Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers
Here are past Abilities Expo presenters.
Stay tuned for 2021! 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.
Advancing Opportunities, Inc., is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization providing services and supports to people with disabilities and their families so they can live independently. Recognized as one of the leading disability service providers in the state of New Jersey, the agency is committed to person-centered services delivered in the community. The Assistive Technology Center, a service of Advancing Opportunities, is New Advancing OpportunitiesJersey's online resource for information and equipment. We help people with disabilities, their families, teachers and employers identify and learn to use the technology that will be most effective in meeting their goals. Learn more at https://advopps.org and www.assistivetechnologycenter.org
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
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
Center for Modern Dance Education
The Center for Modern Dance Education (CMDE) is a non-profit community arts organization with the mission to promote modern dance and related art forms and make it available to everyone while serving as a resource for the professional dance community. The Center seeks, through quality dance programs, to nurture talent and instill confidence in every student, and to preserve the legacy of modern dance and nurture its future. The Center believes that dance if for everyone, including individuals with disabilities, youth at risk, older adults, and people of all income levels. CMDE is a member of Dance New Jersey and the National Guild of Community Arts Education. CMDE is a current recipient of a Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Learn more at http://cmde.org
Cindy Kolbe has been a lifelong disability advocate—even before her daughter’s spinal cord injury. Cindy ran a nonprofit and managed group homes. She volunteers for the Reeve Foundation as a peer mentor for caregivers and supports other disability nonprofits.
Cindy’s memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, shares unexpected adventures and her battle with depression after her daughter’s injury, from their small town in Ohio to Seattle, Harvard, Capitol Hill, and around the world. She also published more than 54 articles about caregiving and disability since 2016 in 22 different media, including Power of Moms, Motherly, AbleThrive, The Mighty, Grown & Flown, and more. Cindy's serendipity newsletter and blog may be found on her website at www.strugglingwithserendipity.com. She hopes her writings will help others with challenges. Find her on Twitter (@cindy_kolbe), Facebook (Struggling with Serendipity) and Instagram (@cindybkolbe).
Drums Alive® with Ability Beats
Drums Alive® is a scientifically proven program using stability balls, buckets, scarves, drumsticks, music and more that is not only physically rewarding for all ages, all abilities, it is socially and emotionally charged- helping to make cognitive based brain body movement and learning super fun!!!
Empower Spinal Cord Injury
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
Envision Dance Exchange
In 2014 Dance Innovations Performance Foundation introduced the Envision Dance Exchange (EDE) an integrated creative movement company celebrating the alliance of all abilities dancers. Under the guidance of Susan McCutcheon Coutts (Artistic Director), able bodied teen dancers donate their time and love at least twice a month to learn, embrace, enhance and encourage their more challenged partners learning to appreciate their dedication and skills while awakening their own talents and hearts. For the EDE participant, this program improves motor skills, mood and overall health, builds confidence and self-esteem, enhances social skills, builds unexpected friendships and provides performance opportunities at venues such as ECLC-(Chatham, NJ), F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater @ Drew University (Madison, NJ) and Dance Innovations annual recital as all pursue their passion for dance. The parents of our EDE participants have said that the EDE program provides a “supportive family that welcomes all as part of a team of dancers” and is “ a blessing for children with ADHD, Dyslexia, Aspergers, Autism, Speech and language impairments, Down’s Syndrome and other developmental disabilities to have this type of acceptance, creative outlet & interaction.”
Learn more at www.danceinnovations.org/dipf or call 973-635-1205
Felicia is a long-time cannabis patient, a patient advocate, cannabis educator, activist, and community organizer. While holding such positions as patient access director, collective operations manager, patient liaison/community engagement coordinator she realized the need for more accountability for the medicine with education being the key. Having worked with countless California patients, caregivers, dispensaries and cannabis industry investors to find the best methods to ensure patients get knowledgeable information, quality medicine, and that compassion remains in California Compassionate Use Act. In 2013 she was honored by being named one of The Advocate Magazine's 40 under 40 LGBT leaders for her work in Cannabis.
Henry Viscardi Wheelchair Basketball Program
The Henry Viscardi School Wheelchair Basketball Program was created to allow children of all levels of physical disabilities to play together as a team and to reach their highest potential as athletes. The program gives children a chance to have fun, learn to respect individual needs, as well as learn good sportsmanship and teamwork. Our goal is to encourage individuality, heighten self-esteem, and provide a safe environment for each member of the team. Our basketball league consists of two teams: "Cubbies" for grades 2 – 6 and "Cougars" for grades 7 – 12, as well as students in the RAMP program. The Cubbies focus on skills and drills, and the Cougars are more competitive and play in tournaments with other local area wheelchair basketball teams. The Henry Viscardi School Wheelchair Basketball Program hosts an annual tournament every December and also participates in the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged in the Spring. Our Basketball program culminates in an annual awards dinner in June. Learn more about this and other club and activity programs at the school at http://www.henryviscardischool.org/for-students/clubs-and-activities/
Steven Knezevic coordinates the Physical Activity and Quality of Life Program that is studying the benefits of exoskeletal-assisted walking, under the direction of Dr. Spungen. Steven is involved with training persons with spinal cord injury to use the ReWalk and other exoskeletal devices and is responsible for collecting information on its health benefits, including soft tissue body composition, muscle strength, and lower extremity and nervous system function. He has a special interest in the oxygen consumption of exoskeleton ambulation.
Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad is an experienced marketer within the travel & tourism industry. She is an expert on disability and accessible travel and founded her compelling travel blog, www.AccessibleTravelNYC.com to share the joys and challenges of touring New York City attractions. She along with her family are featured in the city's first tourism campaign featuring a person with a disability, "How to Explore New York City with a Wheelchair" (Link to video https://www.nycgo.com/videos/how-to-explore-nyc-with-a-wheelchair).
Kristy has over 25 years of hands on power wheelchair travel. She is a Certified Accessible Travel Specialist. She is going to share with you lots of information and wheelchair travel tips so you too, can experience the wonderful world of travel. Don't let a wheelchair stop you from exploring the world. You will come away with the feeling I Can Do it!
Ingrid Lee coordinates the Thermoregulation Program and is striving to better define the impairments that impede the ability to maintain core body temperature in persons with spinal cord injury. When placed in either a warm or cool environment, persons with spinal cord injury have been shown to have difficulty in regulating core body temperature. The effects of lowering or raising the body’s core temperature on cognitive function are being actively investigated by Dr. Handrakis and his team of investigators. Interventions to stabilize core body temperature, in either warm or cool environments, are also being tested.
Gregory Mendez coordinates the Neurological Rehabilitation Program that is actively testing novel approaches to strengthen the function of spinal nerves in an effort to improve motor function below the level of injury. This work involves the use of targeted physical exercises and the administration of magnetic and/or electrical nerve stimulation in an effort to strengthen spared nerve connections across spinal injuries. This work arose from pre-clinical research performed by Dr. Harel that demonstrated efficacy of this kind of approach.
Linda Bollinger joined the Sunrise Medical team in the fall of 2018 as a Clinical Education Manager for West and Central regions. She has a BS-MS in physical therapy from Long Island University, Brooklyn. In May 2018, she earned her DPT from Utica College. In addition, she received her ATP certification in 2000. Prior to joining the Sunrise Medical team, Linda was the Director of Rehabilitation at Long Island Select Healthcare. Her previous experience include developing and operating a seating and mobility clinic for individuals with disabilities at UCP Long Island and successfully creating a pediatric seating clinic at a local school for students with disabilities. Linda has shared her knowledge and experience providing seating and mobility services local community events, guest lectures with local PT and OT programs, and regional conferences.
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.
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. Mark, faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, persevered courage and determination to fulfill his passion for the outdoors. He shares his story in the autobiography "Climbing Back". An accomplished wheelchair athlete, Mark is best known for the first historic paraplegic ascents of the sheer granite faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, in Yosemite National Park. His notoriety has been acclaimed on national television, by congressional commendation and meetings with two Presidents of the United States. The first paraplegic to sit-ski unassisted across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Mark has also carried the flaming torch up the 120-foot rope, shocked by thousands of spectators, and lit the cauldron for the opening of the Paralympic Games in Atlanta.Learn more at https://www.nolimitstahoe.com
Masquerade Face Painting
The owner of Masquerade Face Painting has been face painting for Abilities Expo shows since 2009! Based in New Jersey, she is a mom who developed a love of face painting after watching her own children's faces light up as they were transformed into a beautiful butterfly and a scary monster! The looks on their faces were priceless. After that moment, she could not keep my hands off of the paint brush! Masquerade Face Painting has entertained birthday parties, picnics, office parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, grand openings, day care centers, city and county events, and even universities. I travel to events where there are kids of all ages throughout New Jersey.
Learn more at www.masqueradefacepainting.com
New York Warriors Wheelchair Rugby Team
The New York Warriors are members of the United States Quad Rugby Association. USQRA exists to provide opportunity, support, and structure for competitive wheelchair rugby to people with disabilities. We are here to help people get involved in the fastest growing wheelchair sport in the world. Quad Rugby and the USQRA have changed lives. There is story after story of people getting involved with the sport who have found, through peer interaction or just the raw desire to compete, the competitive outlet they hadn't felt since before their disability. Some, disabled from birth or childhood, may be feeling the competitive fire for the first time. Almost without exception, the positive influence of this challenging sport transfers into players' everyday lives. That positive power may be the best thing we can say about our association and our game. Connect with the team at https://www.facebook.com/New-York-Warriors-Wheelchair-Rugby-270018769793100/
PT, MA, Author, "The Heart of Healing: Discovering the Secrets of Self-Care", Advanced Certified Process Acupressure Practitioner and Instructor
Regina Rosenthal is a physical therapist, teacher, author, and health coach who has worked in the healing arts and sciences for thirty years. She has presented seminars nationally and internationally to physicians, health professionals, and community groups, and has worked in hospital, university, home care, and private practice settings. Regina has taught "Self-help for Arthritis" classes through the NJ Arthritis Foundation, and developed a "Self-help for Chronic Pain" program toward her Master's Thesis, which she taught for five years. She also designed and taught "Stress Busters," a stress management program used at the Facial Pain Clinic, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey during the nine years she was an Associate Instructor there. Her book, "The Heart of Healing: Discovering the Secrets of Self-Care," teaches how to increase awareness and become empowered during healing by using Self-care practices. Regina is an Advanced Practitioner and Instructor of "Process Acupressure" and "Acupressure for Anyone" through Soul Lightening Acupressure, a non-profit corporation providing training, education, and service to health professionals and community groups throughout the world. She believes that when internal wisdom and abilities are combined with external health services and resources a partnership is established that amplifies healing and maximizes overall well-being. Learn more at http://reginarosenthal.com
Rollettes Dance Team
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
Srin is a Product Manager at Airbnb after the startup he founded, Accomable, was acquired by Airbnb in November 2017. As he says:
I love trying to make and build stuff that people hopefully(!) find useful or interesting. These are usually web and tech based products. I originally graduated with a degree in Genetics and Biochemistry; and then retrained to qualify as a corporate lawyer. I practiced in the City of London for four years at a leading international firm and left in 2012 to do an MBA at Oxford University. My MBA focused primarily on entrepreneurship, product development and early stage investing in sectors based on cutting edge science and technology. While at Oxford, I also started to learn to code and was the original developer of Accomable, which I created from scratch. When I get the chance, I enjoy writing on a mix of subjects ranging from travel to technology and have had articles published in the BBC, The Guardian and a number of specialist blogs and publications.
Garrett Weinstein is the founder of TravelEZ, an enthusiastic community and resource highlighting accessible restaurants, bars, and cafes. TravelEZ is often compared to the “TripAdvisor of accessibility.” Garrett founded TravelEZ in response to his grandmother’s frustrating experiences of showing up to restaurants with too many stairs, towering tables, and bathrooms too small to even fit a walker. TravelEZ has over 1,000 accessibility reviews and is quickly growing. Garrett will speak to the challenges and solutions involved with navigating venues, with a focus on restaurants.