Houston

AUGUST 4-6, 2023

NRG Center, Hall E

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

Register for Free

Meet the Speakers for Abilities Expo Houston!

Our speakers have years of experience and are highly knowledgeable in their fields. 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.

Workshop Speakers
Event Presenters

Event Presenters

Ainsley's Angels of America

Ainsley's Angels of America

The mission of Ainsley's Angels of America is to build awareness about the importance of inclusion, through action, while transforming populations into all-inclusive communities. The organization connects Athlete Riders with Runners so the Athlete Rider can "Roll with the Wind" in life and endurance events. The organization celebrates the fearlessness of the athletes, the normalcy of the family, and the love everyone shares is a therapy like no other!

Event: Roll with the Wind: Ride-Along Race Experience

Art Spark Texas

Art Spark Texas

Art Spark Texas challenges perceptions of how people contribute by creating an arts-inspired, inclusive community of individuals with diverse abilities. Their vision is to foster equity across all cultural sectors of society, we believe that arts experiences enhance the skills, confidence, and quality of life for all people, and our goal is to ensure that these experiences are fully accessible, welcoming, engaging, and respectful. Visit their website for programs, classes, artist awards, and more.

Event:  Artist Market

Ayita Wheelchair Dance

Ayita Wheelchair Dance

Ayita Wheelchair Dance is a dance class for children who use wheelchairs. Our mission is to inspire, encourage, and build confidence. They are located in Fort Worth, TX.

Event: Ayita Wheelchair Dance Performance and Class

Jeff Bourns

Jeff Bourns

Jeff Bourns is a former competitive amputee tennis player and Adapted mobility tennis instructor. Bourns competed at international level tournaments and events in a newly organized category of play in tennis, Adaptive Standing Tennis. Adaptive Standing Tennis is tennis for individuals with physical challenges such as amputations, cerebral palsy, or hemiparesis who play the sport ambulatory. Jeff retired in 2019 with a World Rank of 4 in his category and was the first American to compete internationally in this newly emerging category of organized tennis.

Event: Tennis for Everyone

Causeplay Alliance Project

Causeplay Alliance Project

CAP (Causeplay Alliance Project) is a cosplay, social organization that makes public appearances at charitable events in the Houston community and partners with those local charities to help raise awareness for the causes they support.

Event: Meet Your Favorite Cosplay Characters

Neylane Coelho

Personal Training Lead, Katy YMCA's

Neylane Coelho

Personal Training Lead, Katy YMCA's

  • Certified Group Exercise Instructor thru AFAA (2001 – Present)
  • Aquatic Exercise Association – Pro Member (2005)
  • Certified Turbo Kick Instructor (2006)
  • Certified Personal Trainer AFAA (June 2014 - Present)
  • Fitness Programming for Overweight/Obese clients (2015)
  • Suspension Training Course (TRX) (May 2015)
  • Silver Sneaker (2015 - present)
  • Enhance Fitness 12/2015)
  • Kettlebell (2016)
  • Live Strong – cancer survivor (2016)
  • Nationally Certified Water Fitness Instructor - United State Water Fitness – (10/2016 - present)

Event: Low Impact Combo Adaptive Fitness Class

Kristin Hartness

Executive Director, CDK

Kristin Hartness

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.

Event: All About Service Dogs

Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet

The Adapted Dance program at Houston Ballet takes existing Houston Ballet Education and Community Engagement programs and adapts them to populations with specific needs. Aside from our two on-going programs, trained staff can also partner with Houston-area schools to create a program especially for your students.

Event: Creative Movement

Houston Sword Sports

Houston Sword Sports

Houston Sword Sports is a fencing club dedicated to bringing the Olympic and Paralympic sport of fencing to the people of Houston. Founded in 2015, we offer classes to kids, teens, and adults of all ages in all three fencing weapons: foil, epee, and saber. We incorporate wheelchair fencers into our regular practices, allowing fencers of all ability and experience levels to enjoy this fast-paced and exciting sport.

Event: Wheelchair Fencing

L'Orne J. Lazaro

Healthy Living Program Manager, Katy YMCA's

L'Orne J. Lazaro"A body in motion stays in motion no matter what your abilities are." As an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, L'Orne tries to convey to all her classes/workouts at Katy YMCA's that you must keep trying and work through what is difficult to be victorious. She has been teaching fitness class 7 plus years from cardio dance to strength. She has also trained persons with chronic diseases, flexibility issues, arthritis and more. Other Credentials include: Certified USWFA Water Fitness Instructor, Silver Sneakers Certified (BOOM Move/Muscle, Classic, EnerChi, Circuit & Stability), Certified Lifestyle Coach for LiveStrong, Moving Stronger, Enhance Fitness. She has also facilitated Diabetes Prevention, Parent/Child weight management classes and Adult weight management classes.

Event: Low Impact Combo Adaptive Fitness Class

Justin Graham

WOW Wonders on Wheels Wheelchair Fitness

WOW Wheelchair Fitness

Justin Graham, creator of WOW Wheelchair Fitness, is a Certified Personal Trainer who has been working with special needs populations since 2018.  He has taught classes with the PVA, Triumph Sports Festival, Abilities 360 in Phoenix, Spina Bifida Association, and the Abilities Expo in Phoenix. His dynamic charm attracts everyone to join his wheelchair fitness classes, combining strength training with dance, pom-poms and just plain fun! Justin teaches daily classes on a virtual platform and excels at enticing even the shyest student to play along and get valuable exercise.  Based in Phoenix, Justin also teaches live classes and one-on-one personal training. But it is his joyous energy that is the gift, bringing people of all ages and abilities together to dance with their peers.

Event: WOW Wheelchair Fitness Class

Kari Miller-Ortiz

Three-Time Paralympic Medalist

Sitting Volleyball event on SundayKari Miller-Ortiz is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant who lost both her legs when a car she was in was hit by a drunk driver while she was on leave from military duty in 1999. After playing a variety of adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, she discovered the sport of sitting volleyball. She helped Team USA win a gold and 2 silver medals over the course of three Paralympics. She has been a huge advocate for adaptive sports and has spent a big part of her career getting other individuals with disabilities involved in sport. Now her focus is to make sure no one is left on the sideline and that everyone experiences the power of sport with her work at Move United.

Event: Sitting Volleyball

Move United

Move United LogoMove United uses sports to push what's possible so everyone, regardless of ability, has equal access to sports and recreation in their community. Established in 1956, Move United is an affiliate of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Move United is the national leader in community adaptive sports, helping to redefine disability for more than 100,000 youth and adults each year who develop independence, confidence, and become stronger every day through participation in sports, including recreation, competition, and education programs.

Events: Wheelchair Lacrosse, Sitting Volleyball

Texas Technology Access Program (TTAP)

Texas Technology Access Program (TTAP)

The mission of TTAP is to increase access for people with disabilities and those who are aging to Assistive Technology (AT) tools and services. AT may provide these Texans with more control over their immediate environments; an enhanced ability to function independently; potential access to education, vocation and employment; and more opportunities for recreation/leisure activities and community engagement. We support and develop programs to improve access, advocacy, and awareness of AT to meet the needs of Texans with disabilities and those who are aging.

Event: Assistive Technology Showcase

Mark Wellman

Adventure Athlete and Paralympian, No Limits Tahoe

Mark Wellman

Mark Wellman is a nationally acclaimed author, filmmaker, and motivational speaker. Despite being paralyzed in a mountain climbing accident, Mark has inspired millions to meet their problems head-on and reach for their full potential. A two-time Paralympian and former Yosemite Park Ranger, Mark's NO LIMITS philosophy encourages individuals to adventure into new horizons; to go beyond the seeming unreachable. Learn more at nolimitstahoe.com.

Event: Adaptive Climbing Wall

YMCA of Greater Houston

Founded in 1886, the YMCA of Greater Houston has always been a place where all people can find hope, fellowship, and healing. Programs that meet the needs of the Greater Houston community: The Y is focused on impacting everyone in our community. That's why we offer a variety of programs, classes, and services. YMCA programs bring people together to develop strong, positive relationships with others in their neighborhoods and communities.

Event: Low Impact Combo Adaptive Fitness Class

Workshop Presenters

Alex Chesney

Quantum Rehab

Alex Chesney

Alex Chesney is the clinical sales manager of the Midwest South Region for Quantum Rehab. She provides educational services as an occupational therapist, assistive technology professional and seating and mobility specialist. Alex graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in multidisciplinary studies and a minor in psychology in 2011. She earned her master's in occupational therapy from Texas Woman's University in 2013. Alex practiced occupational therapy in a top neurological inpatient rehabilitation center in Houston, treating those with traumatic spinal cord injuries and various neurodegenerative diseases.

As a clinician, Alex prescribed advanced seating and mobility technologies and served as a primary education resource for best practices within neurological rehabilitation. Alex previously served as a committee chair for the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals and continues involvement as a committee member. She is the occupational therapy coordinator for Rehabilitation Services Volunteer Project, providing free neurological therapy services to those in the Texas area.

Workshops: What's the Difference? Clinical Applications for Standard and Complex Power Wheelchairs and Balancing Function and Independence: Clinical Considerations for Power Positioning

Jay Gupta, RPh, MTM Consultant, C-IAYT

Jay Gupta, RPh, MTM Consultant, C-IAYT

Jay Gupta is the Director of Pharmacy & Integrative Health at a health center in New Hampshire. He is also the President of YogaCaps, Inc. and RXRelax. Jay is a pharmacist, medication expert, DePrescription leader and international speaker. He has been recognized by Cardinal Health, by the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) and by Next Generation Pharmacists/Pharmacy Times for excellence in integrative therapies. His clinical trial in 2020 studied the effects of therapeutic telehealth yoga for healthcare professionals during a pandemic and indicated significant reduction in anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD symptoms.

Workshop: Polypharmacy: What Is It and Are You at Risk? Presented by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Anna Mallett

Program Specialist, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Educational Opportunities and Investment Division

Anna Mallett

Anna Mallett has worked in the Texas Comptroller's Office for ten years and currently serves as the Outreach Specialist for the state's new Texas ABLE® Program.  She previously worked as a Marketing Coordinator for the Texas Tuition Promise Fund, the state's 529 prepaid college savings plan. Anna has over 19 years of service with the State of Texas including serving as Grant Program Manager for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Relations Manager at the Texas Department of Transportation.  Anna holds a BA in Communications from Southwest Texas State University. She and her husband live in Austin and have two children.

Workshop: Texas ABLE: A Savings Program for Individuals with Disabilities

Codi Mendenhall

Student and Disability Advocate

Codi Mendenhall

Codi is in 9th grade at Grand River Academy - an online school. Codi enjoys hanging out with her friends, shopping, swimming, adaptive snowboarding, doing crafts, social media, and riding her tandem electric tricycle ("eTrike" for short). Codi and her mom Jen were presenters for TEDx Grand Junction in March of 2020. Their talk, "Codi's Life: From Coding to Communication Technology", was selected to be on TED.com.  Codi was interviewed on Colorado Public radio using her AAC to speak about going back to school after Covid. She used her AAC in a commercial for Code Ninjas, a National Coding Program, as well as two Mesa County Valley School District #51 School Board meetings to advocate for Adapted PE teachers and give an informative presentation about the yearbook group at her school. She was featured in the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering Newsletter, Ride Designs Newsletter and Move United and Directions magazines. Most recently she was in an ATAP National AT Awareness Day video.

Workshop: A Technology Journey - Discover How AT and AAC Devices Help!

Houston Hyperbaric Oxygen Center

Houston Hyperbaric Oxygen Center

Houston Hyperbaric Oxygen Center (HHOC) was originally founded by Dr. Robert Stanton and his wife Terri for their son, Joseph who suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury in 2010. HHOC became a center that was focused on providing HBOT for those that could not afford treatment at a local hospital or those with TBI, stroke, and other conditions insurance typically does not cover. HHOC is currently led by Dr. Allison Boyle who oversees as medical director. The mission is still the same, to provide access to low cost HBOT and help those with off label conditions. Dr. Boyle is a board-certified neurologist specializing in neurology and movement disorders. We utilize two ASME and PVHO-1 certified monoplace chambers with Amron seals to provide 100% oxygen while we compress the chamber between 1.5 to 3 atmospheres of pressure (7-30psi above current atmospheric pressure). During the treatment you are able to relax and sleep or watch movies.

Workshop: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: An Introduction

Jen Mendenhall

Mom and Disability Advocate

Jen Mendenhall

Jen is 53-year-old mom of a very determined and sassy 15-year-old daughter, Codi. Codi has Cerebral Palsy and uses many forms of assistive technology (AT). Jen and Codi were presenters for TEDx Grand Junction in March of 2020. Their talk, "Codi's Life: From Coding to Communication Technology", was selected to be on TED.com. Both are current members of the Colorado Technology First Council and the Colorado Assistive Technology Coalition. Jen is a parent member of the Colorado Governor's State Rehabilitation Council, the Parent/Family Lead for the Colorado Office of Employment First Curriculum Training grant and member of the Colorado Department of Education Sequencing of Services Pilot Program for their local school district. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism from Colorado State University and a MS in Public Administration from the University of AK.

Workshop: A Technology Journey - Discover How AT and AAC Devices Help!

Ruth Rathblott, MSW, DEI Certified, TEDx Speaker

Ruth Rathblott, MSW, DEI Certified, TEDx Speaker

TEDx and Inspirational Speaker, Ruth Rathblott, MSW is an award-winning CEO who is committed to creating inclusion for all. Ruth was born with a limb difference and currently speaks on issues of inclusion and diversity, the gifts of being unique, the freedom of accepting your differences, and rising above life's challenges. She is a leader who has spent her entire career focused on providing opportunities for those who face obstacles. Ruth has been a leader in nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years. Ruth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goucher College and a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University. Visit her website to discover more.

Workshop: The "CURE" to Inclusion

Andre Sam

Disability & Special Needs Project

Andre Sam

Andre Sam is a comprehensive Disability & 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

Mark Thompson, AIA

Senior Director of Architecture, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

Mark Thompson, AIA

Mark R. Thompson, AIA, is PVA's Senior 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, health care and educational markets valued more than $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.

Workshop: Accessible Home Design: The Basics

Wheel the World

Wheel the World Logo

Wheel the World makes it possible for people to explore the world without limits. Find and book accessible places to stay, things to do, and multi-day trips at 80+ destinations around the world. With detailed information about accessibility and an experienced customer support.

Workshop: Travel the World: What are the Most Accessible Destinations?

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