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#ADA30 Summit: Education and Skills for a Better Future

PART 1: ZOOMSide Chat – Grand Opening

Amna Nawaz smiling headshot on the PBS NewsHour set.MODERATOR: Amna Nawaz is the senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor for PBS NewsHour since April 2018. Prior to joining the NewsHour, Nawaz was an anchor and correspondent at ABC News where she anchored election, national political and breaking news coverage from 2015 to 2018. She also reported the documentary, “Roberts County: A Year in the Most Pro-Trump Town,” and hosted the podcast series, “Uncomfortable.” Earlier, she worked at NBC, where her work appeared on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Dateline NBC, MSNBC, and She was NBC’s Islamabad Bureau Chief and Correspondent for several years, reporting from the Pakistan and Afghanistan region.

Steve Bartlett, has brown hair and he is smiling and wearing a black suit, white shirt, and red spotted tie and an american flag pin on his jacket, color photoThe Honorable Steve Bartlett is the Chairperson of RespectAbility, former member of Congress (1983-1991) and former mayor of Dallas. Bartlett was the principal author of 18 major pieces of legislation including many legislative initiatives on advancing the cause of independence for people with disabilities. In addition to being a principal Republican author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), his legislation included Medicaid eligibility, Section 1619 for Medicare eligibility, supported employment, assistive technology, creation of Towards Independence, the President’s Council on Handicapped 1984 report, and mainstreaming reforms for IDEA.

Hon. Tony Coelho headshot wearing a suit and tie. Coelho is a white man with short grey hairThe Honorable Tony Coelho is a former United States congressman from California, and primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tony was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. He served on the Agriculture, Interior, Veterans Affairs, and Administration Committees during his tenure, specializing in disabled rights. Tony was the original author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that some 800,000 more people with severe disabilities had found employment than were employed when the bill was first enacted. Tony currently serves as the DNC Disability Council Chair, seeking to ensure that the political process is accessible to people with disabilities.

Lex Frieden smiling wearing a suit and tie. Frieden uses a power wheelchair.The Honorable Lex Frieden is Professor of Health Informatics and Professor of Rehabilitation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and he is adjunct Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine. Mr. Frieden also directs the ILRU – Independent Living Research Utilization Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. ILRU is a research, training and technical assistance program on independent living for people with disabilities and older adults. Mr. Frieden has served as chairperson of the National Council on Disability, president of Rehabilitation International, and chairperson of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He is recognized as one of the founders of the independent living movement by people with disabilities in the early 1970’s, and he was instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

Senator Tom Harkin smiling headshot wearing a suitThe Honorable Tom Harkin represented Iowa in the U.S. Congress for more than four decades. He served Iowa’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985 and was a U.S. Senator from 1985 to 2015. Sen. Harkin’s legacy policy priorities have included federal farm policy, civil rights for Americans with disabilities, childhood nutrition and food access, healthcare access and reform, labor issues, and access to and improvement of education. He co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act and was its chief sponsor in the Senate. He lives in the house where he was born in Cumming, Iowa.

PART 2: Virtual Gallery Tour

Celebrating Great Artists with Disabilities – Grand Opening
In partnership with The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

PART 3: Education and Skills for a Better Future

Currently, there are more than 7 million students with disabilities in America today, the majority of whom are children of color. A combination of challenges has led to frustrating outcomes even pre-COVID-19. These challenges were further aggravated by the failure of virtual learning to meet the needs of students with disabilities nationwide. Still, due to underlying medical conditions, many students will need to continue distanced learning, while other students with disabilities will be returning to a “new normal” riddled with virus-related safety concerns in schools. Learn from dynamic experts who will help us imagine a better future: how to go back – or forward – to school.

Sophie Kim smiling headshotINTRODUCTORY MESSAGE BY: Sophie Kim is an American television actress from Los Altos, California, and was born on July 10, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.  Sophie is most well known for her series regular role as Amara in the Netflix original series The Healing Powers of Dude.  Although Sophie has been involved in theater and voice since elementary school, Sophie had no previous professional acting experience prior to being discovered as the result of an open worldwide casting call for the role of Amara. Sophie was born with Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and has been a wheelchair user since the age of four, and hopes to be an advocate and role model for increased diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

headshot of Gerard Robinson smiling and facing the camera wearing a black suit blue shirt and red tie color photoMODERATOR: Gerard Robinson is the Vice President for Education at the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation. He was previously the executive director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO). Robinson was also a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he researched parental choice in the public and private schools, regulatory development and implementation of K–12 standards, the role of for-profit companies in education, prison education and reentry programs, and the role of community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in adult advancement. Earlier in Robinson’s career, he served as Commissioner of Education for the State of Florida and as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is also a member of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors.

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flagOllie Cantos is an attorney who has been active in the civil rights arena since 1990. A self-advocate who is blind, Cantos is most grateful for his 20-year-old, adopted triplet sons – Leo, Nick, and Steven – all of whom are Eagle Scouts, survivors of COVID-19 and blind. He has been a staunch parental advocate for them as they navigated the K-12 education system. Cantos works for the federal government and is a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID). He is also the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Scholarships for Eagles, a board member of the Virginia Organization of Parents of Blind Children, an attorney mentor for the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights and a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is also a member of RespectAbility’s Board of Advisors.

Sneha Dave smilingSneha Dave is a senior at Indiana University majoring in chronic illness advocacy as well as journalism. She created the Health Advocacy Summit​ and its program ​Crohn’s and Colitis Young Adults Network​ with major funding from Helmsley Charitable Trust​ and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to create more support systems for adolescents and young adults with chronic and rare illnesses across the U.S. and internationally. Dave brings her lived experience as a student with a chronic health condition. She is also a member of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors.

Nicole Homerin smiling headshot in front of bushes and flowersNicole Homerin, M.Ed. is a current National Leadership Program Fellow at RespectAbility, in the Community Outreach & Impact Department. As an incoming Doctoral student in Special Education at California State University, Los Angeles, she has over a decade of experience working with individuals with disabilities. Homerin received her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Boston College, where she was the recipient of the Bernard A. Stotsky/Thomas H. Browne Prize for Excellence in Special Education. In addition, Homerin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston University.

Paul Luelmo headshot smilingPaul Luelmo, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education in the area of Mild/Moderate disabilities at San Diego State University. His research focuses on addressing inequities in special education by working with families, teachers, and under-resourced racial and ethnic minority communities. His current research projects include a parent-to-parent advocacy intervention employing community-partnered participatory research to address autism service disparities in the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Additionally, he is working on improving special education paraprofessional training and he is currently employing improvement science methods to develop and refine a culturally responsive teacher candidate observation and feedback protocol.

Meet the Author

Eric Ascher
Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Communications Director in developing and implementing advocacy efforts and communications of various types. Ascher manages RespectAbility’s social media channels, website and emails; organizes and develops webinars; and supervises Communications Fellows.

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