Session descriptions

2018 Keynote Presentation

Community Integration is Life, Not a Program

Speaker:  Mike Oxford, Executive Director, Topeka Independent Living Resource Center

Session Description:

Mike will share a personal journey of three and a half decades through a nexus of programming, policy and grassroots advocacy for long term services and supports.

This history, which includes civil rights based advocacy, has culminated in efforts that include legislation that creates  mandatory Long Term Services and Supports (LTS&S) in an integrated community. The "Disability Integration Act" of 2017 is landmark legislation  that strengthens the 1999 Supreme Court's Olmstead decision's integration mandate, especially for individuals in institutions who may not directly benefit from the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Speaker Bio:

Mike Oxford has been an active member and organizer in the disability rights movement for 34 years.  For the past 24 years, he has been the Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center.  He is co-founder of the Kansas ADAPT Chapter, and a national ADAPT organizer. He has been involved in research, consulting and advocacy to foster consumer control of home and community long term services and supports and to create a permanent, national, mandatory home and community service and supports program for many years.

Mike served on the Board of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) for 9 years.  He is a past president of NCIL, having served two terms in that position.  Mike served six years on the Board of Directors with the Disability Rights Center (DRC) of Kansas, the state of Kansas’ Protection and Advocacy organization, and also served as the Board President of the Atlantis Community in Denver, CO, from 2005 through 2008.  Mike also served on the Kansas Association of Centers of Independent Living (KACIL) Board of Directors and the Statewide Independent Living Counsel of Kansas (SILCK) as Treasurer.

Mike is involved in national efforts to promote choice, independence and freedom for people with disabilities through his work with the University of California/San Francisco Community Living Policy Center and by helping to draft language for national personal supports legislation such as Community First Choice Option that passed as part of the Affordable Care Act and the CLASS Act that was ultimately repealed.  Most recently he assisted with drafting federal legislation, the Disability Integration Act (DIA). DIA would create a civil right to home and community services and supports as an alternative to institutional placement.  This bill was introduced in December of 2015 by Senator Charles Schumer.  Mike stays involved with research and training such as involvement with the University of Montana Nursing Home Emancipation grant and involvement with the development of an on-line training curriculum for direct service workers.  Mike was asked to join the Centene National Advisory Council tasked with providing input about disability philosophy, perspectives and issues for the corporation.  Mike writes and presents all around the country, offering technical assistance for people with disabilities who are organizing, state agencies that are seeking to support people with disabilities in the community, and community partners who are finding new ways to promote choice, independence and freedom for all people. 

10:15 - 11:25  Concurrent Session 1

Legislative 1

State Legislation: What to Expect in 2018


Brian S. Eng, Esquire, Supervising Attorney, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Laura Waterland, Esquire, Project Director, Disabilities Law Program, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Session Description:

This seminar will provide an overview of expected and pending State legislation likely to be considered in 2018 which would impact persons with disabilities.  Highlighted bills would include initiatives affecting civil rights, housing, education, health care, financial exploitation, accessible parking, transportation, voting, parental rights, assisted suicide, and disability prevention.​

Speakers Bios:

Brian S. Eng, Esquire, is a Supervising Attorney with Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. with responsibilities in the Disabilities Law Program, the Elder Law Program, and the Poverty Law Program.  Brian’s practice is focused on disabilities law and manufactured housing rent justification cases.  Brian was the 2015 recipient of the Roxana C. Arsht Fellowship and, during law school, served as a Josiah Oliver Wolcott Fellow for the Honorable Jack B. Jacobs of the Delaware Supreme Court.  Brian received his Juris Doctor, with honors, from the Widener University School of Law’s Delaware campus (now Delaware Law School) in 2013 and an honors bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with distinction, with honors, from the University of Delaware in 2001.  In between, Brian was ordained as a rabbi, completed a chaplain residency at Christiana Care, and served in various capacities at community synagogues and schools.

Laura Waterland, Esquire, is the incoming Project Director of the Disabilities Law Program.  As a staff attorney and supervising attorney, she has worked extensively in the areas of ADA and Fair Housing Act compliance, access to community-based services, as well as advising on policy and legislative initiatives that impact people with disabilities in Delaware.  Laura has worked 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 at the College of William and Mary, and her B.A. with Honors in Government and History from the College of William and Mary. 

Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., founded in 1946, is the largest and oldest civil legal services organization in Delaware.  CLASI’s oldest program is its poverty program, which assists clients in housing, domestic violence, and public benefits matters. In addition to its poverty program, CLASI has a number of special programs.  Clients may not need to meet income guidelines to qualify.  These programs include:  the Elder Law Program (assisting ages 60 and up, within priorities); the Disabilities Law Program (assisting people with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities, within priorities); the Fair Housing Program (assisting victims of housing discrimination); the Immigration Program (assisting certain victims of crime and domestic violence); and the Delaware Medical-Legal Partnership (assisting patients of participating health care providers with civil legal needs).

Independence 1

Consideration of Assistive Technology for Writing within the IEP Process


Barbara Brooks, MA, CCC-SLP, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Colonial School District
Debbie Whitby-Norman, MS, CCC-SLP, Assistive Technology Consultant

Session Description:
During the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, educational teams must consider Assistive Technology as a special factor for every student.  This session will review Colonial School District’s practice of determining the need for Assistive Technology in the area of writing.  Worksheets and flow charts will be shared as we discuss the decision-making process, completion of the SETT (Student, Environments, Tasks, and Tools) framework, and implementation of trials to measure the need for Assistive Technology tools for writing. This process facilitates the educational teams' knowledge and ability to implement the process in an efficient and collaborative manner.

Speakers Bios:

Barbara Brooks, MA, CCP-SLP, began working in Colonial School District in 1996 as an Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) at the Leach School, serving students with complex communication needs.  A few years later, she became the Assistive Technology Coordinator.

She has supported students in the areas of reading, writing and augmentative communication in all settings.  Most recently Barbara has successfully collaborated with district leadership in Curriculum and Technology to integrate resources and instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities.   She has presented at state and national conferences in all areas of Assistive Technology and procured multiple grants for equipment and training for the district.

Debbie Whitby-Norman, MS, CCC-SLP, recently retired after 28 years in Colonial School District, working first as an Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) and then as the District Assistive Technology Coordinator.  She was instrumental in developing the Assistive Technology program for Colonial beginning in 1991. Debbie has supported students in the areas of reading, writing and augmentative communication.  She has presented at state and national conferences in the areas of Assistive Technology.

Family 1

Let's Get to Work!  Your Guide to Supported Employment Services


Laura Strmel, MPA, CESP, Director of Employment, St. John’s Community Services Delaware​

Session Description:

Delaware supports the Employment First Initiative, which states that people living with disabilities have the right to work in competitive jobs, earn prevailing wages and contribute to their communities if they choose to do so.  This fun and interactive session will provide you with an overview of services, the Supported Employment process and Person Centered supports available if you would like to enter the workforce or seek supports on your existing job.​

Speaker Bio:

Laura Strmel, MPA, CESP, joined the St. John’s Community Services team in September 2014 to spearhead the start-up of SJCS operations in Delaware and is currently the Director of Employment & Day Services in her home state.  Laura holds a Master’s in Public Administration, with a Specialization in Human Service Administration from the nationally- recognized program offered by the University of Delaware, School of Public Policy.  Laura earned her CESP (Certified Employment Support Professional) in 2015 and has brought this opportunity to her colleagues in Delaware by working with the state to host the first CESP exam in Delaware in 2016.  With Laura’s unique blend of public and private sector experience, guidance from SJCS Executive and State Senior Leadership plus a large dose of tenacity, SJCS-DE is regarded as an innovative resource for advocacy of the Employment First Initiative in Delaware. Laura lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Vincent and newly teen daughter, Mallory.

Education 1

Inclusive Higher Education: College for Students with Intellectual Disabilities


Isaiah Boykin, Alumni Ambassador, University of Delaware Career & Life Studies Certificate
Brian Freedman, Ph.D., Associate Director, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware
Melanie Sipko, Instructor/Coach, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware Career & Life Studies Certificate

Session Description:

The University of Delaware is currently the only institution of higher education in Delaware that offers a formal academic program to students with intellectual disabilities, called the Career & Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program.  This is an inclusive 2-year program in which students with intellectual disabilities (ID) take coursework, engage in internships, and participate in all aspects of campus life.  Students from the program will present on their experiences going to college and how it's impacted their career and life goals.  Information on the national movement of Inclusive Higher Education and its connections to Delaware will also be shared. ​

Speakers Bios:

Isaiah Boykin is a 2017 graduate of the University of Delaware Career & Life Studies Certificate program.  Currently, he is a customer service representative at Home Depot where he helps organize and maintain the store and supports the needs of customers.  Isaiah also serves as a CLSC Ambassador, helping to raise awareness about college opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities through presentations and other outreach activities.  He is a public speaker and photographer who has supported a variety of programs at the Center for Disabilities Studies.

Brian Freedman, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies. He joined CDS in 2011. At CDS, he designs and oversees innovative postsecondary transition initiatives for adolescents and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, including the Career & Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program. He also oversees statewide assessment and training initiatives across the lifespan. Brian is an Assistant Professor in the UD School of Education and is Co-Director of Delaware’s Leadership & Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. He has a background in clinical psychology and previously was the clinical director for the Kennedy Krieger Institute Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

Melanie Sipko is an Instructor/Coach in the CLSC program and joined the staff at the Center for Disabilities Studies in 2010.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Education from Penn State University in 1988.

Melanie launched her career in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation and has 10 years of prior experience in Vocational Evaluation, Placement and Case Management. More recently, Melanie has been involved in teaching workshops and individualized coaching to support students with life strategies, academics and career exploration in programs for high school students and college students through the Center for Disabilities Studies. 

1:15 - 2:25  Concurrent Session 2

Legislative 2
Lifespan Waiver 101


Stacy Watkins, Director of Lifespan Supports to Families, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS)​

Session Description:

This seminar will describe implementation of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Lifespan Waiver that became effective on July 1, 2017.  It primarily benefits individuals with intellectual disabilities living independently or with relatives in the community.  The presentation will cover eligibility; the individual planning process; and a services menu which includes both traditional and non-traditional day services, pre-vocational services, supported employment, nursing and behavioral consultation, assistive technology, specialized medical equipment, home and vehicle adaptations, respite, and personal care.

Speaker Bio:

Stacy Watkins has served in her most recent role within the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) as the Director of Life Span Supports to Families since March of 2017.  This is a new position for DDDS Community Services that is responsible for implementing and coordinating The Lifespan Waiver Services for Families, including Targeted Case Management services.

Since joining the DDDS team in 2012, Stacy has served in several different positions including as a Developmental Disabilities Center Director at the Woodside Center. She also provided temporary management of the New Edge Center as well.  Prior to being promoted to her current position, she supported the Day and Transition Unit as the Kent County Regional Supervisor.  Stacy has also supported the Pathways to Employment program by conducting internal quality review activities, supported in the DDDS PM46 process as a qualified PM46 investigator, as well as reviewing provider submitted performance improvement plans and ensuring appropriate follow-up was conducted.

Prior to joining DDDS, Stacy worked for 9+ years with the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families under the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services and moved quickly through the ranks from a Youth Rehabilitation Counselor I to a Youth Rehabilitation Counselor III.  Stacy's distinguished performance at DSCYF/PBH earned her Division Employee of the Month and Quarter; Department Employee of the Month; Department Employee of the Year; and The Governor's Award for Excellence in State Service.

Stacy’s connection to DDDS began long before her State of Delaware employment.  She grew up in a Shared Living Home where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities lived in her family home as valued members of the family unit.  Additionally, Stacy spent her teenage years volunteering at Stockley Center in various location including the Day Program, Cottages, as well as the Medical Center on campus. 

Having a young nephew with Autism, Stacy is as excited as the rest of the families in Delaware about the increased service and supports that the Lifespan Waiver will offer to keep individuals connected to their family, friends, and community.  

Independence 2
Medicaid Funding for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)


Richard Lytton, MA, CCC-SLP, Augmentative Communication Specialist, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware
Beth Mineo, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Director, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware
William Molchen, Esquire, Staff Attorney, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Session Description:

Medicaid is an important source of funding for AAC devices and services.  Delaware Medicaid has a clear enabling policy that specifies coverage parameters and the types of information to include in funding justification.  Presenters will review Delaware’s policy emphasizing the scope of coverage, processes for submitting funding requests, and how to appeal unfavorable funding decisions. ​

Speakers Bios:

Richard Lytton, MA, CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than thirty years’ experience working in inter-disciplinary teams.  He is an Augmentative Communication & Alternative Communication (AAC) specialist at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies and in the University’s Speech, Language, & Hearing Clinic.  He previously was a Senior Speech-Language Pathologist in the Nemours Center for Pediatric Communication at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE.  His Speech-Language Pathology and interdisciplinary experiences span the diversity of people who have complex communication needs and can benefit from AAC, including individuals with congenital and acquired neuro-muscular impairments, neuro-developmental disabilities (including Autism), neurological pediatric speech sound disorders (including Childhood Apraxia of Speech, progressive neurological disorders, dual-sensory impairments, and genetic disorders within the contexts of homes, schools, and communities.  His interests include focuses on intensive family education and attempts to collaborate with clients’ and families’ community-based education, behavior, and private therapy teams.  Richard has presented workshops and papers locally, regionally, and nationally on the use of Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology.  Many recent presentations have included parents as co-presenters.  In the past, Richard served on the Steering Committee for ASHA’s Division on Augmentative & Alternative Communication and on the Executive Committee of the United States Society for Augmentative & Alternative Communication (USSAAC).

Beth Mineo, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is the Director of the Center for Disabilities Studies, Director of the Assistive Technology Unit at the Center, and Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Delaware. Dr. Mineo completed her undergraduate training at the Pennsylvania State University and her graduate degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. Trained as a speech/language pathologist and specializing in supports for individuals with significant learning and communication disabilities, she has extensive experience in project design and implementation, services for individuals with disabilities, assistive technology development and utilization, and research and evaluation. She has participated in many initiatives that succeeded in making policies and practices more consumer-responsive. She sits on numerous committees and councils, both in Delaware and nationally, and has extensive experience in the launch and successful continuation of collaborative projects featuring multiple stakeholders. Dr. Mineo is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences, has published many articles and book chapters, and has served as editor-in-chief of the journal Assistive Technology.

William Molchen, Esquire, is a staff attorney with Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI.)  CLASI is a private non-profit law firm that provides civil legal services to clients who have low incomes, disabilities, or who are sixty (60) and over.  He works in the Disabilities Law Program and the Medical-Legal Partnership Program.  His practice is focused on disabilities law and homeless or at risk of being homeless veterans through the Connections’ Supportive Services For Veterans and Families program (SSVF).  He is admitted to practice in Delaware and Pennsylvania.  Mr. Molchen received his BS, magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh and his J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law. 

Family 2
Companion, Service, and Therapy Animals


Janie Cramer, R.N, BSN

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

Session Description:

In this session the speakers will cover the topic of Pet Therapy, Service Dogs and Companion Dogs.  They will detail their experiences with acquiring and utilizing their unique therapeutic partners.  Lauren will cover the use of therapy animals (not exclusive to dogs) within an Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy/Speech Language Pathology plan of care.  Additionally, Janie will cover service dogs and her experience with them. She will cover the laws that protect service dogs and the difference between service dogs and companion dogs. The speakers will discuss the requirements for each category and programs available.

Speakers Bios:

Janie Cramer, R.N., BSN, graduated from The University of Maryland, School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (B.S.N.) and as a Registered Nurse in 1979. She worked at South Baltimore General Hospital in Pediatrics and John’s Hopkins Hospital’s, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, in Baltimore, MD, as a Senior Clinical Nurse, specializing in Cancer Care for Children.  She later became a Nurse Manager at St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Pediatric Unit in Towson, MD.  During her tenure, she presented training sessions for managers and directors on the process of Performance Appraisals and Staff Development.  She also implemented a comprehensive program, which planned individualized care for children with disabilities that included child life, play therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.  She also worked for three years as a Clinical Research Coordinator overseeing Pharmaceutical Research Studies at Delaware Family Care Associates.

 Ms. Cramer enjoys time with her family including her husband, two daughters and her three wonderful dogs. 

She has served on the Board of Sanford School’s Home and School Association in Hockessin, DE for two years and was involved in their annual fundraising event.

Ms. Cramer has been a volunteer at CPL for thirteen years as a puppy raiser and as a breeding program home.  Ms. Cramer coordinates therapy visits by CPL dogs to local assisted living facilities. She also presents demonstrations to community groups to help build awareness of CPL’s work and the work of service dogs. She served on CPL’s spring event committee for several years and enjoys being an ambassador for CPL’s mission and core values.  Her work has also included being the Chairperson of the Board Governance Committee for the past eight years working on Board Governance, Recruitment, and Education.  She served as Co-Chairperson of the By-Laws Committee. Ms. Cramer has been on the Board of Directors for nine years serving as the Vice President and now the President of the Board since 2016.

Lauren Janusz, MOT, OTR/L, HPCS, is an Occupational Therapist based in Wilmington, DE. She owns Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC which offers school based and clinic based therapy. She is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Hippotherapy (HPCS) which is a treatment strategy utilizing the quality movement of the horse and its environment. She is Secretary of the Board of Directors of the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. as well as an active member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Delaware Occupational Therapy Association. In the past she was a Member At Large for the Florida Occupational Therapy Association and co-founder of the Broward Occupational Therapy Forum. Her unique clinic offers internship opportunities for college students interested in Occupational Therapy as well as fieldwork opportunities for Occupational Therapy students. As a life long equestrian she has ridden and competed across the country. Combining two passions, horses and OT, has been a perfect professional storm for Lauren. She is also a volunteer Equestrian, Soccer, and Alpine Skiing Coach for Special Olympics Delaware. When she is not at the barn she enjoys adventures with her family and friends.

Education 2
Improving Transition Outcomes Through Cross Agency Collaboration


Marissa Catalon, BS, Director of Day and Transition Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services
Dale Matusevich, M.Ed., Education Associate, Secondary and Transition Services, Department of Education
Sandra Miller, MS, Transition Coordinator, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

Session Description:

The transition process for students with disabilities moving towards adulthood is often very confusing; students, and their families, are faced with difficult decisions.  In this session, participants will hear vital information to assist in the process of transitioning into adulthood.  Members from the Delaware Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division of Developmental Disabilities will share initiatives that have been implemented through cross agency collaboration in an effort to create a smoother transition process for students and families.  Agency updates and information from various programs to assist individuals in making successful transitions into adulthood will be shared.  Topics to be discussed include updates to the state transition regulations, our philosophy of Early Start to Supported Employment Project (ESSE), Pathways to Employment, Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), Education Support Program at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC,) Project SEARCH, Start on Success and new ways the agencies have found to better their collaborative efforts.  

Speakers Bios:

Marissa Catalon, BS, is the Director of Day and Transition Services for the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.  As the Day and Transition Program Administrator for New Castle County Marissa assisted in the development of the Transition collaboration framework between DDDS, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), the Department of Education (DOE) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs).  In 2005, Marissa helped launch the Early Start to Supported Employment (ESSE) program and Pathways to Employment (P2E), program that support youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to obtain paid integrated employment.

In her current position as the Director of Day and Transition Services with the DDDS, Marissa provides oversight for all DDDS Employment, Day and Transition Services.  She is a member of Delaware's Employment First Commission and chairs the DDDS Day Services Provider Advisory Committee.

Dale Matusevich, M.Ed., has been with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) since July 2008 as the Education Associate for Secondary and Transition Services.  Prior to his position with DDOE, he was employed at the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center at Radford University (RU T/TACT).  Dale has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in special education.  With over 20 years of experience in education, Dale has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in a variety of settings.

Sandra Miller, MS, is the Transition Coordinator for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology and has over 16 years of experience working in the field of employment for individuals with disabilities with both non-profit and state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.  She has a variety of experience, working in both Madison, WI and Lexington, KY prior to moving to Delaware.  She worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI) when she first moved to Delaware and has been with DVR since 2007.  In her current position, Sandra oversees the transition and supported employment programs at DVR, working closely with a variety of stakeholders statewide.

2:35 - 3:45  Concurrent Session 3

Legislative 3
Death with Dignity; Assisted Suicide


Tim Appleton, Multi-State Campaign and Outreach Manager, Compassion & Choices
Anita Cameron, Director of Minority Outreach, Not Dead Yet

Session Description:

Death with Dignity or Assisted Suicide is promoted as providing options for terminally ill adults who are nearing death.  It is a topic that evokes strong opinions from a wide variety of interest groups.

This moderated panel session will provide attendees with a broader understanding of the opposing views of this controversial issue.  The two panelists will have approximately 20 minutes each to talk about their view of the issue.  For the time remaining in the session, the audience will have an opportunity to provide questions to the moderator for a respectful Q&A with the panelists.

Speakers Bios:

Tim Appleton is a veteran political operative and campaign staffer.  He has served on the legislative staff of the Connecticut Senate Democrats, and worked on the municipal, state and federal campaigns of more than a dozen candidates.  Tim's work has focused on digital media, and maximizing social media platforms.  Since leaving state service, Tim has managed issue and political campaigns.  Tim currently serves as Multi-State Campaign and Outreach Manager for Compassion & Choices - Connecticut, working to pass permissive aid in dying legislation in our state.

Anita Cameron is Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet in Rochester, New York. She holds a degree in Biology from University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and a degree in Computer Information Systems from Community College of Denver.

In 1986, Anita joined ADAPT, a national, grassroots disability rights organization. In 27 years of involvement, she has risen to a position of national leadership.  She was invited to the White House on two occasions, has met three sitting U.S. Presidents and two Vice-Presidents, helped to organize a national March, and was published in a book by the late award-winning writer and historian, Howard Zinn.

In 2004, while in Washington, DC, Anita trained to become a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member. In 2008, she helped to form the first CERT class consisting of people with disabilities in Rochester, New York.  After joining Denver CERT in 2011, Anita became the first visually impaired CERT instructor for the State of Colorado in 2012, and in 2013, became a CERT Program Manager for the State.  She has assisted in numerous exercises and real-world incidents with Denver CERT, including serving as a radio communications operator during the Colorado Flood of 2013.

Independence 3
Disaster Preparedness: Before and After the Storm


Rochelle Brittingham, Ph.D., Project Coordinator, Center for Disabilities Studies, College of Education and Human Development, University of Delaware
Timothy Cooper, MA, CEM, Director, Office of Preparedness, Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness Section
Mei Johnson, Program Manager, Delaware Citizens Corps and State C.E.R.T., Delaware Emergency Management Agency
Beth MacDonald, Vulnerable Populations Coordinator, Office of Preparedness, Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness Section

Session Description:

Are you prepared for a weather emergency or other disaster?  Do you know who to contact before and during an emergency?  Have you prepared a Disaster Emergency Supply Kit? Do you have questions about evacuation and sheltering in place during disasters?  This session will provide information and tools to assist you in developing an emergency plan for you and your family.  Learn how the Delaware Division of Public Health is incorporating persons with disabilities and access and functional needs in planning, training and exercises.​

Speakers Bios:
Rochelle Brittingham, Ph.D.
,  is a Project Coordinator at the University of Delaware.  Dr. Brittingham provides subject matter expertise through the University of Delaware to the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) on people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs (AFN) for the emergency management planning, response, and recovery process.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Millersville University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management from the University of North Texas, and a Doctorate in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware.  Dr. Brittingham’s research areas include emergency management policy, disability policy, access and functional needs, and household evacuation and sheltering decision-making.  Additionally, Dr. Brittingham serves as adjunct faculty at Wilmington University where she teaches Sociology of Disaster and Disaster and the Media.

Timothy Cooper, MA, CEM,  serves as Director of the Office of Preparedness within the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness Section.  He holds an Associate’s Degree in Emergency Services Management from Delaware Technical Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management from Jacksonville State University, and a Master of Arts Degree in Homeland Security from American Public University.  Tim is also an Adjunct Instructor at Delaware Technical Community College in the Homeland Defense and Emergency Management Program and serves as Adjunct Faculty at Wilmington University where he teaches Healthcare Emergency Management, a course he developed.  Mr. Cooper is a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) where he holds the designation of Certified Emergency Manager (CEM).  In addition, he also represents the State of Delaware on the National Association of City and County Health Official (NACCHO) Preparedness Policy Advisory Group.

Tim joined the Delaware Division of Public Health in 2012.  He is responsible for managing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Grant that funds the office programs.  As Director, he oversees three branches including Logistics, Training, and Planning, and additional consultants and technical support staff within the Office of Preparedness.  He also services as Operations Section Chief during State Health Operations Center (SHOC) events such as the Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy storm in October 2012 where he coordinated all public health field operations.  Mr. Cooper has led efforts to improve capabilities for mass care and working with people with access and functional needs in disaster.

Prior to his work with DPH, Tim served as a Region IV Hospital Preparedness Coordinator with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Preparedness and Response.  While serving as the Coordinator he assisted healthcare partners with regional preparedness activities including managing the Hospital Preparedness Grant Program for the nine counties of Eastern Shore of Maryland.  During his tenure, he assisted in the development and sustainment of the health care coalition and several other regional projects to include regional communication, information sharing, public information and warning, and medical surge.

Prior to his work in Public Health, Mr. Cooper he served in various roles within Delaware’s Sussex County EMS.  His background includes serving as a Paramedic, Shift Commander, Public Information Officer, and Special Operations Coordinator.  In addition, Mr. Cooper helped to improve target capabilities such as medical surge, critical infrastructure, and hazardous materials decontamination while serving as the EMS Discipline Lead for the Delaware Terrorism Preparedness Homeland Security Working Group.

Originally from Maryland, Tim now lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Lewes, Delaware.  Their family enjoys visiting the beach, traveling, and following the Baltimore Ravens football and Baltimore Orioles baseball teams.

Mei Johnson is the Program Manager of the Delaware Citizen Corps and State C.E.R.T. at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. Citizen Corps is a national program housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Department of Homeland Security. The mission of Citizen Corps is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and batter prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds. Community-level Citizen Corps programs include Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), Fire Corps, Neighborhood Watch groups, and, specific to Delaware, Communication Corps. Citizen Corps Councils work to provide opportunities for special skills and interest, develop targeted outreach for special needs groups, organize special projects and community events, encourage cooperation and collaboration among community leaders and emergency management, capture smart practices, and report accomplishments. Mei received her Master’s degree in Disaster Science and Management from the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware.

Beth MacDonald is the first and current Vulnerable Populations Coordinator (VPC) for the Delaware Office of Preparedness in the Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness Section, Delaware Division of Public Health.  As VPC, she works with the Office of Public Health Preparedness to assist in Delaware’s disaster preparation and response activities for Persons with Access, Functional, and Medical Needs (PWAFMN). 

She has held positions as the Special Needs Alert (SNAP-911) Coordinator, a first grade teacher, member and Chair of the ICC Birth to Three Council, former Delaware Family Voices Coordinator, and the Delaware Emergency Medical Services for Children Family Advocate Network Representative for which she won national recognition.  As a parent of an adult with access and functional needs Beth’s advocacy continues through participation in Partners In Policymaking activities and mentoring new program graduates.

She is a Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents, 4th Edition review team member where she reviewed the updated documents prior to publication to include the needs of families and children with special health care needs.

Family 3
“Sorry for the Inconvenience.  We Are Trying to Change the World!”


Rachel Baskerville, Community Resource Specialist, Camden County Developmental Disabilities Resources
Russell Lehmann, Member of Nevada Developmental Disabilities Council, Motivational Speaker and Advocate

Session Description: 

Attendees will hear from two national speakers who have followed the path from local self-advocate to national game changers in the context of disability.  Once you see the world as it should be, there is no settling for what is handed to you.  Hear how they have discovered their own power and how they communicate that growth with others as Leaders for change.​

Speakers Bios:
Rachel Baskerville
is the Community Resource Specialist for Camden County Developmental Disabilities Resources.  Rachel graduated in the spring of 2013 with her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.  In July of 2005, just before she started her senior year in high school, she attended the Governor’s Council on Disability’s program, the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum.  The program is a leadership program for students with disabilities.  It was because of her personal experiences and the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum that helped her decide to pursue a degree in social work.

After attending the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum in 2005 as a student delegate, Rachel continued to go back almost every summer to volunteer with the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum.  The program made such an impact in her life, she wanted to give back and watch other students be impacted by the program.  In her last semester of college, she had to do a practicum for her degree, so she decided to do her practicum with the Governor’s Council on Disability.  She already had a fantastic learning experience through the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum; however she wanted to learn more about the agency itself and learn more about other programs that Governor’s Council on Disability had.

During her time with Governor’s Council on Disability she learned about the Legislative Education Project, the importance of networking and advocacy, and started a non-profit organization for the alumni of the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum.  MYLIFE Alumni Association, the non-profit organization, is a way for the alumni to stay in touch, educate, network, and share resources throughout the state of Missouri.  Rachel is the current chair of the MYLIFE Alumni Association and there are over 200 alumni from the leadership program.  She also serves on the planning committee for the Missouri Youth Leadership Forum.

Rachel has also been involved with various Centers for Independent Living in the state of Missouri.  She currently serves on the Independent Living Resource Center board and the Arc of the Lake board. Her job allows her to learn about various resources to help advocate for people with disabilities and educate people within the community about people with disabilities and what their abilities are.

Rachel is a big self advocate for herself and other people with disabilities.  She believes in getting involved and understanding on what’s going on in the world that affects people with disabilities.  She believes that’s what self advocacy is about, getting involved and understanding what things can affect your life, and how to stand up for yourself and your rights and improving the lives of others.  In 2017, she collaborated with Missouri’s Governor’s Council on Disability’s Program: Missouri Youth Leadership Forum, Missouri Developmental Disability Council’s Program: Partners in Policymaking, and Paraquad, an Independent Living Center based out of St. Louis to form the first Advocacy Summit in the State of Missouri for Self Advocates to attend.

Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker, author, poet and advocate, who also happens to have autism himself. Russell began to experience symptoms and struggles around the age of three, however not a single doctor or specialist could figure out what was happening. In 2003, at the age of 12, Russell was admitted to the psychiatric ward at a local hospital. He stayed there for five weeks, which were some of the toughest of his life. He unfortunately left this hospital without any diagnosis.  Later that year, in 2003, Russell was finally diagnosed with autism at the University of Washington’s Autism Center.

In 2011 Russell wrote a book titled “Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind” which was featured in the LA Times, earned an Honorable Mention at the 2012 NY Book Festival and won the award for Literary Excellency at the 2013 International Autistic People’s Awards in Vancouver, Canada.

After accumulating a 4.0 GPA in high school and being honored as a member of the 2009 All-State Academic Team, Russell spent two years taking part-times classes at his local community college (TMCC) in Reno, Nevada. He received straight A’s and was invited to be a member of the Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, and soon after Russell discovered his true calling in life, helping others and advocating on their behalf. This is when he turned his focus solely to being a voice for the unheard, for he knows how difficult it is to go unnoticed.

Russell's name and story is known world-wide, and every presentation he gives uplifts, inspires and increases awareness and understanding, all the while producing a room full of emotions. He has yet to give a speech that has not received a standing ovation.

In 2013 Russell made national headlines after a spoken word poem of his, directed at a rap artist who made an offensive comment about those with autism, went viral. After accumulating over 500,000 views in 24 hours, the rapper released an apology a day later and retracted the lyrics from his song.

In 2017 Russell made international headlines when he wrote a heartwarming Facebook post about a meltdown he had at an airport, and the airline employee who helped him through it. It quickly went viral and was featured on Yahoo! News, USA Today, Autism Speaks and countless other media platforms. Everybody everywhere was encouraged to #BeLikeDavid!

Russell has a raging fire within him to stand up for those who are not yet strong enough to do so themselves. His goals in life are to erase the stigma and stereotypes that come with having a disability, and to make this world a better place by spreading hope, awareness, acceptance, belief and tolerance.

Education 3
Supporting Teens to Make and Keep Friends


Deborah Boyer, MS, Director, School-Age Services Unit, Center for Disabilities Studies, University of Delaware

Session Description:

Often social skills programs focus on teaching young children, while programs for adolescents are rare.  However, many students experience social challenges in middle and high school.  PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) is one of only two evidence-based social skills curriculums for adolescents.  Initially developed for students with autism, later research showed the program to also be effective for students with ADHD, anxiety and others with social support needs.  The program focuses on skill development as it relates to friendship.  The skills are broken into concrete steps and rules that are explicitly taught.  Learn how parents, educators, and others can be “social coaches” to teens to improve conversational skills, expand social opportunities, and develop friendships. ​

Speakers Bios:

Deborah Boyer, MS, is the director of the School-Age Services Unit at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS).  She has served as the co-director of the statewide Positive Behavior Support Initiative, a collaboration between CDS and the Delaware Department of Education.  She has provided training and technical assistance on implementing positive behavior supports in schools and other organizations serving children throughout the state.  In addition, Ms. Boyer oversees and collaborates on several other state-wide projects serving school-age children including extended learning opportunities and ensuring access to the general education curriculum and environment for students with disabilities.  Prior to coming to CDS, Debby worked as a consultant for the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation where she assisted organizations throughout the United States develop meaningful rehabilitation and recovery systems for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.