Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor
President Donald J. Trump nominated R. Alexander Acosta to be the 27th United States Secretary of Labor. He was sworn in on April 28, 2017.
Secretary Acosta is the son of Cuban refugees, a native of Miami, and first-generation college graduate. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University.
Following law school, he worked as a law clerk for Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He then worked at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and went on to teach at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law.
Secretary Acosta has served in three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions. In 2002, he was appointed to serve as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, where he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions. In 2003, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and from 2005 to 2009 he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Most recently, Secretary Acosta served as the dean of the FIU College of Law.
Secretary Acosta has twice been named one of the nation’s 50 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine. He was also named to the list of 100 most influential individuals in business ethics in 2008. In 2013, the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Chairman’s Higher Education Award in recognition of his “outstanding achievements, leadership and determination throughout a lifetime of caring and giving back to the community.”
Chris Sparks, Executive Director, Exceptional Persons, Inc.
I have been working in the field of disability services for nearly thirty years. For the past 25 years (the last 18 as Executive Director), I have been employed by Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI). At EPI we place fundamental importance upon the values of self-direction, community membership, meaningful choice, quality, customer satisfaction, collaboration and stewardship.
Continuous learning is important to me. I have earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa and later a Master’s degree in Public Administration - with an emphasis in non-profit management - from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2009 I completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work (Clinical emphasis) from the University of Northern Iowa, became a licensed social worker, and I am doing clinical work part-time with individuals and couples at our local mental health center.Additionally, I have become a certified facilitator of Franklin Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Workshop.
Lizette Stiehr, Executive Director, Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities
I want to introduce myself, with great excitement, as the first Executive Director for the Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities, more frequently known as AADD. It is a thrilling opportunity for me to once again work closely with the Association. I served as Treasurer for four years (2002 – 2006) and in that role completed the IRS 501 (c) 3 paperwork, making AADD a formal non-profit.
In my forty years in Alaska I have worked in Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services and in the field. Upon first arriving in Alaska I worked for Hope as their Director of Services. Three years later, Bob Gregovich, from DMHDD (now reconfigured as SDS), offered me a contract to research and document a prioritization of services for individuals experiencing developmental disabilities. The framework I developed and subsequent publications were used by the Governor’s Council for many years to follow. I worked next in DHSS’s Division of Public Health as a Program Manager helping to develop the Early Intervention system in Alaska. Eleven years later I moved back into the field as the Executive Director of FOCUS. During my seven years as their director many developmental disability services were added to a well-respected Infant Learning Program.
Attempting retirement unsuccessfully, I returned to FOCUS’s Infant Learning Program (ILP) for the next eight years, eventually becoming the ILP Director for three Infant Learning locations. I was excited about AADD’s new half time position, applied and was offered the Executive Director role which began on June 2, 2014.
As the new Executive Director, I’m excited about the opportunity to connect and work with you as AADD implements our mission and the goals of our strategic plan to build and maintain strong alliances with your important organization. It is as we work together that the system serving individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities is strengthened. Thank you for the work you do in this field.
Brett Guthrie, U.S. Representative (R-KY)
Congressman Brett Guthrie represents Kentucky's Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Second District is home to Fort Knox, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, Mammoth Cave National Park, and many of the Commonwealth’s most treasured locations.
Congressman Guthrie serves on both the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for the 115th Congress. The Energy and Commerce is the oldest standing legislative committee in the House with broad jurisdiction over our nation’s energy, healthcare, telecommunications and consumer product safety policies.
Guthrie also serves on the following subcommittees for Energy and Commerce: Subcommittee on Health, where he serves as Vice Chair; Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; and Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. He serves as the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee.
Recognized for his proven leadership, he was also appointed to serve as an Assistant Whip within the Republican Conference and as a regional representative to the Republican Policy Committee.
During his tenure in Congress, Guthrie previously served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as the Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he was named the top Republican on the Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness Subcommittee.
Guthrie graduated in 1987 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in economics and went on to serve as a Field Artillery Officer in the 101st Airborne Division – Air Assault at Fort Campbell. Guthrie later earned a Master's Degree from Yale University in Public and Private Management.
Congressman Guthrie comes from a small business, manufacturing background. Following his military service, he joined Trace Die Cast, the Bowling Green, Ky., based manufacturing business that was started by his father.
First elected to public office in 1998, Guthrie represented the 32nd District in the Kentucky Senate. In Frankfort, he served on the Education Committee, the Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee, and chaired the Transportation Committee.
Married to the former Beth Clemmons, they have three children, Caroline, Robby and Elizabeth.
Jim Langevin, U.S. Representative (D-RI)
Throughout his career, Congressman Jim Langevin (LAN'-jih-vin) has made Rhode Island’s priorities his own and fought to open the doors of government to its rightful owners - the people of this great nation.
Recognized as a national and party leader on national security, health care and cybersecurity, Congressman Jim Langevin has dedicated his many years of public service at the federal and state levels to the hard-working citizens of Rhode Island.
Langevin is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Ranking Member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, and also serves on the Subcommittees on Seapower and Projection Forces and Tactical Air and Land Forces. As a supporter of the critical national security work done by Rhode Island’s defense industry, he has worked in committee to double production of the extraordinary Virginia Class Submarines built in Quonset, meeting military needs and creating hundreds of new jobs.
After fulfilling an eight-year term on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Langevin returned as a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, where he serves as a member of the Subcommittees on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications.
As part of the Democratic Leadership team, Langevin serves as both a Democratic Regional Whip for New England and a member of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s Senior Whip Team. In these roles, he is responsible for educating other Democratic members on key issues and helping to craft the party’s strategy and legislative agenda.
Securing our nation’s technology infrastructure against cyber attack is a top priority for Langevin. As the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, he led the way in raising awareness of cybersecurity issues in Congress and fostering dialogue and debate on the critical questions surrounding this topic. He co-chaired the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, which made policy recommendations to President Obama. Langevin has introduced the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act to ensure consumers are appropriately alerted when their sensitive information is compromised. To further improve cybersecurity, he has also introduced the Executive Cyberspace Coordination Act, which aims to strengthen the country’s defenses against cyber threats and reflects concerns listed in the Commission’s report, including the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.
As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, Langevin advocates to improve and increase access to training that gives students and workers the skills that best fit the needs of expanding industries. Among efforts to boost Rhode Island’s workforce, he has launched a competition to introduce high school students to the rapidly growing cybersecurity field and has helped obtain funding to start other workforce development initiatives. The Counseling for Career Choice Act that Langevin introduced in February 2015 would support the development of comprehensive career counseling programs to ensure that high school students are made fully aware of their career and education options prior to graduation.
A voice for those facing serious challenges, Langevin championed passage of a bipartisan bill to expand services for families caring for their elderly and disabled loved ones and authored a breakthrough law to protect foster youth. He is a strong advocate for inclusion and independence for people with disabilities, and helped pass the ADA Amendments Actthat strengthened the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
His commitment to advancing the science of stem cell research has earned Langevin recognition as a national leader who works tirelessly to educate and encourage his colleagues to embrace medical research in all of its forms. Langevin helped champion the passage of legislation to expand the federal policy on embryonic stem cell research and proudly joined President Obama in 2009 as he signed an Executive Order lifting the Bush Administration’s restrictions on embryonic stem cell funding.
In the 114th Congress (2015-16), Langevin prioritized rebuilding the economy through workforce development, strong skills training and a focus on growth sectors in Rhode Island including IT, cybersecurity, health care and the food economy. He is advocating investments in the middle class, a balanced approach to tax reform and a budget that reduces the deficit without enacting additional cuts to social safety net programs.
Kim Opsahl, Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects, ANCOR
Kim Opsahl is ANCOR’s Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects. In this role, she serves as the liaison to ANCOR’s State Association members and leads special projects, like ANCOR’s ACL Business Acumen grant-related activities.
She brings over 20 years’ experience working with state government and advocating on behalf of programs and services for Hoosiers with disabilities. Prior to working with ANCOR, she served as the President/CEO for the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (INARF). In that role, she was responsible for developing and directing the Association’s resources in order to meet the needs of Indiana’s disability service provider industry.
During her nearly thirteen years with INARF – three as President/CEO - Kim graduated summa cum laude from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. During that time, she also received her Health Law Certificate, served as the Indiana Health Law Review (IHLR), Vol. X’s Executive Business Editor, and had her law review note – Using Integrated Care to Meet the Challenge of the ADA’s Integration Mandate: Is Managed Long-Term Care the Key to Addressing Access to Services? – selected by IHLR for publication. She was admitted to practice in the State of Indiana in October 2014.
Laura Vegas, Project Director for MCO Business Acumen, NASDDDS
Laura Vegas has more than 24 years of experience working in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Prior to joining NASDDDS, Laura was the Director of Employment and Community First CHOICES and Select Community for BlueCross/BlueShield of TN. Employment and Community First CHOICES is TN’s new Managed Long Term Services and Supports HCBS program for people with IDD that went live July 1, 2016.
Laura also worked for the TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for more than 17 years, serving most recently as Assistant Commissioner for Policy and Innovation. While at DIDD, the NCI project launched under her leadership. She also lead the Department in receiving Person Centered Systems accreditation from CQL, the Supporting Families CoP and the Becoming a Person Centered Organization CoP,
Laura began her career by working for a non-profit IDD provider organization in Tennessee.
Erica Lindquist, Senior Director of the Disability Network Business Acumen Center, NASUAD
Erica Lindquist is the Senior Director of the Disability Network Business Acumen Center at the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD). In that role, she manages the Business Acumen for Disability Organizations Resource Center.
Prior to joining NASUAD, she worked at the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) where she was responsible for project management and research related to quality measure development for LTSS and person-driven care, and was instrumental in the recent release of the accreditation standards for LTSS.
Before joining NCQA, she spent seven years in managed care operations at a FIDE-SNP in Wisconsin which offered full acute, primary and long-term care services to frail elders and those with physical and/or intellectual or developmental disabilities. Erica received her master’s degree in Gerontology from Bethel University and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin - Stout.
ANCOR extends its gratitude to DCI, the exclusive sponsor of the 2018 Policy Summit & Hill Day