The Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs invites you to attend the Everyday Lives 2021 Virtual Conference! This year’s event brings together ODP's annual conference lineup under a single month-long event and offers two additional Everyday Lives recommendation tracks.
Sessions are open to all. Each conference track offers sessions for individuals & families and professionals. Sessions conducted by self-advocates for self-advocates are available throughout.
The Office of Developmental Programs would like to thank our steering committee composed self-advocates, families, providers, training partners, and stakeholders for contributing their time and effort towards creating the Everyday Lives 2021 Virtual Conference.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
30 Years of Everyday Lives
9:00 am – 10:00 am
Join ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens and previous Deputy Secretary Nancy Thaler as they delve into the 30-year history of Everyday Lives: Values in Action in Pennsylvania while looking forward to what the next 30 years holds.
Supporting People with Disabilities from Diverse Groups
10:10 am – 11:15 am
Max Barrows, self-advocate and renowned speaker, explores the gap in public service delivery and what effective systems change for racial equity looks like.
11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Deconstructing Racism and Ableism in the School-to-Prison Pipeline
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The Institute on Disabilities (IOD) at Temple University, Pennsylvania's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in partnership with the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC) at the University of Pennsylvania will offer an innovative intervention and community training project that has brought awareness to and addressed the reality that race, and disability are salient factors in the continuation of the school-to-prison pipeline.
Unpacking Online Advocacy and Social Justice for People with Disabilities
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Join disability rights and inclusion activist Imani Barbarin and Dr. Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon as they dissect online advocacy for black people with disabilities and how online capital can move the needle toward social justice.
Information Sharing and Advisory Committee Recommendation 14
2:00 pm – 2:10 pm
ODP Information Sharing and Advisory Committee (ISAC) members Sharon Harper-Young and Debra Robinson introduce conference-goers to the work ODP is doing to ensure equitable service distribution to all Pennsylvanians with a disability or autism.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Welcome & Introduction to PA’s Regional Collaboratives
9:00 am – 9:20 am
Community of Practice for Supporting Families (CoP) State Team lead Candida Walton introduces participants to the leading concepts behind the Community of Practice for Supporting Families statewide and national initiatives.
PA Family Network’s LifeCourse in Action: Individual and Family Experiences and Successes
9:20 am – 10:30 am
Pennsylvania Family Network’s Francine Hogan, Diana Smaglik, and three families share how they have achieved transformational change by using Charting the LifeCourse principles and tools.
Lunch Networking Session
11:00 am – 11:50 am
Network with fellow conference-goers through lightly guided conversation at virtual tables that offer video chat capabilities.
Charting the LifeCourse Breakout Sessions
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Participants will engage in workshop activities to build their knowledge around the LifeCourse principles and tools. Participants join the breakout room link that corresponds to the first letter of their last name within one of the categories below:
· I would like to learn some basics about Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools – Attendees will remain in this room after the general session
· I would like to learn how to use the Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools
· I would like to improve my use of Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools to support myself or other individuals and families
Using the Life Domains towards an Everyday Life Across the Life Span
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Participants will learn from self-advocates about how they envision their lives across Life Domains, expand expectations of an Everyday Life beyond a safe life, and explore outcomes by discussing possibilities across the Life Span. Self Advocates United as 1 (SAU-1) provides participants with videos depicting “My Life, My Way” across all of the Life Domains.
How does this apply to my community and Regional Collaborative?
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Participants will connect with their Regional Collaborative leads to explore practical uses of the LifeCourse principles and to bolster connections to resources in their communities. Participants will join the session based on their region/county.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Welcome & Past, Present, and Future of PA’s Regional Collaboratives
9:00 am – 9:20 am
Community of Practice for Supporting Families State Team lead Candida Walton and Regional Leads for Supporting Families describe the purpose of Regional Collaboratives, how they started and have evolved, as well as the vision for the future of Regional Collaboratives.
Regional Collaborative Experiences: A Glimpse Across PA
9:20 am – 10:30 am
Learn from three Regional Collaboratives about how they got started and gained momentum, including leadership structure, outreach and expansion. Panel includes Venango, Carbon/Monroe/Pike, and Huntingdon/Mifflin/Juniata Regional Collaboratives.
Lunch Networking Session
11:00 am – 11:50 am
Network with fellow conference-goers through lightly guided conversation at randomized virtual tables that offer video chat capabilities.
Charting the LifeCourse Breakout Sessions
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Participants will further engage in workshop activities to expand their knowledge around the LifeCourse principles and tools by building off of the previous day’s sessions. Participants join the breakout room link that corresponds to the first letter of their last name within one of the categories below:
· I would like to learn some basics about Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools
· I would like to learn how to use the Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools
· I would like to improve my use of Charting the LifeCourse Framework and Tools to support myself or other individuals and families
Running a Working Collaborative: Lessons from Grassroots Groups
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Participants will learn ideas about running a Regional Collaborative including “the art of welcoming” and grassroots organizing. After the presentation, participants will select a discussion group that corresponds to the first letter of your last name.
How Does this Apply to my Community and Regional Collaborative?
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
“So, what now?” Regional Collaboratives will identify strategies for moving forward by applying the days concepts to the context of their local community. Participants will join with their Regional Collaborative leads in breakout discussions will be based on their county selection from registration form:
· North East
· South East
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
10:00 am – 2:30 pm
10:00 am – 10:10 am
ODP Director of the Bureau of Supports for People with Intellectual Disabilities Sheila Theodorou explains the importance of technology in supporting individuals with disabilities and offers insight into the future of ODP initiatives in tech.
Forever Changed: Technology Disruption and the Crisis of Those Left Behind
10:10 am – 11:30 am
Emily Shea Tanis, PhD, Co-Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado, will highlight the risks and benefits of technology solutions for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, and the inevitable impact technology will have on future services and supports. The presentation will also demonstrate how people with disabilities and their families can drive the conversation about equitable access to technology, acquire technical skills, and apply technology solutions in daily routines.
11:30 am - 12:25 pm
Technology in Robert’s Everyday Life
12:25 pm – 12:40 pm
Participant Directed Services participant Robert Zoytnia walks conference-goers through his use of technology in his everyday life.
One Story about Making it Work for an Everyday Life
12:40 pm – 1:35 pm
This panel focuses on the journey to support Brandon to have the life he wants. The journey included collaboration among professionals to learn and understand the value and use of Assistive Technology; equipment, remote monitoring, navigating the “why”, and how to do it. The journey continues.
Initiating the Technology Conversation: A Guide for Supports Coordinators
1:35 pm – 2:30 pm
This session will feature the work in progress by the Technology Task Force Sub-Committee “Expanding Technology for Supported Living” chaired by Marian Tresky, Assistant Administrator, Allegheny County DHS/ODS. Members of the committee will discuss the development and current draft of a guide designed to assist Supports Coordinators in opening up the discussion of technology with self-advocates and families to explore the array of possibilities that may assist people with access and options.
ODP Director of the Bureau of Policy and Quality Management Jeremy Yale closes out the Technology Innovation track with final remarks on ODP’s technology initiative.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Conference Welcome & Updates
9:00 am – 10:00 am
ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens and OMHSAS Deputy Secretary Kristen Houser give the opening and welcoming remarks for the 2021 Dual Diagnosis Conference. Dr. Gregory Cherpes, ODP Medical Director, gives the opening and welcoming remarks including the Overview of the Collaborative Capacity Building Initiatives.
Keynote: Chester Finn
10:00 am – 11:30 am
Chester Finn, Special Advisor to the New York State Office for People with Disabilities and self-advocate, relates his message of understanding through learning from others lived experiences. Finn, who has a visual impairment, will share his story of creating sustaining societal change through self-determination.
Breakout Session A
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Attendees will select any of the following sessions to join as desired. No pre-registration required:
· The Trauma of the Powerless
Dr. Dan Jurman will discuss the ways our treatment of people can create trauma that drives behavior. He’ll connect the dots between his experience of serving people with developmental disabilities and his current experience exploring the impacts trauma and chronic stress can have on our physical and behavioral health.
· The Impact of Trauma on those with Dual Diagnosis
Dr. Dale Adair will speak on the prevalence of trauma in those diagnosed with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. He will talk about recognizing the presence of trauma and effective treatment interventions. He will also speak to available resources.
· Community Autism Peer Specialists (CAPS)
Dr. Kathleen Kaplan will present with various peers specialist on the CAPS program. The CAPS program is a community-based, peer-support behavioral health service that provides person-centered, participant-directed support to individuals on the autism spectrum. The program’s goal is to help those on the autism spectrum increase personal wellness, independence, and community participation. CAPS is an initiative of the Philadelphia Autism Project and was developed in partnership with the Autism Services Education Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative Eastern Region.
· The Wounds and Trauma of Everyday Life: Valued Social Roles to Wellness and a Good Life
Dr. Guy Caruso will teach participants about the wounding life experiences and trauma people with disabilities experience, as well as about the concept of devaluation and devalued roles. Dr. Caruso will offer strategies and actions to take to help people with disabilities, their families, and professionals to work toward the valuable everyday experiences. This will be a brief introduction to Social Role Valorization as one way toward wellness.
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Breakout Session B
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Attendees will select any of the following sessions to join as desired. No pre-registration required:
· Promoting Recovery from Trauma through Healing Practices in Everyday Life
Dr. Beth Barol will present on health, healing, and pursuing a meaningful life for everyone, individuals with a dual diagnosis and their supporters. We will open the door to deeper explorations by briefly examining the range of ways in which trauma impacts a person using examples from individuals’ biographies to illustrate these principles. Then we will explore a range of “social therapeutic” healing interventions, focusing on stabilizing and rebuilding the brain and body through nutritional, life-style practices, at-home therapeutic opportunities, relationships, and strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system. Finally, we will touch on the use of neuromodulation practices and equipment to offer more stability.
· Healing Communities: Understanding Challenges Faced by Intercity Youth
Colwin Williams, Outreach worker for Philadelphia CeaseFire, will present on generational violence and trauma that pervades communities of young men in North Philadelphia and will offer solutions to breaking the cycle.
· Coping with Change and Loss
Representatives from Penn Cares will present on the transformational effect grief can have on an individual’s life and the routines that offer stability and comfort.
· Music Therapy: A Path from Isolation to Connection
Through lecture, music making and song reflections, Music Therapist Kathy Purcell will guide participants to learn how the power of music can decrease isolation and promote positive healing relationships that are desperately needed - especially during these difficult times.
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Breakout Session C
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Attendees will select any of the following sessions to join as desired. No pre-registration required
· Critical Thinking for Critical Times
In the age of two concurrent pandemics, there has never been a deeper need for innovation and culturally relevant teaching. In this seminar, Brandon P. Fleming tells the story of his journey from being an at-risk youth and college dropout to becoming an award-winning Harvard educator, while unpacking the nuances of virtual learning and cultural engagement.
· Understanding Abuse of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
James Meadours is a self-advocate who has grown stronger and resilient through the trauma of sexual assaults. His healing has come after a lot of "soul searching" and addressing trauma over a long period of time. James offers a deeper understanding of sexual assault to an individual with developmental disabilities, as well as inspiring hope and empowerment.
· Community Participation as a Path to Resilience for those with Dual Disorders
Dr. Mark Salzer will offer attendees an overview of community participation, including work, school, leisure, and engagement in faith, and why it is important for the health and wellness of individuals with dual disorders. The importance of participation will then be discussed in the context of promoting resilience, and information will be offered about the beliefs and strategies that are necessary for promoting participation.
· Use of the Certified Peer Specialist in Supporting Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
David Measel, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition, will teach attendees about certified peer services (CPS) and the role of a certified peer specialist in meeting the needs of an individual.
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with other attendees over lightly guided conversation. Attendees will be randomly grouped for seven eight-minute sessions.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Welcome from Bureau Directors & Pennsylvania Updates
ODP and OHMSAS bureau directors give welcoming remarks for day two of the conference.
Breakout Session D
9:30 am – 10:30 am
Attendees will select any of the following sessions to join as desired. No pre-registration required:
· The Importance of Resiliency
Dr. Nancy Mimm and Dr. Nirmal Abuja will provide insight into how vital resiliency creates health and wellbeing outcomes by discussing the “growth mindset” to support personal resiliency that can also be applied to a population or community.
· Empowerment through the Lens of Clinical and DSP Competency Learning
Dr. Tim Barksdale will outline the three NADD Certifications with examples and discussion on how the competencies involved in the certification can be used to support the empowerment of adults with IDD and co-occurring mental Illness.
· Impacting Wellness through Community Based Intensive MH/ID Teams
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Peg Schwartz and Behavioral Intervention Service Coordinator Lori Nimmon will review ways Community Service Group has been successful in engaging and strengthening individuals and teams. The application of a biopsychosocial whole person approach and capacity building strategies will be shared along with tools and resources for positive lasting outcomes.
· Pandemic Era Use of Telehealth Procedures in Pennsylvania
Director of the Children’s Division of RCPA Jim Sharp will review the expansion of telehealth across Pennsylvania and the pending Federal Legislation that will guide it permanent place in service delivery platforms. Through data gathered via multiple practitioner and consumers studies we will discuss the successes, challenges, and pathways for telehealth on a post Pandemic age.
10:30 am – 11:00 am
Breakout Session E
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
· Achieving a Self-Designed Life through a Proven Effective Everyday Wellness Tool for Yourself and Individuals You Support
Behavior health expert Lynn Miller will provide an overview of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) as a wellness guide for individuals, families and other you may support. There will be information pertaining to the history and evolvement of WRAP, using WRAP to overcome challenges, achieve goals and how WRAP can help anyone to live their life to the fullest capacity.
· Social Media 101: Keeping Ourselves and Individuals Who Have Disabilities Safe
Michelle Gwinn Nutter, civil rights and school safety expert will guide professionals in the fundamental physical and social outcomes of trauma in the digital age.
· Sexuality, Connections, and Complexities
Co-chair of the National Association of Dual Diagnosis Robin Van Eerden will present on human relationships and their complexities. Van Eerden will review consent and capacity, and how they are determined. Discussion will also include safety on social media, the internet and applications will also be included. Guidelines and other strategies will be reviewed to protect the rights of people with a “cause no harm” ethic and provide safety for all.
· Experience with Finding Balance
Joan Moore, self-advocate and member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will walk participants through the need for advocating for oneself and for family members with disabilities, inclusive of mental health and intellectual disabilities.
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Breakout Session F
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
· Wellness from a book club, what a novel idea! How Next Chapter Book Club has flipped the script on the traditional book club and made it an inclusive activity for the dual diagnosis community
Dr. Tom Fish will provide insight into how vital resiliency creates health and wellbeing outcomes as well as development of a growth mindset to support personal resiliency that can also be applied to a population or community.
· Using the Social Determinants of Health within ID and Autism Services
Dr. Nicholas DeMarco with present on the use the social determinants of health such as clinical and non-clinical needs, the use of data analytics to identify patient risk, and making care intervention a collaborative process with community-based resources.
· Improving Outcomes and Embracing Wellness: Best Practices for Tobacco-Free Behavioral Health
Tobacco Policy and Control Program Manager for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Ryan Coffman, will present on how behavioral health providers can feel comfortable and competent integrating tobacco free behavioral health treatment settings and offering evidence-based tobacco use disorder treatment into their services.
· Trauma, COVID-19, and the Impact on Individuals with ID/DD/A
Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Murray and psychologist Dr. Sierra Brown will discuss ways to address the capacity of community members, families, service providers, and professionals in trauma-informed practices for individuals with intellectual disabilities, dual diagnosis, and/or autism. The session will focus on examples from the ASERT and AIDinPA collaboratives that address the need for trauma-informed care for neurodiverse individuals.
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Breakout Session G
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
· Taking a Moment: Wellness and Mindfulness in Patients and Caretakers
Dr. Betty Liu and Dr. Tina Paul will teach the incorporation of mind and body health through practice and education that can be realistically incorporated into daily life to help build mental, emotional, and physical reserve to combat daily stress of chronic illness as a patient, a family member, and a caretaker.
· Nutrition and Behavioral Health: Improve Your Mood with Food
Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor Christine Sides will present on the essential foods needed for optimal brain function. Attendees will leave understanding how, what, and when to eat and how these decisions impact mood.
· Sexual Wellness: Building Resilience Through Inclusion
Dr. Beverly Frantz and Parris Boyd, MSW will address the significance of sexual wellness and how it relates to the overall wellbeing of an individual. Attendees will learn about the impact of positive language around sex and LGBTQIA+ inclusion. The session will also explore examples of how to respect and honor an individual’s self-identities.
· Trauma Informed Care: Improving Health Outcomes for Populations at Risk
Mary Sonke, MSW will explain increased risk for chronic disease in trauma patients with an intellectual disability. Chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Patients with ID, SMI and previous traumatic experiences are at an increased risk of developing a chronic disease, and increased morbidity and mortality due to barriers and challenges of managing these diseases. A trauma informed approach universally implemented into healthcare systems may provide patients with the safety, advocacy, engagement, empowerment and support necessary to improve health outcomes.
3:30 pm – 3:45 pm
Closing Keynote: The START Model: Promoting Resilience and Wellness through an Evidence-Based Model
3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Clinical Director of The Center for START Services Dr. Jill Hinton will present on the START model and its use of evidence-based, strength focused support systems for individuals and families. START aims to increase capacity in mental health systems to appropriately diagnose, treat, and support people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health concerns. This presentation will provide a brief overview of some of the challenges associated with supporting people with IDD/MH, describe how the START model is designed, and discuss the underlying principles of START that promote resilience and wellness.
4:45 pm – 5:00 pm
Dr. Gregory Cherpes, ODP Medical Director will offer the closing remarks for the 2021 Dual Diagnosis Conference.
Thursday, June 10, 2021 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
9:00 am – 9:10 am
ODP Employment Policy Supervisor Laura Cipriani introduces attendees to the employment track and touches on ODP employment initiatives Business as the Social Engine of America: Enhancing the Employment Success of Individuals with Significant Disabilities through Supported and Customized Employment
9:10 am – 10:05 am
Jennifer Todd McDonough, Project Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employer Practices, outlines the importance of supported employment and customized employment programs for both employers and employees. McDonough looks into the struggles that many employers and employees with disabilities face when it comes to job retention and how to best support an employee with a disability. This presentation will utilize business case studies of persons with disabilities (such as autism), evidence-based research and streaming video to illustrate how business and rehabilitation programs can work together.
Break 10:05 am – 10:30 am
Intertwining Lives: A Sibling Panel
10:30 am – 11:30 am
Kate Fialkowski of Temple University leads a one-hour discussion with siblings of people with disabilities about how best to support a loved one while recognizing divergent life paths, navigating now, and planning for the future.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Employment Programs
11:30 pm – 12:00 pm
Jason Swarthout and Chris O’Neal of the Pennsylvania Talent Management Office provide participants with an overview of hiring initiatives and how to apply for a position within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Break 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Understanding Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefits and Working
12:30 pm – 1:05 pm
Joy Smith of AHEDD will describe a brief history of the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Ticket to Work Programs as well a description of the different types of Social Security Benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Participants will also learn who is eligible and how to access WIPA services.
Where are the Jobs? Tools and Resources from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
1:05 pm – 1:50 pm
Edward Legge, Department of Labor and Industry, and Laura Cipriani, Office of Developmental Programs will discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Competitive Integrated Employment for people with intellectual disabilities or autism. Participants will learn about available resources on trends in occupations and how to access them on a local or regional level.
Break 1:50 pm – 2:05 pm
Provider Transformation: Thinking through an Employment Lens
2:05 pm – 2:55 pm
This presentation offers an overview of ideas and strategies to think about as agencies move further down the road toward offering greater and more robust opportunities for competitive integrated employment and community integration. The session describes basic building blocks and lays the groundwork for more in-depth discussion through the upcoming three-day virtual provider transformation series and follow- up regional learning collaborative. Topics in this session will include the role of leadership, all important communication with families and individuals, innovative programming to promote CIE and community integration, building an effective team, diversification of funding, and measuring outcomes.
Conference Closing Remarks
2:55 pm – 3:00 pm
ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens closes the conference with final remarks.
Download a Printable Version of the Conference Schedule Updated 6/8/21
Dr. Dale Adair serves as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Chief Psychiatric Officer and the Medical Director for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). In this role he provides clinical expertise and consultation to the Deputy Secretary of OMHSAS and the Secretary of DHS. He provides input and guidance into the policies which affect the provision of mental health and substance use treatment throughout the state. He has been a leader in the development of the vision for PA’s First Episode Psychosis program; PA team efforts with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Accelerator-Substance Use Disorder project; Centers of Excellence (COE) for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder; Health Equity; and served as Project lead for the PA Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Program. He is involved with numerous efforts aimed at suicide prevention and currently serves as lead on Pennsylvania’s efforts to implement 988 as the new 3-digit number for the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Lifeline. He has worked on numerous projects for the Department with the aim of improving access and quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries while containing costs. One of those projects is an Integrated Care Plan Program which requires the Physical and Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations to work together caring for shared patients. Past awards include the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership and the PA Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association Community Leadership Award. He is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Shawn Devon Aleong is a talented and ambitious African American male who lives with cerebral palsy. Shawn is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Business Law with a minor in Real Estate and Finance from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Shawn serves on the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, Temple Student Government as Deputy Director of Campus Safety, Black Law Student Association Pre-Law Division Executive Board, and the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University Advisory Board and is an active member of the NAACP. He is the 2020 Executive Corporate and Legal Undergraduate Intern at Disability Rights of Pennsylvania. He frequently travels to Harrisburg and Washington D.C. for speaking engagements and to advocate for various underserved communities. Through his business, the Devon Group, he has trained over 400 participants to offset stereotypes through disability etiquette and by building awareness about the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Dr. Nirmal Ashok Ahuja, BHMS, MPH, D.Ph. has research interests in cancer prevention, social determinants, health equity, social and behavioral health and interventions, disparities in health, policy, implementation science, community-based research, mixed methods in Indian and in the United States. Her teaching interests are in health disparities, health equity, global health, public health administration, health policy and management and public health leadership. She has many research publications and has received many grants and awards. Currently, Dr. Nirmal Ashok Ahuja is an instructor, Population Health & Health Equity at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Imani Barbarin is a disability rights and inclusion activist and speaker who uses her voice and social media platforms to create conversations engaging the disability community. Born with cerebral palsy, Imani often writes and uses her platform to speak from the perspective of a disabled black woman. 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.
Dr. Tim Barksdale started out as a Direct Support Professionals and served in every position in residential services, from program specialist to program director before becoming a therapist and eventually a Doctor of Clinical Psychology. He is currently the Sr. Executive Director of Clinical Services for Merakey supporting the states of PA, NJ, DE, VA & CA. Dr. Barksdale serves on the NADD Board of Directors and is one of the developers and Co-chair of the NADD-Clinical certification committee. Additional he is a member of the Board of Governors for Friends Hospital and the Vice President of Chosen 300 homeless outreach.
Dr. Beth Barol has dedicated the past 45 years to serving and supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) who also have challenging behaviors and co-occurring mental health issues. She started out as a direct support worker and live-in “houseparent” and has served a community-based project director, residential program director, facility director and clinician. She served as the Clinical Director for the PA office of Developmental Program’s Statewide Training and Technical Assistance initiative focusing on individuals with dual diagnoses for 10 years. She has been working with biographical timelines for over 30 years, and trained trainers in the process in Pennsylvania when she worked as the Clinical Director of the State-wide Training and Technical Assistance initiative, and through her consultation and training overseas. Her areas of special interest include: Positive Approaches with people with IDD and challenging behaviors including co-occurring mental illness, the effects of trauma, and neurological differences. She works on the behalf of these individuals through her clinical roles as well as through her experience in Group Process, Conflict Resolution, Partnership Building, Leadership Development, System Change, and Management. She is trained in EMDR, Biofeedback, and Neurofeedback and is integrating these modalities in her current teaching and clinical work. Dr Barol was the 2020 recipient of the NADD Earl L. Loschen, MD award for clinical practice. She is currently an Associate Professor at Widener University’s Center for Social Work Education and Associate Clinical Director of the Clinical Services for Vulnerable Adults clinic. She serves as co-Director of the Capacity Building Institute for Pennsylvania. Dr. Barol consults regularly in the U.S. and internationally.
Max Barrows is Outreach Director for Green Mountain Self-Advocates, a position he has held since 2007. He mentors youth and adults with developmental disabilities to speak up for themselves and become leaders. GMSA is a lead partner of the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center. Max leads SARTAC’s technical assistance team assisting local and state self-advocacy organizations across the nation. Max connects with people on all levels advocating for the true inclusion of people with developmental disabilities. In his work, he advances the message that when you meet an individual with a disability, presume competence. He received a White House Champions of Change award for this work in 2015 and Champion of Equal Opportunity award from the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities in 2019. Max is an accomplished self-advocate from Vermont who served as a board member for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered from 2008 to 2016. On a personal level, Max has a very high interest in extreme weather, and he likes to watch college and professional sports.
Parris Boyd is a Project Coordinator at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities. He principally works on projects involving criminal justice and sexuality. Mr. Boyd received his Master's in Social Work at Temple and has previously worked in gender affirming care at a doctor's office and with refugee populations at a community center. He is passionate about social justice issues and inclusion.
Dr. Sierra Brown is a psychologist who provides assessment and therapy services for neurodiverse individuals. Her clinical work focuses on anxiety and depression for neurodiverse individuals. As part of the central region ASERT team, she led the efforts in the development of the trauma response resource and training collections.
Guy Caruso is the Western Coordinator for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, which is Pennsylvania’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service. He has worked in human services for 49 years both in institutional and community settings and much of his work has been with families and people with disabilities using person centered approaches in helping family and people with disabilities plan their futures. He received his master’s and Ph.D. from Syracuse University, studying and mentoring with Wolf Wolfensberger, Ph.D., where he became a teacher/trainer in Normalization and now Social Role Valorization (SRV), a theory/practice to help people with disabilities, often devalued by society, gain valued roles in life. Guy's work is to promote SRV development, education, assessment, and leadership to assist people and organizations to implement SRV concepts so that vulnerable people may have access to the good things of life.
Ryan Coffman, MPH, CHES, CTTS-M is the Tobacco Policy and Control Program Manager for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. In this role, he oversees several tobacco control and policy initiatives within the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention. These initiatives include the prevention of youth initiation, promoting tobacco-free environments, mass media campaigns, tobacco control policy, and tobacco treatment services. He is committed to serving vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by the effects of tobacco use. Previously, Ryan provided inpatient, outpatient, and community tobacco use disorder treatment in hospital, behavioral health, correctional, and substance abuse disorder treatment and global tobacco control. Ryan first became committed to tobacco control in 2003 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and continues to provide tobacco treatment services Health Center 2 in South Philadelphia. He acquired his master's in public health (MPH) degree at Tulane University and has certifications in health education, tobacco use disorder treatment and global tobacco control. Ryan first became committed to tobacco control in 2003 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and continues to provide tobacco treatment services Health Center 2 in South Philadelphia.
Dr. Nicholas DeMarco received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. During this time, he completed advanced training in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and assessment, and other evidenced based treatments. Dr. DeMarco is a Licensed Psychologist and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Currently Dr. DeMarco is the Director of ID and Mental Health Supports at Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care (PCHC). Dr. DeMarco oversees all behavioral health related initiatives across the South East Region for PCHC. He also maintains a private practice in Southern New Jersey. Dr. DeMarco’s clinical interests include providing empirically supported treatments and assessments to individuals, teams and families with complex dual diagnosis needs.
Chester Finn of Albany, New York has been leaving his mark as a strong advocate for people with developmental disabilities for more than 20 years. In addition to working as a special advisor to the New York State Office for People with Disabilities since 1997, Chester has been appointed to and continues to serve on national boards, such as the National Council on Disabilities, helping to advise disability policy. He has been on Air Force 2 with Joe Biden (when he was vice president), Martin Luther King, Jr., and his son. There was frank discussion about how to more effective with disability policy and civil rights. Chester is the co-founder of the Community Empowerment Programs, Inc., which provides community service and educational programming for people with disabilities. He served three terms as president and chairman of the National Self Advocates Empowered (SABE). He is also a member of the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Center board and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition, he is recently named to the Commission on Quality and Leadership (CQL) board of Directors. The CQL has been a national leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders. Chester also serves as the vice chair for the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) board of Directors. Mr. Finn has received the New York State Self Advocate of the Year Award. He received an A.A. from Genessee Community College.
Kate Fialkowski directs the Temple Institute on Disabilities university-based disability studies education programs, including the Disability Studies Graduate Certificate program where she is an Adjunct Professor. Kate was a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow at the AAIDD, and the Executive Director of The Arc Maryland. As an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Career Development Grantee, she received her Master of Theological Studies in Biotechnology and Ethics from Catholic University of America. Kate holds a BA in Technical Communication from Bowling Green State University and is working towards her doctorate with a special interest in reader response and disability narratives.
Dr. Tom Fish is the founder of the Next Chapter Book Club. He also was part of a team that developed the Aspirations program at The Ohio State University which was one of the first social/ vocational support programs for young adults with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Dr. Fish has been a leader in the field of sibling support and advocacy. He established the first adult sibling conference of its kind in the country and was a founding member of both Ohio SIBS and the national Sibling Leadership Network. Dr. Fish was a recipient of a Mary Switzer Research Fellowship from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research for his work on attitudes of families of youth with disabilities toward transition from school to adult life. Dr. Fish is a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, former treasurer of the Ohio APSE Board, and serves as an adviser to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO). He teaches at The Ohio State College of Social Work and loves playing his ukulele. He also thinks his jokes are funny.
Brandon P. Fleming’s story of struggle, success, and service has inspired millions around the world. An at-risk youth and college dropout turned award-winning educator, Fleming is Assistant Debate Coach at Harvard University and Founder/CEO of the Harvard Diversity Project. Fleming was recruited to join the Harvard debate faculty at the age of 26. Harvard later approved Fleming’s proposal to establish a new department within the university system called the Harvard Diversity Project. Fleming now leads an executive staff and board that has raised a million dollars to enroll over 100 students of color into Harvard’s international summer debate residency on full scholarship. Fleming’s story, erudition, and achievements have enabled him to use his voice to inspire and impact lives in places ranging from federal prisons to global platforms. At the age of 29, Fleming was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Dr. Beverly Frantz directs the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University’s criminal justice and sexuality initiatives. Her area on concentration is the intersection of disabilities, healthy sexuality, sexual violence, and the criminal justice system. Dr. Frantz provides training and technical assistance on a local, state, and national level. She authored personal safety curricula, peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, DVD, and Tip Sheets. Dr. Frantz earned Master of Science degrees from Villanova University and the London School of Economic and a Doctorate degree from Widener University with a focus in Human Sexuality.
Dr. Sally Gould-Taylor is the Executive Director at the Institute on Disabilities and is a faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development as Research Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. In her role as Executive Director, she leads all directives including Leadership Development, Assistive Technology, Research and Evaluation, Policy, Media Arts and Culture. Sally has worked on both qualitative and quantitative research projects in diverse fields of human services, disability, and education. Additionally, she has taught at Temple for more than 9 years. Sally earned her PhD in Urban Education with a focus on Anthropology of Education.
Jill Hinton, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with people with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and mental illness. As the Clinical Director of The Center for START Services, Dr. Hinton provides consultation and training to START teams across the country, ensures clinical integrity in START practices and training, and facilitates a monthly practice group for START program clinical directors. She currently serves as Project Manager for New York START and California START. Areas of particular interest include ASD, and trauma and grief in people with IDD.
Mary Ingram, better known as Mazzi, is a high school student from Philadelphia who is passionate about youth advocacy. This passion was inspired by her continuous participation in POPPYN, a youth led news media program that reports and spreads awareness about the issues youth face and also their triumphs. Outside of POPPYN, Mazzi often lends her voice in community discussions about violence prevention, racial inequity, and a range of other topics. She is a Safety Captain for the West Philly area through Fab Youth Philly, a member of Philadelphia’s Office of Violence Prevention Next Gen Task Force, and an aspiring YouTuber. Upon graduation, Mazzi plans to continue her education at Brandeis University majoring in Environmental studies.
Dan Jurman is the executive director of Pennsylvania's Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR), an office Governor Tom Wolf created in 2019 to benefit and protect vulnerable populations through policy changes and accountability efforts. It's a high-profile role that's put Jurman on the front lines of the Wolf Administration's efforts to combat economic and social injustice. One of his primary responsibilities was to launch of a volunteer think tank comprised of 25 experts representing a diversity of fields and backgrounds who developed a plan to make Pennsylvania a trauma-informed state and guide services. The group focused on setting guidelines, benchmarks, and goals for trauma-informed care across the commonwealth. In addition, the expansion of the original mandate led by Dr. Jurman strategized how to heal the trauma that all Pennsylvanians are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, he executed as the Executive Director for the PA Office of the Governor the: Trauma Informed PA: A Plan to Make PA a Trauma-Informed, Healing Centered State. He has been instrumental in his extensive efforts to bring Trauma training to all employees of the Commonwealth. Prior to coming to this office, he worked in the non-profit/human service field for over 20 years. Mr. Jurman is an Adjunct Professor at the Penn State College of Public Health and had previously been the CEO, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County.
Dr. Kathleen Kaplan has a Master’s in education and a PhD in social welfare, both from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Director of Grants and Innovations at Community Behavioral Health (CBH), the Behavioral Health Managed Care Organization for Philadelphia county. In this role Dr. Kaplan is responsible for identifying opportunities through external funding or strategic partnerships with academic, community, physical health managed care or governmental partners that promote innovation and align with organizational priorities. This includes the development of new programs that are sustainable through Medicaid. Her work spans a variety of areas such as integrated care, autism and behavioral health. Prior to joining CBH in January 2016, she was the Director of Human Services and Special Initiatives for Philadelphia Councilman-At-Large Dennis M. O’Brien, where she saw oversaw the Philadelphia Autism Project, a city-wide taskforce to improve services and supports for individuals impacted by autism. This project continues under the direction of Councilman-At-Large Derek Green in partnership with key stakeholders including CBH.
Amanda Keegan, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist who graduated from Immaculata University. She loves working with clients to explore their creativity and stretch their imagination with music! Amanda is passionate about music, animals and American Sign
Stormy Kelsey is a Philadelphia native and graduate of Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Stormy has created work that explores storytelling, youth activism, and social justice in both local and international communities. Currently, Stormy coordinates the youth program POPPYN, which works with high school students to create journalistic-style video projects through a social justice lens. In addition to teaching technical video production skills, Stormy also helps young people sharpen their media literacy skills to develop a critical analysis of the media they consume. In the last year, Stormy has re-enrolled at Temple University to pursue a graduate degree in Communication for Development and Social Change.
Betty Liu, MD: Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation University of Pittsburgh; Co-Director of Medical Student Education and Director of Alumni Relations, and Chair of the Faculty Wellness Committee for the department and Faculty Advisor of Wellness Committee for the PMR Residents. Dr. Liu serves as the program director for both the Disability Medicine Clerkship and Disability Medicine Area of Concentration at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is currently the Rotation Director for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Community Experience – Disability Medicine. She is also on the Executive Committee for the Center for Assistive Technology. Since 2007, she has been on the Disability Advisory Council for UPMC. Dr. Liu advocates accessible health care for women with disabilities. She was granted FISA Foundation grant in the past for addressing this particular issue. Dr. Liu uses acupuncture and holistic medicine philosophy to address treatment approaches associated with pain. It is her belief that knowledge and motivation are the primary factors influencing positive outcomes for recovery and improvement of health.
James Meadours has been a tireless advocate and powerful voice for the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live full lives in the community for decades. Throughout his career in self-advocacy, Meadours has earned a sterling reputation as an honest, energetic, and bold speaker, often sharing his life experiences to highlight challenges people with intellectual developmental disabilities face in our nation. He is a trail blazer, leader, and staunch defender of people with intellectual developmental disabilities.
David Measel has a degree in Political Science from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) and is a Pennsylvania Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), CPS Supervisor, and National Certified Peer Specialist. He is the Executive Director Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition. In addition to these certifications, he has also completed the enhanced skill trainings of Certified Older Adult Peer Specialist (COAPS) and Certified Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitator. He is the former Executive Director of Recovery Connections (a consumer satisfaction team in Lancaster County, PA) where, aside from running the day-to-day operations of the organization, he also developed and delivered trainings based on recovery principles to key stakeholders.
Lynn Miller has over 16 years working in the behavioral health field in a variety of capacities, including directing a behavioral health service satisfaction consumer team program, statewide advocacy for the behavioral health population, directing a statewide program for complex case management for individuals receiving dual Medicare & Medicaid benefits, Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services administration and as the Pennsylvania Department of Correction's 1st Mental Health Advocate and Certified Peer Specialist Instructor and Director. While at The Department of Corrections, Lynn was lead staff on complex care needs for individuals with dual diagnosis, and serious mental illness who were incarcerated and preparing for reentry. Lynn is a Certified Peer Specialist and Advanced level Facilitator and is a Senior Criminal Justice Associate at the Advocates for Human Potential. Lynn earned her bachelor's degree at York College of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree on Health Education from Penn State University.
Dr. Nancy Mimm, DNP, MSN-BS, APHN is an Assistant Professor and Program Lead Master of Science in Nursing at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Joan Moore is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She is a powerful voice in the advocacy group. Her most recent contribution to complex cases was an article written in the Pennsylvania Positive Approaches Journal. Ms. Moore believes we improve lives by providing support to individuals with mental health and complex diagnoses.
Dr. Michael Murray is a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of co-occurring mental health challenges for neurodiverse individuals. He is the director for the central region ASERT collaborative and the medical director for Penn State Health’s Autism and Developmental Disorders Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry.
Lori Nimmon is currently employed as the Mobile MH/ID Behavioral Intervention Service Coordinator by Community Services Group. Lori holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Counseling from Millersville University. Lori is a Licensed Behavior Specialist and has worked in the intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health field for 19 years in a variety of different positions including QIDP in an ICF facility, program specialist and assistant program director, behavior specialist and her current position. Lori is a certified behavioral safety management and crisis intervention trainer.
Michelle Gwinn Nutter is a Pennsylvania-certified teacher and former Safe and Supportive Schools Manager for the PA Center for Safe Schools is an Education and Outreach Program Manager and Civil Rights Outreach Specialist. Michelle provides training and technical assistance for schools and community organizations. She is a nationally recognized speaker and frequently serves as a facilitator for the Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) Program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. She is a certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Program trainer and a certified Partners Against Hate trainer. She assists schools in the prevention of and effective response to bullying, cyberbullying and bias-related tension incidents. Michelle received her B.A. Degree in English Education from Messiah College and a M.S. in Education Law. Michelle participated in the 2016 White House Bullying Prevention Summit and the2016 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit.
Christopher O’Neal is currently the Director of the Bureau of Talent Planning within the Talent Management Office. In his current role, Chris is responsible for leading a team that is establishing programs that will help the commonwealth build the “Workforce of the Future,” including telework, as well as improve human resources’ effectiveness by adopting data-driven decision-making. Chris has acquired a broad range of experience during his 27 years of commonwealth HR service including program evaluation, management audits, performance management, workforce analysis, HR policy, and HR consolidation and centralization. He has served as the HR Director the Liquor Control Board, the HR Director for Executive Offices, and most recently Director of HR Delivery Centers. Before joining the commonwealth in 1994, he worked four years as a refugee resettlement caseworker for Tressler Lutheran Services and two years as a case manager for York County MH-IDD. Chris has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Elizabethtown College and a Masters in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University.
Tina Paul, PsyD, ABPP is an Assistant Clinical Professor and Clinical Director for the Division of Inpatient Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh. She is specialty board certified in Rehabilitation Psychology. Dr. Paul currently provides rehabilitation neuropsychology services to the neuro rehab and SCI populations at UPMC Mercy and engages in clinical research focused on various rehab populations. She is a member of the Faculty Wellness Committee for the department and the UPMC Mercy Ethics Committee. She also serves as a board member for the American Board of Professional Psychology, Rehabilitation Psychology. Dr. Paul areas of clinical interest include post-stroke depression, substance abuse, mindfulness-based therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, advocacy for people with disabilities, multiculturalism, diversity, sexuality, and disability.
Kathy Purcell, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist and PA State Certified music teacher. She graduated cum laude from Shenandoah Conservatory in 1989 with degrees in both Music Therapy and Music Education with a minor in Psychology. She founded Music Therapy Associates (MTA) in 1990. With 28 board certified music therapists, MTA provides individual and group music therapy services for persons of all ages and abilities throughout PA and parts of NJ and Delaware. Kathy is anticipating the opening of her new music therapy and art therapy center, which is currently being built in Whitehall, PA.
Ken Purcell spent 35 years as a recreation therapist in a psychiatric hospital where he conducted creative arts programming. Throughout his career, he utilized music and drama, providing many performances with patients in the community to raise awareness and understanding of mental illness. Ken currently performs at retirement homes, pubs and festivals as a solo performer as well as with the Jolly Tars, Avoiding Forclosure and The Shanachians.
Mark Salzer, Ph.D. is a psychologist and Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Public Health at Temple University. He is also the Principal Investigator and Director of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, a rehabilitation research and training center that has been funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research since 2003. His applied research has influenced national, state, and local mental health policies, programs, and practices across the United States, and he has given over 400 presentations and trainings around the world.
Peg Schwartz is currently employed as the Director of Behavior Services by Community Services Group and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been working with people with mental health disorders and/or intellectual disabilities for over 25 years and has expertise in supporting families and individuals throughout the lifespan who are challenged by complex mental health disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, autism, aging issues, trauma, personality disorders, genetic disorders and significant behavioral challenges. She is a nationally certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor with additional certifications in MHFA for Older adults, MHFA for Military Members, Veterans and their families and MHFA for Law Enforcement, Corrections, Public Safety and Higher Education and is certified in Intensive Systems Therapy. She has spoken at local, state, national, and international conferences on topics including psychiatric and behavioral challenges, integrated care, older adults, and autism. She received her Master of Social Work from Marywood University.
Jim Sharp, director of the Children’s Division of RCPA, is responsible for the oversight of all policy and regulatory issues related to children’s services and serving the members’ vision goals through integrated efforts with key systems stakeholders. The divisional focus areas include mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, substance use disorder, education, pediatric care, children and youth, and juvenile justice. Jim brings 30 years of cross systems advocacy and organizational and strategic planning experience to RCPA. He most recently worked for Merakey and has served in several key positions, including Chief Juvenile Probation Officer at the Philadelphia Family Court, Admissions Director at George Junior Republic, and he began his career at Montgomery County Juvenile Probation. Jim has served on several state and national committees for child welfare policy and systems change initiatives, including work with the MacArthur and Pew foundation. He received a bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s University, he holds a Master of Administration, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Shippensburg University.
Christine Sides is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Rosemont College. Christine has over 20 years of experience in various settings within the behavioral health field. She has experience in individual and group therapy, client advocacy, Functional Behavioral Analysis, crisis management, family systems, case management and integrated health care. Christine is trained in Motivational Interviewing and is a certified Behavior Change Specialist. She also holds a diploma as a Holistic Nutrition Wellness Practitioner. Together she empowers individuals to address both emotional and physical health needs to reach optimal daily life.
Mary Sonke, Mary Sonke is a Senior Project Manager at an NCI designated comprehensive cancer center. She has a specialization in health, and extensive experience in clinical social work, and policy and systems change. Her background includes business development and organizational change management, program design, implementation and evaluation, constituent relationship management, crisis intervention and counseling and qualitative and quantitative research. Mary has held leadership positions in non profit organizations and currently serves on several HEAL PA teams, a statewide initiative to make Pennsylvania a trauma informed state. Mary’s professional passion is the intersection between health and trauma informed care, and strives to improve the patient experience, engagement and overall health outcomes. Mary holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Temple University and while her children are grown, she enjoys spending as much time with them as they will allow.
Jason Warthout joined the Office of Administration (OA) as Director of Talent Management in July 2017. Prior to that, he was Human Resource Director for the Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Environmental Protection (DEP). In his current role, Jason leads human resource management (HRM) strategic planning efforts for the Talent Management Office (TMO). The TMO consists of five bureaus which oversee enterprise recruitment, talent acquisition, organizational design and compensation, talent development and talent planning. Jason has developed his career with the Commonwealth working in human resources for over twenty years. Starting as a human resource management trainee, Jason has worked in numerous functions within HR, including staffing, recruitment, classification, HR policy and planning and organization management. In these roles, he participated in various Commonwealth enterprise HR initiatives, including SAP implementation, onboarding, e-OPF, and the OneHR Steering Committee. Jason has a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the Pennsylvania State University, and lives in Elizabethtown, PA with his wife Heather and two children, Gavin and Sydney.
Emily Shea Tanis, PhD, is currently the Co-Director for the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado. As a member of the Coleman leadership team over the last decade, Dr. Tanis had helped to advance technology solutions for people with disabilities across the lifespan. Dr. Tanis is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where she has published articles and investigated the definition of intellectual disability, the measurement of adaptive behavior and support need, the construct of self-determination, long-term services and supports for people with IDD and their families, and self-directed employment strategies. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in applied cognitive technology supports, cognitive accessibility, and advancing the rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access. Dr. Tanis also serves as Principal Investigator for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Longitudinal Data Project of National Significance funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, which investigates the determinants of public spending for Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services in the United States. Tanis has been a co-author on The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Monograph since 2011. She is the sibling of a man with a traumatic brain injury Co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Sibs Chapter of the National Sibling Leadership Network. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas, Department of Special Education, MA from Rhode Island College, and BA from Brown University.
Robin Van Eerden earned her Master of Science Degree from Shippensburg University in Community Counseling and acquired her License in Professional Counseling (LPC). She has served adults with Dual Diagnosis for over 40 years. She has acquired the first ever Dual Diagnosis Certified Clinician credential awarded by the National Association for Dual Diagnosis. Robin is an Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapist and has received a certificate in Trauma through Drexel University. Robin is the Co-chairperson of the NADD-CC committee and assisted in formulating a certification in Dual Diagnosis for licensed clinicians (NADD-CC). Robin has served as the Clinical Director for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Disabilities, Central Region. She is the former Vice President of Integrative Counseling Services, PC in Harrisburg, PA. In 2019, Robin won the NADD Earl L. Loschen Award for contributions that have resulted in significant improvement in the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as mental health needs. Robin has developed the Risk Screening for Best Practices Tool. She is a subject matter expert on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder “The Invisible Disability” and has articles published on the topic. Robin administers sexuality assessments for consent, knowledge, and attitudes. She also administers trauma informed assessment for people with problematic and sex offending behavior. She is currently the Clinical Director for Merakey in the Central and Northeast Regions of Pennsylvania and assists with consultation services that include Merakey in New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and California.
Eva Weiss is a Research Associate at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, where she contributes to local, state and national projects, examining secondary transition, service provision, supported decision-making, inclusion and enfranchisement, cultural competency, the school-to-prison pipeline, and deinstitutionalization. Eva is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University. Her research applies critical disability theory to the examination of immigration governance to reveal overlooked and interlocking regimes of ableism, nativism and racism, which actively produce labor market inclusion and
Colwin Williams, an outreach worker for Philadelphia CeaseFire, speaks for change. He uses his words to motivate his team, to encourage North Philadelphians to rally for peace following shootings, and to resolve conflicts. According to Colwin, gun violence in Philadelphia is more complicated than a proliferation of weapons on the street, or blurbs on the 10 p.m. news. Gun violence is a product of a culture of violence.
Dr. Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon is an Associate Professor of Urban Theater and Community Engagement. Recipient of the 2013 Associate Provosts for the Arts Grant; a 2008 Research and Creative Seed Grant Co-recipient, a 2003 Provost's Arts Commission Grant; a 2001 Independence Foundation Theater Communications Group Grant, the 2000 winner of the PEW Charitable Trust fellowship in scriptwriting, and the 1999, winner of the DaimlerChrysler "Spirit of the Word" National Poetry Competition. Author of Through Smiles and Tears: The History of African American Theater (From Kemet to the Americas) (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011); The Secret Messages in African American Theater: Hidden Meaning Embedded in Public Discourse (Edwin Mellen Publishing, 2006) she has had over twenty-three of her plays produced. Her stage credits include thirteen productions, and she is a contributing poet to twenty-six poetry anthologies.
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