Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers
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.
Hi, my name is Ashley and I am 37 years old. I am married and have been with my husband for over 17 years now! Together we have two daughters ages 12 and 6 who are my world. When I am not with them, I teach inclusive fitness, my other world! One of my favorite programs to teach is Drums Alive. Over the last six years I have taught Drums Alive hundreds of times all over New England at schools, for parks and rec departments, senior centers and so many different community events. During a slow week I have up to fourteen classes but on an event week, I could hold up to fourteen mini classes a day! Drums Alive has truly become a passion of mine and I can't wait to share it with you!
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
Author Cindy Kolbe has been a lifelong disability advocate—even before her daughter's spinal cord injury. She recently signed a contract with a movie producer who is shopping her story to Hollywood studios. Cindy's 2019 memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, will be republished as a second edition. In her memoir, she shares her family's journey after her daughter's spinal cord injury, from their small town in Ohio to Seattle, Harvard, Capitol Hill, and around the world.
Since 2016, Cindy has published more than 54 articles in 22 different media, including Power of Moms, Motherly, MobileWOMEN, Women for One, The Mighty, Grown & Flown, and Facing Disability. She supports disability nonprofits and volunteers for the Reeve Foundation as a regional champion and a peer mentor.
Cindy's Serendipity Newsletter and blog may be found on her website at www.strugglingwithserendipity.com. She would love to connect with you on Twitter (@cindy_kolbe), Facebook (Struggling with Serendipity) and Instagram (@cindybkolbe).
Boasting over 14 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist, Crystal is the Chief Marketing Officer. After graduating with a BA from Bucknell University in Animal Behavior and Spanish, Crystal researched various ways to work with animals and discovered occupational therapy. She graduated from Long Island University (Brooklyn Campus), earning a BS/MS in Occupational Therapy. Crystal's experience working with New York City Department of Education as a Senior Occupational Therapist and with Young Adult Institute (YAI) has fueled her passion to help adults with developmental disabilities function & participate in any setting they choose. In 2019 she published an article in OT Practice Magazine discussing her perspective on having a brother with Autism & being an occupational therapist. Crystal has also participated in poster presentations and a workshop for the American Occupational Therapy Association Conferences. Crystal lives in Queens, NY with her husband, 2 kids (one of which has Autism), and pets.
If dance is an expression of the human spirit, then it is best expressed by people of all abilities. Celebrating nearly 40 years, the Dancing Wheels Company is considered one of the premier arts and disabilities organizations in the U.S. Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. Mary Verdi-Fletcher, the first professional wheelchair dancer in the U.S., founded the Dancing Wheels Company in Cleveland in 1980. Born with spina bifida, Mary wanted to offer others with disabilities full and equal access into the world of dance. To date, the Dancing Wheels Company's inspirational mission has touched over 5 million people through performances, school assemblies, residencies and workshops. With a message of inclusion and accessibility, the Company continually expands the reach of artistic possibilities while celebrating the universal spirit of dance.
Learn more: www.dancingwheels.org.
In 2014 Dance Innovations Performance Foundation introduced the Envision Dance Exchange (EDE), an integrated creative movement company dancers of all abilities. Under the guidance of Susan McCutcheon Coutts (Artistic Director), able bodied teen dancers donate their time and love of dance to learn from, embrace, and encourage their partners. For the EDE participant, this program improves motor skills, mood and overall health. It builds confidence and self-esteem, enhances social skills, and creates unexpected friendships. Performance opportunities have included 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 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leading the industry with over 10 years of experience in both pediatrics and geriatrics, Gillian is a Physical Therapist (PT) and the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Ability & Beyond Fitness. Upon graduating with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Stony Brook University, Gillian worked as a full-time Acute Care therapist before transitioning to pediatrics with NewYork City Department of Education. In order to continue enhancing her clinical skills, she works per diem with the geriatric population in acute rehab. Gillian's vast training with individuals of all ages, brings experience, knowledge, and expertise to this new and unique business. Gillian currently lives in New York City. She enjoys reading and cooking different cuisines. Gillian is excited about her journey in owning a business, hopes to empower adults with developmental disabilities and bring awareness to the general population.
The Adapted Wheelchair Basketball Program was created to afford children of all levels of physical abilities, the opportunity to play together as a team and to reach their highest potential as athletes. The game is structured to allow each child to be as independent as possible while playing wheelchair basketball.
The program allows children with disabilities to have fun and enjoy themselves. The program teaches the players to respect each other's individual needs and limitations as well as providing guidance for learning individual skills, team skills and good sportsmanship.
Our goal is to encourage individuality, heighten self-esteem and provide a safe environment for each basketball player involved.
Kendra Garcia, "Ignite Goddess," is Amazon's #1 bestselling author, public speaker, and Nationally published writer. Kendra creates content, products & services to support her clients in healing using an alternative holistic approach through healing crystals, meditation, and personal coaching. Follow Kendra on Social media @IgniteGoddessCoaching on Instagram.
Kristy Durso, founder and owner of Incredible Memories Travel, is on a mission to change the face of travel for those with special needs. A homeschooling mom who has lived around the world with her active duty military husband and their children, Kristy has traveled extensively and has experienced the shortcomings in accessible tourism firsthand. She became wheelchair bound in 2019, she has a genetic disorder, and a pair of autoimmune disorders. Additionally, all three of the Durso children have special needs. Her daughter the same genetic disorder and over two dozen food allergies, her older son has Asperger's Syndrome, and the youngest has profound cognitive disabilities. Traveling, educating those in the travel industry about accessibility, and taking care of those with special needs have become Kristy's passions. When not running her business and traveling, she enjoys holding her extremely spoiled dog.
With 28 years of hands-on power chair travel experience, Kristy can certainly help you achieve your accessible travel dreams. She created Wheelchair Escapes 19 years ago to help others be able to travel without all the obstacles that she and her husband encountered when they started traveling with a power chair back in 1993. For more information please visit www.wheelchairescapes.com. You can also join me for my presentation on accessible travel October 2 from 3:45pm - 4:45pm.
Spiritual Herbalist, Founder of MysticFairie Apothecary, Reiki Practitioner, Mother and Mystic at heart! She loves teaching and holding workshops that take us beyond the intellect to reawaken pieces of our DNA that has been lost over time. The core of her work centers around being the bridge between this realm and many others to provide her clients with clarity in all areas of their physical, mental, and emotional states of being.
Mark Lichter, AIA, is PVA's Director of Architecture & Facilites. He 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).
With a strong devotion to her work, Myrna, Chief Financial Officer, is an Occupational Therapist (OT) with over ten years of experience in the field. She earned a BS/MS from Long Island University (Brooklyn campus). Myrna's experience working as a senior school-based OT for New York City Department of Education as well as sensory gyms and outpatient rehabilitation proves she possesses all skills needed to accomplish the vision. Making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities is her passion and goal. Winning awards for her innovative treatment plans and interventions and gaining recognition from the United Federation of Teachers for her ingenious community integration programs confirms she is unstoppable. Myrna is from New York City. When Myrna is not working on projects or new treatment methods, she is planning an elaborate vacation with friends and family to the Caribbean, Europe, etc.
Shameka Andrews is a disability advocate and consultant she provide resources to people with disabilities, their families and community organizations. She currently is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Self-Advocacy Association of NYS.
Shameka is the state coordinator of the Ms. Wheelchair NY Program, a member of the Commissioners Advisory Council of the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and serves on the NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.
Tap: On Tap - An All Abilities Tap Ensemble is a dance company with a focus on adaptation, inclusion. and the art of tap dancing. This tap company includes the integration of tap dancers and tap dancers with disabilities. Some of the disabilities are the result of brain and spinal cord injuries. The art of tap dancing will be celebrated by tap dancing with feet and hands.. The tap dancing with hands will be using a system called Tap Dancing Hands Down®.
Tap: On Tap is fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
NYFA is a nonprofit service organization that empowers working artists and emerging arts organizations across all disciplines at critical stages in their creative lives and professional/organizational development.
To contribute to our tap company through NYFA, visit: http://bit.ly/tapontap
Ms. Baker has worked for the State of NJ Department of Human Services for 20 years, providing services to children, adults and senior citizens with challenging and diverse backgrounds and social service needs. Currently she serves as the Supervisor for the Information & Referral (I & R) Unit. The I & R unit works to streamline access to essential information and services to individuals with disabilities by facilitating coordination and cooperation among local, county and state government agencies. I & R provides resources for individuals with disabilities in many areas: from the most basic needs for food and shelter to more complex needs of health care, support services, independent living, and employment. Ursula is responsible for managing the overall operations of the unit and ensuring that certified I & R specialists are available to confidentially discuss issues, provide information, assist with problem solving and refer individuals to the appropriate agencies or services. She currently resides in Mercer County, NJ and pre-COVID enjoys fitness, bowling and traveling. She competed in her first local figure competition in 2019 and is looking for a new goal to achieve.
Zazel-Chavah O'Garra is the founder and Artistic Director of ZCO/DANCEPROJECT, a physically integrated dance company whose goal is to create performances that are witty, soulful, intelligent, powerful and intriguing. ZCODP seeks to encourage the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in dance and in society, to present new, exciting, challenging, and inspiring contemporary dance performances to the widest possible audience.
A native New Yorker, Zazel attended the University of Michigan and Empire State College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in dance performance. A Presidential Arts Scholar, she performed with Mark Dendy Dance Company and Alvin Ailey Wksp II, as well as performing Off-Broadway and in numerous musical theatre stage productions in the U.S. and abroad. She has also served as movement coach for "As the World Turns". As a professional model, she has appeared on two Essence Magazine covers and several other print and runway jobs. She also appeared in national, regional commercial industrials and supplied voice overs for a number of ads.
In December 2001, Zazel discovered that she had meningioma, a benign brain tumor, which proceeded to paralyze her right side and resulted in a slight speech impediment and cognitive loss. After receiving extensive treatment at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (East Orange, NJ) and New York University Rusk Medical Center, Zazel was able to overcome the speech impediment, cognitive loss, and paralysis. Consciously deciding to make best use of this debilitating circumstance, Zazel transitioned into teaching dance as a healing form to the disabled and non-disabled alike, continuing to share her infectiously positive and fun spirit with others. Her objective is to give those with disabilities a vehicle for self-expression, help them build a sense of self-esteem and self-reliance, and provide them with opportunities for community recognition and acclaim. She is also passionate about raising public awareness about the challenges facing and the gifts offered by those with disabilities.