Abilities Virtual Experience 2

November 20-22, 2020

Online Globally

Live host, workshops and adaptive activities: 9 am - 5 pm PST

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.

The Abilities Recovery Center

The Abilities Recovery Center works with people who have become paralyzed following a severe injury or illness, by enhancing the connection to their nervous system, so that they may move, feel, function and walk again. They off specialized fitness programs combined with cutting edge equipment to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Auti Angel

Auti Angel Bio Photo

In 1992 Auti Angel, a professional dancer on her way to stardom, faced devastation when she experienced a life-threatening auto accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. However, through years of many trials, Auti Angel has been able to reinvent herself as shining star. Auti Angel has experienced life challenges that would later become her tool to help mentor others through their struggles. Returning to her first love of dance, she pioneered wheelchair hip-hop dancing worldwide and has continued to pursue her career in music and acting; showing this industry that she is Unstoppable! One of the stars on the critically acclaimed docu-series "Push Girls" (Critics Choice Award Winner), Auti has also appeared in the HBO film "Musical Chairs," where she not only stars as Nicky but also wrote, sang, and co-produced the movie's song "Baile Baile" (available on the movie soundtrack at iTunes). Auti Angel has been seen on several major TV talk shows sharing her story of triumph over tragedies. She has been featured on: "Good Morning America," "The Marie Osmond Show," "The Jeff Probst Show," "OMG Insider," "Access Hollywood Live," "CNN," "The Katie Couric Show," "Latina Magazine," "US Magazine," "New York Times," "Los Angeles Times," and "Los Angeles Magazine" just to name a few. Auti Angel has become a true symbol of survival and overcoming adversity. She inspires, motivates, and empowers audiences. She shares how perseverance and setting goals have helped her overcome obstacles, embrace change, and how to maintain a productive life. "Once a dancer … Always a dancer!" Learn more at www.autiangel.net and www.autiangel.com.

Angel City Sports

Angel City Sports Bio Photo

Angel City Sports provides year-round free adaptive sports opportunities for kids, adults and veterans with physical disabilities or visual impairments. A chapter member of Move United, Angel City Sports is focused on encouraging participation in sports and recreation activities for people with physical disabilities and advancing the Paralympic movement. In addition to providing free equipment, coaching and competitive opportunities—Angel City focuses on how every individual can reach their full potential and unlock their dreams through music, art, higher education and career opportunities.

Andy Arias

Andy Arias Bio Photo

Andy brings more than a decade of experience working at the federal, state and local levels as a disability policy expert and advocate, seeking to create greater pathways for diversity and inclusion. Andy serves on a wide range of boards and commissions, including The HIV and AIDS Commission of Los Angeles and The President's Committee on Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Andy lectures and provides training for universities, high schools, and Congressional leaders on ADA compliance and the inclusion of people with disabilities and diverse backgrounds. In addition, Andy advocates for disability equality in the entertainment industry and has worked with Tom Hanks, Mark Ruffalo and Hilary Swank. He consults with producers and directors to create greater visibility for people with disabilities and has produced several small projects focused on persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ community. Andy's goal is to combine policy and entertainment to create a lasting systemic change.

Morgan Baker

Morgan Baker Bio Photo

Based in Los Angeles, Morgan is a full time Disability Specialist who provides accessibility consultation to gaming studios, as needed. As a Deaf woman with disabilities, her specialty includes but is not limited to d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing access. She uses her holistic background in Research Methodology and Disability Studies to optimize player experience.

Imani Barbarin

Imani Barbarin Bio Photo

In the last few years she has created over a dozen trending hashtags that allow disabled folk the opportunity to have their perspectives heard while forcing the world to take notice. #PatientsAreNotFaking, #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow, #AbledsAreWeird and others each provide a window into disabled life while forming community.

Imani is from the Philadelphia area and holds a Masters in Global Communications from the American University of Paris, her published works include those in Forbes, Rewire, Healthline, BitchMedia and more. She runs the blog CrutchesAndSpice.com and a podcast of the same name. She currently serves as the Communications Director for a nonprofit in Pennsylvania.

Wayne W. Broadfield, III, AIA

Wayne Broadfield Bio Photo

Wayne W. Broadfield, III, AIA is PVA's Associate Director of Architecture & Facilities.  He joined PVA in 2018 after seventeen years of private sector architectural design and construction experience as an associate and senior project manager of an award-winning firm in Washington DC. 

Mr. Broadfield has been involved with local AIA component leadership as past-president of the Potomac Valley chapter in 2016 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 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. Broadfield is a licensed architect in Maryland and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).

Maïmouna Brownrigg

Maïmouna Brownrigg

UI Art Team Lead, Ubisoft Montreal

Felicia Carbajal

Felicia Carbajal Bio Photo

Felicia Carbajal is a spinal cord injury survivor, cannabis patient, community organizer, social entrepreneur, change-maker and an innovator in the cannabis industry. Based in Los Angeles the cannabis capital of the nation they have over two decades of experience in California's cannabis market, getting their start in both the LGBTQ liberation and the medical cannabis movement in the mid 90's. They have worked with world renowned cannabis medical professionals, consulted on numerous cannabis brands, and are a trusted resource for multiple patient and consumer communities. Currently they are the Executive Director of the 501c3 Social Impact Center, They take pride in fighting for a fair, just and equitable cannabis industry to heal the harms from the war on drugs and honor the shoulders they stand on.

Molly Carnan

Molly Carnan Bio Photo

Molly Carnan is 28 years old and mum to a 16 month old little boy called Oscar and a 3 year old puppy called Lincoln. Committed to sharing our journey and challenging the perception that disabled people can't be caregivers too.

Carol-Ann Chafe

Carol-Ann Chafe Bio Photo

Carol-Ann Chafe has been a volunteer and advocate for over 40 years. She does this following the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Her work for people with varying (dis)Abilities has stemmed from her own battles and life experiences, plus from the people she has met in life. Although dealing with ADHD and dyslexia since childhood and acquiring physical and mental disabilities in her youth and adult years were difficult, her biggest battle came in 2010 with a brain tumour that she was being told left her with 5-6 months to live. She's still here today, but the damage from the tumour, along with the effects of surgery and treatments, she acquired even more disabilities including speech and hearing issues.

She took her adversities, along with empathy for others facing theirs, to become a strong advocate for accessibility, disability and inclusion. Her wanting to 'be the change she wished to see in the world' led her to create Access 2 Accessibility, a Canadian Non-Profit, a central resource hub for accessibility. Drawing on her and others' accessibility issues in their education and work environments, she created Entrepreneurs & Professionals with Disabilities MeetUp, a network and learn resource, by Access 2 Accessibility.

Part of Carol-Ann's mission is to encourage and empower others to also "be the change…". Even though Carol-Ann deals with multiple disabilities, and is now battling two new brain tumours, she still believes that people should be seen for their Abilities, not (dis)abilities. She invites everyone to be part of a positive movement in social media by promoting people's abilities and achievements by using the hashtag #WeAreAble.

Chess Vets

Chess Vets

Chess Vets runs weekly meetings and chess tournaments with veteran discounts. They run Veteran's Administration (VA) programs at Illinois VA hospitals to help vets with an emphasis on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) patients. They start and support fraternal veteran organization chess clubs, specifically to include the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Veteran's of Foreign Wars (VFW). Their mission is to improve the opportunity for everyone (especially veterans) to learn, play and enjoy the game of chess.

Améliane Chiasson

Améliane Chiasson

Accessibility Lead at Square Enix West. During her QA & User Research years, Améliane has been passionate about understanding players' needs and expectations, including her own. After advocating for better accessibility in her personal and professional life out of Montreal Canada, she is now the new Accessibility Lead at Square Enix West.

Michelle Colvard

Michelle Colvard Bio Photo

A native Houstonian, Michelle Colvard is an Ambassador for the Houston Abilities Expo. A passionate advocate for people with disabilities and the recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award in recognition of her volunteer service, she is employed as a research administrator at a major cancer center. She has over twenty years of experience in research administration & compliance. Michelle was born with spina bifida and is a full-time wheelchair-user.

Previously, Michelle served as Executive Director of the City of Houston's Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, and has held four past mayoral appointments as a disability advocate, including as Chairperson of the Houston Commission on Disabilities, on the Houston Parking Commission, the Mayor's Wellness Council, and on an accessibility & transportation committee for the City of Houston.

Michelle graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of Houston and earned her Master's degree in Health Promotion from the University of Texas School of Public Health. While attending graduate school, she recognized that there was not enough attention focusing on the importance of promotion of healthy behaviors specifically for people with disabilities. This realization was the impetus for much of Michelle's volunteer work centering on the promotion of health and physical recreation for people with disabilities.

Currently, Michelle serves on the Board of Directors for the Friends of West 11th Street Park, where she works to improve accessibility of this park close to her home. She also recently served on a City of Houston taskforce to improve sidewalk and crosswalk accessibility and safety for people with disabilities, and she has been active with efforts to build fully wheelchair-accessible "inclusive" playgrounds since 2006. The seventh such playground within the system of the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department in Oak Forest Park was just completed in June 2020. A former Ms. Wheelchair Texas and Ms. Wheelchair America, Michelle has also previously served on the Board of Directors for Ms. Wheelchair Texas, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization which strives to improve the lives of people with disabilities through its mission of advocacy, mentoring, and education.

Michelle has been happily married for 24 years to her husband, Brian, and they are the proud parents of a five-year old daughter.

Brandon Cole

Brandon Cole

Brandon Cole is a creature of many hats. He's a blogger, streamer, podcaster, youtuber, and even a hobbyist voice actor, but most importantly he is an accessibility advocate and consultant working in the game industry. His most notable credit currently is The Last Of Us Part 2, but he isn't stopping there. Brandon continues to work toward bringing total blind accessibility wherever he can, to whichever studio will work with him. He does this out of a passionate belief that gaming is for everyone and should be shared by all.

Dancing Wheels

Dancing Wheels Bio Photo

Under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher, The Dancing Wheels Company is recognized as the first and foremost professional physically integrated dance company in America uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. Since its inception in 1980, the highly skilled ensemble of stand-up and sit-down (wheelchair) dancers has reached over five million people worldwide with innovative mainstage performances, school assembly programs, guest appearances, masterclasses and numerous outreach activities. Seeing a need for accessibility to the arts and dance, The School of Dancing Wheels opened in 1990 and became a world-class training center for dancers, choreographers, and educators. The Dancing Wheels Company & School is proudly hailed as the World Center for Integrated Dance & Arts Access.

Mary Daniel

Mary Daniel Bio Photo

Mary Daniel works with Access 2 Accessibility (A2A) in Business Development / Community Engagement. Part of the work she does is speaking and promoting A2A and the empowerment of people with disabilities, such as being a panel speaker at the Region of Peel 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities Event. Mary is a Co-Host of Entrepreneurs & Professionals, with Disabilities MeetUp. She also helps develop new program ideas and workshops.
 
Mary began her career as a Recreation Therapist by achieving her Bachelor of Arts, Specializing in Therapeutic Recreation, from Concordia University; and a Diploma in Community Recreational Leadership Training from Dawson College. Mary later was able to use her transferable skills to become an Employment/Training Specialist with over 20 years of extensive experience in counselling and case management for persons with disabilities. During this time, she achieved her certification in Community Mental Health Case Management from George Brown College.

As a Little Person, Mary is a strong advocate in the community, serving as a Committee Member for the Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee and is a member of the Little People of Ontario Association.

Chris Davis

Chris Davis Bio Photo

Chris Davis lives in the Seattle Washington area with his wife, 13-year-old son, dog and 2 cats. Chris is a lifelong outdoor sports enthusiast, including skiing, mountain biking, backpacking and hiking, mountaineering, and boating. In May 2019 Chris had a mountain biking accident while coaching his son's mountain biking team, incurring a spinal cord injury and rendering him a quadriplegic with limited movement and sensation from the shoulders down. Chris' focus during the last year plus has been doing as much exercise therapy as possible in order to regain as much function as possible, both upper and lower body.
 
Prior to his injury, Chris was a Managing Director in Deloitte Consulting's Life Sciences and Health Care practice, specializing in health care technology initiatives with leading healthcare providers.  Mr. Davis was a member of the national leadership group for Deloitte's Health Information Technology practice, is the co-leader of our Epic Systems relationship, and leads Deloitte's Operate practice which provides managed services of enterprise applications for healthcare providers. Mr. Davis has 30 years of experience in the health care technology field including 20 years with Deloitte, and during his career has worked with major health care delivery systems across the U.S. and internationally.
 
Mr. Davis focused on strategy development, planning, implementation and ongoing large-scale production support services for major enterprise technology initiatives, such as Ambulatory and Inpatient Electronic Health Records and Revenue Cycle Systems. He has extensive experience working with leading U.S. healthcare software vendors.

Envision Dance Exchange (EDE) – Artistic Director: Susan M. Coutts (Based in Chatham, NJ)

Chris Davis Bio PhotoIn 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 include 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 diinfo@danceinnovations.org.

Fitbound

Fitbound is a global inclusion community built around exercise and health. With a goal to empower individuals around the world to not only exercise but create their own exercise bursts, Fitbound is opening up fitness with live & on-demand accessible and inclusive fitness classes.

Lex Frieden

Lex Frieden

Lex Frieden is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and he is Adjunct Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine.

Frieden also directs the ILRU - Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. ILRU is a research, training and technical assistance program on independent living for people with disabilities and seniors. TIRR is a comprehensive medical rehabilitation center which provides clinical, educational, and research programs pertaining to spinal cord and brain injuries and other disabling conditions.

Frieden was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 26, 2002, as Chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency located in Washington D.C. The Council is charged with making recommendations on disability policy issues to the President and Congress. His term ended in August, 2006.

Mr. Frieden also recently completed an eight year term as a member of the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Standard Rules for Disability.  He is immediate past President of Rehabilitation International, a federation of 200 national and international organizations and agencies in 90 countries working for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities and their families within society, and for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

Mr. Frieden, a quadriplegic due to spinal cord injury, has been involved in the organization of several groups of disabled individuals including the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and the Houston Coalition for Barrier Free Living. He is past Chairman of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

He has received two Presidential Citations for his work in the field of disability, and he was honored by the U.S. Jaycees in 1983 as one of America's Ten Outstanding Young Men. In 1998, he received the Henry B. Betts Award for "efforts that significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities."

Jackie Gadd

Jackie Gadd Bio Photo

Jackie is an Accessible Yoga Ambassador providing Adaptive Yoga classes to promote inclusion for adults (and children) with special needs since 2015, partnering with the County of San Diego and St. Madeleine Sophie's Center. She teaches Yoga at local libraries, the YMCA, and privately. Jackie has multiple accreditations in children's yoga, with an E-RYT200 and Perinatal Yoga Certification from Yoga Alliance, plus one for Teaching Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis. She has a vested interest in understanding and explaining the connection between yoga and functional movement to maximize the mind/body/breath experience. Jackie says, "I have found that I am most happy when I am in the service of others, and therefore, journey to share yoga as much as possible."

Jay Gupta

Jay Gupta

Jay Gupta, RPh, MSc, MTM Specialist, C-IAYT Jay is the Director of Pharmacy and Integrative Health at Harbor Care in NH, a federally qualified health center. He has delivered keynote, plenary and general sessions on a range of topics at professional healthcare conferences, hospital grand rounds and community education sessions across the United States and internationally. He has received national honors from Cardinal Health, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and Next Generation Pharmacists/Pharmacy Times. You can learn more about Jay's leadership in the fields of integrative health, deprescription and seated therapeutic yoga at www.YogaCaps.org and www.RxRelax.com.

Andrew Gurza

Andrew Gurza

Andrew Gurza is an award winning Disability Awareness Consultant whose written work has been featured on BBC, CBC, Daily Xtra, Gay Times UK, Huffington Post, The Advocate, Everyday Feminism, Mashable, Out.com, and several anthologies. He was the subject of an award winning National Film Board of Canada Documentary "Picture This".  Andrew has guested on a number of podcasts including Dan Savage's Savage Love and Cameron Esposito's Queery. He has spoken all over the world on sex, disability and what it means to be a Queer Cripple.

He is also the host of Disability After Dark: The Podcast Shining a Bright Light on Disability Stories  which was nominated for a Canadian Podcast Award, a Queerty Award and was chosen as an Honoree at the 2020 Webby Awards. The show is available on all platforms. Andrew is also the creator of the viral hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot. 

You can find out more about Andrew by going towww.andrewgurza.com & connecting with him on social media at @ItsAndrewGurza.

Kristin Hartness

Kristin Hartness

Kristin has worked for many years to expand public acceptance and understanding of service dogs and the valuable role they play in expanding the independence of many people living with disabilities. In 2001 Kristin was partnered with her first service dog and she has never looked back. Working one on one with individuals or families considering service dogs to help them understand all the options available to them and to find the training program which can best serve them, is an important part of her work—speaking across the country at schools, expos, conferences and businesses is another—she is a living example of how successful service dog partnerships are.

Judith Heumann

Judith Heumann

International Disability Rights activist. Author (with Kristen Joiner), Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. Featured in Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, a 2020 American award winning documentary film, directed by James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, produced by the Obama Higher Ground Production. Senior Fellow, at the Ford Foundation (2017-2019), wrote "Road Map for Inclusion: Changing the Face of Disability in Media." Served in the Obama and Clinton Administrations.

Chelsie Hill

Chelsie Hill

Community Leader, Trailblazer, Entrepreneur and Founder of the Rollettes Dance Team, Chelsie Hill has dedicated her life to dance and encouraging others to pursue their passions despite the physical obstacles they face and the tribulations of life. At the age of seventeen, Chelsie, a senior in high school, was involved in a drunk driving accident which caused irreversible damage to her spinal cord and left her unable to walk. Even though adapting to paralysis has altered every aspect of her life, most devastatingly was the impact it had on her ability to dance. While recovering, Chelsie decided she would not submit to her disability and chose to live her life daily with a no-limits attitude.

Following her injury, Chelsie wanted to meet other women her age and build community through dance in her hometown of Monterey, CA. With the launch of the Rollettes wheelchair dance team, Chelsie brought together a group of differently abled women like herself, each with unmatched determination to find community and acceptance. Unlike Chelsie, many of her recruits have had no previous training in dance and rely solely on her classes for direction as they explore dance for the first time as a form of expression, or to learn to love dance again in a new capacity.

Expanding the Rollettes globally, Chelsie launched the Rollettes Experience, an annual weekend long dance camp bringing together women wheelchair users of all ages, from all corners of the world, to connect and form bonds with their peers through dance.  Since its launch, the Rollettes have gained visibility in the media with appearances on Ellen, Today Show, Hallmark Channel's "Home and Family," Access Daily and KTLA to name a few.

Through social media Chelsie and the Rollettes™ have started an international movement called "Be Boundless" based on encouraging others to live their life independently mentally, physically and emotionally. The "Be Boundless" podcast was created to further the message and share the stories of those in the community to encourage others to live a more fulfilling life.

Ron Halog

Ron Halog

Ron Halog has been in the non-profit world for over 35 years, assisting and supporting people with disabilities and the community. For the last 15 years, he has served as the Executive Director of 2 non-profit organizations in the bay area. Mr. Halog has been a trainer / instructor for over 30 years; training First Aid, CPR, Water Safety Instruction, Lifeguarding and Emergency Preparedness. He has also been a speaker / presenter at local, state and national conferences; such as the National Council on Independent Living Conference in Washington DC and the Diversity, Disability, Intersectionality Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Halog is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Independent Living Resources of Solano and Contra Costa County and he currently serves as the President of Alameda County's Developmental Disabilities Council and the Vice-Chair of ALCO VOAD (Alameda County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters).

Valeria Isaacs

Valeria Isaacs

Valeria Isaacs is a social entrepreneur, zero waste enthusiast, disability advocate, mother of twins, wife, nature lover, and former biologist. Always passionate about ecology and sustainable living, her pursuit of those passions was interrupted when a spinal cord injury left her quadriplegic at age 22.

During her long and still ongoing recovery, Valeria has obtained a master's degree in molecular biology, worked in contemporary art, and enjoyed living life at its fullest. In late 2015, she decided to give new meaning to her life by founding Friendsheep, with the aim of providing high quality, eco-friendly products that respect animals and the environment while also providing work and purpose to women and people with disabilities in underprivileged communities of Nepal. In 2016 Valeria and her husband Alessandro were blessed with an unexpected twin pregnancy. Extremely rare event in the medical world, Valeria was the fifth known quadriplegic woman to give birth to living twins (only the second one with identical twins). In summer 2016, at 29 weeks, Trent and Damon came into their lives with an emergency c-section due to rare twin to twin transfusion syndrome. Their birth and the following difficult months in the NICU reinforced Valeria's vision of Friendsheep as a tool for equality and social justice. As a mother and woman with disabilities herself, she holds a special place in her heart for every underprivileged woman that strives every day for a better life for herself and her family.

Lainie Ishbia, MSW, Founder of Trend-ABLE.com

Lainie Ishbia, MSW, Founder of Trend-ABLE.com

Lainie is on a mission to help people with invisible disabilities look & feel their best. She holds a MSW in Social Work from The University of Michigan and has been a well respected speaker and educator for over 25 years on all topics relating to self-esteem, assertiveness, and body image. Lainie, who has an inherited neuromuscular disorder, wears AFOs (leg braces) and once struggled with extremely low self-esteem and depression. Lainie uses her positivity, humor, knowledge, & experience to connect with groups of all ages and demographics.

In 2017 she founded Trend-Able.com, a Fashion + Lifestyle blog & resource website. Her articles, fashion boards and posts help others with disabilities, find hacks, adaptive clothing, and tools for living their best lives. Her savvy and witty articles have been featured on The Mighty, MDA.org, LER Magazine, Getbackuptoday.com and more!

Daniela Izzie

Daniela Izzie

Dani Izzie is a disability advocate and wheelchair user, and a new mom to twins. She works full time with Spinergy as a social media manager and advertiser promoting their wheelchair and bicycle wheels. She holds a Master's in English Literature with a focus on Disability Studies. Her newest passion is elevating voices of disabled parents. Dani is the subject of a new documentary film, DANI'S TWINS, about pregnancy and motherhood with quadriplegia during the pandemic. She lives in rural Virginia with her husband and is also a dual citizen of Italy who enjoys the contrasting lifestyles that has afforded her.
Learn more about Dani and the documentary below.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/DanisTwinsFilm/
Website : http://DanisTwinsFilm.com
Twitter : https://twitter.com/DanisTwinsFilm
Dani on Instagram : https://instagram.com/DaniIzzie and https://instagram.com/DanisTwinsFilm
YouTube playlist : https://youtube.com/DaniIzzie
Dani's blog : http://DaniIzzie.com

Bryce Johnson

Bryce Johnson Bio Photo

Inclusive Lead, Microsoft Devices.

Debra Kerper

Debra Kerper Bio Photo

Debra Kerper's desire to pursue a career in Travel for Persons With Special Needs & Seniors 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, New Zealand, the British Isles, Israel and Hawaii. Her mantra is "Just Doing It Differently."

Staci Kroon, President and CEO of BraunAbility

Staci Kroon Bio Photo

Staci Kroon has spent her career in the automotive and manufacturing industries. With an educational background in finance and engineering, Kroon began her professional career at Eaton gaining expertise in strategic growth, product innovation and operational excellence. Named one of Automotive News' 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry 2015, today Kroon serves as President and CEO of BraunAbility, the global leader of mobility transportation solutions whose products bring independence to millions of individuals with mobility challenges from around the world.

Andraéa LaVant, Founder and President of LaVant Consulting

Andraéa LaVan Bio Photo

Andraéa LaVant is founder and president of LaVant Consulting, Inc. (LCI), a social impact communications firm that offers cutting-edge corporate development and content marketing for brands and nonprofits. LCI's specialty is helping brands "speak disability with confidence." As a communications consultant and inclusion specialist, Andraéa has over a decade of experience working with programs that support youth and adults with disabilities and other underserved populations. Her professional roles and personal advocacy have presented her with a variety of notable opportunities to share messages and prompt change for people with disabilities across the globe. She currently serves as the impact producer for Netflix's feature-length documentary, Crip Camp, where she is charged with leading the campaign's efforts to promote understanding of disability as a social justice issue and build across lines of difference.

Andraéa's work for both non-profit and private sector organizations has included managing national initiatives that increase and support engagement of people with disabilities in mainstream programs, and coordinating and overseeing multiple federally funded technical assistance and training centers designed to prepare young people with disabilities to transition from school to employment. Prior to establishing LaVant Consulting, Inc., she led disability inclusion efforts for Girl Scouts Nation's Capital, where she was responsible for increasing and supporting the membership of girls of all abilities and fostering a culture of inclusion among volunteers, staff, and girls. Andraéa is adept at researching, writing, and training on youth development and employer-focused curricula (including briefs, guides and reports). She also has substantial experience developing strategic partnerships and facilitating successful and innovative practices within the disability field, including creating media messaging.

Andraéa is a strong advocate for exploring disability from an intersectional lens and offers a unique perspective on the initiatives that she supports.

Andraéa's work for both non-profit and private sector organizations has included managing national initiatives that increase and support engagement of people with disabilities in mainstream programs, and coordinating and overseeing multiple federally funded technical assistance and training centers designed to prepare young people with disabilities to transition from school to employment. Prior to establishing LaVant Consulting, Inc., she led disability inclusion efforts for Girl Scouts Nation's Capital, where she was responsible for increasing and supporting the membership of girls of all abilities and fostering a culture of inclusion among volunteers, staff, and girls. Andraéa is adept at researching, writing, and training on youth development and employer-focused curricula (including briefs, guides and reports). She also has substantial experience developing strategic partnerships and facilitating successful and innovative practices within the disability field, including creating media messaging.

Andraéa is a strong advocate for exploring disability from an intersectional lens and offers a unique perspective on the initiatives that she supports.

Jim LeBrecht, Director/Producer of Crip Camp

Jim LeBrecht Bio Photo

Jim LeBrecht has over 35 years of experience as a film and theater sound designer and mixer, author and disability rights activist. Jim began his career in theater, working as the resident sound designer at the Berkeley Repertory Theater for 10 years. His film credits include The Island President, The Waiting Room, The Kill Team and Audry and Daisy. A complete list of his film credits (over 145) can be viewed at IMDB. Jim co-authored Sound and Music for the Theater: the art and technique of design. Now in its 4th edition, the book is used as a textbook all over the world. Jim's work as an activist began in high school and continued at UC, San Diego, where he helped found the Disabled Students Union. Jim is currently a board member of the Disability Education and Defense Fund, which works for the rights of the disabled through education, legislation, and litigation.

Estela Lugo

Estela Lugo Bio Photo

Estela was diagnosed with a progressive form of neuropathy called, Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) at four years-old, followed by her younger sister, three years later. From that point forward, her family turned despair into positive action and became heavily involved in advocacy and fundraising work throughout New York.

Estela's professional background in interior & product design, marketing, and creative direction brings an unexpected approach to connecting the disability community to wellness, empowerment and health. 
After volunteering for eight years, Estela joined the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation full-time in 2018 and now works as their Program Development Manager. Later in 2018, she testified in front of the FDA on the importance of funding CMT studies and potential therapies.

As the moderator for the CMT-Connect webinar series, Estela enjoys providing resources and expert information to CMT patients on a wide range of valuable topics as well as interviewing community thought leaders as the co-host of the EmBrace It Podcast; a podcast which aims to empower women living with disabilities in all facets of life. Estela and co-host, Lainie Isbia also enjoy hosting their original workshop series, "How to Communicate with Anyone About Disability". Estela & Lainie have had the honor of speaking at Pinterest Headquarters, Lockheed Martin, The Abilities Expos and the annual Health Union Conference. 

In 2019, Estela gave her first TEDx talk titled, "RePurpose Your Pain" on the art of turning adversity into life's most beautiful work. She currently co-teaches inclusive and adaptive design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is represented by Gamut Management, an all-inclusive talent agency.

Ali McManus, Singer/Songwriter

Ali McManus Bio Photo

When you hear Ali McManus's dynamic vocals, you'd be surprised to know her lung capacity is only 30%. Born 3 months premature and weighing 2lbs 7oz at birth, she was given a 50/50 chance to live. Now 23 years old, the Detroit born singer/songwriter has beaten the odds. A rare bone disorder has left Ali in a wheelchair since the age of 7. But Ali's story is one of compelling talent and an indomitable spirit. "I don't see myself as a person in a wheelchair," Ali says. "I see myself as a regular person who just happens to sit down all day." Legendary producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper) produced Ali's debut album, Unbreakable. Jack says."She's a natural -- a true artist with old soul sensibility and a powerful message to share with the world." Ali's potent musical talent and personal story inspired rock star Steven Tyler to appear in her exuberant music video, Roll This Way – a joyful anthem that celebrates inclusion and diversity. In 2019, Ali was nominated for five Detroit Music Awards. In 2020, Ali was honored to guest star twice on CBS Television's, The Doctors TV Show, where she performed the title song from her album, Unbreakable. Ali McManus inspires us all to live life without limits!

Lucas Merrow

Lucas Merrow Bio Photo

Lucas Merrow is the CEO and General Manager of Mobius Mobility, the manufacturer of the next generation IBOT® Personal Mobility Device (the "iBOT® PMD").

Prior to Mobius, Lucas co-founded and served as the CEO of Eliza Corporation, an early innovator and leader in health engagement management and patient communications. Prior to Eliza, he co-founded and served as the COO of Adheris Health, the leading firm in prescription adherence and patient education programs. Prior to Adheris, Lucas was a Program Manager at DEKA R&D, and worked on the development of the first generation iBOT®.

Lucas holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He holds over twenty-five US and international patents. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, surfing, fly fishing, and spending time with his wife and three daughters.

Scott Meuser, Chairman & CEO of Pride Mobility

Scott Meuser Bio Photo

Description to come.

Shannon Renade Lavine Minnick

hannon Renade Lavine Minnic Bio Photo

Shannon Renade Minnick was born and raised in Washington DC. As a young energetic mother, Shannon moved to Maryland to start a family. Shortly after moving from DC to Maryland in 1991 at the age of 21, Shannon was in a car accident that dramatically changed her life. Although doctors told Shannon she had broken her neck, was paralyzed and explained all the things she would most likely never do again, Shannon refused to allow her disability to be the focus of her life. For a short time, she felt uncertain, insecure, and like she had no control over her life. Then, by the GRACE of GOD, and with a supportive network of family and friends, she was able to take charge and turn her life around. Shannon began to challenge herself to get better and to become a role model for others who are living with disabilities.

Here she is, 29 years later, striving to live life to the best of her abilities. Shannon is a mother of two fabulous young ladies, Akia 30 and Erika 22. After working hard to build a stable and satisfying life for her daughters and herself, Shannon decided it was time to actively reach out to her disabled community. It is her mission to help others, who still feel like they can't achieve a fulfilling and active life with a disability. She strongly believes increasing the awareness and use of health and social services will improve the level of community participation, integration and quality of life for the individual. She moved on to earning a degree from Montgomery College, and became the spokesperson in an advertising campaign for the college and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Later she became the SCI Navigator at Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), has started a campaign advocating for physical exercise for disabled individuals and has starred in NRH How to Videos on YouTube Quad can Cook. Shannon is also Ms. Wheelchair MD 2010 and the assistant coordinator of the Ms. Wheelchair MD organization, the coordinator for Ms. Wheelchair District of Columbia and hosts the United Spinal DC Chapter Support Group. While holding the as Ms. Wheelchair MD 2010 she founded and organized the Disabilities Awareness Experience to educate individuals with and without disabilities, Cofounder Women on Wheels Support Group to empower women with disabilities and started an Annual Holiday Party for teens living with disabilities. Shannon has dedicated her life to advocating for the disability community. She is currently the Director of Independent Living Services at Independence Now one of the state of Maryland's Centers for Independent Living. She serves on the Interagency Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Committee, Spinal Cord Injury Consortium Board and Governor's Advisory Board for Telecommunications Relay. During Shannon's spare time she enjoys: snow skiing, water skiing, dancing, movies, planning events, but most of all helping others live to their fullest potential.

Zinnia Moreno

In her teenage years, Zinnia discovered that art was a powerful tool for her mental health recovery. She has worked to share the benefits of creativity ever since. As a proud Afro-Latina, Zinnia's photography highlights the beauty in diasporic identity, memory, and resistance. She uses self-expression as a tool for youth empowerment, mental health advocacy, and healing. Filmmaking, writing, and visual art are mediums she has both explored and taught. Zinnia has facilitated therapeutic art programs for youth who have experienced trauma in settings including k-12 schools and juvenile detention centers. She is truly honored and humbled to have accompanied these amazingly brilliant youth along their personal journeys.  Since Covid, Zinnia has expanded into the virtual realm and is currently offering exploratory art workshops for youth and adults in partnership with Artists for Trauma. You can find more of her work at www.thezinniaflower.com.

John Morris

John Morris Bio Photo

John Morris is a thought leader in the field of accessible travel, drawing from his experience of more than one million miles flown as a wheelchair user and triple amputee. He educates people with disabilities through his accessible travel website WheelchairTravel.org, advises companies through his Accessible Development Group consultancy, and leads innovative public policy campaigns with the goal of creating a culture of inclusion. Known for traveling the world with one hand, a passport and his power wheelchair, he has become one of the leading advocates for accessibility and inclusion within the travel industry. John shares his vision for an open world with both travel providers and the community at large.

Anna Moyer

Anna Moyer is the creator of Accessible Chef and is currently earning her PhD in human genetics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she is studying brain development in Down syndrome. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, drinking tea, and watching the Food Network with her cats Matilda and Pierogi. She is also involved in several initiatives to advocate for the needs of graduate students with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and mental health conditions.

Anna Moyer (MS), Accessible Chef, (814)446-2662, anna.moyer@gmail.com, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/accessiblechef

Sam Moyer

Sam Moyer grew up in State College, Pennsylvania and enjoys watching college football (Roll Tide!), cooking, listening to Oldies, and hanging out with his family and friends. He's also very active in his community and spends his free time volunteering, participating in a musical theatre group, and attending local community events. Learning how to cook basic meals and snacks has given Sam more confidence and independence in the kitchen.

Santina Muha

antina Muha Bio Photo

Santina Muha is a writer, actress, improviser, storyteller, comic, Jersey girl currently living and performing in Los Angeles. Billy Merritt branded her "NJ Queen, LA Princess" and that's pretty friggin' accurate. She has been studying at UCB since January 2013 & is a proud member of the UCB Diversity Scholarship committee. Currently she is a regular contributor to UCB shows, as host of "Rollin' with my Homies" and co-host of "Aunt Tina & Deena Celebrate", among others. In her first year at UCB Santina wrote & performed her first one woman show, "That Girl in the Wheelchair," of which strangers have been unknowingly giving her material for most of her life (directed by Pam Murphy). She was also a member of the Harold team "Landlord." Santina performed standup in season 2 of the UCB Show for Seeso, recurred as a "Santina the PA" in season 5 of Comedy Bang! Bang!, and has been monologist for Assscat! several times. You can see her recurring on the Netflix sitcom "One Day at a Time," as well as in Gus Van Sant's latest "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" opposite Joaquin Phoenix. If anyone reading this knows Luke Perry please tell him to go to one of her shows* *Update: I know Luke Perry now, but he still hasn't been to any of shows, so please still bring him. *Update: RIP Luke Perry, I will love you forever, even though you never came to any of my shows. xox Twitter & Instagram: @santinamuha

Sonny Mullen

Sonny Mullen Bio Photo

Sonny Mullen is the Outreach Manager for Help Hope Live. She joined the Help Hope Live staff over four years ago after a career in television in New York City. Sonny has a personal tie to Help Hope Live's mission and loves meeting different families from across the country and hearing their stories.

Nicole Newnham, Director/Producer

Nicole Newnham Bio Photo

Nicole Newnham is an Emmy-winning documentary producer and director, Sundance Film Festival alumnus and five-time Emmy-nominee. She has recently produced two virtual reality films with the Australian artist / director Lynette Wallworth: the breakthrough VR work Collisions, which won the 2017 Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches to Documentary, and Awavena, featured this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Previously she co-directed The Revolutionary Optimists, winner of the Sundance Hilton Sustainability Award, Nicole also instigated, co-produced and directed the acclaimed documentary The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi war on European culture, which was nominated for a WGA award and shortlisted for the Academy Award. With Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Brian Lanker, she produced They Drew Fire, about the Combat Artists of WWII, and co-wrote the companion book, distributed by Harper Collins. A 1997 graduate of the Stanford Documentary Film Program, Nicole lives in Oakland with her husband Tom, and two sons, Finn and Blaine.

Nic Novicki, Founder & Director, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge

Nic Novicki Bio Photo

Nic Novicki is an actor, comedian and producer who has performed on six continents.
His television credits include: Boardwalk Empire, The Good Doctor, The Sopranos, Alone Together, Loudermilk, Jack and Triumph, The Neighbors, Austin and Ally, Private Practice and Drop Dead Diva. He has appeared in several movies, including L!fe Happens, November Rule, The Last 5 Years, Boston Girls and Breaking Wind and will soon be seen in the upcoming Dead Ant.

Nic has produced several feature films, television pilots and web series for companies including Sony, CBS, Air China, Maxim and Universal and is an active member on the Producers Guild of America's Diversity Committee. Nic wrote for the CBS Diversity Showcase and has also written and directed several short films including A Little Broke, which was acquired by the TV station Shorts HD (now the DISH Network).

As a stand-up comedian, Nic has performed on AXS Gotham Comedy Live and traveled the world, including several tours through Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for troops in Kosovo, England, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France. Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Portugal and Spain.

Nic is a board member of Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) and the founder and director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

While 57 million Americans have disabilities, they are the most under-represented population in entertainment and media.  As someone with a disability himself, Nic launched the Film Challenge in 2013 in response to the under-representation of talent with disabilities both in front of and behind the camera to give aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work and provide them with meaningful exposure. In 2017, Novicki joined forces with Easterseals –  the nation's leading nonprofit supporting people and families with disabilities – to expand the event, now known as the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. 

During the Challenge, registered filmmakers – with and without disabilities – are given a span of 55 hours over the designated weekend to write and produce short films (three-to-five minutes) that Help Change the Way We View Disability, which are then judged in four award categories – Best Film, Best Filmmaker, Best Actor and Best Awareness Campaign – by a noted and diverse group of entertainment industry talent.

Since the Challenge launched in 2013, aspiring filmmakers from around the world have created more than 150 films which have been viewed online and at festivals. Winners have included Jamie Brewer, who won Best Actor in 2017 for her role in Whitney's Wedding, has been acclaimed for her role on American Horror Story and was the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week; Dickie Hearts, Best Filmmaker winner in 2015, who went on to win an HBO Project Greenlight digital series competition; and Jenna Kanell, winner of Best Film in 2015 who went on to give a TEDx Talk about her experience.

Nic attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the school of Film and Television, UCB Theatre, and Temple University's Fox School of Business. He resides in Hollywood, Calif.

Lauren Presutti

Lauren Presutti Bio Photo

Lauren Presutti is a cross-discipline practitioner of both mental health treatment + disability activism, positioned as one of the only experts pioneering concepts on the intersection of both subjects. Diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age two, Lauren has been using a power wheelchair since she was five years old. Her firsthand knowledge of disability, empowerment, inclusion, resiliency, mental health, ableism, and related topics has motivated her to become a change agent across contexts. As a psychotherapist and founder of Presutti Counseling (www.presutticounseling.com), Lauren enjoys helping individuals examine their unique stories through a safe, therapeutic relationship that promotes stronger psychological health, self-knowledge, and growth. As a disability activist and founder of Presutti Advocacy (www.presuttiadvocacy.com), Lauren works to foster global spaces where disability can be seen, accepted, and valued. Tailored services are provided to individuals, families, groups, professionals, corporate businesses, nonprofits, schools, communities, and wider audiences.

Kendall Renee

Kendall Renee Bio Photo

Kendall Renee is a Singer/Songwriter/Recording Artist from Southern California. She released her debut album "Original" in 2016, and has since been on a mission to share authentic music with the world.

What some may not know about Kendall is that she was born with a rare medical condition that's almost taken her life many times. In spite of this, Kendall has been a well-known advocate for those with disabilities. Kendall uses her music as her mission to inspire others with disabilities & let them know they are never alone. Her goal is to write songs that resonate with her listeners and to help them feel understood. Just like music has guided Kendall through many obstacles in life, She believes that music is the universal language that helps everyone feel less alone. Much like the line in Kendall's most recent single Better is Coming, "Someday these scars will heal somebody else," Kendall believes that her music is more than just songs, but a mission to make this world a little bit more inclusive & a better place. She strives to share her own journey in an honest way, so that others can resonate.

Kendall was recently chosen by Aerie by American Eagle Outfitters as a changemaker. With the partnership of Aerie, Kendall was able to create her music video for her original song "Better is Coming" that showcases the stories of individuals with disabilities, including her own story. Her goal is that with every view, we can change the way individuals with special needs are seen, heard, celebrated & inspired. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/yYmiZcfNth8.

Follow Socially:
Facebook.com/KendallReneeMusic
Instagram: @KendallReneeMusic
Twitter: @KenRenMusic
KendallReneeMusic.com

Kristina Rhoades

Kristina Rhoades Bio Photo

A long-time wheelchair user and mobility industry professional, Kristina Rhoades is a life coach, writer and motivational speaker based out of New Mexico. She's married to her childhood best friend, Jacob, and is the primary homeschool teacher for their 9-year-old daughter, Kamryn. Kristina had the honor of representing her home state as Ms. Wheelchair California in 2005, and since then, has traveled the nation in several different capacities advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, women and the LGBTQ community, as well as promoting accessible transportation. As a motivational speaker, Kristina has addressed audiences, large and small, across the U.S., in addition to completing a speaking tour in Sweden in 2012. She has a bachelors degree in Mass Communication and a master's degree in Organizational Leadership.

Angela Rockwood

Angela Rockwood Bio Photo

Angela Rockwood is a powerhouse, POSITIVITY influencer who is a #RollingEmpire and has been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years. She was born in Clovis, NM, and experienced the world as the child of a career military man before modeling at 17. In 2001 she was launching an acting career, with small roles in The Fast and the Furious and the TV series V.I.P. before turmoil struck one week before 9/11 on Sept. 3, 2001. Angela was involved in a horrific car accident that paralyzed her from the neck down rendering her a C4 C5 quadriplegic. She felt her paralysis was for a reason, that she had a mission to fulfill. She instantly picked up her life, focused on her vision and never looked back. Angela is a model, actress, TV producer, TV host, an Ambassador for the Reeve Foundation, a board member for Global Mobility, a speaker, manifestation life coach, disability advocate, innovator and entrepreneur. She serves as a spokesmodel for Ti-Lite Wheelchairs, Spinergy and worked as a model for Target, Nordstrom and Toyota. Angela energized her acting career by landing in three national commercials, AARP, Mabelline, and Sony. Angela's in CinemAbility, a film directed by Jenni Gold, which includes Ben Affleck, Jaime Foxx, and Jane Seymour. She has been on Larry King Live, and in People Magazine sharing her journey. With her ultimate mission of pushing boundaries, she created, produced and stars in the Sundance Channel's, ''Critic's Choice Awards,'' Best Reality series Push Girls. She shared her message on Ellen, Jeff Probst, Marie Osmond, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Good Day LA, Extra, Huffington Post Live, Kcal 9, Katie Couric, Good Morning America, and a return segment on Entertainment Tonight. She even appeared at The White House! Angela is diligent of creating a shift and breaking stereotypes all over. She is passionately relentless in manifesting change and implementing ideas through her classes teaching 'Manifestation' at the Joey Travolta Theatre and one on one. As a speaker, she has successfully spoken about 'Pushing the Limits' for Rancho Los Amigos, L.A. Rescue Mission, Edwards Air Force Base, Miss Global, Next Home and to 4,000 Paul Mitchell students in Las Vegas to name a few. She was chosen by Brig Gen Michael Brewer of the 412th Test Wing Commander to be the 2015 & 2016 Honorary Commander for Edwards Air Force Base after speaking about Resilience. Angela has returned to modeling to prove ''Beauty comes in ALL shapes, sizes, color, age & in EVERY vessel.'' She is currently filming Pen Pals, directed by Marem Hassler playing the lead Otilia who is a bisexual sex therapist. Tune in to World Poker Tour on Fox Sports Networks to see Angela interviewing and diving into the soul of champion poker players.

Deep within Angela's soul she carries this mantra daily: "Life is a gift and what we do with our life is our gift back to the world, to others, and to ourselves."

Mia Schaikewitz

Mia Bio Photo

Mia Schaikewitz is a TV personality and disability advocate.  She was one of the members of the Sundance Channel's Push Girls, and an avid swimmer prior to her paralysis at age 15.

Joanne Smith

oanne Smith Bio Photo

Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, holds a degree in psychology from York University, as well as a diploma in radio & television broadcasting from Seneca College. 
 
Joanne's nutrition services focus on individuals who have sustained traumatic injury with specialization in neurological conditions such as spinal cord and brain injuries, as well as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. She also teaches nutrition classes to individuals who are deaf/blind at The Canadian Helen Keller Centre.
 
In 2013 Joanne co-authored Eat Well Live Well with Spinal Cord Injury & Other Neurological Conditions, the first nutrition book dedicated to addressing the unique needs of people with SCI. She is also a regular nutrition columnist for New Mobility and Community magazines in Canada and the USA.

Her dedication to raising awareness and assisting Canadians with disabilities led to her receipt of the King Clancy Award in 2006, induction into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2007 and being honoured with the Gabriel Award in 2008.

Sarah Starr

Sarah Starr Bio Photo

Sarah Starr, Certified Yoga Instructor, host and co-producer of Happy Yoga with Sarah Starr, travels the world to film her yoga program in the world's most tranquil & beautiful locations, highlighting the beauty of Mother Nature. Having begun her Ashtanga based practice in 1998, Sarah excels at making the ancient practice of yoga an accessible, safe and effective practice for beginners to experienced yoga enthusiasts. Happy Yoga with Sarah Starr has aired on ION Life Network, The Live Well Network and currently airs nationally on Create TV and Public Television. Learn more at: www.happyyoga.tv

Joshua Straub

Joshua Straub

Apex Access, formerly DAGERS Inc, was originally founded in 2015 by Joshua Straub, the founder of DAGERSystem, a nonprofit for empowering disabled gamers. In addition to his philanthropic work, Straub has functioned as an independent games consultant since 2015. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and has always had a passion for games and storytelling. He holds a Bachelors of Arts and a Masters in Human Factors. Straub is also in the final stages of a Ph. D. at the University of Minnesota in Human Factors and Ergonomics. He is a life-long gamer and loves the challenge of educating game studios about how to design games that are accessible to physically impaired gamers without alienating their core audience.

Ali Stroker

Ali Stroker Bio Photo

Paralyzed from the chest down since age two, Ali has fought through overwhelming adversity. Despite often appearing on stages with limited accessibility, she has been a trailblazer in an industry that has been slow to embrace disabled performers.

Ali Stroker made history in 2015 as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of 'Anna' in Deaf West's acclaimed revival of Spring Awakening. She is also the first actress in a wheelchair to graduate from the NYU Tisch drama program.

After graduating from Tisch, Stroker starred on 12 episodes of Oxygen's The Glee Project. She placed second in the competition and won a guest role on Fox's Glee. She then recurred in the Kyra Sedgwick ABC series, Ten Days in the Valley. She also guest starred on Fox's Lethal Weapon, CBS' Instinct and Comedy Central's Drunk History. She's performed her cabaret act at Green Room 42 and solo'ed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, New York's Town Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall. Ali won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2019.

A humanitarian and advocate, Stroker is a co-chair of Women Who Care, which supports United Cerebral Palsy of New York City. She's a founding member of Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign that tours the country and connects with thousands of students each year. Her devotion to educating and inspiring others brought Stroker to South Africa with ARTS InsideOut, where she held theater workshops and classes for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS.

Stroker's remarkable ability to improve the lives of others through the arts, whether disabled or not, is captured in her motto: "Making Your Limitations Your Opportunities."

David D. Talkington

David D. Talkington Bio Photo

David D. Talkington is a survivor of a Rare Disease (Chronic illness) called Hypophosphatasia(HPP), which he was diagnosed with as a child. He is the proud father of two, and married to the love of his life, Sharon. In 2008 Dave's health deteriorated and he had to go on social security disability, but he has continued to keep a positive perspective on life and worked towards tangible goals. He is a Rare Disease advocate and motivational speaker who enjoys spending time with those he loves.

Sharon Talkington

Sharon Talkington Bio Photo

Sharon Talkington is a motivational speaker, rare disease advocate, wife and Mom. She has learned to laugh as her husband has taught her that sometimes you have to look at the humor in the bad situations and not take yourself too seriously. Sharon learned to work with her husband as a team through the roller coaster ride of having a rare disease, researching for diagnosis, and appropriate care and discovering treatment. She has a love for reading medical journals and supporting rare disease patients with resources and information on how to navigate their rare disease journey with hope.

Mark Thompson, Paralyzed Veterans of America

Mark Thompson 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.

Annie Tulkin

Annie Tulkin Bio Photo

Annie Tulkin is the Founder and Director of Accessible College, as well as an author and public speaker. She is an expert in the area of college preparation and transition for students with physical disabilities and health conditions. Annie was the Associate Director of the Academic Resource Center at Georgetown University for nearly 6 years. In that position she supported undergraduate, graduate, and medical students with physical disabilities and health conditions and oversaw academic support services for the entire student body. Annie has worked in the field of disability for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education from DePaul University, a Masters in Special Education from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Certificate in Health Coaching from Georgetown University. Annie was a Peace Corps Volunteer (Mongolia, '03-'05) and a Fulbright Fellow (Mongolia, '07-'08).  She resides in Silver Spring, MD with her husband and daughter.

Vicki Varner-Thomas

Vicki Varner-Thomas Bio Photo

Vicki Varner-Thomas currently serves as the partnerships intern with DANI'S TWINS Film, where she works to develop and maintain partner relationships. Vicki also works as the recruitment director for Ms. Wheelchair America, where she also helps with social media content. Vicki was Ms. Wheelchair VA 2019. Her platform focused on disabled representation in the media.

Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson

Managing Senior Producer at Sony Interactive Entertainment / World Wide Studios

Jim Weisman

Description to come.

David P. White, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director

David P. White Bio Photo

David White is the national executive director and chief negotiator of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). In this role, White serves as chief executive officer and strategist for the world's largest entertainment union with approximately 160,000 members worldwide who work in film, television, broadcast news, commercials, music, video games and emerging media.

Prior to rejoining SAG-AFTRA, where he previously served as general counsel from 2002 to 2006, White was managing principal of Los Angeles-based Entertainment Strategies Group LLC, providing consulting services to the entertainment industry. He was a labor and employment attorney at O'Melveny & Myers LLP before joining the executive ranks of SAG-AFTRA. Prior to law school, White was the executive director of an innovative youth services organization, Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

A Rhodes Scholar, White is a graduate of Grinnell College, Stanford Law School and The Queen's College, Oxford University. He serves as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and USC's Center for the Digital Future. He is past board chair and current trustee of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan, past board chair and current trustee of the SAG-Producers Pension Plan, former chair of the board of trustees of Grinnell College, and former vice chair of the Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund. He is a trustee of the AFTRA Retirement Fund, a board member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, and The Actors Fund. White serves as a Commissioner for the Industry Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, and is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

White has served as a Los Angeles area commissioner for urban planning and development.  He has been a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Lawyer, has been featured in various publications including the Los Angeles Magazine, and has served as a commentator on national and industry publications, and television and radio shows. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the John M. Langston Bar Association's Attorney of the Year award (2014), the National Bar Association's Entertainment, Sports & Art Law Section Attorney of the Year (2010), and the Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel's Labor and Personal Representation Counsel of the Year (2009).

Chuck Witkowski

Chuck Witkowski Bio Photo

Chuck Witkowski, currently President of Permobil Americas, is an accomplished executive with unique experience building and leading dynamic, high growth businesses across multiple life sciences verticals. Prior to Permobil, Mr. Witkowski was corporate vice president and global general manager of the cardiology and vision care businesses at Hillrom (NYSE: HRC), a medical device company with over 10,000 employees and $3B in annual revenues. Prior to Hillrom, Mr. Witkowski was the founding chief executive officer and chairman of Hubble Telemedical, which developed the first nationwide telemedicine platform for retinal eye exams. Hubble was acquired by Hillrom in 2015. Before Hubble, Mr. Witkowski served as an executive-in-residence at MB Venture Partners, an early stage medtech venture capital firm with $120M under management across 50 portfolio companies. Prior to MB Ventures, he was the founder and chief executive officer of Protein Discovery, Inc., a life sciences instrumentation company that merged with Expedeon, where he served as a board director until the company publicly listed in 2013. Mr. Witkowski received his Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Montana, Missoula.

Alice Wong

Alice Wong Bio Photo

Alice Wong (she/her) is a disabled activist, media maker, and consultant. She is the Founder and Director of the Disability Visibility Project® (DVP), an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture created in 2014. Currently, Alice is the Editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, an anthology of essays by disabled people, available now by Vintage Books (2020).

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