Session descriptions

2017 Keynote Presentation

Navigating Change: How to Work on Disability Policy in the New Environment

Speaker:  Kim Musheno, Director of Public Policy, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Session Description:

The speaker will provide a broad overview of the political landscape since the November national election and its impact on the congressional agenda.  She will also review legislation that is likely to come before the 115th Congress and how to advocate for policies that protect and support people with disabilities and families.​

Speaker Bio:

Kim Musheno is the Director of Public Policy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities where she works on federal policy and legislative issues that affect people with developmental disabilities and their families. She also provides leadership as Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of more than 100 national disability organizations. Kim also co-chairs CCD Task Forces working on fiscal policy and Education.

Prior to working at AUCD, Kim was a communications specialist at The Arc of the United States and research assistant at the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD).

During her approximately 20 years working in the field of disability policy, Kim has monitored or worked on nearly every major piece of legislation that affects people with developmental disabilities and their families, including the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Affordable Care Act, and the Autism CARES Act.

During the winter of 2009-10, Musheno joined the University of Delaware as an adjunct professor for an around-the-world comparative and interdisciplinary study of how disability affects the way people live, learn, work, and play. The program travelled with 21 students to Ghana, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, and Thailand.

Kim was presented with a Special Recognition Award for her work advancing national disability policies by the AUCD during the 2011 Conference.

Kim earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in political science and German.

10:15 - 11:25  Concurrent Session 1

Legislative 1

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act


Trey Paradee, Delaware State Representative
Ken Simpler, MBA, JD, Delaware State Treasurer
Rick Kosmalski, BS, MBA, and Parent
Diann Jones, Financial Planner and Parent

Session Description:

On June 30, 2016, Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 358 with amendment 1 into law.  This bill was developed to conform the “Achieving a Better Life Act (ABLE)” Act law to evolve with federal legislation upon which it is based.  This law enables for the creation of ABLE Savings Accounts which allows individuals with disabilities that began before the age of 26 to open a savings account to help build assets and save money for disability related expenses without losing benefits.  This program is to be overseen by a new “ABLE Board” which will consist of members of the Deferred Compensation Council (DCC) and the Delaware College Investment Plan Board (CIB).  This session will discuss the most recent updates to this law and answer any questions regarding ABLE Accounts in Delaware. ​

Speakers Bios:

Trey Paradee was born and raised in Kent County, Delaware. He attended the University of Delaware, where he earned a BA and an MBA. Trey grew up working in a family business. In 2000, Trey began working in the financial services industry. In October of 2011, Trey founded Paradee Financial LLC, where he focuses on wealth management, establishing and maintaining retirement plans for business owners, and helping individuals achieve their financial goals.

Following a longstanding family tradition, Trey has been involved in numerous community activities. Trey currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Boy Scouts of America, Del-Mar-Va Council. He has served for several years as a Special Trustee for the Delaware Technical and Community College Educational Foundation and serves on the College's Development Council. He is a past Board Member of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce. He has served as a mentor for the Boys and Girls Club. He has served on numerous committees to organize local charitable events.

In November of 2012, Trey was first elected to the Delaware House of Representatives to represent the 29th District, which includes Cheswold, parts of Smyrna and Clayton, and areas west of Dover and Wyoming. He is the chairman of the House Energy Committee and the vice chairman of the Telecommunications, Internet, and Technology Committee. Trey also serves on the House committees for Veterans Affairs, Economic Development, Banking, and Insurance, Natural Resources, and Judiciary.

Ken Simpler was elected Delaware State Treasurer on November 4, 2014, and took the oath of office on January 6, 2015. Mr. Simpler is a graduate of the University of Chicago, having received an M.B.A. with honors from the Graduate School of Business and a J.D. with honors from the Law School. Mr. Simpler earned his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Princeton University as a political economy major.

Mr. Simpler was born and raised in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and graduated summa cum laude from St. Andrew's School in Middletown, where he represented the school in Delaware's 30th Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game.

Mr. Simpler is an owner of Seaboard Hotels, which develops and manages hotel and retail properties in Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Nags Head, North Carolina.

Mr. Simpler previously held the position of Managing Director at Citadel, LLC, a global investment fund, where he oversaw a billion dollar portfolio at Citadel and managed personnel in Chicago, San Francisco, New York/Greenwich, London and Tokyo. Among other duties, Mr. Simpler served on Citadel's firm-wide investment committee.

Mr. Simpler began his career as a corporate attorney at Kirkland & Ellis, a national law firm. At K&E, Mr. Simpler worked primarily on private acquisitions and capital raising transactions.

Mr. Simpler lives in Newark with his wife of 25 years, Liz, and their three children.

Rick Kosmalski is a board member of the Delaware DDC and chair of their Policy and Law committee.  Rick, his wife Amy, daughter Kayla (an amazing 10 year old with Down syndrome), son Logan (4) and daughter Brynnley (1), have spent many years working with federal and state legislators to pass the ABLE Act!  Rick is also a member of Delaware's ABLE Taskforce, a board member of the National Down Syndrome Society, President of the 321foundation, board member of Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome, Past Chair of JPMorgan Chase Delaware's networking group for people with disabilities, co-host of the Down Syndrome Radio podcast, and a graduate of Delaware's Partners in Policymaking program.  Rick has a BS in economics from the University of Delaware and a MBA from Wilmington University. 

Diann Jones has deep roots in advocacy and service to the disability community as a parent, advocate, professional, activist and Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor. 

Professionally, she has been in the field of financial planning for twenty-six years, and is the founder and President of Special Needs Planning and Resources, LLC. She assists families with the various strategies on financial and estate planning for their loved one with a disability, mental health issue or Substance Use Disorder -- which includes providing information on the various types of Special Needs Trusts, ABLE accounts, accessing community resources and assistance with navigating government programs and benefits. 

Independence 1

Practical, Affordable Smart Home Technologies for People with Mobility Impairments


Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L, Director, Assistive Technology for Cognition Laboratory, Department of Occupational Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University

Session Description:
This 70-minute presentation will focus on the rapidly evolving field of consumer-level smart home technologies for safety, home automation, communication, and daily living assistance.  Suites from various vendors wlll be compared and contrasted, and recommendations will be made for affordable, user-friendly adaptations.  Case studies will illustrate these solutions.

Speaker Bio:

Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L is an associate professor in the occupational therapy department at Virginia Commonwealth University.  A graduate of Harvard College (BA), New York University (MA OT) and the University of Virginia (PhD), Dr. Gentry is a specialist in neurological rehabilitation whose research career has focused on assistive technology for cognition.

Dr. Gentry has developed and directed innovative programs for individuals with neurological impairments, including a vision rehabilitation clinic, a multi-disciplinary, community-based brain injury day rehabilitation program and an online clinical training curriculum for brain injury practitioners.  He is the director of the Assistive Technology for Cognition laboratory at VCU, which conducts research into the development and utilization of smart homes, electronic cognitive aids, computer games and telehealth applications to support individuals with brain injury, autism and other neurological conditions.

Dr. Gentry has created a prototype interactive social skills game played by super hero avatars, called Super School.  He has established smart homes for people with cognitive behavioral challenges for Virginia’s Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services and at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center Skilled Nursing Facility, Richmond.  He has recently published findings from a NIDRR-funded multi-year study of mobile devices as vocational support aids in autism and a TATRC-funded, multi-year study of smartphone-linked biofeedback coaching for veterans with mTBI and PTSD.  

Dr. Gentry is on the full-time faculty of VCU’s occupational therapy department, where he directs post-professional programs and teaches courses in adult physical disability, supervision and management and assistive technology.  In partnership with his wife, he owns and operates Neurological Expert Therapies, LLC, a rehabilitation therapy company that provides home-based and mobile technological supports and therapies.  

Family 1

Self Advocacy: How to Make Your Work Count


Tia Nelis, Director of Policy and Advocacy, TASH
Elizabeth Weintraub, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
Tommy Fields, President, Delaware People First, Inc.

Session Description:

People with disabilities all over the country are working to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.  The work includes building their own organizations, speaking in public forums, sharing vital information with policymakers, public officials and, most importantly, their peers to educate and bring awareness, and they are creating a world where they are the decision makers.  Panelists will discuss how they have built organizations that cater to self-advocates, how they have graduated from local organizations to national podiums, and how speaking out has brought positive and respected change across the United States.

Speaker Bios:

Tommy Fields is a life-long resident of Delaware and a proud self-advocate.  Tommy was breaking down barriers early in life by attending typical schools and by being an active member of his community in Browntown.  Tommy currently serves as the President of Delaware People First, Inc., Board Member of SODE, and works for Bank of America.  Tommy lives with his wife of 24 years, Tina, in Newark, Delaware.

Tia Nelis is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at TASH.  She is also the President of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered and a board member on the Council on Quality and Leadership.  Tia has presented or done training in all of the US and some other countries and is also the Self-Advocacy Coordinator for Illinois Lend.  She is a licensed Facilitator of the Steven Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  She has designed, held and taught a week long Advanced Leadership Academy, where a group of Advanced Self-Advocacy Leaders come together to strengthen their leadership skills, learn Steven Coveys 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and employment skills.  Tia was also the Principle Investigator for the project.

Tia has helped write and do training around futures planning for people with disabilities and has been a part of the Disability and Sexuality Consortium, that does training around Sexuality for people with disabilities.

Liz Weintraub has a long history of leadership in self advocacy, and has held many board and advisory positions at state and national organizations.

Liz is the immediate past chair of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.  Liz is a faculty member of The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware 

Education 1

Increasing Early Childhood Inclusion Opportunities in Delaware


Kimberly Brancato, Ed.D. Principal Appoquinimink Preschool Center and
Cindy L. Husson Brown, M.Ed., IDEA Part B 619 Coordinator, Delaware Department of Education, Office of Early Learning

Session Description:

The U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services developed an Inclusion Policy Statement in September, 2015.  Both DOE and HHS believe that “though this policy statement focuses on including young children with disabilities, it is our shared vision that all Americans be meaningfully included in all facets of society throughout the life course. This begins in early childhood programs and continues into schools, places of employment and the broader community.” This presentation will review the highlights of this policy, along with state recommendations, progress, and resources.  Participants will have the opportunity to share feedback and brainstorm ways to become involved with increasing inclusion in Delaware.

Speaker Bios:

Kimberly Brancato, Ed.D. has been an administrator in Delaware’s public preschool programs for the last 25 years and is currently the principal of the Appoquinimink Preschool Center in Appoquinimink School District.

Prior to moving to Delaware, Kimberly worked in early intervention in Pennsylvania as a classroom and itinerant teacher working with children birth to 5 years of age. She helped develop a follow-up clinic for babies graduating from the NICU and served as an administrator in that program as well.

Kimberly is currently the chair person for Delaware’s Inclusion workgroup, Expanding Inclusion Early Intervention Opportunities.

Kimberly has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, Masters of Education from Widener University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University.

​Cindy L. Husson Brown has a Master of Science in Special Education Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma. She was the Part C and Part B 619 Coordinator in Maine for the previous 5 years and prior to that she held a number of leadership positions within the lead agency in Maine responsible for Part C and Part B 619 of IDEA. Altogether, she was in that program for 22 years. Prior to that, she taught in public schools in both Maine and Pennsylvania. 

1:15 - 2:25  Concurrent Session 2
Legislative 2
Supported Decision Making: A New Option for Delaware


Patricia Justice, Esq., Executive Assistant Office of the Director, Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, (DSAAPD)
Laura Waterland, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Disabilities Law Program, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Lexie McFassell, Esq., NCG, Delaware Public Guardian
Mrs. Terri Hancharick, Parent and Advocate.

Session Description:

In 2016, Delaware became the second state in the Nation to adopt supported decision-making legislation. The new law authorizes competent individuals to use a simple form published by the State to appoint a supporter to facilitate decision-making in a variety of contexts.   Panelists will discuss the concept of supported decision-making, how the legislation was developed, and how individuals can take advantage of the new law.

Speaker Bios:

Patricia Justice hails from New York State, where she attended St. Lawrence University and earned a BS with a double major of Psychology and Government.  Patricia then continued her education at Widener University School of Law and earned her Juris Doctorate.  She went on to be admitted to practice law in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Patricia was then offered a law clerk position with Judge Bowen with the Superior Court of New Jersey.  She then went on to practice law with a private law firm, handling cases in the areas of bankruptcy, wills & estates, family law and criminal defense.

After years of private practice, she had an opportunity to work in an area that she had great interest in, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)/Mediation.  She joined the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas to run a new court sponsored mediation program.  Patricia thoroughly enjoyed expanding the program and making it a valuable tool for the Court and litigants alike.  It was then time to take on a new challenge and she took a position with DHSS, Division of Public Health (DPH).  As the Executive Assistant to the Division Director at DPH, Patricia put her legal and mediation skills to use handling all personnel issues, labor union issues and was the policy advisor. 

In 2011, the LTC facilities overseen by DPH were transferred to the DHSS Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD).  Patricia was also moved to DSAAPD as part of this transfer, as much of her work duties involved supporting the three LTC facilities.  At DSAAPD, Patricia continues her role with personnel matters and policies and has expanded her skills to regulations, legislation and DHSS committees and Governor’s Commission and the Delaware Guardianship Commission.

Laura J. Waterland, Esq. is the Supervising Attorney with the Disabilities Law Program, focusing her practice on assisting adults with disabilities living in community settings.  She has worked extensively in the areas of ADA and Fair Housing Act compliance and access to community-based services.  Laura has been with Community Legal Aid Society since 1990, working in the poverty program and then in the Disabilities Law Program.  She received her Juris Doctor from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law and her B.A. with Honors in Government and History from the College of William and Mary.

Lexie McFassel has served as the Public Guardian for Delaware since 2009, and the Executive Director for the Delaware Guardianship Commission since 2011, when it was created.  She and the staff of the Office of the Public Guardian are responsible for providing decision-making services to individuals found by the Court of Chancery to lack capacity to make their own decisions, and who have no family or friends to assist them, and are also tasked with state-wide monitoring, in conjunction with the Court, of adult guardianships through the Guardianship Monitoring Program.  In addition to her guardianship duties, she has also worked with advocates in the Disabilities community to provide education about guardianship and alternatives, and to bring more alternatives to guardianship to Delaware.  Prior to being appointed as Public Guardian, Ms. McFassel worked at Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. for nine years in both the Disabilities Law Program and Poverty Law Program, assisting individuals in special education, services and benefits matters, family law matters involving domestic violence and in landlord-tenant matters.  Ms. McFassel received her Juris Doctor, with honors, from Widener University School of Law in 2000 and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas in 1991.  During her law school career she was the recipient of Wolcott Fellowship, and acted as a Wolcott Fellow to the Honorable Joseph T. Walsh, as well as serving a clerkship with the Court of Common Pleas after graduation. She is a National Certified Guardian, a member of the Delaware State Bar Association, and serves on the Elder Law Committee of that Association. 

Terri Hancharick is the mother of 6 children.  Her 29 year old daughter Brigitte has multiple disabilities.  She is the co-founder of EPIC (Endless Possibilities In the Community). Terri is the chair the Governor’s Advisory Council for DDDS, as well as the chair the Adult Issues committee for the Developmental Disabilities Council.  She is a member of the State Council for Persons With Disabilities, and the vice chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.  She serves as the Vice President of the Board of Art Therapy Express.  Terri Hancharick was also co-chairperson of the State Transition Task Force for Emerging Adults with Disabilities and Special Healthcare Needs.

Independence 2
iPad: Unexpected Opportunities Part 1


Bill Ziegler, Assistive Technology Consultant, Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22

Session Description:

The iPad has transformed the way individuals with writing, learning, sensory and physical disabilities succeed in school and beyond. This two-part session will illustrate through wide ranging videos and app demos, the impact of Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning. A broad array of skills and communication levels will be addressed.  Bill Ziegler was a teacher of special education from 1975-1983 at Eastern State School and Hospital. Since 1983 he has been an Assistive Technology Consultant with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in Doylestown, PA. He assists his IU, along with IEP teams in 14 local school districts in Bucks County, to find appropriate assistive technology solutions for students with AAC needs, and physical/learning difficulties. Bill has been an Apple Distinguished Educator since 2003.

Although the focus of this session is on IOS, the functionality demonstrated is often available in Android apps as well.  Attendees are highly encouraged to attend both sessions for complete coverage of the topic.

Speaker Bios:

Bill Ziegler was a teacher of special education from 1975-1983 at Eastern State School and Hospital. Since 1983 he has been an Assistive Technology Consultant with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in Doylestown, PA.  He earned a B.S. in Special Education from Millersville State College and a M.Ed. from Trenton State College. 

He assists his IU, along with IEP teams in 13 local school districts in Bucks County, to find appropriate assistive technology solutions for students with AAC needs, and physical/learning difficulties.  He has presented at numerous state and national conferences on assistive tech accommodations.

Bill has been an Apple Distinguished Educator since 2003 and has presented Mac/iPad AT solutions for Apple in over 35 cities across the country.

Family 2
Where Are the Hippos?


Lauren Janusz, MOT, OTR/L, HPCS, Owner/Occupational Therapist, Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC

Brooke Zuvich, COTA/L, COTA, Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC

Session Description:

The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances of the equine environment and other treatment strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s integrated plan of care. When provided by a licensed and certified therapist, hippotherapy is a covered benefit by the Delaware Medical Assistance Program as part of an occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech language pathology treatment. We will discuss: the history of the horse in medicine; what happens anatomically during hippotherapy; Equine Assisted Therapy- beyond the movement; and the treatment team.​​

Speaker Bios:

Lauren Janusz is an Occupational Therapist and  owner of Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC in Wilmington, DE. The practice offers school based and out patient OT. Since 2012 she has been a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Hippotherapy. She is an active member in the Delaware Occupational Therapy Association and a recent appointee to the Board of Directors of the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. She is a volunteer equestrian, skiing, and soccer coach with Special Olympics Delaware. She enjoys being outdoors with her family when not at work.

Brooke Zuvich graduated from Del Tech in 2013 with her Associate's degree in Occupational therapy. She recently graduated from Wilmington University with a Bachelor's degree in Allied Health.  She plans to get her Master's degree in Occupational therapy.

Brooke has worked/ volunteered  with children with special needs over the last 10 years and has helped to run programs like TopSoccer and Camp Manntio. Brooke works in a SNF as well as Brandywine Occupational therapy LLC.  She loves to ride horses and spends as much of her free time outside as possible.

Education 2
The Reality of Bullying – The Facts, Impact and Solutions


Theresa Sedivec, DAG – Commissioner, New Castle County Family Court
Joe Flinn – School Ombudsman, Delaware Department of Justice
Valerie A. Dunkle, DAG - Administrative Law and Education Unit, Delaware Department of Justice
John Sadowski, Education Associate, School Climate and Discipline – Department of Education

LaKresha S. Roberts, DAG – Director of the Family Division, Delaware Department of Justice

Session Description:

A panel of professionals from the Delaware Department of Justice and Department of Education will discuss bullying, its impact on the school environment and students with disabilities, and the resources available to students and families.  The panel will also discuss how this issue is addressed in the context of school discipline and in the juvenile justice system.  

Speaker Bios:

Ms. Sedivec is currently Commissioner for the New Castle County Family Court. Prior to this, she was the Deputy Attorney General with the Delaware Department of Justice and served as the Unit Head of Juvenile Delinquency and Truancy Unit within the Family Division.  Ms. Sedivec served at the Delaware Department of Justice for over ten years and has tried both civil and criminal cases related to child support, child dependency and neglect and juvenile delinquency.  Ms. Sedivec works closely with the schools, school resource officers and community groups in order to improve the well-being of youth in Delaware.  She participates in several committees dedicated to child advocacy such as the Child Protection Accountability Commission’s committee on Permanency for Adolescents, the Human Trafficking Strategic Planning Committee, and the SMART on Juvenile Justice Committee.

Prior to her career as a state prosecutor, Ms. Sedivec was employed by MBNA America Bank for twelve years.  At MBNA, Ms. Sedivec worked in various departments such as credit lending and marketing.  She obtained her law degree during that time, and in her most recent position at MBNA, served as Assistant Vice President and Counsel.  Ms. Sedivec is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Widener University School of Law.  She is currently admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Delaware and the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Ms. Sedivec participates in mentoring elementary school children through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware.

Ms. Sedivec is married and has two children.

Joseph T. Flinn currently serves as the School Ombudsman/State Detective for the Delaware Department of Justice.  He has held this position since 1996.  In this position he works closely with school administrators, School Resource Officers and the public to address issues related to school crime and bullying incidents.  Prior to his position at the Department of Justice, Mr. Flinn had a 20-year career with Delaware State Police and served as the Director of Delaware Crime Stoppers for three years.

Valerie Dunkle, Esq. is a Deputy Attorney General in the Administrative Law and Education Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice.  Currently, Ms. Dunkle represents the Department of Education’s Exceptional Children’s Resource Group, and is a prosecutor for the Teacher Licensing Group.  She is also general counsel to the State Board of Education. Before joining the Department of Justice, Ms. Dunkle was a criminal defense attorney and assistant public defender for ten years representing juveniles and adults in Superior Court, the Court of Common Pleas and Family Court.  She also taught elementary education in Delaware Schools.  She holds a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law. 

John spent his first twenty years in Delaware education as a teacher, counselor, and administrator at Sussex Tech and POLYTECH High Schools.  Prior to that he worked with at-risk youth as a Job Specialist with the Jobs for Delaware Graduates program.  He is in his fifth year with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) as the Education Associate for School Climate and Discipline.  He has worked in the DDOE School Supports workgroup and currently works within the Exceptional Children Resources workgroup within the Department.  He is responsible for leading the Department’s work on school discipline policy, school safety, bullying prevention, alternative school programming, trauma-informed and restorative practices, truancy, mandatory reporting monitoring, and neglected and delinquent program funding.

John serves as the Secretary of Education’s representative on numerous state committees, councils, and task forces including the Criminal Justice Council, Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, Sex Offender Management Board, Homeland Security Advisory Council, School Discipline Task Force, and SCR 83 School Safety Committee.

​LaKresha S. Roberts is an attorney who has dedicated her career to advocating for children and families in the State of Delaware. LaKresha’s legal career began in 2006 when she became employed as a Mediation/Arbitration Officer in the New Castle County Family Court. In this position, she provided direct services to Family Court litigants by conducting mediation and arbitration hearings. After graduating from Delaware Law School in 2008, LaKresha served as the law clerk to the Honorable Chief Judge Chandlee Johnson Kuhn of Family Court. In this position she honed her knowledge of Family Law and garnered a unique perspective into Family Court matters from a policy and administrative standpoint. LaKresha’s early work in the Family Court set the foundation for her passion for serving children and families through the practice of law.

Upon completing her clerkship, LaKresha began her career at the State of Delaware Department of Justice in the Family Division. In her first six years at the Department of Justice, LaKresha became a well-rounded Family Law litigator having worked in every unit of the Family Division – Child Protection, Child Support, Juvenile Delinquency/Truancy and Domestic Violence.

Attorney General Matthew P. Denn appointed LaKresha to serve as the Director of the Family Division in December 2015. In this position, LaKresha manages a staff of 31 attorneys and 17 assistants/para-professionals statewide. She has continued her work as a zealous advocate by overseeing the prosecution of the Division’s most complex cases and handling public policy and legislation related to children and families.

LaKresha finds volunteer activities to be an integral part of her commitment to serving the community. LaKresha’s volunteerism includes serving on the Statewide Board of Directors of the YMCA and the Food Bank of Delaware. She also mentors young leaders in the YMCA Youth in Government Judicial Competition and mentors bar exam-takers participating in the Delaware Multicultural Judges and Lawyer’s Section Minority Supplemental Bar Review Course. In Summer 2015, LaKresha partnered with the Blood Bank of Delmarva to assist the organization in its efforts to increase the minority donor population in order to establish a Donor Registry to support Sickle Cell patients. Most recently, LaKresha joined the External Affairs Committee of Christiana Care. LaKresha’s charitable efforts were recognized when she was named as an honoree of The Delaware Business Times’ Class of 2015 “40 Under 40,” a list of professionals who are making a positive impact in Delaware’s community through their commitment and innovation.

2:35 - 3:45  Concurrent Session 3
Legislative 3
Delaware’s Implementation of the Home and Community-Based Services Final Rule


Stephen Groff, Director, Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA) and

Jill Rogers, Director, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services

Session Description:

This session will discuss Delaware’s Plan for implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Rule on Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS).  The final HCBS regulations set forth new requirements for Medicaid to provide home and community-based long-term services and supports. The regulations enhance the quality of HCBS and provide additional protections to individuals that receive services under Medicaid.  The Rule requires that all HCBS settings must be integrated in and facilitate full access to the greater community; optimize autonomy and independence in making life choices; provide an opportunity to seek competitive employment; and facilitate choice of services and who provides them.​

Speaker Bios:

Stephen Groff was appointed as Delaware’s Medicaid Director effective January 1, 2013.  Mr. Groff previously served as the Deputy Director of DMMA, the agency responsible for administration of Delaware's Medicaid, CHIP and State Pharmacy Assistance programs.  These programs provide health care coverage to over 200,000 Delawareans.

He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has twenty-nine years of experience with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services focusing on policy and budget in health care and public assistance programs.

Over the last 20 years, Jill Rogers has worked to improve health and health care in Delaware. 

In addition to providing direct patient care, Jill has developed, managed and provided leadership for health and public health policy, programs and services. In her roles as Executive Director of the Delaware Health Care Commission and Director of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, Jill provided strategic leadership as Delaware began transformation of its health care system.

 Throughout her career, Jill has remained focused on improving the lives of families, friends and neighbors across Delaware. She continues this important work in her current role as the Director of Delaware’s Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Independence 3
iPad: Unexpected Opportunities Part 2


Bill Ziegler, Assistive Technology Consultant, Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22

Session Description:

The iPad has transformed the way individuals with writing, learning, sensory and physical disabilities succeed in school and beyond. This two-part session will illustrate through wide ranging videos and app demos, the impact of Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning. A broad array of skills and communication levels will be addressed.  Bill Ziegler was a teacher of special education from 1975-1983 at Eastern State School and Hospital. Since 1983 he has been an Assistive Technology Consultant with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in Doylestown, PA. He assists his IU, along with IEP teams in 14 local school districts in Bucks County, to find appropriate assistive technology solutions for students with AAC needs, and physical/learning difficulties. Bill has been an Apple Distinguished Educator since 2003.

Although the focus of this session is on IOS, the functionality demonstrated is often available in Android apps as well.  Attendees are highly encouraged to attend both sessions for complete coverage of the topic.​

Speaker Bio:
Bill Ziegler was a teacher of special education from 1975-1983 at Eastern State School and Hospital. Since 1983 he has been an Assistive Technology Consultant with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 in Doylestown, PA.  He earned a B.S. in Special Education from Millersville State College and a M.Ed. from Trenton State College. 

He assists his IU, along with IEP teams in 13 local school districts in Bucks County, to find appropriate assistive technology solutions for students with AAC needs, and physical/learning difficulties.  He has presented at numerous state and national conferences on assistive tech accommodations.

Bill has been an Apple Distinguished Educator since 2003 and has presented Mac/iPad AT solutions for Apple in over 35 cities across the country.​

Family 3
Relationships, Rights, Facts & Values: Addressing Sexual Health with People with Disabilities


Catherine Dukes, PhD, Vice President of Education & Training, Sexuality Education Training Institute, Planned Parenthood of Delaware

Lindsey Cain, MEd, Training coordinator, Sexuality Education Training Institute, Planned Parenthood of Delaware

Session Description: 

Providing access to sexual health education as well as facilitating access to romantic relationships for people with disabilities is a critical need.  Silence about sexual health related issues for people with disabilities has made addressing sexual health appropriately challenging for parents, loved ones and staff.  In this workshop we will discuss key aspects of sexual health, relationships, sex education, access to health services, and the 5 P’s guideline of sexual behavior.  We’ll also discuss rights, recommendations and enhance skill building around answering sensitive questions (sex questions!) and the importance of exploring and understanding our values when providing education and care around sexual health.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Dukes is the Vice President of Education and Training for Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Sexuality Education Training Institute since 2006.  In 2011, she led the statewide implementation of the federal PREP grant with her department as the sole sub-awardee.  Thanks to the PREP grant, Planned Parenthood has now reached thousands of Delaware youth with evidence-based teen pregnancy/HIV prevention education.  She is also Associate Professor of Sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco where she earned her a PhD.

Dr. Dukes began her career as an HIV Educator and Volunteer Rape Crisis Advocate.  She served as Director of the Rape Crisis Services through CONTACT Lifeline and five years as a Board Member.  She has also been featured on local and national TV and a Discovery Channel documentary. She has lesson plans published in the curricula “Teaching Safer Sex” and “Sex Ed in the Digital Age.” Dr. Dukes is a regular speaker at national conferences and was the co-chair of the 2013 National Sex Ed Conference as well as associate editor of the book How I Got Into Sex…Ed.  

​​Lindsey Cain is the Training Coordinator at the Sexuality Education Training Institute of Planned Parenthood of Delaware (PPDE). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies from the College at Brockport and a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University. Lindsey has more than 7 years of experience working with youth in a variety of settings including, school-based, after school, reproductive health, and residential facilities. She has worked both as a sexuality educator and counselor in the public school system, as well as support staff for youth with emotional disturbances.  Lindsey has been with Planned Parenthood of Delaware since 2016, working as a sexuality educator and professional trainer. She conducts community education for audiences of all ages in a variety of sexual health related subjects and develops and facilitates professional development for teachers, social workers, and other youth-service providers. Lindsey also has experience delivering sexuality education sessions for youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In addition to her employment at PPDE, Lindsey is also pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Human Sexuality at Widener University.

Education 3
The Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism – What Will it Mean for Delaware Families and Providers?


Kathleen DeNight, Parent Advocate
Dr. Laura Dewey, A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children
Annalisa Ekbladh, Program Manager for Family Support, Autism Delaware

Brian Freedman, PhD, Associate Director, University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies
Teresa Avery, MBA, Executive Director, Autism Delaware

Session Description:

The creation of the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism is the next step in a statewide collaboration that began with the development of Delaware’s Blueprint for Collective Action – the statewide plan for autism services. Housed at the Center for Disabilities Studies, the DNEA will work to improve services for those with autism in the state by providing training for professionals and supports for families. Designed as a true network initiative, the DNEA is intended to leverage the best of what is available from many organizations and agencies to make a larger collective impact. This panel will present the key details of the Blueprint for Collective Action, describe the legislation that created the DNEA and provide an update on its progress as it gets up and running.​

Speaker Bios:

Kathleen DeNight, BSN RN is the mother of three boys, one of whom has special healthcare needs.  At the community level, she has served as past officer of the parent teacher organization at her children’s school, is the current Vice President of the Women’s Club of Odessa and volunteers as moderator of Autism Delaware’s Middletown Coffee Hour.  She has recently accepted the role of Parent Faculty Member at the University of Delaware Center for Disability Studies in the Leadership in the Education of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program.  She enjoys substituting as a School Nurse.  Since 2011, Mrs. DeNight has participated as a parent advocate in the Delaware Strategic Planning Initiative for Individuals with ASD and serves as a parent representative on the Interagency Committee for Autism. 

Laura Dewey, PhD, completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and ASD-specific fellowship at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  She has presented ASD-specific research at national conferences (including Divisions 53 and 54 of APA; INSAR), most recently focused on service delivery and quality improvement outcomes for families affected by ASD.  As a psychologist in Behavioral Health at Nemours, she provides ASD-specific evaluations, behavior-based and family-focused therapy, and group interventions; she has achieved research-certification in the gold-standard assessment tool for ASD, the ADOS-2.  She also provides training to psychology trainees, has participated in the development of a coordinated ASD program at Nemours, and is involved in committee initiatives to improve services and support for families affected by ASD in the tri-state region.

Annalia Ekbladh is currently a Project Manager for Family Support at Autism Delaware.  Through her work experience and training she has gained a solid background in human development, with specific interest in disability and its impact on family function and dynamics. As a Project Director at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies , Ms. Ekbladh successfully manages projects and various smaller initiatives, collaborates with internal and external partners, and develops family-focused research and programming. Two of her current projects revolve around systems change and improvement of service systems statewide. Ms. Ekbladh directed the Delaware Strategic Planning Initiative for Individuals with ASD and is working with a consortium of agencies to develop a statewide strategic plan for services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and acted as facilitator of the Interagency Committee for Autism and the Strategic Planning Initiative for students who are Blind and Visually Impaired. She has specific experience in screening and care coordination for families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and has worked closely with all agencies who serve children and adults with ASD in Delaware. Ms. Ekbladh is also parent to two children with special healthcare needs and works with various committees to advocate for improved services to children in Delaware.

Brian Freedman, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS). At CDS, Brian oversees postsecondary transition programs, such as the Career & Life Studies Certificate (CLSC), a 2-year UD certificate program for students with intellectual disabilities. He also leads a federally-funded early childhood autism program designed to improve access to early identification and early intervention services in Delaware. Brian is the co-director of Delaware’s new Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) training program and teaches in UD’s Disability Studies minor. He received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University.

Teresa J Avery, MBA is the executive director of Autism Delaware, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder throughout Delaware.  Founded in 1998 by a group of parents who shared the common experience of autism, today’s Autism Delaware provides parent mentoring, social and recreational activities, family support, information and referral, systems and legislative advocacy, clinical services and a nationally recognized, community-based adult vocational service called POW&R.  Autism Delaware is a proud participant in the newly-formed Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism.