression knock her down.

Lauren has her bachelors in Healthcare Management, is a level 2 certified Reiki practitioner, and experienced meditation instructor. In her free time she enjoys doing hot yoga, being in nature, spending time with her husband and their two little kids, and going to the beach.

Mark Thompson, AIA

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Mark Thompson, AIA Bio Photo

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.

Gretchen Hawley

Gretchen Hawley received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Elmira College. She pursued her Doctorate degree at Simmons University in Boston and began treating patients with Multiple Sclerosis in her first year of practice, when she sat for the Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist exam. Gretchen was instrumental in building an MS physical therapy program at Connections PT in Wellesley, MA which expanded to include Occupational Therapy and an in-house Open Gym program. In an effort to help people with MS beyond the Boston area, she founded The MSing Link - Virtual Physical Therapy in 2018 .Gretchen regularly attends the MS Consortium and has been the keynote speaker at several Living Well with MS events sponsored by the MS Society as well as MS Views & News. She routinely presents, both virtually and in person, to MS support groups throughout the United States. Gretchen strives to bring the benefits of Physical Therapy to as many people with MS as possible, teaching them to not just survive, but to thrive. Patricia Hawley is her mother.

Patricia Hawley

Patricia Hawley (RYT-200) is a registered yoga instructor in Batavia, NY. She's been teaching Vinyasa yoga at Blue Pearl Yoga since 2015 and gives private yoga classes throughout western New York State. Patricia has seen mind/body benefits that yoga has brought to her students and is pursuing additional certification to teach yoga to underserved communities as well as those living with MS and other neurological disorders. She focuses on linking breath and subtle movement to increase mobility and reduce stress. Her approach benefits not only people with MS but their caregivers as well. Gretchen Hawley is her daughter.

Event Presenters


Canines for Disabled Kids

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.

IMPACT Boston

IMPACT is a nonprofit organization that has been teaching solutions for safe living since 1971. IMPACT works to prevent violence and abuse by giving people the tools to protect their safety and advocate for healthy relationships and sexual respect in their communities and society.

 

 

Empower SCI

Carolyn Barrett

Empower SCI is a non-profit corporation established to enable individuals with spinal cord injuries to lead happier, more meaningful and more independent lives. Empower SCI seeks to fill the gap in the rehabilitation industry that has been created by a decrease in length of stays at rehabilitation hospitals and outpatient services during the recovery from a spinal cord injury. They offer a residential program catered to individuals who have had an injury to their cervical spinal cord. The program focuses not only on the formal physical therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy; but more importantly peer mentoring, rehabilitation counseling and informal knowledge-sharing between individuals who are going through similar experiences and challenges. The yearly two week program consists of a combination of individual and group therapy sessions. Each program is catered to the unique needs of the client, with client-developed goals to maximize the client's ability to lead a happier, more meaningful and more independent life. It is their focus to allow individuals with spinal cord injuries the opportunity to participate in successful rehabilitation, in a time in their lives where they are motivated, healed (both mentally and orthopedically) and have the potential to succeed. Empower SCI also runs day long wheelchair skills courses throughout the United States. Learn more at www.empowersci.org

Ainsley's Angels of America

Ainsley's Angels of America

Perhaps you used to run. Perhaps you have never ran. Either way, Ainsley's Angels of America aims to ensure that everyone can experience the joy of going for a run. In addition to ensuring everyone can experience endurance events, Ainsley's Angels of America aims to build awareness about America's special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Serving as advocates to providing education and participating as active members in local communities, we believe everyone deserves to be included. Stop by our booth to experience this today and together, let's counter the claim that it is impossible and remove "can't" from the equation! Deal? Can you envision it now? The positive energy, the other athletes smiling from ear to ear, the togetherness of every member preparing to 'roll with the wind', the normalcy of the family, and the love everyone shares ... it is a therapy like no other! Oh, and the impact reaches the entire family, as many have discovered first-hand the therapeutic effects of these races. Learn more at www.ainsleysangels.org

Katy Harrison Ostroff

Katy Harrison Ostroff

Katy Harrison Ostroff, LICSW is the Manager of Client Services for NEADS World Class Service Dogs. She is responsible for matching eligible clients with their Service Dogs through a highly personalized intake and evaluation process. In addition, Katy speaks locally and nationally about the life-changing possibilities of Service Dogs, focusing on the partnerships between NEADS clients and their Service Dogs. Her prior experience includes Executive Director of Employment Connection Specialists, a non-profit agency that placed persons with disabilities in jobs in private industry. Volunteer experience includes serving as a board member and board President of the NH Rehabilitation Association as well as leadership positions on a variety of professional and community boards.

North End Curling Club, Cape Cod Curling Club, and Grand National Curling Club

North End Curling Club, Cape Cod Curling Club, and Grand National Curling Club

Katy Harrison Ostroff, LICSW is the Manager of Client Services for NEADS World Class Service Dogs. She is responsible for matching eligible clients with their Service Dogs through a highly personalized intake and evaluation process. In addition, Katy speaks locally and nationally about the life-changing possibilities of Service Dogs, focusing on the partnerships between NEADS clients and their Service Dogs. Her prior experience includes Executive Director of Employment Connection Specialists, a non-profit agency that placed persons with disabilities in jobs in private industry. Volunteer experience includes serving as a board member and board President of the NH Rehabilitation Association as well as leadership positions on a variety of professional and community boards.

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