Crystal Adams is an attorney engaged in impact litigation at the National Center for Youth Law. Adams has worked to enforce the Flores v. Sessions settlement agreement, which provides national standards for the treatment and placement of detained immigrant youth. Adams is also litigation counsel in a related case, Lucas R. v. Azar, a federal class action suit challenging the unconstitutional and discriminatory treatment and placement of detained immigrant youth. From 2015 to 2017, Adams worked as a trial attorney in the fair housing enforcement division of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and, before that, as a legal extern in the office for civil rights in the US Department of Education. While in law school, Adams participated as a student attorney in the Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, a legal intern for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and a clerk for the Public Counsel, Impact Litigation Project. Adams obtained a JD in 2015 from the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
Zainab Alkebsi is policy counsel at the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the largest and most influential membership organization of deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in the United States. As policy counsel, Alkebsi is responsible for providing analysis, recommendations, and advice to the NAD on policy issues affecting people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind. Alkebsi regularly interfaces with government agencies, Congress, coalitions, media, and businesses on all issues affecting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, with an emphasis on working with the Federal Communications Commission on captioning, relay, emergency communications, and other issues. Alkebsi also represents the NAD at conferences, on advisory committees and panels, and through presentations. Before joining the NAD, Alkebsi served as deputy director at the Maryland Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing coordinating the office’s legislative and policy efforts. Alkebsi has a BA in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a JD from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Selene Almazan has represented students and families for over thirty years. Almazan is a former supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland representing children in the foster care system, including in special education matters. For nearly twenty-three years, Almazan represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment (LRE) issues at the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education. Since September 2014, Almazan has been the legal director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, where Almazan supports the work of the amicus committee and works on federal and local policy issues. In this position, Almazan writes appellate amicus briefs for appellate courts as well as the US Supreme Court. Since May 2015, Almazan maintains a private practice that focuses on parent and student representation in special education matters, including LRE. Almazan represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings, and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Almazan has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys, and advocates on legal issues related to special education law, as well as disability discrimination issues. Almazan obtained a BA from University of Maryland, College Park, and a JD from Antioch School of Law.
Rahul Bajaj is a lawyer qualified to practice law in India. Deeply interested in intellectual property law and constitutional law, Bajaj was a fellow for a leading intellectual property law blog called SpicyIP and has written articles on an array of constitutional law issues for several leading platforms in the field. In Bajaj’s final year of law school, Bajaj interned for Indian Supreme Court judge UU Lalit. Blind since birth, Bajaj is committed to the cause of making the legal ecosystem accessible to lawyers with disabilities and has spearheaded many initiatives to this end as a team leader of a project called the IDIA Disability Access Programme (IDAP). After working at a leading Indian law firm for a year, Bajaj is currently pursuing postgraduate legal education at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Peter Blanck is a university professor at Syracuse University and chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute. Prior to his appointment at Syracuse, Blanck was Kierscht Professor of Law and director of the Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center at the University of Iowa. An honorary professor at the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Blanck has written articles and books on the ADA and related laws and is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series Disability Law and Policy. Blanck is a former member of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a former trustee of YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network, a former senior fellow of the Annenberg Washington Program, and a former fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School. Prior to teaching, Blanck practiced law at Covington & Burling and served as law clerk to the late Honorable Carl McGowan of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Blanck received a BA from the University of Rochester, a JD from Stanford University, and a PhD in social psychology from Harvard University.
Mary Bohan is a deputy chief in the Special Litigation Section of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) working to protect disability rights and the rights of institutionalized people. Bohan is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University School of Law who worked at Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft and clerked for the Honorable June L. Green in the US District Court for the District of Columbia before joining the Department of Justice. Bohan’s work at the DOJ has included statewide Olmstead matters in Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana, and West Virginia.
Jessica A. Bronson
Jessica A. Bronson since 2017 has been a staff attorney at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities (QT), an independent, non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the interests of people with developmental disabilities. Bronson works on the Jenny Hatch Justice Project, which provides free legal services to low-income DC residents in, or at risk of, undue or overbroad guardianship. Bronson represented the first senior in DC to have guardianship terminated in favor of supported decision-making. Bronson also conducts trainings for people with disabilities, their families and supporters, and professionals on the topics of guardianship and less restrictive alternatives, including supported decision-making. Before joining QT, Bronson was a staff attorney at The George Washington University Law School Health Insurance Counseling Project and advocated for seniors and people with disabilities on issues related to Medicare and Medicaid. Bronson graduated from The George Washington University Law School.
Alexander S. Brown
Alexander S. Brown has nearly thirty years’ experience providing services and managing programs for not-for-profit organizations and teaching at the graduate-school level. Brown is currently executive director of Friedman Place, a not-for-profit supported living community serving adults who are blind or visually impaired. Brown also has served as executive director for two other organizations that provide residential services to adults with severe and persistent mental illness and autism and has managed community-based programs that serve older adults, as well as a crisis intervention program based in a hospital setting. Brown teaches graduate-level courses at DePaul University’s School of Public Service and the Jane Addams School of Social Work and previously taught at Concordia Chicago's College of Business. As a grant reviewer for the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington, DC, Brown reviews federal healthcare and behavioral health grant applications. Brown also works as a psychotherapist and non-profit consultant for Brown Leopold Partners, LTD, has served on the boards of directors of six nonprofits, and has raised over twenty-five million dollars from foundation, corporate, and individual sources, developing and/or implementing more than three dozen new or expansion programs and services. Brown presents frequently to both professional and lay audiences on a wide range of topics related to both clinical and administrative matters, such as suicide assessment and intervention, and competency and consent in real-world practice. Brown has master’s and doctoral degrees in social work from Simmons College in Boston and The Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, respectively, a master’s degree in business from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Illinois, and a certificate in nonprofit management from the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Illinois.
Lydia X. Z. Brown
Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, attorney, educator, organizer, strategist, and writer whose work centers on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people. Brown is an associate for disability rights and algorithmic fairness at the Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy, and adjunct lecturer for the Disability Studies Program through Georgetown's Department of English. From 2018-2019, Brown was a Justice Catalyst Fellow at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, working on defending and advancing the educational civil rights of Maryland students with disabilities facing various forms of disproportionate discipline, restraint and seclusion, and school pushout. Brown worked to connect the Bazelon Center with the Amplifier Foundation’s We the Future project to bridge cultural activism and youth empowerment by bringing radical social justice education to schools across the United States. Brown is co-editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color and otherwise negatively racialized autistic people. Brown also founded and directs the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides direct support, mutual aid, and community reparations to individual autistic people of color. While a law student, Brown taught a course on disability theory, policy, and social movements as a visiting lecturer at Tufts University. Brown was also chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. Before law school, Brown worked with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network as part of its national policy team and cofounded the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective to create space for queer and trans-disabled people of color, among others with multiple marginalized identities. Brown holds a BA from Georgetown University and a JD from Northeastern University School of Law.
Gabe Cazares serves as the director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for the city of Houston, Texas. In this capacity, Cazares works under the direction of Mayor Sylvester Turner and collaborates with the Houston City Council, Houston’s disability community, city agencies, and other stakeholders to build a more accessible and inclusive city for all Houstonians. Prior to Cazares’ appointment, Cazares served as the manager of government affairs at the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. Cazares was responsible for monitoring, drafting, and shepherding legislation and regulations that impact blind Americans through the federal legislative and rule-making process. In addition, Cazares provided supervisory support to the government affairs staff and coordinated their policy portfolios. Cazares holds a BA in political science with a Spanish minor from Texas State University.
Mariyam A. Cementwala
Mariyam A. Cementwala is a policy advisor for strategic initiatives in the US Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Cementwala’s role involves advancing religious freedom in US government foreign policy, working at the intersection of promoting religious freedom, and countering violent extremism (CVE). Cementwala speaks four South Asian languages, as well as Arabic, and has served in the political sections of the United States’ embassies in the United Arab Emirates, India, and Saudi Arabia. Cementwala has covered issues such as women’s rights, political Islam, counterterrorism and CVE, and human trafficking, in addition to leading mission outreach to minority communities. Serving as US Embassy Abu Dhabi’s lead in helping to launch Hedayah–the Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism, Cementwala received a meritorious honor award by the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism. A lawyer by training who received a BA from UC Berkeley and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley, Cementwala worked at a Washington, DC, law firm, served as a legal fellow on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, and managed government relations for an international NGO devoted to promoting disability rights across the globe prior to joining the State Department. Cementwala also taught a student-led course on the blind civil rights movement at UC Berkeley, incorporating the legal and philosophical underpinnings of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek’s and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan’s writings and speeches. In the early 2000s, Cementwala was involved in the negotiations and drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the UN General Assembly in New York.
Salomon Chiquiar-Rabinovich is an immigration law attorney, of counsel, at Moreno Law in Boston and is the co-founder and current co-chair of the Boston Bar Association Attorneys with Disabilities Committee. Chiquiar-Rabinovich has played a leadership role in professional organizations advocating for the advancement of diversity and inclusion. As an attorney with dyslexia and a disability rights activist, Chiquiar-Rabinovich advocates for law students and practicing attorneys with visible or invisible disabilities who navigate law school through reasonable accommodations and are admitted to the bar, but face the challenge of transitioning and negotiating reasonable accommodations from academia to the workplace. Chiquiar-Rabinovich has served as the president of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys, regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association for New England, and national co-chair of the HNBA international law section. Chiquiar-Rabinovich also has served in state and federal government positions, developing customized EEO compliance and corporate social responsibility workforce trainings. An immigrant from Mexico, Chiquiar-Rabinovich is fluent in Spanish, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Chiquiar-Rabinovich received his JD, MSFS, and BSFS from Georgetown University.
Israel Cook is a Reproductive Justice Fellow at SisterReach in Memphis, Tennessee, where Cook advocates for reproductive rights, health, and justice to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families and actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. A graduate of American University Washington College of Law (WCL) in 2019, Cook served on the WCL chapter’s If/When/How executive board as vice president of programming and the vice president of outreach and pro bono opportunities, as well as a research assistant to the AUWCL Women and the Law Program. Cook further interned at the Special Olympics headquarters in Washington, DC, in the legal department. As the symposium editor of Sustainable Development Law and Policy journal, Cook organized a symposium on climate change and human rights focusing on migration and indigenous land rights. Before law school, Cook studied anthropology and sociology and worked at a residential treatment facility for children with various disabilities. Cook was also an AmeriCorps VISTA for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Lexington Kentucky, where Cook fundraised for the non-profit, creating institutional capacity to serve abused and neglected children.
David W. Covington
David W. Covington, chief executive officer and president of Recovery Innovations, Inc. (d/b/a RI International), is a behavioral health innovator, entrepreneur and storyteller, as well as a partner in Behavioral Health Link, and founder of the international initiatives “Zero Suicide,” “Crisis Now,” and “Hope, Inc.” A licensed professional counselor, Covington received an MBA from Kennesaw State and an MS from the University of Memphis. Covington previously served as vice president at Magellan Health, responsible for the executive and clinical operations of the $750 million contract with the Arizona Department of Health Services and Medicaid. Covington is a member of the DHHS Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee established in 2017 in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act to report to Congress on advances in behavioral health. Together with Stephanie Hepburn, Covington is working on several books, including “Everything We Learned about Suicide was Wrong” and “The Dogged Pursuit of Innovation in Mental Health.” Covington has served on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Executive Committee since 2010, is the Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline SAMHSA Steering Committee, and served as a former president of the American Association of Suicidology. Covington also has served on numerous committees and task forces on clinical care and crisis services, including the National Council for Behavioral Health Board of Directors.
Samantha Crane is legal director and director of public policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), a nationwide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people to advance disability rights. ASAN works to ensure that autistic people are able to enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens. Crane’s responsibilities include development of official recommendations on prospective legislation, development of materials for advocates to improve health care and safety for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, publication of policy updates and analysis, litigation, administrative enforcement, and amicus efforts on matters with the potential for widespread impact on the autistic community. Crane has spearheaded ASAN’s initiatives on supported decision-making and self-determination, including drafting the first model legislation on supported decision-making in the United States. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, Crane previously worked as an associate at the litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. Crane also previously served as a legal fellow at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where Crane focused on enforcement of the right to community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. From 2009 to 2010, Crane served as a law clerk to Judge William H. Yohn at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Sharon daVanport is the founding executive director of Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN Network), formerly known as Autism Women’s Network. daVanport is an educational speaker hosting workshops on topics including health and wellness for women and nonbinary people with disabilities, violence against women and girls in vulnerable communities, and how to effectively use privilege when amplifying the voices and work of disabled people who experience racial and gender inequality. Speaking invitations include the United Nations Headquarters, World Autism Awareness Day (Empowering Autistic Women & Girls); and The White House (Obama Administration), advising on topics regarding disability, healthcare, and autism. In daVanport’s work as a disability rights activist, daVanport also advises on numerous policy forums. daVanport is an advisory board member at Felicity House, AWN Network representative at Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), AWN steering committee member at National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), and a board member at Crushing Colonialism.
Charlene D’Cruz, a graduate of the College of Wooster and the University of Minnesota Law School, is the Border Rights Fellow for Lawyers for Good Government's Project Corazon stationed in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. D’Cruz works closely with asylum seekers who have been forced to live in Matamoros while their asylum cases wend their way through the courts. Before September 2019, D’Cruz represented clients through a small private immigration law practice. In 1989, D’Cruz helped start the Florence Project, which has survived thirty years and provides free legal services to immigrants and refugees detained in Arizona. D’Cruz also formerly worked with refugee rights at the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, representing non-citizen victims of domestic abuse. As an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, D’Cruz worked with families to prevent homelessness through litigation under the Unlawful Detainer and Tenants' Remedies laws, and at the Minnesota Disability Law Center, D’Cruz represented children with special needs, advocating for better education services through the schools and juvenile courts. A teacher and attorney by training, D’Cruz is a pioneer in developing large-scale emergency legal response programs.
Steven Dettwyler, PhD, is a public health analyst at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Dettwyler has over thirty years of experience in developing, managing, and monitoring public mental health, addiction, and intellectual disability services at the state and local area. Dettwyler was responsible for implementing the community services requirements of the US Department of Justice’s settlement agreement with the state of Delaware. Roles in SAMHSA include: data analysis and training pertaining to the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services formula grants; acting as the contracting officer representative for the First Episode Psychosis Evaluation project; the Mental Health Block Grant, PATH and PAIMI State Project Officer; and a co-steward of the ISMICC Access work group, which focuses on access to care and crisis systems of care.
Timothy Elder is a civil rights litigator and the principal attorney of the TRE Legal Practice, a civil rights law firm focusing on the rights of the blind and other disabled people to access employment, education, government programs, public accommodations, accessible technology, and all other aspects of society. Working with a network of attorneys from across the United States, Elder has helped secure injunctions against testing entities for their failure to accommodate disabled students, negotiated groundbreaking settlements with publicly traded companies, tried employment discrimination cases, and argued before federal trial and appellate courts. Representative matters include a class action filed against Marriott International for its failure to make job-related software accessible to blind call center employees; a nationwide class action filed against Uber for its failure to train and prevent its drivers from discriminating against passengers with service animals; settlements involving screen reader accommodations for college students; negotiations securing Braille instruction for blind K-12 students; and several federal lawsuits and structured negotiations involving inaccessible touchscreen technology, websites, or mobile apps of public accommodations. Elder obtained his JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. During law school, Elder externed with the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel of the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Elder regularly presents on topics of disability law and holds leadership positions in the American Bar Association and the National Association of Blind Lawyers.
Safaya Fawzi is the associate director in the Diversity & Inclusion Center at the American Bar Association (ABA). Fawzi works to advance Goal III of the ABA: Eliminating Bias & Enhancing Diversity & Inclusion in the legal profession. Fawzi leads demographic survey/data collection, coordinates events, manages communications and teambuilding, and supervises marketing efforts. Fawzi is also an expert with the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Experts Hub run by Catalyst:Ed. Prior to the ABA, Fawzi was manager of diversity and inclusion administration at YMCA of the USA, managing service delivery and training as the first point of contact for 800+ YMCA associations, and coordinated the department's work with Salesforce and CRM processes. Fawzi supported the execution, project management, research, and design of trainings on implicit bias, disability, faith, immigrant inclusion, and D&I primers, educating hundreds of YMCA staff and volunteers.
Deena Fox is an attorney in the Special Litigation Section of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) working to protect disability rights, juvenile justice, and the religious rights of institutionalized people. Fox is a 2008 graduate of NYU School of Law and completed a two-year fellowship at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law before joining the Civil Rights Division. At the DOJ, Fox has worked on statewide Olmstead matters in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Mississippi.
Morissa Fregeau is an experienced attorney in health benefit law for both commercial and government insurance plans. As associate general counsel of UnitedHealthGroup, Inc., Fregeau provides legal counsel to the business operations area, including counsel on accessibility, website governance, health literacy, paperless delivery, and insurance operations from a state and federal law perspective. Before joining UnitedHealthGroup in 2012, Fregeau served as counsel to Sun Life Financial, Inc., negotiating and drafting vendor contracts, reviewing new state and federal laws, and providing advice on implementation, including the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA HITECH Act rules. From 2005 to 2007, Fregeau provided legal advice to group business as associate counsel of Genworth Financial, Inc. Earlier in Fregeau’s career, Fregeau worked as the social services coordinator for Covenant House–Jewish Federation of Dayton, coordinating the social service needs of nursing residents, advocating for clients at Medicaid review hearings, and working on a multi-disciplinary team for state licensing and federal licensing review. At the same time, Fregeau served as a mediator coordinator for the Village Mediation Program in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and organized and conducted trainings for students, teachers, community groups, and police officers on topics such as non-violent interventions, basic mediation, and facilitation skills. Fregeau earned an MA in counseling psychology from Antioch University and a JD from Western New England College of Law.
Katharine Gordon is the pro bono coordinator for Al Otro Lado, a binational legal services organization serving deportees and refugees at the United States-Mexico border, with offices in Tijuana, San Diego, and Los Angeles. In addition to direct representation, Al Otro Lado files civil rights complaints and engages in class action litigation to address individual and systemic abuses of the rights of refugees and detained immigrants. Al Otro Lado’s current litigation projects include Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen, and East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Trump. Previously, Gordon worked as a child advocate with unaccompanied minors—including children with developmental and mental health disabilities—detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Houston region, making recommendations about conditions of detention, release, custody, placement, and issues of safe repatriation. Gordon also previously worked with the American Diabetes Association’s national legal advocate program, where Gordon helped people across the country fight discrimination in employment, education, public accommodations, correctional facilities, and interactions with law enforcement. A former Georgetown University Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow, Gordon is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the George Washington University Law School. Gordon has lived and worked in Mexico City and rural Guatemala, is fluent in Spanish, and has worked extensively with survivors of trauma and violence, including at the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.
Steve Gordon for the last twenty-five years has been employed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), most recently as an Assistant US Attorney with the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. While with the DOJ, Gordon has developed cases under the DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative and served as lead counsel in actions involving the ADA, Administrative Procedures Act, False Claims Act, Contract Disputes Act, and other federal statutes. Gordon also has appellate experience in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and other jurisdictions. As the founder and coordinator of a district-wide civil rights enforcement program for the US Attorney’s Office, Gordon engages in community outreach, pursues civil rights cases, and provides guidance to less experienced attorneys. Before becoming an assistant US attorney, Gordon worked as an attorney for the DOJ’s Civil Division, the National Labor Relations Board, and the law firm formerly known as Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. Gordon has presented widely on a variety of ADA topics including the ADA in the state and local criminal justice system and disability discrimination in health care settings. Gordon earned his BA from Brandeis University and his JD from Northeastern University School of Law.
Allison Hertog is the founder of Making School Work, P.L., a law firm representing special needs students, as well as Bridge2Excellence, Inc., a not-for-profit law firm, representing low-income special needs and victimized students. Hertog’s firms are based in Miami, Florida, and Hertog expects to open a law office in California. Hertog has a national practice representing high-achieving students in need of testing accommodations under the ADA. As co-counsel with the National Woman’s Law Center and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Hertog recently settled a suit of deliberate indifference under Title IX of a Miami high school student sexually assaulted by three peers. Prior to founding Making School Work, Hertog worked for the Children’s Law Center in Brooklyn, New York, and taught students with special needs. Hertog graduated from Smith College, has a graduate degree in special education from Columbia University Teachers College, and obtained a JD from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles.
Eve Hill is a partner in the law firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy and a co-leader of Inclusivity, the firm’s strategic consulting group. Until January 2017, Hill was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), where Hill worked diligently to break down the barriers that interfere with the ability of people with disabilities to fully and equally participate in society. A highlight includes Hill’s work to extend the Olmstead integration mandate of the ADA to segregated employment and segregated education. Hill further is known for her work applying the ADA to emerging technology, the criminal justice system, professional licensing, child welfare systems, and high-stakes testing. Among other causes, Hill has advocated for accessible technology, website accessibility, accessibility in education, the right of people with disabilities to age in place, and supported employment placement and fair wages for those with disabilities. Hill is a co-author of the casebook Disability Civil Rights Law and Policy and has served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law. Before joining the DOJ, Hill was senior vice president of the Burton Blatt Institute, served as director of the Office of Disability Rights for the District of Columbia, and was executive director of the Disability Rights Legal Center at Loyola Law School. Hill earned her JD from Cornell Law School.
Kelly Israel is a policy analyst at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). Israel works to advance the legal, legislative, and administrative policy objectives of ASAN and, among other things, has represented ASAN at disability advocacy coalitions, testified before the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities, and engaged in policy analysis and advocacy in supported decision-making, guardianship, the school-to-prison pipeline, and related issues affecting autistic people. Israel often represents ASAN on the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) coalition when it meets and has been involved in ASAN's legislative advocacy around the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA). Israel’s chief interests are the education of children with disabilities, supported decision-making as a viable alternative to guardianship, and the over-criminalization of people with developmental disabilities. After obtaining a BA in criminal justice and criminology, Israel earned a JD from American University in 2015.
Caroline Jackson is a staff attorney with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), whose mission is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the United States. As an attorney at NAD, Jackson focuses primarily on civil rights litigation filed on behalf of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to enforce the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Jackson also currently teaches a Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Before joining NAD, Jackson clerked for Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., chief judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to becoming an attorney, Jackson worked as an interpreter in New York City, where Jackson also taught reading and writing in the program for deaf adults at LaGuardia Community College. Jackson holds a BA in linguistics from Harvard University, an MA in education policy from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, an AAS in manual communication from Sinclair Community College, the National Interpreter Certification, and a JD from Stanford Law School.
Elizabeth Johnson is a senior trial attorney in the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section and, since 2005, the coordinator of the US Attorney’s program for ADA enforcement. Johnson investigates and litigates claims under the ADA involving voting, transportation, employment, and health care, and coordinates ADA work with approximately thirty-five US Attorneys’ offices. From 1999 to 2005, Johnson served as deputy chief of the Special Litigation Section, supervising investigations and litigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, with a primary focus on persons in nursing homes, mental health facilities, and facilities for persons with developmental disabilities. Johnson has also served as chief of the voting section, supervising investigations, litigation, and the enforcement of the federal observer provisions under the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ’s defense of minority-majority districts challenged under the 14th Amendment, and the DOJ’s enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Prior to joining the DOJ, Johnson clerked for the Honorable Harold Baker, Chief Judge of the US District Court for the Middle District of Illinois and, for five years, served as the assistant legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where Johnson litigated lawsuits under an array of civil rights statutes, including the Voting Rights Act and Section 1983, and the First Amendment. Johnson obtained a BA from Michigan State University and JD from the University of Michigan Law School.
Christine Inkyung Kim
Christine Inkyung Kim is a trial attorney with the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), where Kim investigates and litigates violations of the ADA, focusing on schools, employment, prison, childcare, and foster care. Prior to joining the DOJ, Kim worked as a legal intern at the Center for Responsible Lending, Duke HIV/AIDS Policy Clinic, the appellate section of the Office of General Counsel in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and as a law clerk at both Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC and the DOJ. Kim obtained a BA from Tufts University and a JD in 2016 from Duke University School of Law.
Christopher Knauf is a principal of Knauf Associates, a private public interest law and consulting firm that focuses on disability rights and education-related legal issues. Prior to establishing Knauf Associates in 2006, Knauf practiced law at Lozano Smith, representing school districts and community college districts in state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as administrative due process litigation. Areas of focus included special education, labor, employment, and general education matters. From 1998 through March 2003, Knauf was a NAPIL Equal Justice Fellow and then a staff attorney at the Western Law Center for Disability Rights in Los Angeles. Duties included training and supervising a team of law students in a Loyola Law School litigation clinic, working with pro bono co-counsel, and assisting in case file and computer software administration. Knauf also conducted community education trainings on disability rights and civil rights advocacy skills, including a three-hour ADA/504/Unruh presentation at the 2002 California State Bar Association conference. From 2012 to date, Knauf has served as a board member of Disability Community Resource Center, an organization devoted to helping improve services to, and the quality of life for, people with disabilities. Knauf earned a JD from University of Southern California Law school.
Catherine Kudlick after two decades at the University of California, Davis, became professor of history and director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University in 2012. Kudlick has published a number of books and articles in disability history, including *Reflections: the Life and Writings of a Young Blind Woman in Postrevolutionary France* and "Disability History: Why We Need Another Other" in the *American Historical Review.* Kudlick oversaw completion of Paul Longmore’s posthumously published book, *Telethons: Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity* and co-edited *The Oxford Handbook of Disability History* with Michael Rembis and Kim Nielsen. As director of the Longmore Institute, Kudlick directed the public history exhibit “Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights” (https://longmoreinstitute.sfsu.edu/patient-no-more) and co-hosts Superfest International Disability Film Festival. Kudlick’s current work blends research and advocacy in the service of public history where the major goal is pursuing the Longmore Institute’s mission to convince the world that society is better because of disabled people. Kudlick earned an MA and PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Kristina Launey, who earned a BA from University of California, Berkeley, and a JD from the University of California Davis School of Law, is a partner of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, representing and providing advice to employers and public accommodations on compliance solutions and litigation strategy concerning disability discrimination compliance matters. Launey began an employment practice more than fifteen years ago at the California Legislative Counsel's Office, drafting bills and legal opinions for legislators and providing employment law and other advice and counsel to the legislature. As a result of participating in numerous site inspections and demonstrations by claimants with disabilities, plaintiffs, attorneys, and professionals, Launey has developed a deep understanding of application of disability access physical facilities standards, as well as accessibility matters associated with emerging technologies, the practical impact on individuals with disabilities, and challenges faced by businesses addressing compliance with changing legal requirements. Launey frequently engages in structured negotiations to minimize costs for clients, attempting to resolve legal matters collaboratively before incurring the substantial expense and distraction of litigation.
Chris Law conducts projects with, and for the benefit of, the accessibility community. Through his consultancy firm, Accessibility Track, Law organizes the annual “ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium,” the 4th edition of which took place in Washington, DC, in October 2019. In April 2020, Law will host the second annual “Digital Accessibility Legal Summit” in Washington, DC, bringing together plaintiff lawyers, defendant lawyers, and accessibility professionals. Law is the lead author of the National Federation of the Blind’s “Accessibility Switchboard Information Portal,” providing advice and guidance to newcomers to the practice of accessibility in industry. In 2020, Law is launching a new initiative to generate industry consensus standards for accessibility reporting.
Fe Lopez, who earned a JD from Seattle University School of Law, is the Director of Educational Equity Initiatives at the Law School Admission Council (LAC). In 2014, Mayor Ed Murray appointed Lopez to the position of executive director of the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC). This position was an extension of Lopez’s longstanding commitment to community service and advocacy for the underserved. The CPC directly engages with community members negatively and disproportionately impacted by policing. Additionally, the commission advocates for systemic change to the Seattle Police Department’s policies and practices to help build trust and strengthen community-police relations. Before the CPC, Lopez worked for a year with the King County Prosecutor's Office and then returned to the Seattle University School of Law as assistant and then director for student life. In 2012, Lopez became director of Alumni Relations and Annual Fund. A past president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, Lopez is active with the minority bar associations and the social justice community and, on the basis of that work, Lopez received the 2013 Excellence in Diversity Award from the Washington State Bar Association. Lopez also served as a member of Mayor Murray's transition team.
Jennifer Mahan is an If/When/How Law and Policy Fellow at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! in Atlanta, Georgia, and provides legal and policy analysis on issues related to reproductive justice, including policies affecting queer and trans young people of color and black women. During law school, Mahan was a legal intern with the Bureau of Maternal & Child Health at the Baltimore City Health Department conducting research on healthcare policy issues. Mahan also worked as a legal intern with the office of Delegate Robbyn Lewis in the Maryland General Assembly, as a student attorney in the civil advocacy clinic of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Human Trafficking Prevention Project, as an intern at the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington, DC, and as a policy intern at the ACLU of Maryland. Mahan obtained a JD from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2019.
Leslie Seid Margolis
Leslie Seid Margolis is a managing attorney at the Maryland Disability Law Center (MDLC), Maryland’s protection and advocacy agency, where Margolis has worked since 1985. Margolis handles individual special education cases and engages in special education policy work at the local, state, and national levels and has extensive experience with systemic urban school reform litigation, having co-counseled the Baltimore City Vaughn G. case for many years. A frequent presenter at local, state and national trainings and conferences, Margolis has published technical assistance documents, manuals, and articles on a variety of special education and related topics. A former member of several national boards, including TASH, the Epilepsy Foundation, and COPAA, Margolis currently sits on several Maryland-based boards. Margolis obtained an AB from Princeton University and a JD from Stanford Law School.
Zaheer Maskatia is a Washington, DC-based attorney originally from the San Francisco Bay Area who currently serves as associate counsel for the Board of Veterans' Appeals drafting administrative opinions deciding veterans' benefits claims. In this capacity, Maskatia adjudicates claims pertaining to several types of disabilities, including hearing loss and orthopedic disorders and, applying his unique experience as an attorney living with spina bifida, sympathetically communicates decisions to veterans, their advocates, and courts of appeal. Maskatia has also practiced consumer financial protection in the public and private sectors. Maskatia holds a JD from Santa Clara University and a BA in legal studies with a minor in near eastern studies from the University of California.
Jennifer Mathis is director of policy and legal advocacy at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (Bazelon), where Mathis engages in litigation and policy advocacy to promote community integration of individuals with mental disabilities and litigation to address other non-discrimination issues under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Medicaid rights of adults and children with disabilities. Mathis served on the team of disability community negotiators who worked with the business community to craft what became the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. Mathis left Bazelon for one year to serve as special assistant to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Commissioner Chai Feldblum between 2010 and 2011; in that role, Mathis helped draft regulations implementing the ADAAA. Mathis serves as a co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force and, in that capacity, has helped lead efforts to prevent passage of ADA “notification” bills. Before joining Bazelon, Mathis conducted litigation involving the ADA, Section 504, the Fair Housing Act, and Title IX claims with the Disabilities Law Project in Pittsburgh. Mathis also practiced with a private law firm, pursuing litigation on a broad range of civil rights issues. Mathis holds an AB from Harvard University, a Master of Arts from New York University, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.
Celia McGuinness is a disability rights trial lawyer and a founding partner of Derby, McGuinness & Goldsmith, LLP, where McGuinness represents people with disabilities fighting discrimination in housing, employment, and the public sphere. Published cases include Tamara v. El Camino Hospital, the first case in the nation to rule service dogs may not be excluded from a locked psychiatric ward. McGuinness has served two terms on the California Commission on Disability Access and recently was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to a third term, pending senate confirmation. The Commission’s mission is to promote disability access in California through communication and collaboration among the disability and business communities and government. McGuinness is vice-chair of the research committee and a member of the legislative committee. McGuinness also serves as a mediator appointed to the alternative dispute resolution panel of the US District Court, Northern District of California. McGuinness has been a visiting clinical professor at the University of San Francisco Law School, as well as an adjunct professor of moot court and legal writing at Hastings College of the Law. Additionally, McGuinness has presented on a variety of disability-rights issues, such as disability access law and service animal rights and responsibilities, and has published scholarly and opinion articles in publications such as Hastings Women’s Law Review and California Lawyer Magazine. McGuinness earned a JD from the University of California.
Carolyn Monroe is a certified peer support specialist at Dix Crisis Intervention Center in Jacksonville, N.C. Monroe has always had a passion for helping others. Working at the crisis center, Monroe has been praised for being resilient, optimistic, and a hard worker. Monroe is currently working towards getting a bachelor’s degree in social work to continue to advance in helping others with similar challenges in their lives.
Valerie Novack, a nonresident fellow at American Progress, is the 2019 Portlight Fellow for American Progress’ Disability Justice Initiative. Previously, Novack was a disability rights advocate working on state and local issues in housing, transportation, and public access. Novack partnered with grassroots and legislative partners on legislation, trainings, services, and conferences on topics important to access and inclusion of the disability community. An International Code Council-certified accessibility plans examiner, Novack focuses on accessible public facilities. Novack graduated from the University of Toledo with a BA in disability studies, geography, and urban planning as well as a master’s degree in disaster preparedness and emergency management from Arkansas State University. Novack focuses on the gaps present in preparedness and response efforts for people with disabilities and completed the study “Needs of Disabled Populations in Disaster Preparedness and Response” in 2018.
Michal J. Nowicki
Michal J. Nowicki is an associate attorney at Marashlian & Donahue (M&D), where Nowicki advises equipment suppliers on closed-captioning obligations under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and telecommunications and data privacy issues, and also prepares and reviews contracts and regulatory filings. Before joining M&D, Nowicki worked as a contract analyst for Axiom Global Inc. reviewing and coding software purchase, licensing, and maintenance agreements. Nowicki also was a legal intern for the Chicago Transit Authority, as well as an extern for the general counsel at the University of Illinois Foundation and for the Honorable William V. Gallo of the US District Court for the Southern District of California. Nowicki earned a BA from University of Illinois at Chicago and a law degree from University of Illinois College of Law.
Michael Nunez practices law at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (“RBGG”), litigating a variety of civil cases, including disability rights cases, systemic prison reform class actions, and Freedom of Information Act cases. Prior to joining RBGG in 2015, Nunez was a staff attorney and a Wolinsky Fellowship Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates. Nunez also worked as a summer associate at Winston & Strawn LLP in San Francisco, as a summer law clerk for the Office of Legal Policy in the US Department of Justice, and as an extern at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Nunez obtained a BA from Stanford University in 2006 and a JD from Stanford Law School in 2011.
Milton Reynolds is an educator, activist, and author in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reynolds formerly served for nearly two decades as senior program associate with Facing History and Ourselves. Prior to joining Facing History, Reynolds spent more than ten years as a middle school teacher. Reynold’s background also includes working as an equity/ communications consultant and an educational researcher and curriculum design specialist, and he possesses over thirty years of counseling experience. Dedicated to improving dialogue and implementing innovative solutions to address difficult social issues such as race relations, juvenile justice, disability rights, and environmental concerns, Reynolds sustains a high level of engagement in his home community. Reynolds has a strong interest in understanding how the legacies of collective history manifest themselves in the institutional practices that structure our present society. In addition to serving on the governing board for Literacy for Environmental Justice, a San Francisco-based environmental justice/youth development non-profit, Reynolds also serves on the advisory board of The Paul K. Longmore Institute at San Francisco State University, The California Council for the Social Studies, the ACE Center Advisory Board at Castilleja School, the advisory board for the Communication Arts and Sciences program at Berkeley High School, and recently joined the advisory board of Gene Watch UK. Reynolds’ background includes such varied and divergent experiences as being a youth counselor, service-learning coordinator, tour guide, stand-up comedian, and a research associate at U.C. Berkeley and, more recently, at Stanford University. Reynolds received a BA from San Jose State.
Mark A. Riccobono
Mark A. Riccobono is president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) where, for nearly six years, Riccobono has led the organization in testing the limits of blindness by helping blind people overcome the barriers to full participation in society. Through a combination of education of the public about blindness, advocacy to protect the legal rights of the blind, and a continuing commitment to the development of innovative research, educational programs, technology, products, and services, the NFB remains the leading force in the blindness field today. Before becoming president in 2014, President Riccobono served as executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute and was responsible for the development of many successful national education and technology programs, such as the National Center for Blind Youth in Science, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL), and the Blind Driver Challenge. Prior to joining the NFB, President Riccobono participated in the Sears executive training program, was appointed to the Wisconsin State Superintendent's Blind and Visual Impairment Education Council, and served as the first director of the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an agency responsible for statewide services to blind children. Between 2010 and 2011, Riccobono served as an appointed member of the Federal Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education. In January 2011, President Riccobono navigated a car equipped with nonvisual technology at the Daytona International Speedway, demonstrating the first time a blind individual has driven a street vehicle in public without the assistance of a sighted person. President Riccobono earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a graduate degree in educational studies from the Johns Hopkins University.
Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán
Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán is the transgender non-conforming justice project director at the National LGBTQ Task Force. Particular areas of expertise and focus are the intersections of issues affecting transgender people with disabilities and mental illness, anti-trans workplace discrimination, and gun violence prevention through a social justice lens. Rodríguez-Roldán is the author of Valuing Transgender Applicants and Employees, a gold-standard best practices guide for employers, and frequently speaks on discrimination issues that affect the trans community. Rodríguez-Roldán was named the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s 2016 Ally of the Year and has been profiled in NBC News and Latina Magazine, among other outlets. Prior to joining the task force, Rodríguez-Roldán worked as an equal opportunity specialist for the US Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center. Rodríguez-Roldán holds a BA in psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and a JD from the University of Maine School of Law.
Sasha Samberg-Champion, counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, concentrates on litigation under the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws. Samberg-Champion’s practice has covered a wide variety of civil rights topics, including fair housing and lending, employment and labor law, disability rights, LGBT rights, voting, immigration, affirmative action, and religious liberty. Recent matters include challenges to Department of Housing & Urban Development’s suspension of important civil rights regulations, municipal nuisance ordinances that cause tenants to be evicted because of police calls, and Uber’s inaccessibility to wheelchair users. Before joining Relman, Dane & Colfax, Samberg-Champion was a senior attorney in the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. Previously, Samberg-Champion was an assistant solicitor general for the New York attorney general’s office. Samberg-Champion is a graduate of Haverford College and Columbia Law School and clerked for the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and for the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Emily Seelenfreund joined Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) as its Wolinsky Fellowship Attorney in 2017 and was promoted to staff attorney in September 2019. Seelenfreund’s work at DRA focuses on increasing education and transportation access for people with disabilities. Seelenfreund received a law degree from Harvard Law School in 2017 and a BA from the University of Alabama in 2012. During law school, Seelenfreund interned at Disability Rights California and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Seelenfreund also worked with the Veteran’s Law and Disability Clinic, Criminal Justice Institute, and served as president of the Tenant Advocacy Project. Prior to law school, Seelenfreund taught third grade on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico as part of Teach for America. Seelenfreund is an avid wheelchair basketball player and was a member of the USA’s gold-medal Under 23 Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team in 2011.
Rebecca Serbin joined Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) in 2017 as a staff attorney. Serbin received a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2013 and a BA from Yale University in 2010. Prior to joining DRA, Serbin was a litigation associate at a New York law firm and clerked for the Honorable Michael A. Chagares of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable G. Murray Snow of the US District Court for the District of Arizona. While in law school, Serbin was an articles editor on the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, a member of the Supreme Court Clinic, and led the Civil Rights Law Project. Serbin also interned at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
Leanne Shank is senior vice president for legal and corporate affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary at the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). In this role, Shank manages the legal and corporate work for the organization. Shank and her legal team provide legal advice to the board of trustees, its committees, senior leadership and managers in all areas of LSAC operations. Shank also works with disability associations and communities to help enhance the pipeline and reduce barriers to legal education and the legal profession. Shank’s legal career began at a private firm in Washington, D.C. Shank was the county attorney for Rockbridge County, Virginia, and spent over twenty years as general counsel at Washington and Lee University, working closely with its board, president’s cabinet, and school of law in addressing all of the university’s legal matters. Shank is the past chair of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, whose mission is to advance the effective practice of higher education attorneys for the benefit of the colleges and universities they serve. Actively involved in NACUA since 1993, Shank served on its board for two prior rotations, including as its former treasurer and chair of the committee on Finance and Audit. Shank has spoken frequently at NACUA conferences and other higher education workshops and has attended numerous meetings at the Department of Education and White House on legal issues impacting higher education. Shank earned a BA from the State University of New York at Oswego and a JD from University of North Carolina School of Law.
Michal B. Shinnar
Michal B. Shinnar is a senior associate at Gilbert Employment Law, PC, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Shinnar represents employees in all aspects of employment law, including discrimination complaints, disability accommodations, and wage and hour disputes. Shinnar has presented on disability law topics for the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers’ Association, the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, and the Women’s Bar Association. Prior to law school, Shinnar worked as a psychiatry research coordinator for a major behavioral health hospital. A background in medical research informs Shinnar’s work advocating for individuals with disabilities. Shinnar holds a JD from Fordham Law School, where Shinnar was a Stein Scholar Public Interest Law Fellow, as well as a BA from Barnard College at Columbia University.
Justine (“Justice”) Shorter
Justine (“Justice”) Shorter joined National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) in February 2019 as its disaster protection advisor, available to support the protection and advocacy system with technical assistance and trainings related to disaster protections, emergency management, fire safety, and humanitarian crises/conflicts. Shorter earned a BA in journalism with a minor in justice and peace studies from Marquette University. As a youth journalist, Shorter began writing professionally on topics related to community development, humanitarian affairs, and youth empowerment. While earning a MA in Sustainable Development: International Policy & Management, Shorter authored three guides for the US State Department and produced multiple people-centered projects via internships with The Hunger Project, World Learning, and Women Enabled International. Shorter also interned within the White House Office of Public Engagement & Intergovernmental Affairs, focusing on disability outreach efforts, social inclusion policies, and federal agency engagement. In more recent years, Shorter served as a Disability Integration Advisor with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, deploying frequently to disaster areas across America and its territories. With a steadfast commitment to international development and inclusive humanitarian assistance, Shorter continues to participate in ongoing projects as a global advisor and trainer.
Suzy Rosen Singleton
Suzy Rosen Singleton, a native user of American Sign Language, is the chief of the Disability Rights Office of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Since 2016, Singleton oversees rulemaking proceedings and stakeholder activities to ensure accessible emergency communications, modern communication technologies, and video programing for millions of individuals with disabilities. Since 1992, Singleton’s disability policy expertise involved work as a litigator for the California Center for Law and the Deaf, government affairs counsel of the National Association of the Deaf, special education law compliance officer of the US Department of Education, the ombuds of Gallaudet University, and an attorney with the FCC. Singleton holds a JD from the UCLA School of Law and a BS from the University of California, Berkeley.
Leonard Stevens is a self-advocate and consultant with Project ACTION!, a self-advocacy organization of people with developmental disabilities who are strong voices for change in DC and beyond. Stevens wants people to feel like they are their own “boss” and to make their voices heard, even if difficult. In 2017-18, Stevens participated in DC Advocacy Partners, a leadership program designed for self-advocates and family members of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. For the last seven years, Stevens also has been involved with the DC Center for Independent Living in a peer support project called Youth Empowered to Succeed. Stevens has presented on “Influencing Positive Change Through Self-Advocacy.” Stevens graduated in 2015 with a BA from the University of the District of Columbia.
Marco Tarantino is an NIB Policy and Employment Fellow with Envision Research Institute, where he works to advance the employment of individuals with disabilities. Before his current position, Tarantino was employed as a legal fellow with the National Association of the Deaf, a student attorney with the Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities Clinic, a summer law clerk with Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., and a legal intern with the US Department of the Interior-Office of Civil Rights, among other positions. He earned a BA from the University of Tampa and, in 2018, a JD from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
Kellye Y. Testy
Kellye Y. Testy has served since 2017 as president and chief executive officer of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Under Testy’s leadership, LSAC has worked with its partners in the legal education community to promote universal access to justice as a way to build a more just and prosperous world. Testy came to LSAC from University of Washington School of Law, where her eight-year term as dean made Testy the first woman to hold that post. Testy also served as a professor and dean of Seattle University School of Law. While dean at UW and SU, Testy founded numerous programs, was named the nation’s second most influential leader in legal education by National Jurist, and served as president and in other roles for the Association of American Law Schools. Testy is a member of the American Law Institute and has served on the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers and on committees and initiatives of the ABA Section on Legal Education. Testy currently serves on the boards of the Washington Law Institute and LSSSE and is a nationally sought-after speaker, panelist, and consultant on legal and higher education, leadership, diversity and access, and corporate law and governance. Testy is a first-generation college graduate who earned both an undergraduate degree in journalism and law degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. After graduating, Testy clerked for Judge Jesse E. Eschbach, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Victoria Thomas since 2014 has been a trial attorney in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, working to vindicate the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in facilities such as nursing facilities, psychiatric facilities, and sheltered workshops. Thomas began a career in disability rights in 2007 as an attorney at the American Diabetes Association. Thomas then joined Disability Rights DC, litigating individual and class action disability rights claims such as Brown v. DC, a nursing facility Olmstead case. Thomas graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and Rice University.
Jacqueline Tosto is an RJ-HIV Fellow at SisterLove, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, where she conducts legal and policy research and analysis on issues at the intersection of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV, and other social justice issues, including criminal justice reform and gender-based violence. While a fellow, Tosto will work to accomplish policy change that meets the needs of vulnerable populations, educate constituents on the needs of the community, and participate in advocacy efforts. Before joining SisterLove, Tosto worked as a Human Rights Fellow for KRW Law in Northern Ireland conducting legal research, writing, and providing litigation support. Prior to her work in Ireland, Tosto was employed as a regional and community outreach intern for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Tosto obtained her JD in 2019 from Boston University School of Law.
Cara Trapani has been an associate attorney at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP since 2017, engaged in general and complex civil litigation with an emphasis on civil rights, disability, employment, business, and attorneys’ fees cases. Before joining Rosen Bien, Trapani clerked for the Honorable Harry Pregerson of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. While in law school, Trapani participated in the youth and justice clinic for The Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Jails Project for ACLU of Southern California, and other clinics addressing disability discrimination, among other matters. She earned her JD from the UCLA School of Law in 2016.
Shira Wakschlag is the director of legal advocacy and associate general counsel of The Arc. Wakschlag’s work involves directing The Arc’s participation in disability rights litigation to advance the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities nationwide. Prior to joining The Arc, Wakschlag worked on civil and disability rights impact litigation in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Skadden Public Interest Fellow at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and as an associate attorney at a civil rights firm. Wakschlag is on the board of the Disability Rights Bar Association and has organized a conference at Berkeley Law entitled “Rebranding Disability Rights Law: The Intersection of Disability, Gender, Race, and Class” and presented at a number of conferences on disability rights issues. Wakschlag received a JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and a BA from Brown University.
Jessica P. Weber
Jessica P. Weber is a partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy (BGL), where Weber works on a range of civil litigation matters nationwide, with a focus on civil rights, including disability and LGBTQ rights, workplace justice, and appellate litigation. Weber has successfully litigated or resolved cases involving voting rights, accessible technology and document formats, access to health care, employment discrimination, and wage and hour violations. Before joining BGL, Weber was a Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellow at the Public Justice Center, where Weber worked on issues affecting marginalized communities. Before that, Weber served as a law clerk for Judge Catherine C. Blake of the US District Court for the District of Maryland. Weber has served on the boards of the ACLU of Maryland and FreeState Justice. Weber obtained an AB from Princeton University and JD from Yale Law School.
Morgan K. Whitlatch
Morgan K. Whitlatch is the legal director at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities (QT), a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the interests of people with developmental disabilities. Whitlatch has widely presented on guardianship reform, supported decision-making, and other disability-related topics and is the lead project director of the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making (NRC-SDM). Prior to coming to QT, Whitlatch was an attorney at the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, a federally mandated agency dedicated to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Whitlatch also is a former attorney of the Washington, DC, firm Bracewell & Guilliani LLP. Whitlatch has provided legal advocacy on a wide range of issues, including civil and human rights, capacity and alternatives to guardianship, access to integrated services, and public benefits. Whitlatch has extensive experience advancing systemic policy and training initiatives, including those of the NRC-SDM and the Jenny Hatch Justice Project, both of which are dedicated to advancing the right of people with disabilities and older adults to make their own choices and determine their own path in life. Whitlatch obtained a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.
Yiyang Wu is a litigation associate with Relman Colfax PLLC in Washington, DC. Wu’s civil rights litigation practice covers a wide variety of civil rights issues, including fair housing and lending, employment law, public accommodation, and disability rights. Wu currently represents a mental health program provider, Gilead Community Services, in a federal lawsuit against the Town of Cromwell, Connecticut, in a case alleging violations of the FHA, ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Wu has also litigated extensively in the areas of reverse redlining and housing harassment under the FHA. Before joining Relman, Wu clerked for the Honorable Andre M. Davis of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and for the Honorable Mary A. McLaughlin of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Wu obtained an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Wu is an adjunct professor at Howard University School of Law and sits on the board of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund.
Mohamed Yousuf is a leader in the disability community who has had a widespread impact on shaping attitudes, raising awareness, and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities. Aware of the absence of organizations in his native India to empower people with disabilities, Yousuf founded the Equally Able Foundation (EAF) in 2001, a nonprofit committed to empowering people with disabilities to lead independent, fulfilling lives with dignity. Today, EAF addresses the needs of an estimated one billion people with disabilities globally by providing access to equipment, education, and employment. Under Yousuf’s direction, EAF has provided thousands of wheelchairs and assistive devices and started hundreds of small businesses. The foundation also has facilitated rehabilitation camps that perform medical assessments and surgeries, as well as distributed medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and prosthetics to those in need. A leading researcher in intelligent transportation systems, Yousuf is dedicated to bringing emerging accessible transportation technologies to the mainstream. As the program manager for the Accessible Transportation Technology Research Initiative and the research transportation specialist at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), Yousuf focuses on research related to developing technologies that include automated vehicles, wireless communications, mapping, navigation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Before joining FHA, he worked with both General Motors and Chrysler Group. Yousuf currently is co-chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) committee on accessible transportation and mobility. Formally, Yousuf served as a member of the FCC Disability Advisory Committee and acted as expert advisor to its transportation and technology subcommittee, the national taskforce on workforce development for people with disabilities. Yousuf holds a BS in electronics and communication engineering and a MS in computer engineering.
San Zhang received a medical degree from a reputable medical school in China and is a certified Chinese physician. Zhang has carried out cardiovascular research at a prestigious United States research institute, published over twenty high quality research papers, and presented work at numerous international conferences. After overcoming issues related to test accommodations, Zhang was able to pass all required exams and obtained the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification, certifying that Zhang’s foreign medical degree is equivalent to a United States medical degree.
Nicole Kovite Zeitler
Nicole Kovite Zeitler is a trial attorney in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Zeitler’s work focuses on enforcing the requirement, under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, that public entities administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities. At DOJ, Zeitler has worked on cases involving the unjustified segregation of people with physical disabilities, I/DD, children with complex medical needs, and adults with serious mental illness. Zeitler attended University of Washington for both undergraduate and law school.