Al Abeson, PhD is Director of Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In Our Nation). The Project conducts training, technical assistance and information development, and dissemination activities regarding all aspects of public and private transportation for people with disabilities. Prior to becoming Director in 2002, Dr. Abeson served for fifteen years as Executive Director of The Arc of the U.S., headquartered in Arlington, Texas. While living in Arlington, he was the City Council-appointed Chairman of the Special Transit Advisory Board and an advocate for the establishment of city-wide public transit. Prior to his tenure with The Arc he served in many positions with the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Abeson has authored articles and books and has served on a variety of advisory boards and committees. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in special education from the Ohio State University and his Masters and Doctorate in special education administration from Columbia University.
Michael Agyin is a graduate of California State University-Northridge (CSUN). Currently, he is a Governing Board member and chair of the Public Information Committee for the National Youth Leadership Network. Michael has served as a member and chair of the University Student Union Board of Directors, completed the CSUN Emerging Leaders Program, and served in the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps. He has worked as an intern at 6th district Los Angeles councilmember Tony Cardenas’s office and as a Congressional intern in Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald’s office. He was part of The Washington Center Diversity in Congress Program. Michael is Co-founder of JASK (Just Ask). He is also active with the National Center on Defenses and CSUN Deaf Awareness Week. He is former youth director for Los Angeles Black Deaf Advocates. Michael has received the National Center on Deafness Humanitarian of the Year award, the University Student Union Chairperson Recognition award, and the Alpha Sigma Theta Little Brother of the Year award. Michael’s areas of interest include ADA, IDEA, disability awareness issues at the university level, advocacy for people with disabilities in urban communities, educational and employment transition programs, and cultural diversity and outreach programs.
James Alarid, PhD has worked in the field of education for over 30 years, first in public schools and later in higher education. He has taught at the University of New Mexico, the University of Connecticut, the University of Arizona, and New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU), and worked at the New Mexico State Department of Education. Since returning to NMHU in 1984, he has held various administrative positions, including Director of Education, Assistant to the Provost, and Vice-President of Academic Affairs. Currently, he is Special Education Program Chair, teaches courses in special education, and directs a CARF-accredited program, Vistas Sin Limites, the State’s first supported employment program. He is also Chair of the Governor’s NM Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council.
Fabricio Balcazar, PhD is Associate Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Over the past 20 years, Dr. Balcazar has conducted research on the development of systematic approaches for promoting the empowerment of minorities and underserved populations, including individuals with disabilities and their families. His research has included the development and evaluation of methods for promoting empowerment approaches to vocational rehabilitation service delivery, school-to-work transition, dropout prevention, and attainment of rehabilitation goals. Dr. Balcazar currently directs the new Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research at UIC. Dr. Balcazar and his research team have developed a transition model called the College Connection to support minority youth with high-incidence disabilities graduating from high school in their pursuit of adult education training at the City Colleges of Chicago. This model is being disseminated to several high schools within the Chicago Public School District as part of a new model dissemination grant.
Rhonda Basha is currently Supervisory Policy Analyst for the Youth Policy Team of the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Prior to this, Ms. Basha served on the staff of the Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities, as an agency liaison for the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and as a supervisory attorney/advisor for the Benefits Review Board. Ms. Basha, the parent of three children, two of whom have disabilities, graduated in 1984 with a Juris Doctorate degree from Catholic University in Washington, DC.
Diane Bassett, PhD is Professor in the School of Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). She has taught general and special education in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions, in both public and private schools. She currently coordinates the Generalist Masters Program and teaches coursework in secondary services, adolescent and adult development, transition from school to adulthood for students with exceptionalities, self-advocacy and self-determination, and transition services in a standards-based system. Dr. Bassett is the co-author of two books, Student-Focused Conferencing and Planning, and Aligning Transition and Standards-Based Education: Issues and Strategies. Her other publications focus on self-determination, effective services for students with mild/moderate disabilities, and efficacy-based transition practices. Dr. Bassett is currently the Project Director of a $758,000 personnel preparation grant entitled Project TRAC: Transition Resources Across Communities. This grant has trained three cohorts of special educators throughout Colorado and New Mexico in the transition process as it is blended with standards-based education. Dr. Bassett is a Past President of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition. At UNC, she has received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, the College of Education Outstanding Scholar Award and Outstanding Service Award, the Mortar Board Award, and the Panhellenic Outstanding Professor Award.
Nila Benito is Director of Education and Training at the University of South Florida, Department of Child & Family Studies and Center for Autism & Related Disabilities. Nila’s primary focus is to help her sons with autism, Vincent and Joseph, be the best they can be. Through her work at USF, she promotes positive outcomes for and a greater understanding of people with developmental disabilities and their families. Before working at USF, she was a reporter for the Tampa Tribune and Director of Public Relations at a children’s hospital. In 2002, she was elected chairperson of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Nila’s professional journal publications and primary interests are in family/professional collaboration, inclusion, peer supports, transition, and positive behavior supports.
Gregg Betheil is Senior Vice President of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). Mr. Betheil oversees school and academy operations at NAF, and is responsible for the oversight and support of NAF’s 627 Academies of Finance, Hospitality and Tourism, and Information Technology nationwide. His responsibilities include directing NAF’s Center for School Design; oversight of field services, curriculum and staff development, advisory board development, and the internship program; and overall quality assurance. Mr. Betheil serves on the steering committee of the National High School Alliance, where he chaired the School and District Innovations Working Group. He is currently a member of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in New Jersey. He is on the Board of Directors of MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education) and the National Career Academy Coalition. Mr. Betheil is a public school graduate and holds a B.A. in Government and Law and History from Lafayette College, an MA in Social Studies Education, and a MEd in Educational Administration from Columbia University.
Loujeania Bost, PhD is Director of the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities. She has worked as a public school teacher, program administrator for agencies serving adults and adolescents with mental retardation, and researcher. Loujeania has extensive background in technical assistance for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She received her PhD in special education from Pennsylvania State University.
Rick Boyle joined the PaTTAN Pittsburgh office as an Educational Consultant in 1993. With over thirty years of experience in the fields of public education, rehabilitation, and human services, Rick’s expertise includes program development/implementation, training, technical assistance, advocacy, and direct support for persons with a variety of severe disabilities. He has given workshop presentations and participated in panel discussions at the local, state, and national levels on the following topics: secondary transition, interagency collaboration, positive behavior support, person/family-centered planning, building community partnerships, traumatic brain injury, vocational rehabilitation, and supported employment. Prior to joining PaTTAN, Rick held positions with the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Hospital, and Goodwill Industries. Rick has participated on a variety of local, state, and national committees including the PA Community on Transition, national Communities of Practice on Transition, Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, State Workgroup on Intensive Interagency Coordination, and the Mayor’s Task Force on Employment of Persons with Disabilities. Rick holds an M.S. in special education, instructional certification, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Marsha Brauen, PhD is Vice President and Associate Study Group Director at Westat. Dr. Brauen directs Westat’s 5-year technical assistance contract with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Technical Assistance in Data Collection, Analysis, and Report Preparation. She has directed this contract for 20 years. Under this contract and others with OSEP, Dr. Brauen has provided technical assistance to state education agencies and Part C lead agencies on data collection, analysis, and reporting; special education and early intervention data systems; performance indications; inclusion of students with disabilities in state assessments; self-assessments for monitoring and improvement planning; and evaluation. She is also directing a 5-year contract for OSEP to evaluate state monitoring and improvement practices under IDEA.
Marisa Brown is the parent of three young adults, one of whom experiences Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. For the past 15 years she has been involved in advocacy on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly those with emotional and behavioral disorders. She is the former Chair and founding member of Parents and Children Coping Together, a statewide support network for families of children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders in Virginia. She has also served as the Chair of the Virginia State Special Education Advisory Committee and Chair of the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities. In the District of Columbia, Ms. Brown has been involved in the formation of a community collaborative in the Northeast area of the city to address the prevention of child abuse and neglect. She is also a member of human rights committees for the DC Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration, the Arc of DC, and the National Children’s Center. Ms. Brown is a registered nurse and research instructor at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Washington, DC. She is Project Director of the National Center for Cultural Competence and Senior Policy Associate for Family Engagement for the National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health.
Michael Bullis, PhD is Professor in the University of Oregon’s College of Education, Director of the College’s Secondary Special Education and Transition Research Unit, and Director of the National Postschool Outcomes Center, a Technical Assistance and Dissemination Center funded through OSEP. Dr. Bullis received his PhD at the University of Oregon in 1983 in Special Education and Rehabilitation, specializing in research methods. Since 1986, he has been awarded and managed 38 externally funded federal and state evaluation contracts, research projects, and model demonstration projects totaling more than $24 million. Dr. Bullis has conducted both quantitative and qualitative longitudinal studies of the transition experiences of adolescents with disabilities, directed community-based vocational programs for adolescents with extreme emotional and antisocial behaviors, and developed transition skills assessment instruments for adolescents. Most recently he directed statewide studies of the facility-to-community transition experiences of incarcerated youth returning to their home communities and a statewide transition support system for that population. He serves as the research and evaluation consultant for Trillium Family Services, the largest residential treatment center for children and adolescents with mental illness in the Pacific Northwest, and for the Oregon Youth Authority, the state’s juvenile correctional system. He has more than 150 professional publications and is regularly invited to present across the country. Dr. Bullis teaches doctoral-level research design courses in the University of Oregon’s College of Education and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. He is a former editor of Career Development for Exceptional Individuals.
Joanne Cashman is Director of the Policymaker Partnership (PMP) for Implementation of IDEA. The Partnership is funded by OSEP and operates within the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Before joining the PMP, Joanne directed the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program at The George Washington University (GWU). She continues to teach courses in special education policy and interagency service coordination. Prior to coming to GWU, Joanne was Principal of Oaklyn Elementary School and Supervisor of Special Education and Dropout Prevention for the Shikellamy School District in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Her expertise includes: shared policy agendas and crosscutting policy strategies; implementation of the school-to-career movement; service learning and self-determination; self-advocacy for individuals with disabilities; and developing communities of practice.
Sonya Clark-Herrera is Executive Director of the East Palo Alto Mural Art Project, a collective of artists, art educators, activists, organizers, and friends working together to positively affect youth. Teaching and tutoring in afterschool programs and mentoring through community-based organizations, Ms. Clark-Herrera has worked with minority youth in enrichment programs since she began her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Irvine. While working on her Masters degree in anthropology at Columbia University, Ms. Clark-Herrera established a business to represent artists. She has collaborated on public art projects in New York, Pennsylvania, and California. Blending her aptitude as a diligent researcher and artist with that of painters, sculptors, and muralists, she has managed art projects for community organizations and created artwork for nonprofit groups, educational centers, investment banks, and venture capital corporations.
Mark Courtney, PhD is Director of the Chapin Hall Center for Children and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. His research has focused on outcomes of out-of-home care placement, including family reunification, adoption, and the well-being of youth who age out of foster care. His current work includes studies of the adult functioning of former foster children and the impact of welfare reform on child and family welfare, as well as a comprehensive evaluation of the Milwaukee County child welfare system. Dr. Courtney previously served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before moving into academia, he worked for several years in various capacities providing group home care to abused and neglected adolescents. He has served as a consultant to the federal government, state departments of social services, and local public and private child welfare agencies around the country. Dr. Courtney has an MSW in Management and Planning and a PhD from the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.
Kelli Crane, PhD has played a lead role in the resource mapping initiatives for NCSET and TransCen, Inc. Her experience includes a prominent role in two national resource mapping initiatives that involved over 20 federal agencies and organizing and facilitating mapping initiatives in more than 8 states. She has developed several major trainings and technical assistance institutes; authored and co-authored publications and training tools including Essential Tools: Community Resource Mapping; and conducted numerous presentations and workshops on community resource mapping. Dr. Crane is project Co-director for the National Alliance on Secondary Education and Transition and served as chair of the 2003 and 2005 National Leadership Summits. She has been involved in creating and expanding transition systems for youth with disabilities for the past ten years. Before coming to TransCen, Dr. Crane worked for the National School-to-Work Office, where she collaborated with a variety of federal and state government agencies to ensure the inclusion of youth with disabilities in related policy initiatives.
Louis Danielson, PhD, a national leader in the field of special education, has been involved in programs that improve results for students with disabilities for nearly three decades. He brings an unparalleled and unique depth of knowledge in both special education policy and research to his current position as Director of the Research to Practice Division in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Danielson was awarded a doctorate in educational psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 1976. His career spans several roles in education including secondary school science and mathematics teacher, school psychologist, and teacher at the university level. For the past 23 years, Dr. Danielson has held leadership roles in OSEP and is currently responsible for the discretionary grants program, including research, technical assistance and dissemination, personnel preparation, technology, and parent training priorities, national evaluation activities, and other major policy-related studies in OSEP. He has served in numerous research and policy roles across the Department and has represented OSEP in major school reform activities. A frequent contributor to professional journals, Dr. Danielson has published extensively and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and events focusing on special education. His particular areas of interest include policy implementation and national evaluation studies.
Nicole Deschênes, MEd is Director of the National Technical Assistance Center on Youth Transition, which is dedicated to improving practice, systems, and outcomes for youth and young adults with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Nicole is also a faculty member in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the Louis de La Parte Florida Mental Health Institute in Tampa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Université de Moncton, Canada and a master’s degree in education from the University of New Brunswick, Canada. Nicole has more than 30 years of experience as a community mental health nurse, educator, consultant, and researcher. Throughout her career, she has assisted local, national, and international organizations in developing improved supports and services for individuals with emotional and/or behavioral issues. She has learned from and consulted with a multitude of organizations addressing youth development, community development, and the promotion of mental health and has served on a variety of task forces in the government and nonprofit sectors. Nicole is the author or coauthor of various publications and reports. Her current interests and efforts focus on developing effective transition models for youth.
Donald Deshler, PhD is Professor of Special Education and Director of the Center for Research on Learning (CRL) at the University of Kansas. Dr. Deshler (in conjunction with other CRL staff) has developed and validated the Strategic Intervention Model and the Learning Strategies Curriculum as mechanisms for improving the learning effectiveness of at-risk students (including those with learning disabilities) and the instructional effectiveness of teachers. He is author of the textbook Teaching Adolescents with Learning Disabilities: Strategies and Methods. Dr. Deshler was the original editor of the Council on Learning Disabilities journal, Learning Disability Quarterly, and is currently on the editorial boards of several other journals in learning disabilities and special education. He is a recipient of the J.E. Wallin Distinguished Service Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, the Louise Byrd Outstanding Graduate Educator of the Year Award, and the Higuchi Research Achievement Award at the University of Kansas. He also has been awarded the Learning Disabilities Association of America Award for outstanding service to the field of learning disabilities.
Rachel Dorman joined the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in 2002. She currently works as a policy advisor on the youth policy team, assisting with a variety of efforts designed to help young people with disabilities transition from school to employment. In this capacity, she provides guidance to ODEP’s High School/High Tech State grantees as they implement a statewide transition initiative. She also managed the participation of federal agencies in Disability Mentoring Day, an international job shadow day for youth with disabilities. Under her guidance, Disability Mentoring Day is moving towards a year-round model. Before beginning her career at the Department of Labor, Ms. Dorman was an intern at the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities through the Workforce Recruitment Program, an internship program for college students with disabilities. Ms. Dorman holds a B.A. in Human Services from The George Washington University.
Nicoia (Nico) Echols, age 21, is a student at Roosevelt University in Chicago, planning to major in journalism. She would also like to earn a minor in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago in the future. Nico has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and is also legally blind. She is currently learning how to be a leader by taking part in a leadership training class at Access Living in Chicago, and is a member of the Empowered Fe Fes, a support group for young disabled women. Through these experiences, Nico has come to realize that she can make a difference in the community by educating people about what it’s like to have a disability and by helping to resolve community issues such as violence, educational problems, and laws helping the disabled community. For the past two years, she has attended a Youth with Disabilities Leadership Summit in Springfield, Illinois, where she practices her leadership skills.
Olatokunbo (Toks) Fashola, PhD is a Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools. She received her PhD in 1995 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include reading, afterschool programs, dropout prevention programs, language development, emergent literacy, program evaluation, educational policy issues, problem solving, and bilingual education. She has written numerous articles on these topics and is co-author of Show Me the Evidence! Proven and Promising Programs for America’s Schools. Her report Review of Extended-Day and Afterschool Programsand Their Effectiveness and her book Building Effective Afterschool Programs have garnered national attention. She has recently authored two special editions of Urban Education dedicated to the education of African American males and currently serves as National Content Advisor to the What Works Clearinghouse on the topic of Dropout Prevention. Dr. Fashola is the recipient of an award for research excellence from the American Federation of Teachers.
Tawara Goode, MA is an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. She has been on the faculty of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD) for the past 27 years. She has degrees in early childhood, special education, and human development. Ms. Goode is Director of the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) at GUCCHD, the mission of which is to increase the capacity of health care and mental health programs to design, implement, and evaluate culturally and linguistically competent service delivery systems. Ms. Goode has been actively involved in the development and implementation of programs and initiatives in the area of cultural and linguistic competence at local, national, and international levels. As Associate Director for Community Planning of GUCCHD, Ms. Goode is responsible for short-term and ongoing programs for individuals at risk for and with developmental and other disabilities and their families. Ms. Goode’s duties include program development, administration, and teaching within the University and in the community. Ms. Goode also has administrative responsibility for the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service at GUCCHD, funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Roy Grizzard, PhD was nominated by President Bush to be the first Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy and was confirmed by the Senate on July 26, 2002. Dr. Grizzard, who has retinitis pigmentosa, is responsible for advising the Secretary of Labor on issues related to the employment of people with disabilities. He works with all agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor to provide leadership in the Department’s efforts to increase employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Dr. Grizzard served as Commissioner for the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired for six years, where he was responsible for administering the federal Randolph-Sheppard food service vending program and the state highway vending program, providing cooperative educational services to state public school divisions, administering programs for low vision services and for special services to senior citizens with visual impairments, and providing vocational rehabilitation services. Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Dr. Grizzard was a teacher and administrator in Henrico County Schools. Dr. Grizzard earned his doctorate of education from Nova Southeastern University. He also has an M.S. in education administration and supervision and a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Tricia Gurley is currently attending Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, double-majoring in human services and linguistics and minoring in business management. She works as a youth coordinator at Family Services of Westchester’s Youth Forum, facilitating networks between young people ages 14-25 and overseeing the fundraising committee. Tricia is also working on the National Youth Development Board, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-funded project. In her spare time, Tricia works as a freelance music promoter. Her hobbies include writing, billiards, traveling, reading, and tattoos and piercing. Her future goals include becoming a professional public speaker and directing a residential treatment center.
Patti Hackett serves as a team lead and Co-director of the Healthy & Ready to Work National Center (HRTW). In this role, she coordinates the work of the HRTW Virtual Team in four states, develops technical assistance tools and materials on transition for youth with special health care needs, publishes printed and electronic materials for dissemination, and serves as liaison to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCH), State Title V Programs, Health Resources and Services Administration/MCH Region Offices, MCH community, family, and youth leadership organizations.
John Hager was nominated by President George W. Bush to the position of Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and was confirmed by the Senate on November 21, 2004. Prior to that, Assistant Secretary Hager served as a consultant to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. He became the director of Virginia’s Homeland Security Secretary soon after September 11, 2001, and served in that position until May 2004. Initially serving with then-Governor James Gilmore, Hager led the transition and then assumed a Cabinet-level position under newly-elected Governor Mark Warner. He was responsible for the management, structure, and organization of and funding for the state’s security. Assistant Secretary Hager was elected to Virginia’s second-highest office, that of Lieutenant Governor, in 1997, and served in that position for four years. As Lieutenant Governor he was a strong proponent of better education, improved transportation, and a more effective and efficient system of governance. As President of the Senate, he proudly cast numerous tie-breaking votes, including a vote to return the state’s lottery profits to localities for use in public education. He received national recognition as chairman of the Disability Commission and as a role model for Virginians with disabilities. Assistant Secretary Hager graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and from Harvard University with a master’s degree in business administration. He served in the United States Army and the Army Reserves, rising to the rank of captain. He is currently a member of the American Legion. A lifelong athlete, he has competed in many wheelchair races.
George Hall is Research Associate at the Transition Leadership Institute at Auburn University. His training and experience includes education, accounting, and electronic data systems. Prior to joining the Institute in 1998, he taught secondary and postsecondary courses and implemented the City of Auburn, Alabama’s first computerized revenue collection system. During the past seven years at the Institute, he has overseen the development of the Alabama Student Tracking System from a paper-and-pencil format to its current Web-based data collection and delivery system. This development has been the topic of his presentations at several state and national conferences.
Susan Brody Hasazi, EdD is Stafford Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Special Education in the Department of Education and Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Vermont. She has directed a variety of federally-funded national evaluation studies to assess the implementation of the least restrictive environment provision and the transition-related requirements of IDEA at the state and local levels. In 1982, Dr. Hasazi served as a Kennedy Fellow in the U.S. Senate for Senator Robert Stafford where she was involved in the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, IDEA, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. In 1983, she received a Mary Switzer Research Fellowship from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research for her work related to the vocational and transitional experiences of youth with disabilities, and in 1995, she received the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation International Award in Mental Retardation for her lifelong contributions to improving opportunities for individuals with mental retardation and their families. Dr. Hasazi serves on a variety of state and national advisory boards and is active in advocacy efforts related to youth leadership and family support. She is the author or co-author of more than 60 professional publications; her work has appeared in Exceptional Children, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Mental Retardation, and International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education and other journals and publications.
Debra Hart’s recent experience includes working with school districts to develop the College Career Connection, an individual support model designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities in gaining access to inclusive postsecondary education options while still enrolled in high school. She worked with communities to create interagency teams to conduct resource mapping to identify existing services and supports to improve postschool outcomes for youth with disabilities; build capacity of secondary teachers and college faculty to apply universal design for learning principles to develop greater access to and progress in general education curriculum and college courses; and research students with intellectual disabilities and postsecondary education through the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports, an RRTC at the University of Hawaii.
Bob Haugh is Transition Coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Education. He is responsible for the provision of various training and technical projects including the Student Leadership Initiative. Previously, Bob spent four years working at Temple University where his responsibilities included providing technical assistance and developing training regarding transition and supported employment for school districts and service providers. He has also worked as Director of a community-based organization serving adults with severe disabilities in community living and community integrated employment programs. Bob started his career in the field as a teacher for youth with psychiatric and cognitive disabilities.
Harold Hodgkinson, PhD is a widely known lecturer and analyst of demographics and educational issues. His professional activities include writing, lecturing, and producing demographic reports for states, cities, businesses, and nonprofit groups. He served as Director of the Center for Demographic Policy at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Dr. Hodgkinson is the author of 12 books, three of which have won national awards, and over 200 articles, for which he has been honored by the American Education Press Association. He has been editor of several journals, including Harvard Educational Review and Journal of Higher Education. In 1974, President Ford appointed him Director of the National Institute of Education. Dr. Hodgkinson’s consulting assignments have included over 600 colleges and universities and numerous public and private schools and school systems, state and federal agencies, and corporations.
As a child, LeDerick Horne believed that he did not possess the ability to survive in any academic environment due to a severe learning disability that affected not only his ability to read and write, but also crippled his self-esteem as a student. After graduation from Franklin High School in Somerset, NJ, LeDerick enrolled at Middlesex County College (MCC). He discovered within his first year at MCC that he had a gift for poetry and mathematics, which developed into a passion for the former and a major in the latter. An active member of MCC’s community, LeDerick worked for the college as a tutor, facilitated weekly student discussions for the African-American Faculty and Staff Association, and assisted in the creation of an alternative literary magazine. Off campus, LeDerick worked as the entertainment director of several “open-mic” poetry venues and performed as a spoken word artist throughout the tri-state area. LeDerick transferred to New Jersey City University (NJCU) in spring 2001. While at NJCU LeDerick served as the Vice President of Public Relations for the Art Association, a student representative for the Gilligan Student Union Interior Renovation Project, and a volunteer math tutor for the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center. LeDerick graduated cum laude from NJCU with a BA in Mathematics in January of 2003. He currently manages his family’s rental property business and is beginning a career in the development of commercial and residential real estate through his company Horne & Associates, LLC. LeDerick has devoted himself to inspiring and advocating for people with disabilities. He has facilitated workshops, delivered keynote presentations, and spoken to thousands of students, teachers, and service providers about his experiences.
Richard Horne, PhD is Supervisory Research Analyst for Research and Education at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Richard previously was Senior Policy Advisor for ODEP’s Youth Policy Team. Prior to working for ODEP, Richard served as Deputy Director of the Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In addition, he was Deputy Director of the Disabilities Studies and Services Center at the Academy for Educational Development, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC dedicated to addressing human development needs throughout the world. Richard, who earned his Doctorate at The George Washington University, has written and presented extensively in the areas of public policy, systems reform, information utilization, transition, personnel development, rehabilitation, and employment of individuals with disabilities.
Deborah Howard is Program Director of KnowledgeWorks Foundation’s high school improvement efforts, the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative, and the Early College High School initiative. She came to KnowledgeWorks Foundation from the Cleveland Education Fund, where she served as Executive Director for six years. At the Cleveland Education Fund, Deborah was involved in literacy research and professional development for middle schools and established an in-house research, evaluation, and assessment division that links the organization’s major work in teacher professional development to student achievement. Howard earned both her bachelor’s and masters degrees from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. She has been a member of the Public Education Network, the National Staff Development Council, and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, and has served on the Educational Technology Advisory Committee, Community School Evaluation Committee, and Better Environments for Learning Facilities Committee for the Cleveland Municipal School District.
David Johnson, PhD is Director of NCSET, Director of the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration, College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include investigations of the postschool outcomes and status of young adults with disabilities, evaluations concerning access to and participation of young adults with disabilities in postsecondary education programs, studies on systems change, cost-benefit analysis, and other policy-related research. Dr. Johnson has also served as consultant to several national, regional, and state organizations including the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, National School-to-Work Office, Rehabilitation Services Administration, National Alliance of Business, Council for Exceptional Children, and several Congressional Committees. Dr. Johnson has published numerous journal articles, book chapters, research monographs, and technical reports and products on topics in secondary education, special education, rehabilitation, transition, school-to-work, and others.
Donna Johnson is currently a Research Fellow with NCSET. She is responsible for co-leading National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition (NASET) activities, served as content session chair for the 2005 National Leadership Summit, and facilitates the Exiting Community of Practice. Prior to her work with NCSET, she served as Assistant Director for Disability Services at the University of Minnesota, where she managed and directed day-to-day operations of the Research and Training unit. In this position, Ms. Johnson managed a $500,000 annual budget; supervised and evaluated professional and student staff members; collected, managed, and analyzed data; disseminated research and training activities locally and nationally; and served as Minnesota’s Rehabilitation Services liaison. A certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Ms. Johnson holds MAs in Rehabilitation Counseling and Industrial Relations.
Bonnie Jones, EdD has extensive experience in secondary transition programs at district and state levels. She has developed and coordinated multi-agency school employment projects that have received national recognition from the U.S. Department of Labor. While working for the Kansas State Board of Education, she conducted extensive statewide training on transition services and directed federal grants that collected interagency data on postschool outcomes for students with disabilities. At the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Dr. Jones, an Education Research Analyst, is Project Officer for NCSET, the National Center on Improving Teacher Quality, and the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Development and TA Centers. Dr. Jones has a strong background in instructional design, high school reform, and teacher quality. She has served with leading national teaching standards committees, including those at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Council for Chief State School Officers with the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) project. Bonnie earned her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University and is an associate faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University.
Wendy Jones, MEd, MSW is a research instructor in the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. She has been associated with the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD), University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, for the past 8 years. She is an educator and social worker specializing in advocacy, support, and training for individuals and families for whom English may be a second language and for families of children with developmental, educational, and emotional disabilities. Ms. Jones formerly had primary responsibilities within the Community Services and Clinical Divisions of GUCCHD. Ms. Jones was a member of the GUCCHD’s interdisciplinary team, conducting social work family assessments and devising treatment plans. Currently, Ms. Jones has major responsibility for the coordination of project tasks for all Maternal and Child Health (MCH) projects of the National Center for Cultural Competence including the Children with Special Health Needs project; the MCH Training Branch, Division of Research, Training and Education project; and the Healthy Tomorrows project.
Troy Justesen, PhD is Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education. In this position, he serves as the principal adviser to the Assistant Secretary of OSERS on all Departmental matters related to special education and rehabilitation services. Dr. Justesen is also Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Before coming to OSERS, he served as the Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the White House, assisting the Offices of Domestic Policy and Public Liaison with the implementation of President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Initiative and on matters related to Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Alaska Natives. Dr. Justesen has also served as Deputy Executive Director of the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education and worked as an Education Policy Analyst with the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Special Education Programs. Previously, he served for nearly four years at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. He holds a doctorate from Vanderbilt University in education policy, and a Master of Science in special education and a Bachelor of Science in education, both from Utah State University.
Jennifer Sheehy Keller is the President’s appointed Special Assistant for Employment to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) and Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education. Jennifer came to OSERS from the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities where she was Senior Policy Advisor. She recently completed a detail as Associate Director in the White House Domestic Policy Council, implementing the President’s New Freedom Initiative and advising on policy issues of interest to people with disabilities. Prior to her work on the Task Force, Jennifer served as Vice President of the National Organization on Disability and Director of its CEO Council. Jennifer holds an MBA from Georgetown University and a BA from Cornell University. She has received many civic and achievement awards including the Accenture Women in Government “Rising Leader” award, the National Council on Disability Leadership Award, the Federal Computer Week Federal 100 Technology Award; the “Community Award” from the National Conference for Community and Justice, Washington region; the National Association for Women in Education “Woman of Distinction” award; and the Diet Coke/Glamour magazine “Women at Their Best” award. Jennifer serves as vice chair on the board of the National Conference for Community and Justice and was President of the National Rehabilitation Hospital Board of Associates.
Joan Kester is the Statewide Transition Specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Joan plays an instrumental role as a long-standing member of the State Leadership Team (SLT) of the PA Community of Transition. The mission of the SLT is to build and support sustainable community partnerships that create opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities to transition smoothly from secondary education to the postsecondary outcomes of competitive employment; education, training, and lifelong learning; community participation; and healthy lifestyles. In a leadership capacity, Ms. Kester has responsibility for program oversight of a financial Memorandum of Understanding between the vocational rehabilitation and education departments, resulting in 40 local and 2 statewide transition projects funded by the OVR to increase the employment outcomes of youth with disabilities across the state. Grounded in practice, Joan has first-hand experience working as a transition counselor and job developer/job coach, assisting youth successfully transition from school to work. Throughout her career in the field of vocational rehabilitation, Joan has advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities. She established the non-profit status and operational structure of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Independent Living Council and enhanced the accessibility of one-stop services to customers with disabilities through the development of an extensive staff development strategy. Ms. Kester graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University, receiving her master of arts degree in rehabilitation counseling. She is a certified rehabilitation counselor.
Weol Soon Kim-Rupnow, PhD is Project Director of the National Technical Assistance Center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities at the Center on Disability Studies (CDS), University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr. Kim-Rupnow has been on the CDS faculty since 1993. She has co-authored six funded grant proposals designed to support children and youth with disabilities. Prior to her work at CDS, she had more than 20 years of extensive professional experience, including teaching at all levels from elementary schools to colleges in both Korea and the U.S. Dr. Kim-Rupnow earned her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Hawaii in 1991. Her research interests include technology applications for cognitive skill building and behavioral interventions for persons with disabilities as well as for students who are learning English as a second language.
Paula Kohler, PhD is Associate Professor inthe Department of Educational Studies at Western Michigan University and previously Senior Research Associate with the Transition Research Institute at the University of Illinois. Dr. Kohler is recognized for her research regarding effective transition practices for youth with disabilities, including effective transition programs, transition-related competencies, vocational education experiences, work-based education, and other aspects of transition-focused education. Her Taxonomy for Transition Programming is recognized around the United States as an effective model for planning, implementing, and evaluating transition-focused education for students with disabilities and has influenced the implementation of transition services in a number of states. Dr. Kohler has extensive experience in curriculum and professional development activities focused on linking this research with practice at the state, regional, and local levels. In addition, Dr. Kohler has worked extensively with model demonstration projects and local agencies implementing self-determination curricula and has conducted numerous focus groups of students with disabilities regarding their educational experiences and transition planning. Dr. Kohler has a background in business administration, educational leadership, vocational education, and special education. In April 2001, Dr. Kohler received the Oliver P. Kolstoe award from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition in recognition of her scholarly contributions.
A business graduate of the University of Arkansas, Denna Lambert is currently employed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD as a Contract Specialist. Her duties include managing existing contracts with architecture and engineering companies around the country which are valued at $3 million, awarding new contracts with small businesses on various NASA efforts, and working on the accessibility of the agency’s financial management system. Denna is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas where she attended and graduated from Hall High School with top academic honors. Her passion for youth with disabilities was cultivated during the 2000 Youth Leadership Forum. She became involved with National Council on Disability’s Youth Advisory Committee and the National Federation of the Blind and subsequently designed and implemented a transition seminar for blind youth in 2003. Denna is also a co-leader for a Greenbelt Brownie Girl Scout troop and was just appointed to the City of Greenbelt Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Her hobbies include reading, amateur radio, and volunteering. Denna was born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma. She utilizes various types of alternative techniques in her workplace including screen readers, a Braille note taker, and a part-time reader hired by NASA to assist with printed materials.
Margarita Larrañaga is a graduate of New Mexico Highlands University with a BA in elementary/special education and MAs in special education and guidance and counseling, as well as licensure in educational administration. Her educational career encompasses 27-plus years as an educator in K-12 and postsecondary settings in special, general, and bilingual education, counseling, and educational administration.
Anne Lee is Executive Director of TeamChild, a civil legal advocacy program for youth in Washington State. TeamChild attorneys represent young people who need help securing their rights to health care, housing, and education. TeamChild’s innovative efforts bridge the gap between the juvenile justice system and the community, reducing reliance on incarceration of young people. Ms. Lee has worked with TeamChild since 1997, prior to which she was a staff attorney for the Northwest Justice Project and Evergreen Legal Services, with a practice focused on children’s rights, education law, elder law, and public benefits. She received her JD from New York University and graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University. Ms. Lee has provided training for attorneys, judges, youth, social workers, and others on a variety of topics, including advocacy, education law, and benefits. She is one of the authors of Make a Difference in a Child’s Life: A Manual for Helping Children Get What They Need in School.
Freda Lee has been State Consultant for Mental Disabilities, Secondary Education, and Transition for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division since 1992. From 1992-1997, she was Co-Director of the North Carolina Transition Systems Change Grant. She has provided leadership for the development of North Carolina’s initial Alternate Assessment Portfolio and has provided guidance and leadership in North Carolina’s effort to align state standards with NCLB and IDEA requirements. In 1999, the North Carolina General Assembly appointed her to the State Rehabilitation Council where she is currently serving her second term. In this capacity, she has served as Chair of the Policy and Rules Committee. Freda holds degrees in mental retardation, learning disabilities, and educational supervision. She is currently completing her doctorate in educational leadership at North Carolina State University and leading North Carolina’s effort to implement the Occupational Course of Study, a transition-focused curriculum framework for students with disabilities which meets state standards for graduation with a diploma.
Camilla Lehr, PhD is Research Associate with the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. She is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Alternative Schools Research Project, a three-year federally-funded project studying alternative schools across the nation and issues related to serving youth with disabilities in these settings. Prior to directing the Alternative Schools Research Project, she co-directed a truancy prevention/student engagement project for children and youth in elementary and middle schools called Check & Connect. She is lead author of both an integrative review of the professional literature on dropout interventions and a NCSET manual for policymakers, administrators, and educators on increasing rates of school completion.
Peter Leone, PhD, Professor of Special Education, specializes in behavior disorders. His experience includes direct service to troubled youth as well as field-based research examining the multidimensional problems associated with behavior disorders. Dr. Leone points to the role of environmental and cultural factors in the inception of behavior disorders and believes that educators need to take a multidisciplinary approach when implementing programs for troubled or troubling youth. Dr. Leone’s research interests focus on program environments for troubled youth, educational entitlements of incarcerated youth, and policy studies. He is currently furthering these interests through several grant-supported research projects. He directs EDJJ (http://www.edjj.org/), the National Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice, a research, training, and technical assistance project funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Leone has had numerous articles published in professional journals and has made many presentations at national, state, and local conferences on topics related to the effective treatment and instruction of behaviorally disordered youth.
Deborah Leuchovius is responsible for coordinating PACER Center’s provision of technical assistance on transition, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living issues to the national network of OSERS-funded parent training centers and projects. As the parent of a young adult with spina bifida, she has firsthand experience of transition issues facing students with disabilities.
Laurie Levin, Director of the Institute for Research and Reform in Education (IRRE), is known for her practical approaches to making ideas come to life in schools and communities. She oversees all of IRRE’s operations and oversees field work for First Things First, a framework for school reform. She works directly with districts and schools on such issues as professional development, system leadership, training, and monitoring progress in the reform. Before joining IRRE, Laurie was an independent consultant working with community organizations. As the field services director for Public/Private Ventures, a policy research organization, she oversaw the expansion of STEP, a program combining education, pregnancy prevention, and work for adolescents to more than 175 communities in 22 states. Previously, she started a statewide training organization in Florida and was the systems development director for the Broward Employment and Training Administration. Laurie holds an MA from the University of Florida.
Richard Luecking, PhD is President of TransCen, Inc., a position he has held since 1987. During his tenure at TransCen, he has been responsible for the implementation of numerous model demonstration and research projects related to school-to-work transition and the employment of individuals with disabilities. He and his colleagues at TransCen have initiated a range of local school-to-work transition and employment programs that have been replicated throughout the country. As a result, he has provided training and technical assistance on transition and employment throughout the U.S. From 1997-99, he also served as a temporary appointee to the National School-to-Work Office, assigned to promote employer involvement in school-to-work initiatives nationwide. Dr. Luecking is the author of numerous publications on transition and employment, has held leadership positions in various professional and educational associations and organizations, and has participated in a host of national activities and initiatives to improve educational and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
James Martin, PhD is Zarrow Endowed Professor of Special Education and Director of the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment in the Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of Oklahoma. He has authored books, chapters for edited books, journal articles, and curriculum lesson packages which include video and multimedia applications. Funding sources have provided him more than $6,000,000 to conduct his research and writing activities. He has conducted dozens of presentations and training workshops across the U.S., in Canada, and in Europe. His professional interests include the transition of youth with disabilities from high school into postsecondary education and the workforce and what must be done to facilitate success in high school and postsecondary environments. In particular, he is interested in the application of self-determination methodology to educational and workplace settings.
Pam Mazerski is Associate Commissioner for Program Development and Research at the Social Security Administration (SSA). She has been working on disability and income support issues for over 10 years. She has served as a professional staff member to the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee where she worked on the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act. Pam is currently responsible for broad program analyses and development to support the disability and income security programs for SSA. She also directs research and demonstration projects in such areas as youth transition to work, early intervention, and sliding scale benefit offsets.
Peggy McCardle is Acting Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). She directs the research program in Language, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy Development and Disorders; Adult, Family, and Adolescent Literacy, which includes research networks on Biliteracy, Adult Literacy, and Adolescent Literacy; as well as portfolios of research on monolingual, bilingual and cross-linguistic studies of all aspects of language development. She also directs the program on Human Learning and Learning Disabilities, which includes the NICHD Reading Research Network and the Learning Disabilities Research Centers Network, as well as a portfolio of reading, writing, and learning-related non-network grants.
Diane McCauley, PhD is Research Analyst with the Office of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. Dr. McCauley provides expertise on special populations and leads the office on a wide array of internal and external activities relative to the White House Task Force for Disadvantaged Youth. She has also served in other offices within the Department including the Office of the Secretary and the Office of Special Education Programs. Prior to coming to the Department of Education, Diane served with the U.S. Department of Justice, first with the National Institute of Justice and then with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Dr. McCauley’s research interests and expertise include at-risk youth, youth with learning and emotional/behavioral disorders, special needs youth in the juvenile justice system, special needs youth in the child welfare system, children of prisoners, poverty and educational inequity, and adolescent literacy. Diane holds a B.A. and B.S. from the University of Maryland, an M.A. from Saint Louis University, and a Ph.D. in education from the American University.
Margaret McLaughlin, PhD has been involved in special education her entire professional career, beginning as a teacher of students with serious emotional and behavior disorders. She earned her PhD at the University of Virginia and has held positions at the U.S. Department of Education and the University of Washington. Currently she is Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children, College of Education, University of Maryland. She directs several national projects investigating educational reform and students with disabilities, including the national Educational Policy Reform Research Institute (EPRRI), a consortium involving the University Maryland, the National Center on Educational Outcomes, and the Urban Special Education Collaborative. EPRRI is studying the impact of high stakes accountability on students with disabilities. She is also directing a national research project investigating special education in charter schools and a policy leadership doctoral and post-doctoral program in conducting large-scale research in special education. Dr. McLaughlin has worked in Bosnia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala in developing programs for students with developmental disabilities and she co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Goals 2000 and Students with Disabilities, which resulted in the report Educating One and All.
Marianne Mooney, PhD is Research Associate at TransCen, Inc. During her tenure at TransCen, she has worked extensively within states/communities to connect families, schools, and youth-serving organizations/agencies with workplaces (employers) and other community resources so that youth with disabilities are better prepared for postsecondary learning and careers. Dr. Mooney has conducted research to examine effective educational practices for youth with disabilities in the general curriculum, accommodating youth with disabilities in rigorous work-based learning programs and One-Stops, family and employer contributions to work-readiness and preparation, disability disclosure, resource mapping, and general school-to-work issues. She has facilitated discussions between state-level education and workforce leadership to examine the impact of local efforts to connect schools and workplaces, identify the existing resources within the state and localities that could be maximally used, and develop practices and influence policies to strengthen this ongoing connection within local communities. Dr. Mooney has also worked directly with employers to assist them in identifying and accessing services for their young employees with disabilities. Prior to her tenure at TransCen, Dr. Mooney held research positions with the Center on Education and Work and the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at Virginia Tech. She was also a special education teacher in Virginia for 14 years.
Chad Murphy-Price, age 21, is a student at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), where he is pursuing an associate degree in Visual Communications. He started at MATC while he was still in high school, initially with support from his high school and now with support from DVR. Chad has developed two businesses with friends: disc jockeying and Web design. He is a sports fanatic and hopes to become the Web designer for a major sports team. Until then, he is developing his networking skills, making connections with the Packers, Brewers, etc. Chad has recently been in demand as a speaker, talking about making choices, attending technical college, and having cerebral palsy.
Ari Ne’eman is a 17-year-old high school junior with Asperger’s Syndrome from East Brunswick, New Jersey. He was a student keynote speaker for the 2005 Dare to Dream Student Leadership Conferences and the State Special Education Advisory Council as well as on a panel at College of New Jersey’s “Promoting Success in College for Students of All Abilities” Conference. He is active in his school’s Model United Nations and Federal Reserve Challenge teams and hopes to major in political science and economics in college. He is interested in a career in either law or international affairs.
Ed O’Leary, PhD has spent over 30 years working in and with schools as a secondary special education teacher, special education consultant, transition specialist, work experience coordinator, program specialist, and program director. He has also taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels and worked in Vocational Rehabilitation. He has trained and presented nationally on the transition requirements under IDEA ‘97 and has developed an approach to helping districts and states meet the transition requirements and demonstrate improvement and results. The Transition Outcome Projects are now operating in 22 states. He has recently co-authored Transition Requirements – A Guide for States, Districts, Schools, Universities and Families (2000) and Transition Services – Helping Educators, Parents, and Others Understand: Postschool Outcomes, Course of Study and Coordinated Set of Activities (2002).
David Osher, PhD is Managing Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research, where his work focuses on knowledge use, student support, prevention, and school- and community-wide interventions for individuals with mental health problems. His particular interests include collaboration, school and organizational change, family and consumer-driven approaches to service delivery, social emotional learning, the relationship between social support and academic achievement, and the use of indicators and cost-benefit analyses for school and community planning. Dr. Osher also serves as Principal Investigator of five centers that support major national initiatives and receive support from the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice: The Center for Effective Collaboration; The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Violence Prevention; The National Coordinator Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program; The National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk; and The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (which provides technical assistance to the grantees of the largest children’s mental health initiative ever). He is Principal Investigator of research projects involving primary care and children’s mental health; the use of Medicaid to support community-based mental health services; school mental health interventions; alternative schools; long-term outcomes of children receiving preschool behavioral interventions; student support; and youth development. Dr. Osher serves as a senior advisor to the What Works Clearinghouse, the Supplementary Education Services Quality Center, and the National Center for Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice. He has authored, co-authored, or edited over 200 books, monographs, chapters, articles, and reports and serves on many editorial and advisory boards.
Gloria Pacheco has worked in educational settings for 26 years, including 7 years with New Mexico Highlands University as peer tutor/counselor coordinator and 18 years with Las Vegas City Schools as special education teacher. Currently, she is Work-study Coordinator for Robertson High School and is involved with the New Mexico Transition Specialist Cadre and the state’s Least Restrictive Environment Initiative.
Matt Potter is a senior at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and he will be attending Wake Forest University in the fall. Matt was born with cerebral palsy, but he doesn’t let that stop him! Matt is an aspiring writer, speaker, and comedian who hopes to change the world by doing the things he loves.
Karen Rabren, PhD is Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Special Education at Auburn University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in areas of disability and transition. She also conducts research, training, and outreach in her role as Associate Director of the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute. Her career in education has included an array of other roles, including: general and special education teacher, state department education administrator, and consultant. Dr. Rabren has devoted most of her career to the area of transition. Her current work in this area includes curriculum, local program partnerships, and postschool outcomes. Prior to becoming a faculty member at Auburn, Dr. Rabren directed Alabama’s five-year systems change grant project in transition. During this time period, the Alabama student tracking program was developed and initiated. This follow-along program is now in its 11th year of operation and has collected in-school and postschool information on over 14,000 students with disabilities in the state.
Patti Ralabate, a speech and language pathologist from Danbury, Connecticut, joined the National Education Association (NEA) Student Achievement Department as Senior Professional Associate for Special Needs in 2002. She serves as NEA’s key expert on special education. In her current position, she coordinates the work of the NEA IDEA Cadre and develops programs to support NEA members who work with students with disabilities. She recently authored Meeting the Challenge: Special Education Tools that Work for All Kids (2002) and co-authored The New IDEA Survival Guide (2000) and IDEA and ESEA: The Intersection of Access and Outcomes (2003). Prior to joining NEA’s staff, Patti served in numerous Association advocacy and leadership positions, including as a member of the NEA IDEA/Special Education Cadre, NEA’s Cross-Unit Work Team on IDEA, and NEA’s Task Force on Inclusion, and Chair and Vice Chair of the NEA Caucus for Educators of Exceptional Children. In addition, she represented the Association on several national decision-making bodies, such as the ASPIIRE (Association of Service Providers Implementing IDEA Reforms in Education) Partnership, a collaborative effort of key national special education organizations, and the OSEP Expert Planning Panel, a group of 80 nationally recognized special education researchers and advocates.
Nancy Reder has served as the National Association of State Directors of Special Education’s (NASDSE) Deputy Executive Director and Director of Government Relations since 2000. She has more than 25 years of experience working on policy issues affecting children and families. Ms. Reder began her professional career as a school social worker and a social worker working with Vocational Rehabilitation clients and abused and neglected children and their families. After completing law school, she began working on policy issues affecting children and families, first for the League of Women Voters Education Fund and then for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families. She joined NASDSE after working for The Finance Project, a small nonprofit in Washington, DC, where she wrote a book on federal funding for out-of-school time programs, which was turned into a database for former Vice President Gore’s Reinventing Government Web site. Ms. Reder received her BA and MSW degrees from the University of Michigan and her JD from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.
Curtis Richards is a nationally recognized leader in the disability community. For three years, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. In that capacity, Richards administered more than $10 billion of national programs in special education, disability research, and vocational rehabilitation for youth and adults with disabilities. Since leaving government, Richards has formed his own public policy consulting and lobbying business, The Advocrat Group, on issues of disability, education, and employment. Before trekking to Washington, Curtis was Chief Consultant to the California State Assembly’s Budget Committee, where he guided strategy for legislative discussion, modification, and adoption of a state spending plan. As he did for several years, Richards held specific budget responsibilities for key programs and departments serving people with disabilities, including special education, vocational rehabilitation, aging and long term care, mental health, and developmental services. From 1991-1995 Richards served as Assistant Director for Consumer Affairs in the California Department of Rehabilitation. He also served as Consultant to a California State Assembly committee on higher education from 1985-1991 and, before that, lobbied for California State University students for five years.
Ruth Ryder is Director of the Division of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education. The Division of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning has responsibility for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act formula grant programs Part B, 619, and Part C, as well as State Improvement Grants, General Supervision Enhancement Grants, the Regional Resource and Federal Centers, and the National Monitoring Center. Ms. Ryder has been with OSEP since 1988, all 16 years with the formula grant division. She has been Director of the Division since 1995 and in that time has focused her energies on developing a more results-oriented monitoring process. Prior to that she was Branch Chief of the monitoring branch from 1990-1995, a monitoring team leader from 1989-90, and a monitor from 1988-89. Prior to joining OSEP, Ms. Ryder was a program administrator for a school district in Washington State with responsibility for an OSERS-funded special education demonstration project examining integrated service delivery models for including children with disabilities in general education. She also administered the ESEA Title 1 and Title 2 programs, state-remediation, gifted education, outcome-based education, and state- and district-wide testing programs—it was a small district! Ruth has also been a special education consulting teacher and a general education classroom teacher.
Heidi Schmidt lives in New Jersey with her parents. Her early education included Acorn Montessori and public elementary schools. In 5th grade she began reading to younger children. Entering high school in 1999, she chose a career in early childhood education and experienced working in different preschools. She earned gold medals at two Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America State Leadership Conferences in 2003 and 2004 (Story Book Ethics category). Heidi completed Hunterdon County Polytech Childhood Development Careers Program and graduated from North Hunterdon High School. She is currently volunteering at Immaculate Conception School Preschool working with 3- and 4-year-olds. In May 2005, Heidi completed the CDA course requirements and is preparing for her final assessment. Heidi attended dance classes for 15 years and is an accomplished dancer. She loves the beach and has begun her 9th summer working in a taffy shop.
Susan Sclafani, PhD is Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). As Assistant Secretary, Dr. Sclafani serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary on all matters related to vocational and adult education. She also coordinates department programs and recommends policies to ensure that all Americans have the knowledge and technical skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce. Through the Preparing America’s Future Initiative, Dr. Sclafani is working to mobilize effective and scientifically-based state and local high school reform initiatives, to support America’s community colleges, and to improve adult education programs. Previously, Dr. Sclafani worked in a variety of roles at the Houston Independent School District, culminating in Chief of Staff for Educational Services. During that time, she coordinated activities directly involved in the education of children, including school administration, educational programming, legal services, and reading initiatives. Prior to that, she was a teacher of mathematics, a magnet school leader, and a central office administrator in the departments of technology, curriculum development, and construction management.Dr. Sclafani received her A.B. degree from Vassar College, her M.A. in Germanic Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago, and her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Sclafani participated in the Cooperative Superintendency Program at the University of Texas while completing her doctoral work. She is also a charter member of Superintendents Prepared, an initiative to identify and train the next generation of urban superintendents.
Robert Shepherd, Field Research Coordinator for the Institute for Applied Research at SUNY Potsdam, began working with students with disabilities in 1979 as a vocational educator in a regional education agency serving 18 component districts in rural northern New York. In 1996, Mr. Shepherd conducted the first New York State Postschool Indicators Survey, which has evolved into a five-year longitudinal study of 12,000 students from several hundred districts throughout the state. He and his team of trained interviewers have surveyed students from the classes of 2000 and 2001 as seniors and at one year post-high school; they plan to interview the same students at three and five years after high school. The study provides information about the education, work, and non-work activities that engage students after high school and what factors help to determine success.
David Sienko is Secondary Transition Coordinator for the Rhode Island Department of Education, Office of Special Populations. From 1997-2001, David administered several state and federal grants at the Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College (RIC), including Rhode Island Transition-Independence-Employment, the federal systems change grant for transition. Before moving to RIC, David was Program Director for the Blackstone Valley Arc and developed transition service programs for youth with developmental disabilities in Pawtucket, Central Falls, and East Providence schools from the early 1980’s through 1994. David has an MA in special education from Rhode Island College and is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College and Providence College. He is Chair of the Rhode Island Transition Council, an interagency council designed to address service needs of youth in transition. In 2002, David was the recipient of the George F. Moore Award from the Rhode Island Rehabilitation Association for advocacy for the employment of people with disabilities. He is currently Vice Chair of the Rhode Island Rehabilitation Council.
Marlene Simon-Burroughs, PhD is Associate Division Director for Secondary Education, Transition, and Postsecondary Projects at OSEP. In this position, Dr. Simon-Burroughs provides leadership to the Research-to-Practice Division that administers OSEP’s investments in education research, model demonstration, technical assistance, personnel training, technology, and evaluation relating to secondary education, transition, and postsecondary outcomes for youth with disabilities. She also helps to guide OSEP’s collaboration with other federal partners such as the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration as well as a host of external partners. Prior to joining OSEP, she worked as a Project Coordinator with the National Transition Network where she focused on providing technical assistance in implementing community-based vocational programs. She has also worked for San Francisco State University as a Research Associate conducting studies on community-based instructional programs and inclusion and as a Field Supervisor/Teacher Trainer in the Learning Handicapped Teacher Credential Program. Dr. Simon-Burroughs holds a PhD in special education from the University of California at Berkeley with emphases in secondary education, special education policy, and family involvement.
Michael Slade is an Education Program Specialist serving as OSEP State Contact for Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, New York State Department of Education; and Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, Maryland State Department of Education. He has been a Technical Support Specialist with the District of Columbia (DC) Public School system; a Case Manager/Service Coordinator/Contract Monitor with the DC Child and Youth Services Unit, Residential Placement Unit; a Forensic Psychiatric Technician with the DC Commission on Mental Health Services; and a Correctional Officer with the DC Department of Corrections. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Leadership/Systems Change Program at The George Washington University with research interests in career education and special education.
Garnett Smith, EdD earned his doctorate in secondary special education from the University of Northern Colorado in 1981. His experience includes working in secondary transition programs in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. He has also served as Co-chair of the Alabama Select Committee on Transition (1985) and as a member of the Association for Career and Technical Education Special Needs Career and Technical Education Task Force on the Reauthorization of IDEA ‘97. Since 1990, Dr. Smith has been employed as a graduate faculty member of both the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH), and the UH Center for Disability Studies. During his tenure at UH he has served as technical advisor to the Hawaii Career Placement Opportunities Project and the Hawaii Department of Education Interagency Transition Project. He is also a technical consultant to the Educational Assessment and Transition Project, American Samoa Department of Education. His current research interests and activities include whole-school systems change at the secondary level, the creation of the Nine Principles of Teaming (with Bob Stodden), and working within the National Network of School Renewal to create or to improve school/university partnerships.
Scott Snyder, MPH, Public Health Analyst, is Program Officer for the Healthy & Ready to Work (HRTW) Initiative at the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). The HRTW Initiative aims to address the special issues facing youth with chronic health conditions and disabilities who are preparing to make the transition from school to work and greater independence. Through this initiative, MCHB aims to help develop family-centered, culturally competent systems of care for this population of adolescents. Mr. Snyder has almost twenty years of public health experience working at the community, state, and national levels. He has a B.S. in cellular biology from the University of Kansas and a MPH with a major in international health from the University of Miami. While working on his MPH he studied in Ecuador and Haiti. He has an interest in medical anthropology and is an advocate for affordable health care, eliminating health disparities, and teen pregnancy prevention, among other issues.
Robert Stodden, PhD is Past President of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Board of Directors. Professionally trained in psychology, special education, and rehabilitation, he has served for more than twenty-five years as a national leader in the fields of special education, school to adult transition, postsecondary education, and employment for persons with disabilities. Since 1988, he has served as the founding director of the Center on Disability Studies (a University Center for Excellence on Disabilities) and Professor of special education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also serves as the originator and director of the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports and the National Technical Assistance Center for the Employment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Over the past 25 years, Dr. Stodden has served as Principal Investigator/Director for more than 100 research and training projects focused upon improving the quality of life for all persons with disabilities. In 1995, he was selected as a Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Senior Policy Fellow, working in the U.S. Senate to develop and draft policy language for major pieces of disability legislation. In addition to serving as the President of the Board for AUCD, he serves on policy committees of the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers and as a member of the Board of Directors for Division on Developmental Disabilities, International Council for Exceptional Children.
Sue Swenson is Assistant Executive Director for chapter, membership, and program services at The Arc of the U.S. Sue was U.S. Commissioner for Developmental Disabilities during the Clinton administration, where she was responsible for federal oversight of Developmental Disability Act programs in every state and territory. During her tenure, the DD Act was reauthorized to include authorization of family support and direct support worker programs and family-driven family support programs were piloted throughout the U.S. As Commissioner, she co-chaired both the Youth Subcommittee of the President’s Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities and the DD Subcommittee of the President’s Task Force to Reduce Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children. After leaving government in 2001, Sue served as Executive Director of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation and worked as a Kennedy Public Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability 1996, where she worked on IDEA and the DD Act for Chairman Bill Frist. Sue has an MBA from the University of Minnesota and holds bachelors and master’s degrees in interdisciplinary humanities from the University of Chicago. She graduated from Partners in Policymaking in Minnesota in 1989, where Ed Roberts told her, “Never let anyone tell you parents don’t belong in this movement.” Sue and her husband have three sons, one of whom, Charlie, has developmental disabilities. Charlie is 22 years old, out of school, and up to his eyeballs in transition.
Martha Thurlow, PhD is Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota. In this position, she addresses the implications of contemporary U.S. policy and practice for students with disabilities, including national and statewide assessment policies and practices, standards-setting efforts, and graduation requirements. Dr. Thurlow has conducted research involving special education for the past 35 years in a variety of areas, including assessment and decision making, learning disabilities, early childhood education, dropout prevention, effective classroom instruction, and integration of students with disabilities in general education settings.
Darlean Urban graduated from Espanola High School in 1980; Northern New Mexico Community College in 1982; and Anderson Baptist School in 1989. During 1988-91, she was a senior representative and supervisor for Victory Christian Academy. She has also been a teaching assistant with special programs at Robertson High School. Currently, she is employed by the Las Vegas City Schools Administrative Office. She is married to Deputy Sheriff Joe Robert Urban and is the proud mother of Ernie Vigil.
Ernie Vigil is a graduate of Robertson High School. He works at AutoZone in Las Vegas. He plans to attend Luna Community College to pursue law enforcement and auto mechanics. He is the proud father of Esteban.
Mary Wagner, PhD is Principal Investigator of OSEP’s National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), which is assessing the characteristics, experiences, and results of a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 secondary school-age youth who were receiving special education services in 2000 and who will transition to young adulthood during the 10-year span of the study. Dr. Wagner served in a similar role for the original National Longitudinal Transition Study (1983-1993), which helped shape federal special education policy for a decade. Dr. Wagner, and the 65-person staff of SRI International’s Center for Education and Human Services, which she directs, conduct research and evaluation on many aspects of disability policy and other issues affecting children, youth, and families across the age range.
Gregg Weltz has over twelve years of professional experience in the domestic and international youth development field, including expertise in policy development and program design, implementation, and management at both the local and national levels. Currently, Mr. Weltz serves as Program Manager for the Department of Labor’s Office of Youth Services. Previously, he was a national youth employment program and policy expert for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Youth Opportunity Grant initiative, a five-year, $1.25 billion federal investment in 36 high-poverty communities. In this capacity, Mr. Weltz was responsible for the delivery of technical assistance and project management and also served as the initiative’s chief information officer. Mr. Weltz served in the Department of Labor’s Office of Policy and was a key member of the 1998 legislative staff team responsible for developing the current national youth employment and training policy under the Workforce Investment Act. Mr. Weltz served for five years as Youth Program Director of a large community-based organization in California. In addition, he spent 18 months as a secondary school teacher in Zimbabwe. Recently, Mr. Weltz was on loan to the Peace Corps as a youth development consultant, where he conducted a global scan of youth employment programming both within and outside of the Peace Corps. Mr. Weltz has a Master of Management of Youth Services from Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Welfare.
Joan Wills is Director of the Center for Workforce Development (CWD), which concentrates its work on the development and improvement of employment-related learning systems in the U.S., including development of new tools (such as skill standards); systems improvements (such as transition from school to work, adult literacy programs); and capacity of institutions (such as employer-led organizations to work with education institutions and youth serving agencies). CWD is the lead organization for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. The Collaborative includes 10 organizations representing both general workforce development and disability expertise. The Center works with such organizations as the National Association of Manufacturers and several other industry groups to develop standards and work-based education and training products and services.