Gerald Bernard has 30+ years experience supporting individuals with disabilities. Doctorate in Education from the University of Vermont. Was a CARF surveyor for over 15 years. Currently, the Executive Director at the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg SC, serving over 1,600 individuals in a variety of day, work and residential settings. Worked extensively in New York, Connecticut and Vermont before moving to South Carolina seven years ago. Extensive background in creating innovative models of services by partnering with others and creating a culture of innovation and person centered thinking. Passionate about helping others to have control over their lives. Believes in leading from behind giving others the opportunity to excel. Born in Heidelberg Germany, married to Wendy with two daughters Hannah & Ellie. Enjoys reading historical novels, huge soccer fan, and yes a New England Patriots fan as well.
Jean Bezek has over the last 15 years served as a technology and workflow consultant for hundreds of for-profit and non-profit entities. She excels in solution architecture, and enjoys finding a way to use technology to improve processes and outcomes.
Jean is currently an Account Representative at MediSked LLC, located in Rochester NY and serves on the board of Causewave Community Partners and Easter Seals NY.
Alice Brouhard is a champion of the use of technology, especially tablet technology, to support people with memory and cognitive challenges. She has worked tirelessly to set up a system that allows her daughter who sustained a serious TBI to live independently despite significant disabilities. Alice sits on the Colorado Assistive Technology Coalition through the University School of Medicine and speaks nationally at conferences on the use of high tech and low tech options to promote self sufficiency. Alice is a founding member of Colorado based Families at the Forefront of Technology and serves on the steering committee for their annual conference. She has developed and teaches classes at Colorado Mountain College on the use of iPad and iPhones.
Alice, and her husband and daughter live in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. They are recent recipients of the 2016 Garfield County ColoradoHumanitarian Service award "Inspiring Hope."
Kara Brouhard sustained a severe traumatic brain injury at age 5 when she was stuck by an out of control skier. As she says, "I have overcome many obstacles in my life. Now, I lead a fine life in my own house. I am active in my community. I do lots of volunteer work so that I may give to others. I am very successful in my own life. I am successful because I listen to Paddy (my iPad) and follow what my prompts tell me to do. And I am very successful in taking care of my dog Phoebe Ann."
Kara is the first to tell people, “I don't have disabilities – I have abilities!” She leads a self determined life in her own house despite many challenges from her TBI. Mainstream technology supports her independence and self-sufficiency. She likes to speak to others and share her success and is a member of Families at the Forefront of Technology and presents at their annual conference. And she loves to show off her “smart home” to others!
Rene Burke holds a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management from Robert Morris University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and has over 29 years experience including the fields of medical/surgical nursing, renal and liver transplantation, research, nursing management, and non-profit management. For over ten years, she provided leadership as the Director of Health Services and Director of Professional Services at Allegheny Valley School (AVS), a subsidiary of NHS Human Services, supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disability. She now serves as a project consultant. Ms. Burke's consultative work with NHS focuses on the research, development, and design of methods to incorporate assistive technology into existing or new care models. She provides comprehensive reviews of potential vendors and assists with the development of technology programs that work towards increasing quality of care along with increasing access to technology. In addition to the increase of quality and access, all of these are designed with the potential of reducing the costs of providing care.
Katherine Carol and Mikelle Learned are speakers, authors and innovators. Mikelle graduated ‘outstanding’ senior from her high-school, pioneering full inclusion and participation in the Denver Public School system. But she wasn’t done there, she started her own business, spoke to Congress and purchased her own home. All with aid of technology.
Katherine likes to optimize systems assisting people to do their best work. Her wealth of professional experience includes involvement in nonprofit rehabilitation, for-profit leadership, and management arenas. Katherine is currently co-chair of the State Rehabilitation Council's Employment First Committee and former chairperson of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, Board Member for the Washington Initiative on Supported Employment, and former chairperson and founding chair of Denver Options (now called Rocky Mountain Human Services), a community centered board for persons with developmental disabilities in Colorado.
Katherine and her daughter, Mikelle have worked as tireless advocates in the disability field. As bloggers, writers and speakers they continue to advocate for 21st Century Rehabilitation Solutions for today’s evolving community.
Geoff Cooper is President of CaraSolva delivering Electronic Point of Care software for I/DD healthcare providers. Previously he was CIO of Sunrise Medical a manufacturer of Home Medical Equipment including: Hoyer Lifts, Quickie wheelchairs and Dynavox speech devices. Geoff served on the University of Colorado Business School IT Advisory Board, and taught the Technology and Privacy class. He is a past President of the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Information Management (SIM), and was previously named to the CIO magazine High Performance 100. Geoff obtained a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a MBA from the University of Michigan.
Joshua DeZurik is the Director of Program Technology for Dungarvin, Inc., a national provider supporting over 3000 individuals in 14 states. His lifelong love of technology and problem solving combined with his program service background made this a perfect fit. He coordinated the national multi phase rollout of the EMR system and is currently developing national standards for EMR use focusing on efficiency, best practice, and data leveraging. Prior to this role, Josh worked 7 years on the operations side of services for people with disabilities as a program director then director.
Nicola Dickinson is a founding partner at Altus Dynamics. Prior to starting Altus, Nicola had extensive volunteering experience in community based nonprofits working closely in programs for abused children. This work inspired Nicola to harness her love for technology to better help nonprofits. Nicola has worked with some notable clients like - Vancouver Olympics, The Macarthur Foundation and Big Brothers and Big Sisters in delivering technology and services for more efficient operations in Nonprofits. Nicola has hands on experience in workforce planning, accounting management, program and client management across over 200 community based nonprofits since 2003.
Christopher DiRosa began in the field of serving individuals with developmental disabilities 5 years ago as a direct support professional. Over this time he has worked in multiple roles as an Adaptive Technology Instructor and SmartHome Supervisor with Imagine!,a service organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities located in Colorado. Chris is responsible for the implementation of many innovative efficiencies and adaptive SmartHome technologies designed to better meet the needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities. He has been a strong advocate for incorporating technology into residential settings and has point of care knowledge in a variety of systems that are being used by service providers in the field. Chris works closely with multiple non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) serving on board of directors for organizations and as a consultant internationally in training and implementing individualized solutions for individuals with developmental disabilities in the developing world.
Trevor Ducharme is the Director of Administration at Robin Hood overseeing Human Resources, Information Technology, Scheduling, Payroll, and Systems. Robin Hood Association is a registered non-profit organization committed to excellence in assisting individuals with disabilities to achieve their personal best and experience a quality lifestyle. Robin Hood Association is the primary provider of services to children and adults with disabilities in Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and surrounding areas, currently serves approximately 300 adults and 350 children, and their families, and currently employs over 530 staff.
Karleen Haines holds degrees from the State University of New York in Psychology and Management. She's worked in the field of I/DD for over 17 years and is an adjunct Professor at Suffolk Community College, instructing an Introduction to Developmental Disabilities Course.
Ms. Haines is currently the Chief of Care Coordination for Partner's Health Plan in Manhattan; the first managed care plan in the U. S. for adults with I/DD.
Erika Harding leads the replication process and team at the ECHO Institute as the Director of Global Replication Initiatives. She received her International Baccalaureate (IB) from the United World College of the American West, a BA in political science from Barnard College and did her graduate work at Univ. of New Mexico (UNM) in Latin American Studies. She has a long history of work in public education, public health policy and health education. She served as Education and Outreach Manager for UNM Health Science Center’s Project ECHO®, and was responsible for the design and implementation ECHO's flagship Diabetes Community Resource Education Worker (CREW) training program, which has been the model for other Community Health Worker (CHW) training initiatives based on the ECHO model of care. She now leads ECHO’s global replication initiatives, facilitating the U.S. and global scaling of the ECHO Model. With more than 90 ECHO hubs spread across the US and 16 additional countries worldwide and more than two hundred more replication partners in development, ECHO is being adapted to expand access to knowledge resources and meet the needs of underserved communities around the world.
Connie Melvin is the Director of Innovation and Future Works at Black Hills Works. In her 13 years with the company, she has worked in a variety of capacities – from resource and support to residential supervision. Four years ago, she had the opportunity to develop an assistive technology program from the ground up. In addition to establishing a highly regarded outcome based program she has also successfully organized an annual regional AT conference, had the honor of leading a stellar team of professionals who are dedicated to helping people with disabilities live their dreams through the implementation of technology, and has become a greatly sought after speaker and consultant. Connie’s education includes a MA in Counseling Psychology & Education. She is a graduate of Leadership Rapid City and of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities.
Andy Minnion is Professor of Media Advocacy and Director of RIX Research and Media at the University of East London, a Centre that takes an inclusive and participatory approach to researching applications of digital media for people with intellectual disabilities. RIX develops and pilots software, working methods and implementation strategies for the use of the Web and multimedia to promote choice and control for people with disabilities and their families, with education, health and care service providers. Andy was awarded an MBE for Services to the Education of People with Special Needs’ in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2012.
Tammy Murner is an Assistive Technology Technician at Black Hills works. In her 25 years with the company, she has fulfilled a variety of roles ranging from residential support to job coaching to maintenance assistance. Her wide ranging experience allows her to view every challenge from multiple perspectives, leading to well thought out plans and decisions that directly impact the attainment of personal outcomes for people she supports. Tammy believes that an assumption of competence and focus on abilities is critical to helping people achieve their dreams.
David O'Hara is the Chief Operating Officer of Westchester Institute for Human Development and Associate Professor at the School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College. Technology interests focus on the way smart technologies and accessible software applications can transform the person-centered planning process and outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting self-direction and participation in community living alternatives. This includes how to provide structured supports for decision-making and the use of the Citizen’s Jury process for service model design.
Sherri Portnoy, M.B.A., SPHR has worked in human services since 1994. Prior to joining NHS Human Services, she was employed as a health care consultant for a large law firm in Philadelphia, PA. As Vice President for Administration and Professional Services, her areas of responsibility include staff development, professional services, special projects, strategic planning, liaison to human resources and quality improvement for the division of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities services of NHS Human Services. She serves as Board Member for BARC and is chair of the Human Resources committee. She is a former adjunct faculty member of DeVry University, Philadelphia, PA.
Abe Rafi is charged with enabling The Arc to achieve the digital dimensions of its goals. He has organized and led product development teams to create online communities, mobile applications, websites and business intelligence tools for social change organizations such as Ashoka, Disability Rights International, and The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Abe is a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, having investigated human rights abuses in institutions for people with disabilities and trained human rights activists in Serbia, Turkey, and Russia. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Russia, 2002), a graduate of the University of Michigan and a sibling of a person with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Allen Ray is the CEO and President of SimplyHome, LLC and CMI, Inc.; BS MTE University of Alabama 1982; Licensed PE (1988-1998); Certified Aging in Place Specialist; Since 1988, owned and operated several long-term-care companies dedicated to serving the elderly, veterans, physically disabled as well as children and adults with IID, TBI, MH, MI. Since 2004, SimplyHome has designed, engineered, developed and used enabling and assistive technology to increase independence and lower costs for funders, seniors and people with disabilities or special needs. Allen is a national speaker, presenter and instructor on assistive technology use to international & national associations, state agencies, provider groups as well as US Senate Committee on Aging; former appointee by NC Governor to NC Health Reform Commission and NCDD Managed Care Policy Group; former Board member and officer of NC AAIDD and NC DDFA; active member of several state associations; national member of ARC, NAIPC, AAIDD.
Kaitlyn Richardson, MPP, is the Employment Programs Coordinator at Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities (SCDD), a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is Project Coordinator for the Partnerships in Employment (PIE) Systems Change Project, and the NYS Project SEARCH Coordinator. Before joining SCDD, she worked at schools in Maine and New York and worked on education policy at the federal level in Washington, D.C. Kaitlyn received a Masters of Public Policy from American University and a B.A. in Political Science from SUNY Geneseo. She is also certified to teach Social Studies in New York State 7th through 12th grade.
Shaleea Shields has been with NHS Allegheny Valley School for twelve years. She also worked as the Director of Development for the Western Pa Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.
Shaleea has held several positions during her time with NHS/AVS. Currently, her work consists of projects and committee involvement. She leads a committee writing policy for the IDD Division within NHS, heads the Career Enhancement Program at NHS/AVS, and currently is serving as a project manager on several Assistive Technology initiatives.
Greg Wellem's career began 25 years ago as a direct support professional. For the last 25 years he has worked as the Chief Operating Officer with Imagine!, a service organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities located in Colorado. Greg is responsible for the development of many innovative programs designed to better meet the needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities. He has been a strong advocate for incorporating technology into human services and has developed software solutions that are being used by service providers across the nation. His current focus is on creating and incorporating technology to improve supports for individuals with disabilities. This focus has resulted in the development of Imagine!’s SmartHomes, which serve as a model for future supports for individuals with disabilities. Greg is a national consultant, speaking at conferences and assisting service provider organizations to strategically adopt technology into their services.