The Wall Street Journal calls Chad Hymas “one of the 10 most inspirational people in the world!” Chad inspires, motivates, and moves audiences, creating an experience that touches hearts for a lifetime. He is one of the youngest ever to receive the Council Of Peers Award For Excellence (CPAE) and to be inducted into the prestigious National Speaker Hall Of Fame. In 2001, at the age of 27, Chad’s life changed in an instant when a 2,000-pound bale of hay shattered his neck leaving him a quadriplegic. But Chad’s dreams were not paralyzed that day – he became an example of what is possible.Chad is a bestselling author, president of his own Communications Company, Chad Hymas Communications, Inc., and is a recognized world-class wheelchair athlete. In 2003, Chad set a world record by wheeling his chair from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas (513 miles). Chad’s speaking career in the areas of leadership, team building, customer service, and mastering change has brought him multiple honors. He is the past president of the National Speakers Association Utah chapter and a member of the exclusive elite Speakers Roundtable (one of twenty of the world’s top speakers). As a member of the National Speakers Association, Chad travels as many as 300,000 miles a year captivating and entertaining audiences around the world
Rick Guidotti, an award winning photographer, worked in NYC, Milan, Paris and London for a variety of high profile clients including Yves St Laurent, Revlon and L’Oreal. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals as diverse as GQ, People, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Lancet, Spirituality and Health, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and LIFE Magazine.
Rick founded POSITIVE EXPOSURE after a chance encounter in 1997 with a young lady living with albinism at a bus stop in New York City. As an artist, Rick was taken by her extraordinary beauty. In a quest for a better understanding of albinism, Rick sought out medical textbooks, where he was affronted by the dehumanizing images depicting disease, lacking all humanity. It was this experience which forced Rick to turn his lens from the more traditional ideas of beauty, to the beauty and richness of human diversity.
Tom D'Eri is the Co-Founder and COO of Rising Tide Car Wash a social enterprise that employs over 80 individuals with autism in a successful car wash business. He is also the Co-Founder of Rising Tide U an organization dedicated to teaching others how to create better organizational systems by designing for extreme users. Tom is a Forbes 30Under30 social entrepreneur, an Uncharted Fellow and a Startingbloc Fellow.
David B. Rubin, Esq., is an attorney in private practice in Metuchen, NJ, and of counsel to The Busch Law Group. David represents public school districts and private schools throughout New Jersey, as well as numerous NAPSEC-affiliated private schools. He is a graduate of Duke University and Rutgers Law School, and has argued numerous precedent-setting cases generating over 50 published opinions from the state and federal courts. He is a former Chair of the National School Boards Association’s 3000-member Council of School Attorneys, a former President of the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys and a frequent author and lecturer in the field of education law. Further information available at www.rubinlaw.net.
Ken Berger is a seasoned executive with decades of leadership and direct service experience. He has recently focused on leading special needs agencies and has also worked in positions focused on positively transforming the entire social sector. He's an active speaker, teacher, and writer on a wide range of issues of concern to the social sector. He also works on behalf of the social sector as a Leap Ambassador, a community of thought leaders who believe that mission and performance are inextricably linked.
Jason Kudelka is a Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Mr. Kudelka oversees and supports therapeutic day schools in both Illinois and Arizona. Prior to this role, Mr. Kudelka was a Special Education Teacher in a private school. After that Mr. Kudelka was a Principal of a therapeutic day school. Mr. Kudelka has a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. He also has a Special Education teaching license and is endorsed as a Director of Special Education. In this current role, Mr. Kudelka is heavily involved in hiring and employee retention. He has worked with his team to develop innovative ways to improve employee retention.
Rory is the Chief Operating Officer for a nonprofit school who’s mission is solving critical problems in education and human services. Rory has been in the field of special education for 17 years first as a paraprofessional, then a special education teacher, principal, and now serving in his current role. He recently completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and completed his dissertation on how funding allocations impact staff retention in low-income areas. He sits on multiple Illinois state commissions and is involved at the state level in both Illinois and Arizona. He has taken on initiatives within the organization which focus on hiring and staff retention best practices.
Joelle Rossi has been in the field of special education for 27 years; twenty-five in the classroom and the last two as a lead teacher at Archbishop Damiano In Westville, NJ. She is currently in her principal internship and slated to complete her Masters in Administration this spring. She is a site-reviewer and a member of the Process and Standards Committees for NCASES. She is very actively involved in her school on many committees, leads in planning many school events, active in her community and volunteers with her town’s basketball program. She loves spending family time camping, travelling, playing games and going to the beach with her husband of 23 years, 21 year old daughter, 18 and 17 year old sons, and rescue dog.
Kim Kuruzovich is the co-founder and board vice-chair of Learning Independence for Tomorrow, better known as LiFT, located in Florida. LiFT serves neurodiverse learners from ages 5 and beyond with a K-12 program, a transition program, an adult day program and 3 micro-businesses. Kim has spent the last 40 years working within special education. She has two adult children, Matt age 28 and Gina age 26. Gina has Autism and Developmental Delays and is one of the driving forces behind starting LiFT.
Sue McLendon has been in the educational field for 22 years, serving Maryland children with special needs in the classroom, as a school administrator, and now as an Associate Vice-President of Arrow Child & Family Ministries. She holds degrees in Psychology and Special Education, and further endorsement in Instructional Leadership. Sue lives with her husband Mark in Maryland, and enjoys her time with family and curling up with a good book. The passion that drives her each day is knowing that all students are worthy of the very best of services, and she loves being continually surprised at her students’ resilience and gifts.
Dr. Becca Colangelo is the Assistant Director of Meaningful Community Services at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She helps to oversee the Project SEARCH and CORE Foundations programming at Kennedy Krieger. Prior to moving into this role, she was the Project SEARCH Coordinator at Kennedy Krieger for 3 years. During her time at Project SEARCH, she worked with individuals with a variety of abilities to support them in meaningful internship experiences at Kennedy Krieger. In 2018, Dr. Colangelo finished up her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Drexel University. Her research explored the transitional challenges that families face when adolescents with more severe diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder transition from traditional school settings to placements with adult service agencies. In addition to her role as the Assistant Director, Becca serves as adjunct faculty member for the University of People and serves as an advisory board member for the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities.
Stacey Herman is the Assistant Vice President of Neurodiversity and Community Workforce Development at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Her role includes the creation and supervision of programs designed to support individuals with disabilities as they transition to the workforce and access their community. This role allows Stacey to interact directly with individuals while working with multiple departments inside Kennedy Krieger Institute and the business community to raise awareness, train and develop employment opportunities for individuals of all abilities. Stacey lead's Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neurodiversity at Work program, working with community leaders, business professionals, and policy makers to realize the Institute’s long-term goal of improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
Stacey is currently the president of the Association of People Supporting Employment First Maryland Chapter, and is an appointed member of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board in Maryland. Stacey is a leading member of the Maryland Project SEARCH Leadership Committee.
Stacey graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Inclusion Elementary and Special Education. She then continued her education receiving a Master of Science in Special Education at John’s Hopkins University. In her studies, she focused on severe disabilities with an emphasis in autism.
Thomas K. Hyatt is a partner in Dentons’ Washington, DC office and serves as co-chair of the US Nonprofit Entities practice. He focuses on corporate, nonprofit regulatory, and tax-exempt organization issues for nonprofit organizations.
Tom is widely known for his work on behalf of health care organizations and nonprofit public and private universities and colleges and institutionally related foundations.
A substantial portion of Tom's practice involves counselling nonprofit organizations on governance and transactional matters. He frequently works with nonprofit governing boards and board committees to address such issues as regulatory compliance, fiduciary duty, conflicts of interest, bylaws development and revision, senior management compensation and benefits, CEO transition, succession planning, fundraising, lobbying and political campaign activity, board development, membership matters, policy development, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. He also makes educational presentations and serves as an advisor to boards of directors on current issues, conducts in-service training and facilitates board discussions and retreats.
Jamie Stewart is currently the President & CEO of Grafton Integrated Health Network (Grafton), an entity with an over 60-year history of serving children and adults in the behavioral healthcare space.
Jamie has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Business Administration with Healthcare Administration concentration from Indiana Wesleyan University and was Certified by the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy in 1991.
Beginning his career working as a CPA and audit manager at a regional accounting firm, Jamie specialized in Non-profit and Governmental sectors. His continued career growth in the roles of Controller/Assistant Business Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer in the behavioral health industry prepared him for his current position as Chief Executive Officer at Grafton, which he has held for the past 6 years. In all, he has over 29 years of experience as a key administrator in the behavioral healthcare industry.
Jamie has successfully led teams to implement three separate general ledger software implementations and led teams in four separate electronic health (EHR) and practice management software implementations. The implementation of EHR software at the Center For Behavioral Health during Jamie’s tenure as CFO was awarded the Organizational Davies award by HIMSS in 2006.
David Stone, Ed.D. is the Assistant Vice President of Operations for Special Education at the Kennedy Krieger Schools. Dr. Stone has 32 years of experience in the field of special education, both as a teacher and an administrator, for students ranging from Pre-K to grade 12. He holds Doctorate in Education from Johns Hopkins University, with a focus on special education finance. He has Maryland teacher certification in special education grades 1-8 and 6-12, as well as school administration, including a superintendent endorsement. Over the last 10 years, Dr. Stone worked with his State organization (MANSEF) and the Maryland Department of Education (MSDE) by designing a Compensation Survey administered every four years to all MANSEF schools since 2012 and by serving on MSDE workgroups examining Salary Parity with public school teachers over the past year. Previously, Dr. Stone was Director of Charter Schools for Baltimore City Schools. In addition, he served as Vice Chairman of the Baltimore City School Board for nine years. He lives in downtown Baltimore with his wife and three sons.
Harry Schaeffer is mostly retired but still open to doing some consulting work. Prior to retirement Harry spent over 35 years in senior leadership at an organization that provides services to individuals with significant developmental disabilities and medically complex. Programs offered include Early Intervention, School, Adult Day, and Group Homes for children and adults. Harry’s responsibilities included operational oversight of all programs and services, budget development, strategic planning, quality assurance and quality improvement. He is an NCASES site reviewer.
Tracy Lee is a member of the administrative team at the Gramon Family of Schools in Fairfield, NJ and a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. With over 20 years of experience working in special education, Tracy has been tasked with helping to guide the organization’s growth and improvement plans. Tracy recently led her team through a successful Middle States Accreditation and leads many other innovative initiatives to advocate for students, families, staff and community stakeholders in the special education arena. Tracy has also presented at numerous professional conferences on various topics in special education.
Michael Farrelly is a Director at the Gramon Family of Schools (GFS) in Fairfield, NJ. Over the past 20+ years, Michael has also held many other positions in Special Education including principal, teacher, transition coordinator, supervisor and vice principal. Michael has helped develop the GFS vocational and transition program and was instrumental in starting New Beginnings for Tomorrow, an adult day habilitation program. He has developed partnerships with local universities to develop research that will ultimately benefit the instruction of students with special needs. He is also on the Advisory Board at Felician University.