You Are Viewing

2014 Speaker Bio’s

  • Mari-Anne Kehler

    Mari-Anne is an Advisory Board member of Golden Heart Ranch, and on its behalf launched the FRED Conference in 2012 as Director. FRED is the preeminent international conference bringing parents and professionals together to advance opportunities for adults with special needs to find homes and employment and live with purpose…

  • Rose Van-Wier Hein

    Rose van Wier Hein is a married mother of two and a community leader on behalf of special needs families. She is founder and executive director of Golden Heart Ranch (GHR), a non-profit organization that addresses the crisis in special-needs housing and lifestyle. Golden Heart Ranch is dedicated to building a community that will provide family-style housing, sports…

  • Dr. Nora J. Baladerian

    Dr. Nora J. Baladerian, a licensed psychologist in California, does both clinical and forensic (expert witness) work. She has worked for and with abuse and crime victims with disabilities since 1972, advocating for equal justice in responding to abuse and public information to reduce the risk of abuse. She is the Executive Director of the Disability and Abuse Project.  She has convened…

  • Peter Bell

    Peter Bell was appointed President/CEO of Eden Autism Services in February, 2014. For over a decade, Bell has been one of the country’s most respected autism advocates and nonprofit executives, serving as an effective leader with a compassionate voice on behalf of the autism community. From 2004 to 2007, Bell served as President and CEO of Cure Autism Now…

  • Dani Bowman

    I’m an 19-year-old individual with autism, and have a love of animation, illustration, and creating fun entertainment for children of all ages. I founded my company Power Light Animation Studios at age 11, and I have been working professionally since age 14, partnering with Joey Travolta, and teaching animation…

  • Sharon Brent

    Sharon Brent is a national expert on multiple Federal policy issues related to the employment and self-determination that improves economic status of youth in transition and adult individuals with disabilities. She is Founder and President of NDI Consulting, Inc. a women owned For Profit Small Business, and Director of Training…

  • Jennifer Byde Myers

    Jennifer Byde Myers is a writer, editor, and parent of a child with autism. She has been writing since 2003 at www.jennyalice.com, chronicling her family’s journey from diagnosis to daily living with her son’s special needs. She is also a founder and editor of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism…

  • Jan Cline

    Jan Cline, M.S., CCC-SLP has served at Bittersweet, Inc. since 1991. Bittersweet Farms, founded in 1983 as the first farmstead of its kind in the U.S., is a non-profit organization that now provides support to over 100 adults and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders in residential, vocational, educational and social programs.  With a background…

  • Elaine Hall

    Elaine Hall, “Coach E!” referenced by the New York Times as “the child whisperer”, was a top Hollywood children’s acting coach whose life changed dramatically after her son Neal, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was diagnosed with autism. When traditional behavioral therapies didn’t work, she sought the esteemed Dr. Stanley Greenspan…

  • Tim Harris

    Tim Harris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1986, the second of four sons born to Keith and Jeannie Harris. Immediately after his birth, Tim was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. From that moment on, Tim’s life has been defined by exceeding expectations and inspiring those around him. Tim attended public schools in Albuquerque…

  • Van Hatchell

    Van Hatchell is the Managing Director of Extraordinary Ventures, Inc a nonprofit in Chapel Hill, NC with the mission of creating small businesses for the sake of employing adults with developmental disabilities. In his time there he has grown 3 businesses to be sustainable employers, created the team of social entrepreneurs…

  • Sterling Dale Hibbs

    Sterling was born in Austin, Texas, on April 13, 1986. He was raised on several acres outside of Elgin, Texas, not far from where Down Home Ranch would be built. Sterling was expected to perform farm work right along with his brothers from the time he was in kindergarten. He helped care for horses, cattle, dogs, cats, and chickens, and raked the yard. Sterling decided…

  • Jerry Horton

    In 1984, Judy and Jerry Horton had a baby named Kelly. Kelly was born with Down Syndrome. The new parents immediately began researching the optimal conditions under which children with disabilities prosper. Although there were resources for Kelly as a child, the opportunities for her as she entered adulthood were limited…

  • Kelly Page Horton

    Kelly was born in Austin Texas September 18, 1984. She has been at the forefront of school and community inclusion since attending a regular Montessori pre-school at the age of three. At that time, she was the first child with a significant intellectual disability accepted by the school. She went on to be mainstreamed until the fourth grade…

  • Mark Jackson

    Mark is the Managing Partner of Peak Partners, LLC.  Among its businesses, the company is dedicated to creating high-quality, comprehensive living solutions for adults with disabilities in small, integrated shared-housing settings.  He is also a Founder and the past Board President of Sweetwater Spectrum, a nonprofit which developed an intentional cohousing community in Sonoma, CA…

  • Desiree Kameka

    Desiree Kameka is the Director of Community Education & Advocacy at the Madison House Autism Foundation, and the project lead for Madison House’s interactive Autism Housing Network. Her passion is empowering local communities to create a future that is exciting and life affirming for those of all abilities…

  • Neil Katz

    Neal, a star of the HBO Emmy Award winning documentary Autism: The Musical, was diagnosed severely autistic and cognitively impaired at age three.  Neal has defied all odds and emerged into a bright, adventurous, happy young adult with a career plan, several jobs, an active social life and had a girlfriend. Neal, attends Cogwheels School…

  • Alex Krem

    Alex Krem has been actively involved with the special needs community since 1957 when his father (Alex A Krem, a pioneer in mainstreaming) began to organize camping and outdoor recreation programs for the developmentally disabled.  He was one of the first two counselors when Camping Unlimited for Developmentally Disabled…

  • Ed Lynch

    Ed Lynch founded Mychal’s Learning Place in 2001 in honor of his daughter, Mychal. At the age of two it became apparent that she was developmentally and physically disabled. “During that time Mychal never lost her sense of humor or the love in her heart. She taught me so much about life and the importance of today…

  • Zoe Mailloux

    Zoe Mailloux, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA is nationally and internationally recognized for her expertise in child development, sensory integration, autism, test development and occupational therapy. With more than 35 years of experience, Dr. Mailloux has been a champion for increasing understanding of individual differences, with the aim of enhancing participation…

  • Judy Mark

    Judy Mark has a 17-year-old son with autism and serves as an active volunteer in the disability rights community.  She is currently the Government Relations Co-Chair of the Autism Society of L.A. where she helped lead the successful effort to enact Self-Determination legislation, recently signed into law by Governor Brown…

  • Areva Martin

    Areva Martin is a Harvard-trained multi-award winning attorney, author, and media personality. She provides expert commentary for the Dr. Phil Show, Dr. Drew on Call, Anderson Cooper 360, Al-Jazeera America amongst other national television and radio shows on a range of legal and social issues including civil and criminal trials…

  • Patrick McClenahan

    Patrick McClenahan is President and Chief Executive Officer of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. He accepted the position after serving as the Chairman of the LA Bid Committee that recently won the international competition to bring the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to Los Angeles. During the past…

  • Kevin McGuire

    Kevin McGuire is CEO and Founder of McGuire Associates, the nation’s leading consulting firm specializing in compliance with state and federal disability laws. His firm’s clients include the New England Patriots, Live Nation concert venues, the L.A. Live entertainment complex, Dodger Stadium, the Shubert Organization…

  • Colleen Mock

    Colleen Mock holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work and a Masters of Arts degree in Public Administration. She is the parent of a 35 year daughter with developmental disabilities who works as an assistant preschool teacher and lives independently. Colleen has worked within the California regional center…

  • Christine Motokane

    Christine is the author of the book  “Working the Double Shift  A Young Woman’s Journey with Autism” , self advocate and a person with autism.  She has spoken about her experiences with various groups including the US Autism and Asperger Association, Southwest SELPA , Manhattan Beach Unified School District…

  • Kate Movius

    Kate Movius began training first responders in 2011 as Project Manager for Autism Speaks. She is a frequent spokesperson about special needs issues and has appeared on “Katie” with Katie Couric to discuss the challenges facing parents and their children. Kate taught reproductive health and advocacy classes for over a decade to families in East Los Angeles…

  • Mike Naggar

    Mike Naggar is a Council Member for the City of Temecula.  He was first elected to the Temecula City Council in 1999 and is currently serving his fourth term in office.  He served as the City’s Mayor in 2003, 2008 and 2013. Mr. Naggar began his public career in 1997 by serving on the City’s Planning Commission. In 2012 he was appointed…

  • Vicki Obee

    Vicki Obee joined the staff at Bittersweet Farms in 1986, three years after the farm opened its doors. Bittersweet Farms is a working farm that provides a purposeful community to adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. Located in Ohio, Bittersweet is active in four major areas: residential, community living, vocational services…

  • Mark Olson

    Mark is the only parent of an 18yo daughter with autism.  He founded LTO Ventures and its Autism Entrepreneurs Center in 2010 to serve adults with ASD after a successful 25-year marketing and business development career in New York and Silicon Valley with F500 leaders and venture-funded startups.  LTO Ventures is a 501(c)(3) non-profit company…

  • JaLynn Prince

    JaLynn Prince is the president of Madison House Autism Foundation that she co-founded with her husband, Dr. Gregory Prince.  She is the founder and president of Times and Seasons, an arts management consulting firm emphasizing the arts, broadcasting, public policies, and public relations…

  • Denise Resnik

    Denise is the founder and president of the marketing and communications firm, DRA Strategic Communications. The agency was founded in 1986 and has been serving clients in a variety of fields including real estate, economic development, health care, education, hospitality and entertainment. The mother of a 22-year-old son with autism…

  • Casey Rohrer

    Casey Rohrer is an inspiring and creative soon to be twelve year old boy who is in the sixth grade at Hermosa Valley School in Hermosa Beach, California.  As the result of a birth injury, Casey has learned to overcome many of the obstacles of his Cerebral Palsy. He continually surprises his family, teachers, fellow students and friends with his remarkable…

  • Deirdre Sheerin

    Deirdre Sheerin joined Sweetwater Spectrum as CEO/Executive Director in July 2011. Ms. Sheerin began her career as a special education teacher in private and public schools in Missouri, New York, Massachusetts and California. She has held executive positions at a number of non-profit organizations, including Zonta Services, a pioneering…

  • Laura Shumaker

    Laura Shumaker is a nationally recognized writer, autism and disabilities advocate. Her essays have appeared in many places, including the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and in a popular autism and disabilities blog for The San Francisco Chronicle. Her oldest son oldest, Matthew, is the subject of her book…

  • Chantal Sicile-Kira

    Chantal Sicile-Kira’s passion for empowering others has led her to become an award-winning author of five books, speaker, and leader in the field of adolescence and transition to adulthood. She has been involved with autism for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic…

  • David Sponder

    David Sponder is a Licensed Educational Psychologist who has worked with children, adolescents and adults in the Greater Los Angeles area for 29 years.  He is a former Special Education Teacher, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and an RDI Program Certified Consultant.  David’s private practice is devoted to children and adolescents…

  • Marianne Sullivan

    Marianne Sullivan, R.N., M.N., Managing Director, Programs and Services, Autism Speaks. Prior to joining Autism Speaks in 2007, Marianne worked for 9 years with the Cure Autism Now (CAN) Foundation in Los Angeles, where she worked as the Family Recruitment Manager, for the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE)…

  • Marianne Williamson

    Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer. Six of her ten published books have been New York Times Bestsellers. Four of these have been #1 New York Times Bestsellers. A Return to Love is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality. A paragraph from that book, beginning “Our deepest fear…

  • Michelle Krotinger Wolf

    Michelle K. Wolf is a non-profit consultant, writer and parent of a teen with CP and other developmental disabilities. She was recently awarded the Professional Leadership Award from ETTA for her special needs work in the Jewish community. She is the Transitions Coordinator for Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles…

  • Mark Woodsmall

    Mark Woodsmall is the founder of Woodsmall Law Group, PC a law firm based in the San Gabriel Valley area. The firm practices exclusively in the areas of Special Education, Regional Center Matters, Special Needs Trust Planning and Conservatorship. In 2006 Mr. Woodsmall joined the faculty of the USC Gould School of Law as a Professor Adjunct…