Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers
Here are past Abilities Expo presenters. Stay tuned for 2022!
Please check back three months before the Expo for the new schedule.
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.
Ashley Lyn Olson
Ashley Lyn Olson created wheelchairtraveling.com in 2006 to empower people with limited mobility, their friends and loved ones to access and experience the world of accessible leisure and adventure travel. Growing up hiking and camping, Ashley has a deep seeded love for the outdoors and exploration. She has been to more parks than she can count, including over half of the national parks. Her website, wheelchairtraveling.com, features reviews, guides, tips, pictures, and videos of parks, as well as destinations from around the world. Explore accessible tours, cruises or plan a custom trip of your own with the many resources available. Know before you go, so you can go access the world.
Canines for Disabled Kids
Public awareness and education are very important to Canines for Disabled Kids (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, and Americans with Disability (ADA) consulting. Members of CDK staff and volunteers travel all over the country for these opportunities. Please contact them to learn more about how they might participate in your school, business, or community event.
Learn more at https://caninesforkids.org
Accessible Yoga Ambassador and Owner, BYOM Yoga
My name is Jackie Gadd, and I am proud to be an Accessible Yoga Ambassador and Instructor. I am part of a growing alliance of teachers who provide classes adapted for differently-abled yoga students. I'm proud to have guided over 2000 mind-body classes since earning my initial certification in 2012, because I am most happy when in service of others. I teach all over San Diego, in schools, and in libraries, and partner with the County and City to bring yoga where it's needed in our community.
I've been teaching chair yoga via Zoom five days a week since COVID restrictions began, and classes are up on my website for everyone to try their own practice at home. My training focuses on mindful and functional movement, and includes yoga for seniors, teens, and children and different health/development conditions (e.g., Multiple Sclerosis, pre/postnatal, anxiety/trauma/pain mitigation, behavioral support).
My classes rely on student feedback to create a cooperative experience, because everyone deserves the opportunity to find the right practice for their body. I hope you'll try one of my mind/body experiences at the Abilities Expo this weekend! Both classes will be done seated (no need to transfer from a wheelchair/scooter).
Learn more: http://byomyoga.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html
Jay Gupta, RPh, MTM Consultant, C-IAYT is the Director of Pharmacy & Integrative Health at a health center in New Hampshire. He is also the President of www.YogaCaps.org and www.RxRelax.com. 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.
Terry Gupta, MSW, C-IAYT, YACEP, E-RYT500 is a social worker, nonprofit leader, national speaker and nationally certified educator of yoga teachers. She is the Executive Director of www.YogaCaps.org and the Managing Director of www.RxRelax.com. Her adaptive yoga and mindfulness programs have been recognized as best practice models by the Citizens Bank Foundation, the State of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Business Review. She received a 2021 AmplifiHER Community Impact Award from the NH Women's Foundation for fostering resilience in the state of NH during the pandemic.
Sarah is an educator, author, and podcast host. Sarah is a Board-Certified Special Education Advocate, ensuring the best educational experience for students across the country. Her new podcast, the IEP OMG Show, helps parents navigate the often-confusing world of special education with confidence and understanding! Sarah supports families and students through her role on the advisory board for the Charcot Marie Tooth Association, an organization helping those with her neuromuscular disease, CMT. Sarah's passion is for changing people's perspectives on ability and inclusion. She's an award-winning teacher and executive function coach. Sarah lives in California with her husband, cat, and chickens.
Learn more: https://sarahkesty.com/
Jennifer Kolar has been surrounded by animals and active in their training and rehabilitation since she was a child. Just as she's seen many a stray or shelter dog through fear and reactivity issues, they have seen her through hard times too. Jennifer recognizes that working with service dog teams is at least as much about the person as about their animal. She is deeply committed to positive, ethical treatment of both dogs and people. She is a co-founder of Atlas Assistance Dogs and excited to redefine the notion of service dog training to benefit as many people as possible. She has more than 10 years' experience as a professional service dog trainer and instructor. She is a Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner, Certified Behavioral Adjustment Training Instructor, Atlas Certified Trainer, Diabetes Alert Dog Certified Trainer, and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA).
Kendra Garcia, "The OT Strategist," is Amazon's #1 bestselling author of the book Life Beyond the Diagnosis. She is a public speaker, coach, Huffington Post/Autism Parenting Magazine contributor, Special Education parent consultant, autism mom, and advocate. She works as a pediatric-adult occupational therapy provider. Follow Kendra on Social media @The OT Strategist
Kelly L. Green
Kelly L. Green joined Help Hope Live as its executive director in November 2017. The daughter of a transplant recipient, Kelly not only believes in the mission of Help Hope Live, 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.
In the last decade, 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's Main Line 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!
The International Jiu Jitsu Without Limitations Federation
The International Jiu Jitsu Without Limitations Federation (IJJWLF) provides opportunities for those living with a limitation to better their lives through the art of Jiu Jitsu. We also believe that life should be balanced and eating well and connecting with nature are important to understanding our true potential and what our bodies and mind are capable of achieving.
IJJWLF has several projects including the Para Jiu Jitsu Magazine. It was created to help educate the readers about the different limitations in our community and how Jiu jitsu helps them live with their altered lifestyle.
Learn more: IJJWLF.com, IG: @IJJWLF, FB: IJJWLF
Director of Architecture, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
Mark has been with PVA since 2002, prior to which he had over 15 years of design and construction experience as a project architect in the private sector. Since being with PVA, Mr. Lichter has successfully ensured maximum accessibility consulting on countless major facilities including many National Memorials, large medical centers, high profile professional and college sports arenas, numerous Federal buildings, as well as residential projects. As a member of the National ANSI A117.1 Committee, Mr. Lichter helps write the most widely used building code on accessibility in the country. He was also selected to serve on the Federal Courthouse Access Advisory Committee where he chaired a task group that developed new accessible courthouse design standards for the Federal Government. Mr. Lichter has written many articles on the topics of both accessibility and medical center design. He was the technical advisor for PVA’s popular book: Accessible Home Design: Solutions for the Wheelchair User. Mr. Lichter is a licensed architect. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland and a Master of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech).
The Long Beach Beauties
The Long Beach Beauties is a cheer program for differently-abled children and young adults ages 8 and up. The girls are from all over LA and Orange counties. They have been cheering for 3 years and we are always looking for some BEASTS (male cheerleaders)! They have cheered at several events including: Jamz Nationals in Las Vegas, Dodgers Stadium Cheer Day, the Southern California Special Olympics (SOSC) Summer Games and the LA Abilities Expo! The pandemic did not stop us, we have been practicing and socializing virtually for over a year now and look forward to performing for the public once again!
John Mews is the founder, music therapist as well as associate marriage and family therapist at Mewsic Moves. John has been working with individuals of all ages and all abilities for over 17 years and have seen the benefits of music therapy with clients from physical, developmental as well as intellectual disabilities.
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.
Molly Neher was introduced to the world of service dogs when she became in need of one herself after developing a severe seizure disorder while in college. Her service dog Reid was partially trained in a prison program, but Molly continued most of his training on her own with the help of a private trainer to ensure Reid would properly fit her needs. As a college student, Molly became a passionate advocate for people with disabilities and for service dog education and access. She has seen first-hand the benefits and the empowerment a service dog can bring, and it is her strong belief that people do not thrive despite their disabilities, but rather with them. Throughout her college years, she worked with other local disability rights organizations and also worked to make her campus more accessible to disabled students through the leadership and advocacy group she was part of. Molly joined Atlas' board of directors in 2017 as a means to continue her advocacy efforts and help more people like herself who could benefit from a service dog. She presently serves as Director of Operations and Programs for Atlas.
Mskindness B. Ramirez
Industry Veteran and Master Educator Mskindness B. Ramirez leads with both her given name and a calling. She is the CEO of Club Kindness TV, the Founder of EBK Apothecary, and the Author of a series of children's books written to inspire multigenerational conversations around Cannabis. Fueled with over 20+ years of pedagogical practice and passion, Mskindness lends her skills to the Cannabis community and wellness spaces beyond. She is a trusted organizer with the Social Impact Center.
Jeremiah Raxter, Esq.
Jeremiah Raxter is the founder and principal attorney of RAXTER LAW, P.A. Admitted to both the California State Bar and the United States District COurt of the Central and Southern Districts, and a Certified Veterans Attorney with the Veterans Administration. Mr. Raxter has been chosen as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers in 2019, 2020, and 2021. The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. Mr. Raxter has served as a Special Master, is a Law Professor in the subjects of Real Property, Ethics, and Wills/Trusts. Mr. Raxter represents the Riverside County Public Administrator and serves as Court appointed counsel in conservatorship and probate matters. Mr. Raxter is proud to present regular legal education and estate planning classes in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association.
The Rollettes Los Angeles
The Rollettes Los Angeles is a team of women who have created a community that redefines what it means to be strong, female, and resilient. With dance, community outreach, education programs and content creation they dazzle and push the boundaries that others place in the way.
Their mission statement is: Women Empowering Women with Disabilities to Live Boundlessly and Shift Perspectives Through Dance.
Learn more: https://www.rollettesdance.com/ and follow them on Instagram & TikTok @Rollettes_LA
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: http://www.theskateconnection.org/
Straight Up Abilities
Straight Up Abilities provides professional performance art training to students of all ages and abilities. They are based in Los Angeles and service surrounding areas, and have a virtual program for those in different States and Countries to be able to participate as well. They have performed with The Royal Ballet, Special Olympics, Very Special Arts Festival Los Angeles, VSA Orange County, VSA Shreveport Louisiana, Festival of Human Abilities, and many many more events. Their students are living out their dreams and their passions, and proving There Are No Limits! Straight UP!
Learn more: https://www.straightupabilities.com/
Founder and Events Coordinator, International Jiu Jitsu Without Limitations Federation (IJJWLF)
Max has managed multiple employees, large construction projects, and was responsible for the cost accuracy of many multimillion-dollar bids and projects. He has also been studying the art of Jiu Jitsu for over 11 years. Starting on his feet in 2009, and has spent the last 8 years continuing, and perfecting his journey with a T5 Spinal Cord Injury. All his professional work skills, and knowledge, together with the desire to help others; is what motivated Max to start the IJJWLF Adaptive Jiu Jitsu Federation, Without Limitations projects, and PJJmagazine.
"The progress we achieve for Adaptive Jiu Jitsu is done as a family, together as one. We listen to the community. It's not about making money or seeking recognition. It's about introducing Jiu Jitsu to those with limitations even if we have to test the comforts in our own daily routine. I strongly feel that its Healing, Strengthening, Educating, and Self Defending benefits will help most struggling with a limited lifestyle. I believe in balance though, enjoying the Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle without balance is pointless. Everyone should try new things. Try every adaptive opportunity you can find. That's why I'm on a road trip for a couple years to seek out what is available."
Learn more: https://www.ijjwlf.com/
Wheelchair Dancers Organization
Wheelchair Dancers Organization (WDO) believes that dance can be experienced by all. We are dedicated to broadening opportunities and creating an inclusive environment for all abilities, ages and backgrounds. Our aim is to benefit and empower the body, mind and spirit through the art of dance. Our vision is to utilize dance as a vehicle to broaden opportunities and resolve issues of exclusion facing children and adults with physical challenges. Wheelchair dancing, with a standing dance partner, helps to mitigate the isolation that many disabled individuals experience each day of their lives. Learn more and come dance with us at https://www.wheelchairdancers.org/.
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