Meet the Workshop Speakers!
Here are 2023 Abilities Expo presenters.
Check back to find out what's in store for 2024.
Meet the speakers for the Abilities Expo Dallas workshops! They bring years of experience and knowledge to the workshops they will share with you. Many are recognized regionally and nationally for their ongoing work with the disability community. All Abilities Expo speakers have apparent and non-apparent disabilities, work in the disability field, or are the sibling or parent of a person with disabilities.
Incredible Memories Travel, LLC
Entrepreneur, travel agent, disabilities advocate, and featured speaker Kristy Durso owns and operates Incredible Memories Travel (IMT), a full-service travel agency whose specialized niche is being the industry experts at special needs travel. Founded in 2018, Incredible Memories reflects Kristy's years of experience in the travel industry, as well as her unrelenting passion for customer care and providing customized, premier travel experiences. As a growing agency, IMT is setting a new standard for expertise in disability travel and is informed by Kristy's own unique experiences and prodigious research. Kristy and her agents have sent clients on customized trips all over the US, Caribbean, South America, Europe, and they are expanding into African travel. What you get with IMT is a personal, catered experience, designed for your needs and enjoyment by highly knowledgeable agents whose goal is to make sure your trip provides incredible memories for a lifetime. Combined, her agents have seen 45 states, over 25 countries, and are forever dreaming and plotting how we can add to those numbers! They have extensive contacts throughout the travel industry, eager to partner with you to overcome the challenges of planning a special needs vacation. Our goal is to give you the confidence to turn your vacation dreams into INCREDIBLE MEMORIES!
Workshop: Accessible Memories: Defying Limits One Destination at a Time
Kelly L. Green
Executive Director, Help Hope Live
Kelly has been executive director of Help Hope Live since November 2017. The daughter of a transplant recipient, Kelly not only believes in the mission of Help Hope Live, but she once used the service and it "completely changed her life." She feels honored and proud to lead an organization that provided hope and help to her family during her mother's journey to transplant in 2007. Kelly describes herself as a mother, a daughter of her hero, a battle-tested unifier, and a thought leader. She has more than 20 years' experience working in and leading nonprofit organizations and has dedicated her life to civic engagement. Kelly has proudly served as the CEO of Variety – The Children's Charity; director of Montgomery County, PA Voters Services; and deputy director for the Institute for the Study of Civic Values in Philadelphia. In 2018, Kelly was recognized with Main Line Today's Women on the Move Award for redefining success around Philadelphia, PA's Main Line region and western suburbs. Kelly is a connector, a person who needs to infuse each day with a lesson and inspire others to be the one makes someone else's day just a little brighter. She places value in small acts of kindness. She is a self-proclaimed activist, but most people just see her as someone who believes everyone deserves dignity and respect. She knows firsthand how broken our healthcare system is and is determined to help place medical needs in reach to those in need!
Workshop: Discover How to Pay for Everything You See Today
Easy Access Travel
Debra Kerper's desire to pursue a career in travel for persons with special needs and seniors came from her personal experience as a physically challenged traveler. Debra has lived with Lupus since the age of 20 and became a below knee amputee at the age of 29. She has undergone over 30 surgeries and has spent much time using a wheelchair as well as enjoying long periods of good health and short distance walking. She has a very keen understanding of medical ailments and disabling conditions resulting from excessive time spent in hospitals and outpatient rehab facilities. In February 2016 Debra had serious vascular problems resulting in the amputation of her left leg. Adjusting to life as a bilateral amputee has not been easy. Debra did not allow this new life changing event to get in her way - she continued to work full time and travel. Since the surgery, she has escorted groups to Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Ireland, New Zealand, the British Isles, Israel, and Hawaii. Her mantra is "Just Doing It Differently". Access resources, see photos, and ask questions at EasyAccessTravel.com.
Workshop: Access the World: Tips for Traveling with a Disability
Director of Outreach, Help Hope Live
Sonny Mullen is from the Philadelphia area and spent the first part of her career in New York City working in television. She joined Help Hope Live in 2016, first working in the Finance Department and now proudly serves as the Outreach Manager. In this role she has helped build the Outreach department with the goal of bringing Help Hope Live's mission to a wider audience. Growing up with a younger brother living with GRIN1 Disorder, Sonny has a personal connection to Help Hope Live's mission. She is happy to use her experiences, both at home and with Help Hope Live, to connect and speak with individuals in the disability community all over the country, with the goal of helping them safely fundraise for their medical and related expenses.
Workshop: Discover How to Pay for Everything You See Today
Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation
The Ms. Wheelchair Foundation gives women who are full-time wheelchair users in public the opportunity to educate others about what it's like to live with a disability. To work within their communities, in the local government, and businesses to increase accessibility, and to empower those who have a disability to continue living life in spite of their disability.
Workshop: Ms. Wheelchair Texas Competition and Crowning
Heather R. Price, OTR/L, ATP/SMS
Central South Regional Manager, Stealth Products
Heather R. Price, OTR/L, ATP/SMS, is a Regional Manager at Stealth Products. She also provides clinical education to therapists and DME providers under the Quantum Rehab education team. Previously, in clinical practice, Heather gained experience in wheelchair seating, positioning, and mobility at two nationally ranked rehab hospitals, TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. At TIRR, Heather was an Occupational Therapist on the inpatient spinal cord injury team. She gained extensive experience in custom wheelchair prescription, training, and seating and positioning. As the Wheelchair Skills and Management Specialist at SRALab, Heather helped develop a new program for inpatient clients of all ages with a variety of diagnoses. The program featured extensive wheelchair trials, evaluations, and instruction on advanced wheelchair skills.
Workshop: Maximizing Function in Joystick Driving
Disability & Special Needs Project
Andre Sam is a comprehensive Disability and Special Needs Planner with SilverTree Special Needs Planning. Upon earning a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arizona, Andre began a career in comprehensive disability and special needs planning. Andre has been in the industry for seven years working with individuals and families with special needs and disabilities. Andre is currently part of a non-profit organization called the Special Needs Education & Advocacy Project. Through this non-profit organization, Andre gives back by donating his time during evenings and on the weekends sharing his knowledge by providing complimentary educational presentations to organizations and groups who have loved ones that are part of the special needs and disability community. Learn more about the Disability & Special Needs Project.
Workshop: Disability and Special Needs Planning Made Easy
Linda M. Schultz, PhD, CRRN
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.
Workshop: The Art of Complex Caregiving
Jordan Smelley, MHPS
Mental Health Peer Specialist
Jordan Smelley is a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist in Texas and a person in long-term recovery from Intellectual and Developmental Differences with Co-occurring Mental Health challenges. Jordan partly defines his own recovery in relation to the opportunities available to present and educate the community on topics around supporting individuals with IDD. Jordan prioritizes his ability to advocate for himself and others, as well as find robust resources to address ongoing issues that may present. You can learn more about Jordan Smelley and his accomplishments by visiting his website at www.jordansmelleyprss.com.
Workshop: Self-Awareness for Job Accommodations
Brittney Walters, BA
Assistive Technology Instructor, East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
Growing up blind herself, Brittney has been using assistive technology (AT) for over 20 years. She joined the Lighthouse team as the Assistive Technology Instructor after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Tyler. Brittney has experience teaching one-on-one and group AT classes to people of all ages and all levels of vision loss. She brings extensive knowledge of the technology used by individuals who are blind and visually impaired along with a passion for teaching. Brittney is JAWS and ZoomText certified, a graduate of the Professional Mastery of Office Technology for Employment Program, a graduate of ETLB's Assistive Technology Instructor Program and is an approved AT Trainer through UNT's Assistive Technology Unit for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocation Rehabilitation Services. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys being with family and spending time with her dog, Holly.
Workshop: Out of the Box Accessibility: Windows and iOS features for the Blind and Visually Impaired