New York Metro

May 5-7, 2023

New Jersey Convention & Expo Center

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

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Abilities Expo Presents Experienced, Highly Knowledgable Speakers

Here is the 2021 Abilities Expo line-up.

Check back 3 months out to find out what's in store for 2022.

Meet the speakers and presenters for the Abilities Expo workshops and events! They are people 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. 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

Advancing Opportunities

Advancing Opportunities

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 New Jersey, the agency is committed to person-centered services delivered in the community. Learn more at their website and the Assistive Technology Center.

Event: Assistive Technology Showcase

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! Learn more at their website.

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

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

Event: All About Service Dogs

The Center for Modern Dance Education (CMDE)

The Center for Modern Dance Education (CMDE)

The Center for Modern Dance Education (CMDE) is a 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 for Modern Dance Education 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 is for every body, including individuals with disabilities, youth at risk, older adults, and people of all income levels. CMDE is an inclusive, diverse oasis for non competitive artistic engagement. CMDE is a Non-Profit since 1962! Awarded New Jersey State Council on the Arts Citation of Excellence!

Learn more: cmde.org

Event: Every Body Dance!

Steve Emt, Two-Time Paralympian

Steve Emt, Two-Time Paralympian

Steve Emt was a star athlete, former West Point cadet, and UCONN basketball player; he had everything going for him. He felt invincible until one fateful night in March of 1995 when he had a car accident, waking up from a coma days later in a hospital bed and began a long, painful journey to recovery, not just physical but also mental, emotional, and spiritual. He would never fully recover physically, as he was paralyzed from the waist down. But he recovered and excelled in other parts of his life, going on to finish his degree, become a teacher, high school basketball coach, mentor, Paralympian, motivational speaker, and now an author. Steve always approached every situation with positive thinking and a determination to succeed. He is not super-human. He just found a method to get through decisions in his life.

Event: Meet Two-Time Paralympian and Wheelchair Curler Steve Emt!


Envision Dance Exchange & Dance Innovations

Envision Dance

Envision Dance Exchange (EDE) is an integrated creative movement company for 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 contact the program at 973-635-1205 or diinfo@danceinnovations.org.

Event: Never Miss a Chance to Dance

Ashley Field

Ashley Field

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!

Event: Drums Alive!

Henry Viscardi School Wheelchair Basketball Program

Henry Viscardi School Wheelchair Basketball Program

The Adapted Wheelchair Basketball Program at Henry Viscardi School 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. Learn more at https://www.henryviscardischool.org/for-students/clubs-and-activities/.

Event: Adapted Wheelchair Basketball

Zazel O'Garra and ZCO Dance Project

Zazel O'Garra and ZCO Dance Project

Zazel-Chavah O'Garra is the founder and Artistic Director of ZCO/DANCE PROJECT, 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.

Event: Episodes of the Soul by ZCO Dance

North Jersey Navigators Adaptive Sports Club

North Jersey Navigators Adaptive Sports Club

Navigators Adaptive Sports Club provides athletes of all ages and levels the opportunity to learn, train and compete in various sports activities on a level playing field. Certified coaches provide instruction in the sports, training programs and guidance as athletes meet their goals, whether that be living a healthier lifestyle or competing at the Paralympics. The team trains both ambulatory and seated athletes with a range of disabilities.

Event: Adaptive Track and Field

Gianna Rojas

On Handed Lady Golfer and Founder, Adaptive Golfers

Gianna Rojas

For Gianna Rojas, no obstacle is too daunting to tackle. Born without fingers on her left hand, Gianna is known world-wide as the "One Handed Lady Golfer." She strives to bring attention to golfing success stories people with physical, cognitive, sensory, health, and age-related challenges. She does not like the word "disabled." "We re all able, just differently ABLED," says Gianna. Despite her own challenges, she inspires and motivates others to "get out of bed, and out of their head." By sharing her own story she hopes to inspire others who may question their own abilities. Recently named by the LPGA as one of the TOP 22 Women "Disrupters" in the Golf Industry, Gianna is the epitome of adaptive empowerment through golf. Today, Gianna collaborates, sits on committees, and is an active member of many organizations. She represents the USAGA as their Director of Global Brand Awareness. She is an Adaptive Athlete and a two-time division winner in the Adaptive and Para Long Drives, and on the USA Disabled Team participating in International and National Events. You can find her by searching online for "One Handed Lady Golder" or at her website, www.adaptivegolfers.org.

Event: Adaptive Golf

Tap Dancing Hands Down, Tap: On Tap – An All Abilities Tap Ensemble, and Mary Six Rupert

Tap Dancing Hands Down, Tap: On Tap – An All Abilities Tap Ensemble, and Mary Six Rupert

Tap Dancing Hands Down is a system created by Mary Six Rupert that allows those with mobility issues to tap dance with their hands. She makes tap gloves by attaching regulation taps to a pair of stretchy gloves. The dancer has a small wooden board in their lap (or on a table in front of them) that serves as the tap floor. This system has been taught for many years at Mt Sinai Hospital in New York in their recreational therapy program. Some occupational therapists have expressed interest in using this system in their program. Tap: On Tap is a unique tap dance company that includes wheelchair users and professional tap dancers. The company’s performances include tap dancing with feet and tap dancing with hands. Mary Six Rupert is the creator, director, and choreographer of Tap Dancing Hands Down and Tap: On Tap. She is a former Radio City Rockette, professor of tap, producer of tap shows, and a tap instructor and choreographer for over 30 years. Learn more at https://www.tapontap.org/.

Event: Tap-Dancing Hands Down

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

Workshop Presenters

Carolyn Beisiegel, COTA/L, CARSS II, CTRI

Carolyn Beisiegel, COTA/L, CARSS II, CTRI

Carolyn Beisiegel, COTA/L, CARSS II, CTRI has over 10 years of experience working with individuals diagnosed with various disabilities. From mental health to physical conditions, she has worked diligently to gain hands-on experience to help grow her practice and has made her desire to help others into a career that she loves. As a recreation enthusiast who enjoys being outdoors, she specializes in making activities, recreation, and the outdoors, a part of the therapeutic process. Carolyn works as a COTA/L for a school for youth on the Autism Spectrum and has previously worked as a Residential Counselor and Behavior Coach in a juvenile mental health facility, an Adaptive Horsemanship Instructor at various therapeutic stables, and an Occupational Therapy Aide at pediatric clinics. She also possesses an Adaptive Special Needs Trainer Certification – Levels 1 & 2 issued by Strong Education.

Workshop: How Horses Influence Ability: Your Guide to Equine-Assisted Services

Wayne W. Broadfield, AIA

Associated Director of Architecture, Paralyzed Veterans of America

Wayne W. Broadfield, AIA

Wayne Broadfield joined PVA in 2018 after seventeen years of private sector architectural design and construction experience, including accessibility reviews, as an associate and senior project manager of an award-winning firm in Washington DC. He has served as president of the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and currently sits on the board of directors of the AIA Maryland. He also is the current Mid-Atlantic region director of the Young Architects Forum, a program of AIA National's Center for Emerging Professionals. Since being with PVA, Mr. Broadfield has successfully advocated to maximize accessibility on numerous projects throughout the United States.  He has also provided technical assistance on residential renovation projects specifically focused on improving accessibility. Mr. Broadfield is a licensed architect in Maryland and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).

Workshop: Accessible Home Design: The Basics

Jay Gupta, RPh, MTM Consultant, C-IAYT

Jay Gupta

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. Learn more at https://yogacaps.org/ and https://rxrelax.com/.

Workshop: Making Mindfulness Meaningful

Terry Gupta, MSW, C-IAYT, YACEP, E-RYT500

Terry Gupta

Terry Gupta is a social worker, nonprofit leader, national speaker, and nationally certified educator of yoga teachers. She is the Executive Director of YogaCaps, Inc. and the Managing Director of RXRelax. 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. Learn more at https://yogacaps.org/ and https://rxrelax.com/.

Workshop: Making Mindfulness Meaningful

Kelly L. Green

Executive Director, Help Hope Life

Kelly L. Green

Kelly has been executive director of Help Hope Live since 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. 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!
Learn more: https://helphopelive.org/

Kristy Lacroix

Wheelchair Escapes

Kristy Lacroix

With 28 years of hands-on power chair travel experience, Kristy can certainly help you achieve your accessible travel dreams. She created Wheelchair Escapes 20 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 her website at WheelchairEscapes.com/.

Workshop: Travel for the Wheelchair User? Yes, You Can!

Julie Piriano

Pride Mobility

Julie PirianoJulie Piriano has worked in the seating and wheeled mobility industry for the past 37 years. She is VP of Clinical Education, Rehab Industry Affairs and serves as Pride's Compliance Officer. She presents nationally and internationally on seating and wheeled mobility with a focus on evaluation, documentation and clinical applications of available technologies.

Julie served on the RESNA Board of Directors, currently serves as the Chair of the Professional Standards Board and is an active participant in the Wheeled Mobility and Seating SIG and the PT PSG. She is a Friend of NRRTS, member of the AAHomecare Complex Rehab and Mobility Council, the APTA and the Clinician Task Force.

She serves on several NCART Committees, the DMEMAC Advisory Councils, the board of several State Associations and the Mobility Management Editorial Board. Julie is a highly proactive industry resource on legislative and regulatory issues that impact the complex rehab industry.

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

Sonny Mullen

Director of Outreach, Help Hope Life

Sonny MullenSonny 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.
Learn more: https://helphopelive.org/

Sylvia Longmire

Accessible Travel Writer and Disability Rights Activist, Spin the Globe

Sylvia LongmireSpin the Globe creator Sylvia Longmire is a service-disabled veteran, mother, author, consultant, entrepreneur, world traveler, and Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016. She traveled extensively from an early age and during her time as an Air Force officer and Special Agent. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, her ability to walk started to deteriorate. Sylvia learned how to travel with a walker, and eventually with an electric scooter. Her work as a consultant has taken her across the United States, and her addiction to leisure travel has taken her (and her scooter) as far as the deserts of Dubai and the glaciers of Alaska. She often travels alone and is continually invigorated by the kindness and offers of help from strangers in every corner of this beautiful world. As long as her wallet allows, Sylvia is knocking both domestic and international destinations off her bucket list as quickly as she can! She chooses her destinations based on their levels of wheelchair accessibility, as well as whether she'll be able to travel there alone or need a companion. Her goals are twofold: to educate people at home and abroad about the needs - and capabilities - of disabled travelers, and to encourage people with disabilities to leave their fears behind and seek adventure!

Workshop: Accessible Travel Adventures with Sylvia Longmire

Kathy O’Connell

Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Director, Radiant Abilities, LLC

Kathy O'ConnellKathy O’Connell is one of the country’s leading advocates for helping people with disabilities create healthy romantic relationships and sexual identities. Leading the charge against what she calls “Sexual Ableism” that makes individuals with disabilities falsely believe they are not worthy of a beautiful, healthy romantic relationship. Kathy has two master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling and Inclusive Education from Syracuse University. Kathy has been acknowledged by the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York, Syracuse University and by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Kathy is the author of the book Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities, published by Balboa Press a Division of Hay House.

Workshop: Dating and Healthy Relationships for People with Disabilities

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 Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Arizona, Andre began a career in comprehensive Disability & Special Needs Planning.  Andre has been in the industry for 7 years now 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 at  https://projectdsnp.com.

Workshop: Disability and Special Needs Planning Made Easy

Jade Sancho-Duser

The Social Impact Center

Jade Sancho-Duser

Jade Sancho-Duser is a former medical marijuana dispensary employee, CEO of MaryJade Therapeutics and licensed wellness professional of 15 years who operates a plant medicine inspired personal development brand, RxMaryJade. She is the author of multiple e-books as well as the instructor of her own Cannabis infusion class, "Take The Confusion Out Of Infusion". Jade provides vocational cannabis training and Patient Education in New Jersey.

Workshop: Cannabis for Well Being

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