Houston

July 31 - August 2, 2020

NRG Center, Hall E

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

Register for Free

Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers

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.

Bonnie Jensen, MAMMA

Bonnie Jensen, MAMMABonnie Jensen is from Houston, Texas and is the Research Analyst for MAMMA - Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism. Her youngest son has autism as well as intractable epilepsy and recently qualified for the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP). Bonnie has been active in advocating for medical cannabis reform at the local and state level in Texas. Texas MAMMA's involvement in the legislative process the last 5 years contributed significantly to the progress and expansion of TCUP.

Karen N. Hyman

Karen Hyman

Houston District Director, Office of Federal Contract and Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

Karen N. Hyman is the Houston District Director for the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Ms. Hyman began her federal service in Dallas with the Office of Worker's Compensation in 1986. She joined OFCCP as an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist or Compliance Officer assigned to the Houston District Office in 1988. She has over 22 years of experience as a Compliance Officer, 5 years of experience as an Assistant District Director, and over 4 years as a District Director with the Agency. During her tenure with the Agency, she has consistently resolved systemic discrimination cases resulting in large financial settlements. Ms. Hyman has a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from the University of Southwestern Louisiana ("University of Louisiana at Lafayette") in Lafayette, LA.

Brandy Arojo

Mobility Coordinator and Travel Training Specialist with Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Brandy Arojo

Hi, I'm Brandy and I am a Mobility Coordinator and Travel Training Specialist with Metro. I was born and raised here in Houston and I've always enjoyed the freedom of using public transit. I'm also an advocate of clean air and healthy living so naturally I love taking the bus and rail to places I enjoy. Before I came to METRO, I worked at St. Joseph Hospital as a Unit Coordinator in the Day Surgery department. I have been employed by Metro for 6 years now, however, I have been using public transportation for over twenty years (since the age of 14). I have a devoted husband of 13 years that also works for Metro and I am a mom of 6 boys. I am a native English speaker and a self-taught Spanish speaker. I have traveled to several different countries, but Houston will always and forever be my home. I enjoy working with all people and I consider it a delight, not a profession.

Jamie Williams

Mobility Coordinator, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Jamie Williams

Hello, my name is Jamie Williams and I am a native Houstonian who works for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Houston, Texas. There, I am a mobility coordinator who teaches seniors and people with disabilities how to successfully navigate METRO's bus and light rail systems. I have been employed with the agency since 2006. I began my career at METRO in the dispatch department for METROLift Paratransit. Since then, I have held a position in METROLift customer service department where I assisted with the eligibility process for paratransit services. It has been with great pleasure that I am able to serve the disabled community with their transportation needs.

Debra Kerper

Easy Access Travel

Debra Kerper

Debra Kerper's desire to pursue a career in Travel for the Disabled came from her personal experience as a physically challenged traveler. Debra has been living 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 surgery, she has escorted groups to Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Ireland and Hawaii. Her mantra is "Just Doing It Differently".

Debra travels extensively with a wheelchair and/or a scooter and has learned how to MINIMIZE THE FRUSTRATIONS while MAXIMIZING THE ENJOYMENT of visiting new and exciting destinations. She has visited more than 30 countries and has been on over 100 cruises. She is able to share her knowledge and expertise with other disabled persons as well as those who simply want to travel at a more leisurely pace. She possesses very strong interpersonal skills and a love of helping people.

Jay Gupta

Jay Gupta

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.

Gwendolyn Jones-Brown

Founder and president of Eternal Gems, Inc.

Gwendolyn Jones-Brown

Gwendolyn Jones-Brown is the founder and president of Eternal Gems, Inc. We are a non-profit community development corporation. We invest in urban and rural youth by providing youth events, workshops, rallies and many other activities for inspirational, educational and entrepreneurial human development. Our website is http://www.eternalgemas.org. My experiences are youth rallies, youth workshops, youth community services, Christian family radio, Christian family television, citywide men basketball tournaments, neighborhood cleanup campaigns, health fairs and park evangelism.

Maria Corea

Co-Founder of the National Unstoppable Foundation and CEO of Adapt and Personalize

Maria Corea

Entrepreneur Maria Corea suffered a tragic accident in 2011 that resulted in various injuries that left her paralyzed and with only the function of her right arm and head. Since then Maria's life and mentality has taken a 360–degree turn. After spending a lot of time in hospitals, rehabilitation, and with the disabled community, Maria developed a passion for helping individuals who are physically challenged. As the unfiltered author of Rolling with a Purpose, co-founder of the National Unstoppable Foundation, and the CEO of Adapt and personalize, Maria seeks to motivate and educated the world on living life to the fullest while being physically challenged.

Angel ArredondoAngel Arredondo

Angel Arredondo was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. She is a wife and mother. Angel has overcome many obstacles that most people would consider far too difficult considering her limitations. At this time, Angel is a very active advocate for disability rights, a keynote speaker, and inclusion model for a photo ability.net, a member on an advisory committee for women with disabilities in their pelvic health and reproduction, and the 2018 Ms. Wheelchair Texas and the new President and State Coordinator of the organization. I Love My Red Wagon is her first of a five book series touching on her experiences as a child living with a disability. Her life's work has been a voice of self acceptance and empowerment for her peers by creating changes through awareness until public accessibility becomes not only an addition to all structures/businesses in our communities but until it becomes the luxury and normalcy of OPTIONS that the able bodied community takes for granted. One factor Angel is certain about herself and other wheelchair users is, "We are unlimited. We can do anything and everything. Our wheels just get us there faster."

Diego Demaya, J.D., ADA

Legal Specialist for the Southwest ADA Center, a program of TIRR Memorial Hermann

Diego Demaya, J.D., ADA

Diego Demaya is a labor and civil rights law attorney working as Human Resources Adviser and Director of Technical Assistance with the ADA Resource Center -- a division of the Memorial Hermann healthcare system. Diego provides counsel and educates on the ADA, FHA, FMLA, ACA, 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, Section 504, Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines, and equivalent State laws. He trained with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Labor. He consults with and guides other Federal, State and local agencies as well as the private business sector. He advises and provides training for homeowner associations, apartment community landlords, and property management companies. He is routinely brought in to facilitate educational programs and assist with policy development to guide entities to meet their ADA related obligations.

John Morris

wheelchairtravel.org

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.

Dorey Petty

Director of Development, Service Dogs, Inc.

Dorey joined Service Dogs, Inc. in 2016 when she retired from the pet industry after 20 years to pursue her passion of serving in the animal nonprofit sector. It was a natural transition to Service Dogs, Inc. to help lead new and major projects, to manage the grant department, corporate relationships, endowments, capital campaigns and to foster relationships within the community. Dorey's own challenges following a stroke in 2017 has pushed her to encourage others to embrace the help available in a Service Dog especially after getting her own Service Dog this year. Service Dogs, Inc. has grown from providing Mobility and Hearing Service Dogs to adding First Responder and Courthouse Facility Dogs to our resume. In 2020, we will start taking applications for PTSD Service Dogs as well to better serve Texans in need at no cost to them. Dorey can see both sides of the door and empathize with both clients and supporters and enjoys speaking to those who want to hear about Service Dogs. She is dedicated to help others find their independence, their voice and a healthy way of life. "I want to share my passion for animals and compassion for people living with a disability."

Service Dogs, Inc.

Service Dogs, Inc.

Founded in 1988 by attorney Sheri Soltes, Service Dogs, Inc. builds better lives for Texans overcoming challenges through partnerships with custom trained Assistance Dogs provided free of charge.
Learn more: https://www.servicedogs.org 

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.

Event Presenters

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.

A.D. Players Performing Arts Academy

AD Players

Instituted in Summer 2017, this program partners with local Houston area therapeutic and alternative learning institutes to provide student development through the arts. Through semester long sessions centered around performance and theatre activities, Academy Special Populations courses integrate elements of movement, music, vocalization and presentation with the end goal being to build participants' confidence, community, socialization skills and self-expression.

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.

Jeff Bourns

Jeff Bourns

Jeff Bourns is an Adaptive Touring Tennis Professional on the TAP WORLD TOUR holding a current rank of 4th in the world in his category. Due to a birth defect his leg was amputated when he was a young child. In the United States Jeff has been charged with helping the growth and development of Adaptive Standing Tennis. A new way of playing tennis for individuals with a physical disability such as an amputation, cerebral palsy, or hemi-paralysis who wish to play the game of tennis Standing, instead of using a wheelchair. To date Jeff works clinics and demonstrations around the United States and world advocating for this new modality of play as well as inclusion for all forms tennis such as Wheelchair and Adaptive Tennis.

Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet's Education & Community Engagement department is committed to providing high-quality, community-sponsored programming to the diverse population of Houston and its surrounding areas.

Houston Parks & Rec

Houston Parks & Rec

The Metropolitan Multi-Service Center was built in 1982 and transferred from the City of Houston Health Department to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department in 2006. H.P.A.R.D.'s Adaptive Recreation Section was created at this time to offer a variety of recreational, sporting and quality of life programming for people with disabilities. Opportunities include structured classes, a fitness room, a full court gym, an indoor heated pool for use by people with disabilities, a beep baseball field, a tennis court, a quarter-mile outdoor trail, and an urban garden.

Learn more: https://www.houstontx.gov/parks/adaptivesports.html  

Texas Technology Access Program

ttap

TTAP is dedicated to increasing the access for people with disabilities to AT that provides them more control over their surroundings and an enhanced ability to function independently. They develop programs to improve access, advocacy and awareness of assistive technology to meet the needs of Texans with disabilities.
Learn more: http://techaccess.edb.utexas.edu

Ali McManus

Ali McManus

In a wheelchair since she was 7 years old, Ali writes songs that reflect her life and inspire with her joyful message of resilience and positivity. Legendary producer, Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon), produced Ali's highly acclaimed debut album, "Unbreakable." In her exuberant new music video, "Roll This Way," Ali enjoins rock star Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), along with skaters, dancers & friends to "roll your own way." We're all here to live life without limits.
Learn more at http://www.alimcmanus.com/

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.

Rollettes Dance Team

Rollettes

Founded in 2012 by Chelsie Hill, the Rollettes are a group of young women making a difference -  breaking new ground and inspiring the next generation. They are a community, a sisterhood, a family. Role models and trail blazers in dance, fashion, make-up and fitness. These women have created a community that redefines what it means to be strong, female, and resilient. With dance they dazzle and push the boundaries that others place in the way.
Learn more at www.rollettesdance.com.

Down Syndrome Association of Houston

Down Syndrom Association

The Mission of the Down Syndrome Association of Houston is to provide programs and support to individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who serve them, and to create awareness in the community through advocacy, education and medical outreach. We are known for our great family and community support programs. Today we are able to offer support to families in a variety of ways as well as all age groups in the Down syndrome community. Here are just a few examples: Community groups, Gymboree, Education for Life, New Baby Luv Baskets, Adaptive Ballet, DSAH Special Olympics, Postnatal diagnosis, and Camp Ability. Learn more at https://dsah.org. 

CosAbility

CosAbility

CosAbiltiy is an organization dedicated to engaging and empowering our members to be active in their communities and make a difference with their talents, personalities, passions, and creativity. They are a non profit organization started after seeing a un-filled need to the CosPlay community for better communications, empowerment, and activism by those of us with (dis)Abilities and special needs. They seek to create avenues and opportunities for all people by raising awareness, education, and encouragement as well as tools and processes to get plugged in to the community.
Learn more: www.cosability.com, www.facebook.com/CosAbility

Ayita Wheelchair Dance

Ayita Wheelchair Dance

Ayita is a dance class for children who use wheelchairs. Their mission is to inspire, encourage, and build confidence! Abilities Expo is thrilled to welcome these talented young dancers to the show. They will be treating the crowd to thrilling performance. Then it's your chance to join them on the dance floor and learn some new moves at their dance class. Ayita is located in Fort Worth, TX.
Learn more: www.facebook.com/Ayitadance/

My Service Dog

My Service Dog

My Service Dog, Inc. is a 501 c3 non-profit organization established in 2004 by founder and president Allie Keaton. Her vision is to train service dogs, assistance dogs, and hearing dogs to promote independence and socialization. They are located in Houston, TX but their services are not limited locally.
Learn more: www.myservicedog.com

LaKeisha Randall

A certified PK-12 Theater educator. She is currently the A.D. Players AFA Troupe Director and an Academy AFA Advocate and Inclusive Classroom Instructor. She has directed theater for young audiences for several theaters, most recently directing her personally written children's show, "Orisha The Great" for the Ensemble Theatre and her adaptation of "Tarzan" for The Monarch School through A.D. Players. Inclusion theatre and finding ways to assist teachers in seamlessly incorporating all students has become her life passion. She is also the proud owner of The Shack Houston (@TheShackHou), her family-owned restaurant located a short drive from the medical center!

VSA Texas

VSA Texas

VSA Texas challenges perceptions of how people contribute by creating an arts-inspired, inclusive community of individuals with diverse abilities. They are an expert resource on inclusive arts – creating and maintaining an accessible and open community where everyone can participate. Their goal is to provide support and training to the public, enhance personal growth, and offer Texans access to the creative work of people with diverse abilities. Learn more: www.vsatx.org.

 

 

 

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