skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map

2010 International VSA Festival Arts and Disability. Dance, Music, Theater, Education, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Visual Arts

Conference Presenter Bios

On this page: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Nicole Agois
(Reflective Program Design for Program Managers)

Agois holds a master’s degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis on piano performance from the Boston Conservatory. In her hometown of Lima, Peru, she developed arts-integrated approaches to support learning for students with developmental disabilities at the Ann Sullivan Center (VSA Peru). At VSA Massachusetts, Agois is responsible for developing and documenting effective teaching artist residencies, where classroom teachers and teaching artists collaborate to create arts-integrated learning experiences for students of all abilities.

Philip Alexander
(Inclusive Classrooms Using Universal Design for Learning)

Alexander is the senior program officer of the Empire State Partnership Office of Partnership Support and Research, where he coordinates professional development programs for arts in education partnerships in New York State. Alexander, who has a doctorate in theater, has also contributed to the arts in education field by consulting on the design of education programming, conducting workshops across the country, writing articles for national publications, and serving as a grant reader for local and national agencies. Possessing a strong commitment to empowering creativity in all learners, Alexander has been a VSA Community of Practice coach since 2007.

Jess Allen
(Transformations: Choreographic Training for Artists with Disabilities)

Allen started dancing with community and integrated dance companies before pursuing full-time training. She is now in the final year of her master's degree in dance making and performance at Coventry University in England. She also lectures in Bristol, where she is pursuing further training in circus aerial (corde lisse). Her first experience in aerial dance was working with Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company on Take. She now has a particular interest in exploring the possibilities that aerial dance presents for performers with and without disabilities.

Joni Amaral
(Integrated Arts Multiple Intelligences)

Amaral has been an elementary classroom teacher for nine years, and she currently teaches third grade in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She has a bachelor’s degree in education/creative and visual arts from Framingham State College and a master’s in education in curriculum and instruction/integrating teaching through the arts from Lesley University. She facilitates learning in an integrated arts environment that fosters self-confidence, self-knowledge, and social responsibility while encouraging a lifelong love of learning. Amaral’s hands-on resource, Integrated Arts Multiple Intelligences (I.A.M.I.), empowers teachers to celebrate the whole child through integrating the arts while recognizing and celebrating each individual’s multiple intelligences.

Alida Anderson
(Developing Inclusive Arts for Young Children)

Anderson is an assistant professor of special education at American University, with research interests in language acquisition and reading disabilities. Her professional experience includes teaching preschool and school-age students with a range of disabilities, and working as a learning specialist for students with language and learning impairments. Anderson received undergraduate and graduate training in photography and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has developed arts-based learning approaches for children with a range of developmental needs, and has presented extensively on the use of arts-based approaches for individuals with diverse abilities.

Emily Anderson
(Using Community Media to Access Awareness)

Anderson is an assistant professor of special education at American University, with research interests in language acquisition and reading disabilities. Her professional experience includes teaching preschool- and school-age students with a range of disabilities and working as a learning specialist for students with language and learning impairments. Anderson received undergraduate and graduate training in photography and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has developed arts-based learning approaches for children with a range of developmental needs, and has presented extensively on the use of arts-based approaches for individuals with diverse abilities.

Lynda Aussenberg-Hedfors
(School Arts: The Sum of All Parts)

Anderson's career at VSA Vermont started as a “Can Do Arts” puppetry instructor 12 years ago. Now, as the director of creative performance and cultural access, she's the founder/director of the Awareness Theater Company, a group comprised of adults with disabilities who perform original works with artistic, political, and self-advocacy themes. She is the author and project manager of the High School Self-Advocacy Theater Program. In addition, Anderson is the coordinator of the “Can Do Arts” program, which connects visual and performing artists with adults with disabilities. Anderson formerly worked with The Bread and Puppet Theater for 10 years.

up

B

Bellamie Bachleda
(Bringing Text to Life)

Bachleda's first experience in theater was playing Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas for Cleveland Signstage Theatre's Christmas special. She then transferred to the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2001. Her first professional theater experience was Goya: la Quinta del Sordo, which premiered at the Deaf Way II Festival in 2002. Bachleda graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 2006 and became a member of Quest's Wings Company in January 2007. 

Nadia Bamieh
(Story Book Making: Science Fiction for Creativity and Imagination and Creative Solutions: Career Training in the Arts)

Bamieh, board member of VSA Egypt, is a consultant in disability and inclusion. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Florida, master's degree from the University of North Florida, and bachelor's of arts from Illinois State University. In her professional career, Bamieh has paid special attention to art for the environment, adapted literature for students with disabilities, book making, and adaptation of music instruments. She has conducted national and international consultancies in the evaluation of special education programs and teachers' professional development. Bamieh also participated in developing the National Five-year Strategic Plan for Inclusion with the Ministry of Education in Egypt.

Kit Bardwell
(Arts4Learning Literacy)

Bardwell is the new executive director for VSA Missouri. For the past seven years, Bardwell worked as the program director for Accessible Arts, Inc., the VSA Kansas affiliate. While working at Accessible Arts, she developed integrated curricula for the national Young Audiences Arts4Learning program and for VSA 's Sound Ricochet, an international music and writing classroom exchange. She holds degrees in music from North Carolina School of the Arts and University of Missouri-Kansas City. Over the past three decades, Bardwell has worked professionally in music, dance, and theater.

Sibyl Barnum
(Arts-Infused Learning: Inclusive Pathways to Learning)

Barnum is the director of Arts Impact, a professional development program of the Puget Sound Educational Service District in Washington that trains teachers to integrate visual and performing arts into their core curriculum. Under her leadership, Arts Impact has grown from a local nonprofit to a nationally known model for arts education and has been awarded four U.S. Department of Education grants, the most of any arts education program in the nation. Sibyl has also served as education director for Eugene Ballet Company and Eugene Opera. Sibyl holds a master’s of music degree in piano pedagogy from the University of Oregon.

Bebe Bernstein
(Inclusive Arts: A World of Options)

Bebe Bernstein, Ed.D., is the executive director of VSA New York City and has been involved with the organization since its inception in 1974. While at VSA, Bernstein has introduced many programs for people with disabilities including the first VSA festivals in New York City. Prior to working at VSA, she was assistant director of special education for the New York City Board of Education. Bernstein began her career as an early childhood education teacher. She has also taught at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges, has served on numerous committees, and authored several books on intellectual and learning disabilities.

Kati Blair
(Reflective Program Design for Program Managers)

Blair is responsible for developing and documenting effective teaching artist residencies, where classroom teachers and teaching artists collaborate to create arts-integrated learning experiences for students of all abilities. She develops professional development opportunities on the role of the arts in education to support inclusive practices. Blair holds a master's degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor's degree in art education and mathematics from the University of Central Florida. She has taught visual arts to students and has exhibited her work at the Fuller Craft Museum, Somerville Museum, and the Edinburgh College of Art.

Pamela Bowell
(Process Drama: A Portal to Inclusion)

Bowell is formerly a principal lecturer in drama education and now a research associate in the School of Education, Kingston University London. She is an international consultant best known for her work with young people, students, teachers, and theater educators. For 10 years, she was chair of National Drama, the UK's leading professional subject association for drama teachers and theater educators, and is currently director of conferences and co-director of the National Drama Online Continuing Professional Development Initiative. She writes on the subject of process drama in collaboration with Brian Heap, and serves as co-editor of Drama Research: international journal of drama in education.

Elizabeth Broder-Oldach
( The Art of Inclusion in the Theatre Arts Classroom )

Broder-Oldach is the access coordinator at Imagination Stage, where she has spent the last two years as a teaching artist, designing and implementing theater curriculum for students of all abilities. She is currently working as a teaching artist with the Lourie Center’s Therapeutic Nursery Program as part of a residency through Imagination Stage. She spent a year as an assistant teacher at Kingsbury Day School, and has just finished her second year as a teaching artist with Young Playwrights’ Theater in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in theater from the University of Maryland.

Steven Brown
(Tell Your Story: Expressing Disability Culture through the Written Word)

Brown is an associate professor at the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawaii and co-founder of the Institute on Disability Culture. He is author of the book, Movie Stars and Sensuous Scars: Essays on the Journey from Disability Shame to Disability Pride. He’s convinced not only that everyone has a story, but that we also want to share our stories with others. An advocate of disability culture, his stories take the form of articles, poems, monographs, as well as oral histories. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

Edward Burke
(Using Community Media to Access Awareness)

Burke is the assistant director of the Awareness Theater Company. He has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts/theater from St. Michael’s College. A resident of Colchester, Vermont, he is also an actor, musician, independent radio disc jockey, amateur photographer, novice poet, pirate, and jester. He loves the past, daily creation using the arts, and also celebrating his Celtic heritage. He is addicted to sound, be it musical, mechanical, or human.

up

C

Elizabeth Calvo de Suzuki
(Career Access: Small Business and the Creative Industries)

Suzuki´s background in psychology and pedagogy has led her to develop support programs and the formation of human resources for the education of people with disabilities. She founded both a special education school and an institute for special education teachers. She works actively with the community and with national and state programs for the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Shanthi Chandrasekar
(The Power of Lines)

Chandrasekar is a teaching artist from Maryland. Her work and her approach to teaching emphasize creativity and imagination. She has integrated her background in science with her passion for creating art. While many of her works are influenced by her Indian heritage, her true inspiration comes from the mystery and majesty of the world around her; her muse lives where the scientific overlaps with the spiritual. She has been exhibiting her art and teaching for more than 10 years. She works with children and adults and guides them to unleash their creativity to find their own unique style.

Ruchika Chopra
(Inclusive Arts: A World of Options)

Chopra has worked with District 75’s Office of Inclusive Education in the New York City Department of Education as coach and director. Her focus has been developing collaborative inclusive practices and partnerships to ensure optimum participation of students with disabilities.

André Cocle
(The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Cocle has been the director of VSA Belgium since 1984. He has dedicated much of his life to advocating for the rights and fair treatment of individuals with disabilities. Cocle served as an advisor to the Belgium Minister for People with Disabilities and also as a member of a group in the European Commission for the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities. Cocle founded Le Ricochet, Silex Créativité, and the Musée Art and Marge, where he currently serves as treasurer. Recently, Cocle served as president of the jury for CAP 48, a French Belgian television show for people with disabilities.

Scott Cooper
(Independent Living 2.0: Voices, Vision, and Visibility)

Cooper, founder and executive director of ItsOurStory.org, is a social entrepreneur who has experience in initiating large-scale, socially responsible ventures. His experience in broadcast media, as well as television production, was put to use in developing the most comprehensive history of disability rights. Since 2005, Cooper has visited more than 100 cities recording more than 1,000 individual video portraits of the American disability experience for the It's Our Story Oral History Archive. These video portraits are enhanced by more than 10,000 photographs and 5,000 written testimonials collected by the late Justin Dart, Jr., from 1988 up to the passage of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. 

Bruce Curtis
(Changing Attitudes through Disability Film Festivals)

Curtis, a disability activist who uses a wheelchair, is the international projects manager for the World Institute on Disability. Beginning in 1980, Curtis has been working to build the capacity of disability NGOs internationally. Since 1992, he has helped to develop community advocacy and training methodologies that promote disability leaders as social activists and peace builders in post-conflict countries, such as post-Soviet countries, the Republic of Georgia, Armenia, and Iraq, to name a few. Curtis also has taught and performed mixed-ability dance internationally and introduced the use of disability film festivals as a public awareness tool in developing countries.

up

D

Lisa Dennett
(Drama as the Catalyst)

Dennett received her master's degree in educational drama for people with disabilities from New York University's Gallatin School. A certified interpreter, she is also an actress, teaching artist, and founder of Interactive Drama for Education and Awareness in the Schools (IDEAS), which brings dramatic arts to youth with disabilities and disadvantages. After freelancing as a teaching artist in general education and concurrently volunteering with people with disabilities, Dennett set out to find an organization that served youth with disabilities using drama. After not finding one, the seed was planted. It grew into a passion for inclusion for all. Dennet is also co-chair of the Arts in Special Education Consortium in New York.

Tom DiMaria
(Outsider: The Art and Life of Judith Scott)

DiMaria is director of Oakland's Creative Growth Art Center, the world's oldest and largest art center for artists with disabilities. In his tenure, Creative Growth artists' work has been acquired by the Museums of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco, the American Museum of Folk Art, and he has opened a gallery in Paris for artists with disabilities. He previously served as assistant director of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, executive director of FRAMELINE, and director of development and marketing at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Katherine Douglas
(Art Education for the 21st Century)

Douglas has a bachelor’s of science from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from Cambridge College. She studied with Peter London at the Drawing from Within Institute. Retiring after 36 years of teaching elementary art, she taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Stonehill College. A co-founder of Teaching for Artistic Behavior, Inc., which supports teachers practicing choice-based art education, Douglas collaborates in international online educational mentoring projects. She is co-author with Diana Jaquith of Engaging Learners through Artmaking (Teachers College Press), a content provider for knowledgeloom.org and co-moderates an art education listserv. Douglas was Massachusetts’ Distinguished Art Teacher in 2005.

Torrie Dunlap
(The Art of Inclusion in the Theatre Arts Classroom)

Dunlap is the director of the National Training Center on Inclusion at Kids Included Together (KIT). She holds a degree in theater from San Diego State University and spent 11 years as the education director at San Diego Junior Theatre, always including children with disabilities in classes and productions. Since coming to KIT, Dunlap has given presentations all over the country, sits on a variety of committees dedicated to improving access for people with disabilities, has written several inclusion manuals, and contributed to a college textbook called Inclusive Recreation. Dunlap is a certified professional in Learning and Performance.

up

E

Rae Edelson
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

Edelson developed a nationally recognized art service called Gateway that provides services to adults with psychiatric, developmental, and behavioral disabilities. Gateway is part of Vinfen, a human services organization in Brookline, Massachusetts. Over 31 years, Gateway has grown from a small, crafts program serving 10 individuals with developmental disabilities to a comprehensive art center with a $1.4-million budget serving 100 individuals with a variety of disabilities. She has received awards for developing art as a meaningful profession for individuals with disabilities from the American Association on Mental Retardation and the National Association of Social Workers. She consults nationally and internationally on developing art centers for people with disabilities.

Eleni Edipidi
(Transformations: Choreographic Training for Disabled Artists)

Edipidi earned a master’s degree in European dance theater practice from Laban in London in 2005 and has a bachelor’s degree in dance and live art practices from Manchester Metropolitan University in England. She has performed and toured internationally with the Belgian company Victoria with the work FATWR. Edipidi has also danced for Marie-Gabrielle Rotie, Aud Aasbo, and has performed in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games. She is the recipient of "The Marion North Mentoring Scheme 2009." Edipidi is co-artistic director for Levantes Dance Theatre in London and winner of the "Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award 2009."

Nadia Elarabi
(Story Book Making: Science Fiction for Creativity and Imagination)

Elarabi, board member of VSA Egypt, graduated from the University of Helwan's Fine Arts College in Egypt and obtained her Ph.D. in the philosophy of education, mental health, from Ain Shams University in Cairo. She is a lecturer in the field of arts for people with disabilities and a consultant in vocational training workshops. She is considered a pioneer in the organization of public art exhibitions for the works of artists with disabilities. Elarabi is also an artist and participates in many exhibitions.

Debra Turner Emerson
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

Emerson, who holds a master's in business administration, was appointed to the position of executive director for St. Madeleine Sophie's Center (SMSC) in 1997. Her innovative and entrepreneurial approach to programming has supported SMSC's strategic growth. She has served on San Diego County's Committee for Persons with Disabilities; City of El Cajon's Planning Commission; and was chair of East County Leadership. She serves on the Board of El Cajon CDC and is its Economic and Arts Development chair. She is active in many of the local civic associations including: Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Women in Business of San Diego, and Downtown Public Art Committee.

up

F

Karim Mehnaz Faisal
(Creative Solutions: Career Training in the Arts)

Faisal has been a researcher with the Institute of Hazrat Mohammad for more than five years. Born in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, she grew up in various countries including Belgium, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Bangladesh. She graduated from the American International School Dhaka in 1996. She received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Newcastle and a master’s degree in architecture from Parsons School of Design. She returned to Bangladesh and joined the Institute and, as a researcher, has been involved in various conferences, workshops, and vocational training classes for people with disabilities.

Sana Fakih
(Bridging the Gap through Art)

Sana Fakih has been the coordinator of the Arts and Recreational Program at the Friends of the Disabled Association in Lebanon since 1988. She has extensive experience coaching the emotional and psycho-behavioral development of children and youth with intellectual disabilities though artistic activities, primarily dancing and acting, and organizing art workshops for self-expression and communication for students with disabilities.

Leslie Fanelli
(Multiple Intelligences and Theater Arts)

Fanelli is an author, director, playwright, educator, singer, and mother. She is bipolar and has dyslexia. She has written numerous articles and study guides, which embrace the arts and Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI). She has written, directed, and produced six plays and designed multiple intelligences arts programs for thousands of students. Her music CD, Disability Pride, features her lyrics and voice. She has worked with VSA New Jersey, VSA South Africa, and VSA New York. Fanelli is the artistic director of New York City's Theatre in Motion, which features artists with and without disabilities.

Patricia Farmer
(Allegro’s Inclusive Dance Education)

In 1991, professional dancer and choreographer Pat Farmer founded Allegro, which annually serves more than 480 children with disabilities in Charlotte, North Carolina.Throughout her 30-year dance career based out of New York and Los Angeles, Farmer worked with many well-known performers as well as medical professionals, physicians, educators, and government officials. In 2004, under her leadership, Allegro's students made history as the first group of children with disabilities to perform at the White House. Farmer's work was also recognized in a half-hour special on ABC television's “Kidsview” program, which won an Emmy award.

Jane Fastje
(Allegro’s Inclusive Dance Education)

Fastje has worked with Allegro since its move to Charlotte, North Carolina. As a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school teacher and expert in the arts in education field, Fastje works closely with classroom teachers to coordinate lesson plans that reinforce academic learning in all of Allegro’s more than 20 dance education programs. In addition to guest lecturing at educational workshops throughout the country, she pioneered Allegro’s Continuing Education Program for academic teachers and draws in leading speakers from across the nation to discuss the specific educational and medical needs of children with disabilities.

Susan Fitzmaurice
(Creative Solutions: Career Training in the Arts)

Fitzmaurice is a lifelong disability advocate with multiple disabilities and the mother of two young adults: one with Down syndrome, one with mental illness. She writes essays for journals, magazines, and books—the most recent is in Sticks and Stones: Disabled People's Stories of Abuse, Defiance and Resilience. Fitzmaurice is also the inclusive arts coordinator for VSA Michigan and the ADA coordinator for Dearborn, Michigan. She is on the Michigan Rehabilitation Council and is the listserv moderator for Society for Disability Studies.

James Ferris
(Tell Your Story: Expressing Disability Culture Through the Written Word)

Ferris seeks to use language to create experiences for readers, viewers, audiences—moments of clarity, intense vexation, and something like joy. His disability experience deeply informs his work. He is the author of Facts of Life and the award-winning book The Hospital Poems. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Georgia Review, Poetry Daily, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Text and Performance Quarterly. Past president of the Society for Disability Studies and winner of multiple teaching awards, Ferris holds the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo.

Anne Finger
(Tell Your Story: Expressing Disability Culture through the Written Word)

Finger is a writer of fiction―both short stories and a novel―as well as of creative non-fiction. Her short story collection, Call Me Ahab, winner of the Prairie Schooner Award, was published in the fall of 2009 by the University of Nebraska Press. She has published four other books. Her short fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Discourse, and Ploughshares. She has taught creative writing at the university level as well as workshops in the community. Finger has also been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Djerassi, Centrum, and Hedgebrook. She lives in Oakland, California.

Carine Fol
(Creative Solutions: Career Training in the Arts)

Carine Fol is an art historian at Brussels University where she is pursuing her Ph.D. and studying the perception of art of psychiatric patients and people with intellectual disabilities, art brut, and outsider art in the 20th century. Director of the art & marges museum since 2009, Fol was previously directing the art en marge center for outsider art for the last seven years. Fol has also been an artistic consultant for the town of Brussels, organized exhibitions and exchanges for the Goethe Institute in Brussels, been responsible for the exhibitions in the Botanique center of arts from the French community in Brussels, and been a scientific collaborator for the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels for the Paul Delvaux and René Magritte exhibitions. She has also taught art history at the academy of fine arts of Anderlecht and is the vice president of the European association for outsider art.

Lora Frankel
(Integrating the Arts into the Elementary Curriculum)

Frankel, who holds a master's of fine arts degree in dance, has been promoting creative power in people with disabilities for more than 25 years and is a former dancer and choreographer. She has served as executive director of Young Audiences of Michigan and as outreach/education coordinator for the Michigan Dance Association for which she coordinated dance residencies in schools throughout Michigan. Since joining VSA Michigan in 1990, she has created and directed the artsJAM Gallery & Studio, which engages youth with disabilities to learn through the arts and offers mentorship by professional artists. She also developed an integrated, multi-arts curriculum for inclusive early elementary classrooms that has been implemented in elementary schools in southeastern Michigan.

Rachel Freeman
(Transformations: Choreographic Training for Disabled Artists)

Freeman, artistic director of Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company, founded the group in 1994. The company is a pioneer in the development of inclusive dance in the United Kingdom and seeks to create a distinctive and authentic performance, education, and training program. Its vision is to explore collaboration with other artists and to create internationally recognized dance work that embraces difference, with a sense of curiosity and adventure. Freeman co-leads the company with a manager and training and education coordinator. A part-time outreach worker and trainees are also employed, who, with project-based artists, directors, choreographers, and mentors, support the different elements of the company's work.

up

G

Ambassador Luis Gallegos
(The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Ambassador Gallegos was born in Ecuador. His career as a government diplomat began in 1966 at the age of 20. He is the current ambassador of Ecuador to the United States. Among other posts, he has been vice president of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. He is an expert member of the United Nations Committee against Torture and other Cruel and Inhuman Treatments. He is currently chairman of the Global United Nations Partnership for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, president of the International Rehabilitation Foundation, and honorary chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission.

Dan Galloway
(It’s All about ARTabilities)

Galloway is an art teacher in St. Lucie County, Florida, and has been teaching children with disabilities since 1976. He has committed his life to bringing the art experience to disadvantaged individuals who are traditionally underserved. Galloway has been closely aligned and strongly influenced by his association with VSA Florida. Currently, he is developing a non-profit art program to expand art opportunities within his community and to establish an art center specializing in serving individuals with disabilities. He holds a master's of science in behavior disorders from North Georgia College.

Martin Gardiner
(Arts for Critical Thinking)

Gardiner is at the Center for the Study of Human Development, Brown University, and The New England Conservatory of Music. He received a Ph.D. from UCLA in brain research. With a group of colleagues, he published an article on the impact of musical and visual arts training on broader learning in the International Journal of Science and Nature. Building on this research, he has continued to study the effects of music education on academic, social, and emotional learning, and development in children and adults both with and without learning disabilities. His recent publications include several books published by Arts for Critical Thinking (ACT) ®.

Rick Garner
(Neuro-Arts Education: Neuroscience and Education)

Garner has a background in clinical and educational applications of the visual arts. His primary research interests involve relationships between neuro-psychology, graphic development, and disabilities. He has worked with both students and adults with disabilities. His latest work explores practical applications of neuro-constructivist theory in art education and rehabilitation. He holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

Ellyn Gaspardi
(Art Education for the 21st Century)

Gaspardi received her bachelor’s of fine arts from Syracuse University and master’s of education at Lesley University. Gaspardi, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, spent five years in social work both at a hospital and a private agency working with emotionally abused and neglected children. She continued her education, earning a master’s in curriculum development in Creative Arts and Arts Integration. She has been an art teacher in the public school system of Massachusetts for 14 years and has taught Arts Integration at Cambridge College in Massachusetts since 2009.

Martie Geiger-Ho
(Mural Painting as Inclusive Art Learning)

Geiger-Ho earned a Ph.D. in fine arts with an emphasis on art education and a master’s of fine arts in ceramics and sculpture at Texas Tech University in 2003 and 1994, respectively. Prior to teaching at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, she taught ceramics and sculpture at the Academy of Visual Arts of Hong Kong Baptist University for two years. She co-founded the Hong Kong Mural Society in 1997. Geiger-Ho has participated in many international and regional exhibitions including 14 solo exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and China.

Annie Geselle
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

Geselle is the founder and director of The Canvas Community Art Studio & Gallery in Juneau, Alaska. She began working for REACH, Inc., a social service agency serving individuals with disabilities, in 1996, and she has worked in many areas of direct service since that time. With a mission of inclusion and a background in the expressive and healing nature of the arts, Geselle chose to concentrate the REACH Day Habilitation Program on the arts. The mission of The Canvas is to provide a supportive environment that fosters creativity and inclusion through shared art experiences.

Donald Glass
(21st-Century Skills for Students and Teachers)

Glass is the director of outcomes and evaluation at VSA in Washington, D.C. He is a visual artist and educator who has held positions at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, the Louisiana Division of Arts, and the Philadelphia Education Fund. His work employs evaluation strategies as ongoing teacher professional development and capacity-building for education programs that partner arts and cultural organizations and public schools. Glass' work at VSA focuses on building evaluation capacity to gather, use, and share valuable knowledge about inclusive arts teaching and learning, particularly using the framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Kalli Gudmundsson
(Kalli and Me: Visual Dialogue)

Gudmundsson started studying art at a young age and attended the children's art courses at the School of Visual Arts in Akureyri, Iceland, for eight years. He also worked in and studied visual arts with art educator Rosa Juliusdottir. Gudmundsson then studied at the Vocational Secondary School in Akureyri where he graduated in 2007 from the visual arts program. He has held several private art exhibitions and participated in many co-operative art exhibitions. In May 2009, he opened a private art exhibition, KALLI25, which is a part of the art festival ART Without Borders. He received the UCP's annual Encouragement Award.

Katherine Guernsey
(Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Guernsey is the education and outreach director of the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD). She is a public international lawyer who participated in the drafting process at the United Nations on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Guernsey has broad field work experience, has taught human rights at institutions including American University, and has an extensive publication record, including notable advocacy training materials on the CRPD, such as Human Rights, YES! (University of Minnesota), and Change Your Life with Human Rights (Harvard Project on Disability).

up

H

Gerard Hababou
(Poetic and Sound Arts in Movement)

Hababou, a percussionist, has been working with numerous artists in contemporary and classical Indian dance as well as traditional music from Yemen and the Berbers. He has been developing an intuitive way of communicating based on the sensation of sound and tones. For this artist, music is the most sublime language through which relationships and communication can be improved. He is currently working on the visualization of pictures by people with disabilities to develop new interactions with others.

Dan Habib
(Including Samuel)

Habib is the director and producer of the documentary, Including Samuel. He is a Filmmaker in Residence at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Until joining UNH in April of 2008, he was the photography editor at the Concord Monitor. In 2006 and 2008, he was named the National Photography Editor of the Year for papers under 100,000 circulation. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Time, Newsweek, Life, Mother Jones and The New York Times. Habib and his wife, Betsy, live in Concord, New Hampshire, with their sons Isaiah, 12, and Samuel, 9.

Tom Harmon
(Inclusive Classrooms Using Universal Design for Learning)

Harmon is a visual artist from Mississippi, who has been working for several years with students and teachers to create paper and handmade books. His hands-on workshops consist of the many steps of papermaking, as well as the study of the history of papermaking, the methods used, and the resources required. He has been on the Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster since 2003. He is currently a 2010 VSA Teaching Artist Fellow.

Brian Heap
(Process Drama: A Portal to Inclusion)

Heap is the tenured senior lecturer in drama at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Actively involved with VSA since 1986, he coordinated the writing of the Jamaican National Drama Curriculum for the World Bank/Ministry of Education, as well as the drama curriculum for special needs students. He has worked with Applied Theatre in HIV/AIDS education in Zambia and is currently collaborating with colleagues from several universities on a study of creativity. His joint publication with Pamela Bowell, Planning Process Drama (2001) is required reading in drama/theater and education departments in colleges and universities worldwide.

Kong Ho
(Mural Painting as Inclusive Art Learning)

Ho utilizes his bi-cultural background as an artist in his role as an associate professor of art at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Pennsylvania. Always looking for new ways to inform the public of the educational value of mural painting, he founded the Hong Kong Mural Society in 1997. Over the past 12 years, he has painted numerous community murals.

Erin Hoppe
(Teaching Curriculum Inclusively Through the Arts)

Hoppe is an experienced cultural researcher, administrator, evaluator, and advocate. As executive director of VSA Ohio, she works to make the arts and arts education accessible to all Ohioans, directing programs in education, professional development, access, and outreach. She has a master's in arts policy and administration from the Ohio State University and a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego. Hoppe has been president of Central Ohio Student Advocates for the Arts, program assistant for the Partners in Education Program at the Kennedy Center, and intern for the National Endowment for the Arts and Smithsonian Institution's Office of Policy and Analysis.

Celia Hughes
(Art without Limits)

Hughes holds a master’s of public affairs degree from the University of Texas and a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from the State University of New York. As executive director of VSA Texas, she has guided the growth of the organization from an Austin-based accessibility service organization to a statewide organization dedicated to multi-disciplinary arts, inclusive education, and disability rights. Utilizing state and local organizations, she developed several diverse arts programs for people with disabilities. Hughes, a professionally trained audio describer, recently described a concert by Henry Butler at WGBH studios in Boston, Massachusetts.

up

I

Kathy Iwanowski
(It’s All about ARTabilities)

Iwanowski, who holds a master’s of fine arts in interdisciplinary art from Goddard College in Vermont, is a professional artist and former cancer/hospice nurse whose creative practice includes painting, found object assemblages, music composition, playwriting, and interactive performances. Having witnessed and experienced multiple injuries throughout life, her work explores the connection between the arts and health, and promotes conversations regarding individual and group perceptions of wholeness and well-being.  In 2009, she founded Nurse-Artists International, a nonprofit arts in healthcare organization with a mission to build healthier communities with compassion and creativity. She has been an artist-in-residence with VSA Florida since 2005.

up

J

Richard Jenkins
(Discovering and Documenting Student Learning Evidence)

Jenkins, a partially deaf visual storyteller, seeks to create meaning through a variety of media. In 1994, Richard began his career creating graphic novels, an illustrated storybook, and short stories. In 2008, his teacher's manual titled “Comics in Your Curriculum” was published in Pieces of Learning. Jenkins also works extensively as a teaching artist and creativity coach with school districts across the country. As a creativity coach, he encourages educators to develop instructional and inclusive strategies that will guide their students through the creative and inquisitive process of making art. Currently, Jenkins is working on his latest graphic novel titled Toil. He is also a 2009-2010 VSA Teaching Artist Fellow.

Kenzo Jo
(SAORI Hand-Weaving Workshop)

Jo taught SAORI weaving to many weavers and instructors in Japan and overseas with his mother Misao Jo, the founder of the SAORI Hand-Weaving Program. He created universal design looms and accessories to make hand weaving truly accessible and enjoyable to people with different abilities of all ages. He opened his own studio, SAORI-NO-MORI, in 2004 in Osaka, Japan, where he has taught SAORI weaving to more than 10,000 people. Jo also has raised public awareness of the inclusive arts program through various events and festivals as the executive director of SAORI HIROBA, VSA ’s Japan affiliate, since 1989.

Shelley Johnson
(Connecting Art, Thinking, and the Diverse Learner)

Johnson has been an arts educator for more than 34 years, serving as a classroom teacher, consultant, and trainer to new and veteran teachers. For the past five years, she has been a lead teacher in two arts integration model schools. As an adjunct professor at Towson University, Johnson has been instrumental in developing the new Maryland State Arts Integration Certificate for the university, providing professional development, team planning coordination, co-teaching/modeling, and serving as a conduit between teachers, principals, and the central office.

Rosa Juliusdottir
(Kalli and Me: Visual Dialogue)

Juliusdottir is an artist/art educator with a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy. She also has a master’s of education with an emphasis on art education from the University of Akureyri, Iceland. She has been a lecturer in art education since 2003. In May 2009, Juliusdottir opened a cooperative art exhibition with visual artist and long-time student Kalli Gudmunsson.

up

K

Shaqe Kalaj
(Creative Solutions: Career Training in the Arts)

Kalaj is a painter, printmaker, mixed-media artist, creative coach, teaching artist, and visual arts coordinator for VSA Michigan. As a professional artist, Kalaj exhibits her work both in the U.S and around the world. She does not define herself by a particular medium, but lets her content define what medium she will work in. In recent years (her most productive), Kalaj has created several series of 10-36 pieces using a kind of visual “polystylism.” Within each series, she focuses on a specific technique to provoke specific moods, such as woodcut print, gel medium, oil, acrylic, ink drawing, photography, or mixed media. Kalaj was a VSA Teaching Artist Fellow in 2008-2009.

David Kay
(Traditional American Blues—Everyone Join In!)

Kalaj is a painter, printmaker, mixed-media artist, creative coach, teaching artist, and visual arts coordinator for VSA Michigan. As a professional artist, Kalaj exhibits her work both in the U.S and around the world. She does not define herself by a particular medium, but lets her content define what medium she will work in. In recent years (her most productive), Kalaj has created several series of 10-36 pieces using a kind of visual “polystylism.” Within each series, she focuses on a specific technique to provoke specific moods, such as woodcut print, gel medium, oil, acrylic, ink drawing, photography, or mixed media. Kalaj was a VSA Teaching Artist Fellow in 2008-2009.

Lalene Kay
(Traditional American Blues—Everyone Join In!)

Kay is a music therapist and was an artist mentor for VSA in the 1980's. In her 31st year as a college-level music therapy educator; she continues her clinical practice serving clients of all ages with autism, dementia, behavioral disorders, vacterl syndrome, sensory impairments, and cognitive impairments. Her presentations at local, state, and national conferences cover topics relating to music's affects on quality of life, self-confidence, and social development. Kay is the special learners chair of the Ohio Music Education Association and a volunteer and artist for the VSA Festival in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

Jenny Kinnear
(African Drumming: Indigenous Approach to Inclusivity)

Kinnear manages curriculum and assessment policy development and implementation in the South African Education Department, including curriculum support for arts and culture programs. Kinnear, who has a master's in education from the Tswane University of Technology, ensures effective curriculum implementation across all nine provinces and in all schools. 

Sonia Khoury
(Start with Clay)

Khoury was born in Beirut and raised in Jerusalem. During school years, she engaged in various extra-curricular activities, and often participated in art competitions, winning many prizes. She received a degree in hotel management and worked at the Intercontinental Hotel in various administrative positions. In 1994, she became a pottery teacher and the head of the art section of the Help Center—VSA's affiliate in Saudi Arabia. The Help Center provides specialized programs to children with intellectual disabilities.

Low Kok Wai
(Movement Metaphor: Special Needs Drama Education)

Kok Wai is a trained dancer-choreographer and drama educator who has been using inclusive and innovative arts processes to engage people with disabilities. Based in Singapore, he has collaborated with NGOs and many other organizations that promote the well being of people with disabilities through the arts. His conviction in the capacity of the arts to empower people with disabilities through artistic expression and public education has resulted in many workshops and performances both locally and globally.

up

L

Lisa LaMarre
(Integrating the Arts into the Elementary Curriculum)

LaMarre graduated with a bachelor’s in dance from Western Michigan University. In 2005, she was chosen as the WMU Department of Dance Presidential Scholar and was awarded an Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Program Grant to study dance in New York City. She has worked with BalletMet, and participated in WMU's Great Works Dance Projects. LaMarre currently dances for stbdance, Patterson Rhythm Pace, and serves as the education director at the Detroit Dance Collective. She conducts master classes and workshops throughout Michigan and Ohio, directs the Dance Academy of Bloomfield Hills student dance company, and teaches at Detroit Country Day School and Cranbrook School.

Molly Landis
(Integrating the Arts into the Elementary Curriculum)

Landis holds a master’s in art education from Wayne State University and works as a professional artist and arts instructor in the metro Detroit area. Her artistic strengths are in painting, drawing, and mixed-media collage. Currently, she is establishing a healing arts program for cancer patients at a regional medical center, as well as pursuing a career in children’s book writing and illustrating. Landis is a youth arts instructor at the Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center. She has served as a teaching artist for VSA Michigan for the past five years.

Susan Layton
(Integrated Arts Multiple Intelligences)

Layton has taught music education in the public and private sectors for the past 25 years, and she is currently teaching general music to elementary school children in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. She has a bachelor's degree in music education from Westfield State College and a master's in education in curriculum and instruction/integrating teaching through the arts from Lesley University. Layton's teaching methods continue to positively impact her school community in many ways. Her hands-on resource, Integrated Arts Multiple Intelligences (I.A.M.I.), empowers teachers to celebrate the whole child through integrating the arts while recognizing and celebrating each individual's multiple intelligences.

Dominique Le Godec
(Poetic and Sound Arts in Movement)

Le Godec is a visual artist and a puppet creator who combines plastic creations with movement and puppetry. As a poet, she rediscovers movement in the object and in writing compositions. As a clown, she combines gestures, humor, and fun in her artistic work. Le Godec was trained in theatrical techniques as well as art therapy and has specific knowledge of the therapeutic use of puppetry. She works with adults and teenagers with intellectual disabilities, particularly autism, and others who have multiple physical disabilities.

Patti Lind
(Career Access: Small Business and the Creative Industries)

Lind, The Abilities Fund co-founder and executive director, offers two decades of experience in microenterprise development for disadvantaged populations. For the past 15 years, Lind's work has focused on serving entrepreneurs with disabilities on a national level. She has worked with public and private rehabilitation and microenterprise organizations in 35 states to build their capacity to facilitate business development. She was awarded the 2008 Veterans Business Champion by the Small Business Administration and Veterans Affairs, is on the board of directors of the Association for Enterprise Development, and is a member of the Microenterprise National Advisory Council.

Mary Liniger
(21st-Century Skills for Students and Teachers)

Liniger, director of education services for VSA, is responsible for the creation and implementation of professional development and resources for educators, including the VSA Institute, the Start with the Arts program, and the Teaching Artist Fellowship. Before joining VSA, she was the arts education coordinator and the ADA/504 coordinator for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, a state arts agency. As the arts education coordinator, she developed programs and initiatives that included the D.C. Teacher Mini Grant, Project SEAS (Summer Education, Arts and Sports), and the Arts Education Initiative professional development series.

Susan Little
(Connecting Art, Thinking, and the Diverse Learner)

Little has been an educator for 33 years. She has been a classroom teacher and a special educator with certifications in elementary education, special education, and education of the hearing impaired. While in Montgomery County, Maryland, schools, she taught first, second, and third grades. At Charles R. Drew Elementary, an arts integration model school, she received her post-baccalaureate certificate in arts integration education from Towson University. As a result of her coursework, Little created a research project teaching storytelling techniques to third-grade students.

Kathy London
(Inclusive Arts: A World of Options)

London, an instructional support specialist for the arts, is responsible for the design and implementation of arts programs in District 75 schools, part of the New York City public school system that provides programs for students with disabilities. She coordinates curriculum implementation and all related activities in each area of the arts, in accordance with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) standard and in accordance with The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts curriculum strands and benchmarks for arts education. London provides technical assistance to staff on arts programs, standards-based practices, professional development, resources and learning events, and has an understanding of the needs of District 75’s arts teachers.

up

M

Susan Maley
(Visual Artists with Disabilities’ Professional Experiences)

Maley is finishing her Ph.D. on the working lives of practicing visual artists with disabilities at the University of Queensland in Australia. Prior to her current research, she was the artistic program director for Arts in Action, a South Australia arts and disability organization. Before her arrival in Australia, she was a researcher at the Oregon Institute on Disability and Development Center where she began promoting economic opportunity for artists with disabilities. The impetus for her work includes a long involvement with visual arts and artists and a commitment to increase work options for artists with disabilities.

Ruth Marshall
(School Arts: The Sum of All Parts)

Marshall is a physical therapist assistant at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, where she provides therapy services to students with disabilities in order to facilitate their functioning in the school environment. She is also the choreographer of the annual holiday program that includes every student in a school-wide presentation for families and community members. Since 1989, Marshall has been influential in developing and promoting the use of banners, flags, pageantry, and dance in various churches throughout the Pittsburgh area through workshops, seminars and demonstrations.

Jon Martin
(Arts-Infused Learning: Inclusive Pathways to Learning)

Martin is a self-contained special education teacher at Centennial Elementary School in Graham, Washington. He has taught this third- through sixth-grade special education classroom for three years. The objective is to assist students with different learning styles with academics, social skills, and life skills to integrate into general education classrooms and with general education students. The current focus on arts-infusion has increased student achievement, personal confidence, and teacher expectations. Martin is a Washington state native and a product of Washington schools and universities.

Tim McCarty
(Bringing Text to Life)

McCarty is the founder and artistic director of Quest, a non-profit that uses the arts to promote understanding among all people. McCarty’s work has carried him to schools, theaters, festivals, and conventions and earned him a White House Presidential Scholar Outstanding Teacher award presented by the United States Secretary of Education in 1993. His students have won national acting and playwriting competitions. He is the author of nine plays and has regularly written articles and columns about arts and arts education for national and international publications. The Gallaudet University Community Relations Council has also honored him with its Cultural Enrichment Award.

Glenn McClure
(Emerging Career Paths for the Teaching Artist)

McClure is a teaching artist, composer, and arts consultant. He is also a severe stutterer. Though he has learned to control this disability, the challenges of stuttering have played a major role in his artist work, his teaching artist career, and his advocacy for the field. His works have been performed throughout Europe and Latin America, as well as in America’s top concert halls including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition to national commission awards through the American Composers Forum and several academic publications, Glenn received the VSA Teaching Artist Fellowship in 2008-2009.

Kimberly McCord
(Universal Design for Learning in the General Music Classroom)

McCord is associate professor of music education at Illinois State University. She taught music and special education in the Denver Public Schools for 10 years. She is the past chair of the Illinois State Music Educators Commission on Music in Special Education, Music Therapy and Music Medicine and is the current chair of the National Association for Music Education Special Research Interest Group on Children with Disabilities. She has presented at conferences in Italy, Spain, Malaysia, Norway, Finland, and Canada, and 33 states. McCord recently completed a two-year teaching artist residency in jazz for students with severe physical disabilities at the Henry Viscardi School in Long Island, New York.

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo
(Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

McClain-Nhlapo, a human rights lawyer, obtained a master’s degree in international law at the University of Warsaw and received her LLM from Cornell Law School. She has worked primarily in the area of human rights, focusing on children, women, and people with disabilities. In 1999, she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to the South African Human Rights Commission, and reappointed in 2002. McClain-Nhlapo currently works at the World Bank. She has also worked for UNICEF and served as an expert on a number of UN Committees. She recently received the inaugural Sir Harry Fang Empowerment Award by Rehabilitation International.

Myrna Meeroff
(Music in a Learning-Centered Classroom)

A native of Argentina, Meeroff has spent her life as a performer and educator. She has played all over the world with orchestras, bands, and as a horn soloist. She is the first-prize winner of the prestigious Rising Star International Competition. Currently on a one-year assignment as an associate professor of music at Prince George’s Community College, Meeroff is working to link the music curriculum to every subject offered. She is the president/founder of Interactive Opera, a company that encourages audience participation. In the fall, Interactive Opera will perform with a cast of students with physical disabilities.

Pam Mendelsohn
(Building Bridges: Cameras in the Hands of Children)

Mendelsohn is a photographer and author. She has been involved with the disability rights movement for 30 years. She was the public education and media specialist for the World Institute on Disability’s projects in Russia, making seven trips there to help provide visibility for disability issues through the media. In 2005, she created the Building Bridges: Cameras in the Hands of Children project. She initially led a workshop for 10 children with and without disabilities. The project was awarded second place in a Moscow-wide competition for most innovative programming, and it has been replicated throughout Russia.

Rita Merhej
(Bridging the Gap through Art)

Merhej is a clinical psychologist specializing in developmental disabilities. She is the director of the Friends of the Disabled Association, VSA ’s Lebanon affiliate since 2007, and the founder of the Idad Dance Group, a group of young people with disabilities and great artistic talents in dancing and acting. Merhej has also taught psychology at the American University of Beirut for many years, and hosted for five years a daily television program on children's mental health, which was aired locally and internationally. Her book, Our Children: From Birth to Adolescence, was a best-seller in the Arabic world and earned the Souad Al Sabah Award for best Cultural Achievement in 2001.

William M. Mihalke
(Career Access: Small Business and the Creative Industries)

Mihalke is responsible for policy research for the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant at the University of Hawaii, funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In addition, he oversees an actuarial cost study for Hawaii’s Medicaid Buy-in, which will generate a series of recommendations to the State of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services on changes to the state’s Medicaid system. He is also responsible for the design of a benefits planning process for beneficiaries to make informed choices related to their return to work. He holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master of science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Susan Miller
(Career Access: Small Business and the Creative Industries)

In 2003, Miller served as the investigator for career forums in Hawaii called “Artists Mean Business,” which researched and developed opportunities for internship and apprenticeship certification programs in creative industries as well as promoted workforce development and access to careers for individuals with disabilities. Currently, Miller supervises key University of Hawaii staff and consultants, creating public-private partnership related to education, cultural, and creative industries and workforce development, along with various statewide artists with disabilities.

Patty Mitchell
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

While attending Ohio University, Mitchell served as a resident volunteer at the Athens Psychiatric Hospital. While at the hospital, she developed arts programming and saw first-hand the positive results that the arts had. In 1996, she created Passion Works Studio where artists with and without disabilities collaborate, making fine art and developing a line of products. The studio has generated nearly $1 million in sales and PBS is airing a documentary on the studio, “Passion Works: A Story of Flying.” Mitchell has also worked in Alaska, Chile, Kosovo, and Thailand.

Wendy Morris
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

Morris’ career in the field of arts and disabilities began at St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center in El Cajon, California, in 1993. She is the administrator of Sophie’s Art Gallery, which is St. Madeleine’s off-campus art program that houses a gallery, two studios, and a gift shop. Morris is dedicated to encouraging the creative expression of persons with developmental disabilities and to breaking down the barriers that perpetuate stereotypes associated with disabilities. Her work is focused on building community awareness by offering public art exhibitions and art classes that integrate persons with and without developmental disabilities.

Derek Mortland
(Teaching Curriculum Inclusively Through the Arts)

Mortland has served as a teaching artist with VSA Ohio’s Adaptation, Integration, and the Arts program since 2004. In 2009, he completed five residencies at four different schools, serving about 700 students with and without disabilities in inclusive arts learning experiences. He is a recipient of the VSA Teaching Artist Fellowship for 2008-2009 and the 2009 Ohio Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist. He is a 2008 Native American Music Awards nominee for Songwriter of the Year and World Music Album of the Year with the band SOTIW.

up

N

Cynthia Newland
(Embodied Dance: Body, Mind, and Spirit)

Newland received a bachelor's of fine arts in dance from George Mason University, a master's in fine arts in dance from Arizona State University, and she currently serves as the chair of dance at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Cynthia has traveled nationally and internationally as a dance artist and teacher. She has a passion to educate and is the recipient of the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education 2009 Higher Education Award. Some of her dance works involve dancers with varied abilities including those who use wheelchairs, use crutches, and have visual impairments.

Kristi Ann Nolan
(Literacy through Photography)

Nolan, who is deaf, has been working in the field of deaf education since 2000. She holds a bachelor’s in history from UCLA and a master’s degree in special education from California State University, Northridge. She taught in the Los Angeles Public School system for six years prior to becoming a teacher at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School in Washington, D.C. She uses the visual power of photography throughout her lessons to enhance her students' expressive skills in American Sign Language and written English.

Alinea Noronha
(Music Connectors, Peer-Mentoring for Special Needs)

Noronha, a resident of New York, is studying to become a doctor and receive her master's in public health. Noronha is a classically trained musician and has worked with the Henry Viscardi School in New York to adapt musical instruments for children with disabilities. She formerly performed in the New York Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and the Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra touring both nationally and internationally. She currently works with the Brooklyn Arts Lab and is part of the music ministry at St. Aidan Parish in Willston Park, New York.

Jennifer Noronha
(Music Connectors, Peer-Mentoring for Special Needs)

Noronha, Ph.D., has worked as an occupational therapist at the Henry Viscardi School in New York for the past 15 years. As part of her doctorate in applied biology, she studied the “neuropsychological side-effects of cranial prophylaxis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.” She was an adjunct professor with the occupational therapy program at Touro College for Neuroscience and Assistive Technology and continues to give guest lectures. She has served as a clinical consultant for Life's WORC, a New York nonprofit that offers services to individuals with developmental disabilities to foster independence, for the past 15 years. She is a member of the “Sustaining Music Making for People with Disabilities Task Force.”

Nicole Noronha
(Music Connectors, Peer-Mentoring for Special Needs)

Noronha, a sophomore at Brown University's combined medical program in liberal medical education, has established and directed Music Connectors, a peer-mentoring program between Herricks High School  in New Hyde Park, New York, and the Henry Viscardi School  in Albertson, New York, for the past five years. Additionally, she has adapted musical instruments for children with physical limitations. As a violinist/ violist, she has played with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and venues in Spain, Italy, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. She is a violist in Brown University's orchestra and pit orchestra.

Diane Nutting
(The Art of Inclusion in the Theatre Arts Classroom)

Nutting is the director of access and outreach for Imagination Stage, where she creates accessible and inclusive performing arts experiences for students of all abilities. Her professional career includes staff positions with City Theatre Company, The New Victory Theater, National Theatre of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, and Quest: arts for everyone. Nutting holds a master's in fine arts degree in drama and theater for youth from the University of Texas at Austin and has extensive experience in the areas of disability, access, and inclusion as they relate to the performing arts. Nutting serves on the board of the American Alliance for Theatre & Education.

O’dyke Nzewi
(African Drumming: Indigenous Approach to Inclusivity)

Nzewi is an African classical drummer, choreographer, and composer in indigenous African musical style. He has been running interactive drumming workshops with a focus on the philosophies of African indigenous musical arts practices for more than 15 years. He runs the Centre for Indigenous Instrumental Music and Dance Practices for Africa (CIIMDA), in Pretoria, South Africa, where he facilitates training for arts educators and curriculum advisers on an integrated approach to teaching to enhance inclusion. He is currently working on employing African indigenous musicians for inclusive education in schools around South Africa.

up

P

Maria Estrella Paulino
(Music Auditory Training and Language Development)

Paulino studied at St. Paul's College of Quezon City and graduated from the University of St. Tomas in the Philippines. She began her teaching career at the Maria Lena Buhay Memorial Foundation, an oral school for the deaf, and Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf. In addition to her classroom experience, Paulino has also been an assistant principal.Currently, she is a freelance speech therapist and teacher at St. Francis School in Quezon City, providing speech therapy for children who are deaf or have partial hearing loss.

Rose Payne
(Transformations: Choreographic Training for Artists with Disabilities)

Born in the UK, Payne gained her degree in dance theatre and postgraduate degree in performance at the Laban Centre, London, in 1998. She has worked nationally and internationally as a dancer and teacher with many different companies and choreographers including Transitions, Vertigo Dance Company, tdi, David Massingham, and Liv Lorent, and performed work choreographed by Charlotte Vincent, Colin Poole, Yael Flexer, and Aletta Collins. She has taught widely in schools, universities, and the community, teaching workshops, Release and Cunningham technique, and choreographing. Payne has been creating her own dance film and live work since 2006 and joined Blue Eyed Soul in 2009.

Leticia Peñaloza
(Teaching Project for Inclusive Dance)

Peñaloza, who has a master's degree in administration of educative institutions from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, is the founder of Dance for Groups with Mixed Abilities (DGMA) in Mexico City. She combines 20 years of experience as a contemporary dance teacher with her interest in human creativity expressed through dance to teach creative movement and dance in an inclusive environment. Peñaloza teaches at the National Dance School in Mexico City and ensures that DGMA is included in the school's philosophy. She has been invited to work with teachers and organizations throughout Mexico, such as rehabilitation centers, to develop practical proposals for this dance.

Quimetta Perle
(Artist Training Studios: Integrating Art and Career Development)

Perle is an artist and educator who has worked at HAI’s Art Studio in New York since 2005. She has taught art to a variety of populations, including students at Pratt Institute, senior citizens, New York City school children, public school teachers, and homeless adults. Currently, she teaches computer graphics and traditional art forms in HAI and coordinates artist residencies at nursing homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. As a fine artist, she exhibits her digital prints, artist’s books, and mixed media works in galleries in New York City.

Victor Pineda
(Independent Living 2.0: Voices, Vision, and Visibility)

Pineda is the founder and president of the Victor Pineda Foundation, a non-profit organization to advance the human rights of people with disabilities. Based in California, Pineda graduated from the University of California Berkeley with his master’s in city and regional planning and is a doctoral candidate at the University of California Los Angeles. Pineda works to document the socio-cultural factors that have kept people with disabilities marginalized all over the world. He also served as the youngest delegate negotiating on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

up

R

Dada Ra
(Rhythm Sounds)

Ra, a cultural anthropologist, is the founding/executive director of The Creators Gift 137, a nonprofit offering programs such as Rhythm Sounds, the (Peace Poetry)/Peace Ambassador Project, Focus: Peace Meditation, workshops, and educational fundraisers. Ra believes that everyone has a gift to contribute to humanity and that one's path to this discovery is the key to inner peace. Observing fear as an inhibitor for progress, she published Small Town Planet Earth, a mystical novel that exemplifies living life without fear as one's guide. Currently, she is working on a documentary exploring youth, creativity, and literacy.

Julie Rainbow
(Rhythm Sounds)

Rainbow is an educator, artist, and humanitarian focused on the human spirit and empowering youth. In 1995, she was selected as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation International Leadership Fellow. During this fellowship, her passion for oral histories opened. The outcome of this pursuit is the published book, Standing the Test of Time: Love Stories of African American Elders. Collecting and documenting stories of “ordinary people” has been a lifelong passion. She adapted the book into a play and was invited to participate in the 2002 and 2003 National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, as a new works playwright. Rainbow has a master's in social services from Bryn Mawr College.

Marίa Verόnica Reina
(The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Reina is executive director of the Global Partnership on Disability and Development (GPDD). From 2006–2008, she was the director of international projects at Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute (BBI). Before joining BBI, Reina served as president of the Center for International Rehabilitation (CIR), where she oversaw programs in engineering research and e-learning, as well as the International Disability Rights Monitor Project, an international research effort that documented the situation of people with disabilities worldwide. She has a diverse experience working on disability rights, including an intensive dedication to the UN Ad Hoc Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Judy Rollins
(Allegro’s Inclusive Dance Education)

Researcher and consultant with Rollins & Associates, Inc., Rollins, is also a faculty member in the department of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. A visual artist, Rollins founded Studio G artists-in-residence (pediatrics) at Georgetown and developed “Arts for Children in Hospitals,” a course for first-year medical students. Formerly director of research and program development at WVSA, Rollins has written several books, and currently serves as treasurer on the board of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. She has a Ph.D. in health and community studies from DeMontfort University in Leicester, England.

Denise Roza
(Changing Attitudes through Disability Film Festivals and Building Bridges: Cameras in the Hands of Children)

Roza has been working in Russia for more than two decades. For the past 16 years, she has been coordinating and supervising educational, disability rights, and developmental projects that promote youth empowerment, equal access to inclusive education, and mainstream employment. In 1997, together with Russian colleagues from the disability rights movement, she set up a disability NGO, Perspektiva. Together with her team of 60—the majority of whom are people with disabilities—Roza has implemented training, outreach, public education, and advocacy activities. Since 2002, Perspektiva has organized “Breaking Down Barriers” in Russia, an international disability film festival.

Kathryn Rulien-Bareis
(Universal Design and the Art Room)

Rulien-Bareis teaches art at DeLong Middle School in Wisconsin. While working with students who have diverse abilities, she began to invent tools with a universal design.  In 2004, she started her own business, B Able To, Inc., to encourage more accessibility and independence in visual art. She has invented and manufactured her first tools in a line of universal tool designs, Adapt-A-Cut® and Adapt-A-Hold™. She received her bachelor's of arts in art education from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1982 and in 1987, a bachelor's of science in elementary education. In 1990, she finished her adaptive art certification at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin.

up

S

Gordon Sasaki
(UDL Principles in the Arts Classroom)

Based in New York, Sasaki blends unconventional art-making approaches with contemporary ideas of identity and culture. His work purposefully crosses over traditional categorical boundaries to expand ideas of inclusion. A wheelchair user since a 1982 automobile accident, Sasaki brings a unique combination of personal insight and training when working with populations with disabilities. Emphasizing the creative process, he adapts the inherent universal qualities of the arts to design inclusive curriculum that addresses the needs of all students. He teaches with numerous organizations; including VSA, NYS Alliance for Arts Education, International Center for Tolerance in Education, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Deborah Schwartz
(UDL Principles in the Arts Classroom)

Schwartz is the president of the Brooklyn Historical Society. From 2002 to 2006, she served as the Edward John Noble Foundation deputy director for education at the Museum of Modern Art. She teaches graduate courses in museum education and leadership at Columbia University Teacher's College, Bank Street College of Education, and the Pratt Institute. She has led workshops on museum leadership in China and the Ukraine. In 2002, she curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Art Inside Out for the Children's Museum of Manhattan, featuring work by Elizabeth Murray, William Wegman, and Fred Wilson. From 1983 to 2000, Schwartz worked at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where she served as vice director for Education and Program Development.

Joyce Scott
(Outsider: The Art and Life of Judith Scott)

The inspiration for Joyce Scott’s life, and its guiding spirit, has been the quiet determination and innate creative genius of her twin sister Judith, who had Down Syndrome, deafness, and for 35 years, lived in a state institution. From teaching children with disabilities, Scott became a pediatric nurse and then a parent-infant specialist with children at risk. The founder of The Bali Children’s Project, she now heads the Judith Scott Twin Arts Foundation, dedicated to providing opportunities for creative expression for artists with disabilities. Scott’s soon-to-be-published memoir, EnTWINed, explores in depth the relationship with her sister and the profound influence that Judith Scott exerted on the lives of all who were graced to know her.

Marsha Semmel
(Museums as Powerful Resources for 21st-Century Skills)

As deputy director for museums, Semmel manages the Institute of Museum and Library Services' portfolio of grant-making programs that support capacity-building and leadership projects for all types of museums, including art, history, science, and children's museums, aquaria, arboreta, and zoos. As director for strategic partnerships, Semmel maintains oversight of federal-state partnership activities, initiates and implements collaborations with other federal agencies and organizations, and manages special projects and initiatives. From 1998 to 2002, she was President/CEO of the Women of the West Museum, in Denver, Colorado.

Barbara Shepherd
(Education Resources from the Kennedy Center)

Shepherd is the director of National Partnerships for the Education Department at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. These programs include several participants that support state-level collaborations to strengthen arts education statewide, and the Any Given Child initiative, in which the Kennedy Center works across communities to build arts education programs. Shepherd also facilitated the National Conversation on Artist Professional Development, which led to the publication of Creating Capacity: A Framework for Providing Professional Development Opportunities for Teaching Artists, for which she is a contributing author. Shepherd earned her master’s of fine arts in acting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Marla K. Shoemaker
(Museums as Powerful Resources for 21st-Century Skills)

Shoemaker is the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Senior Curator of Education at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overseeing the activities of a large and diverse department with programs that serve about 200,000 museum visitors annually.  She has authored and edited numerous museum guides for parents and children as well as articles on teaching with museum collections. She is past director of the Museum Division of the National Art Education Association and past president of the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership. In 2008, she led a team of educators from five museums to create Art Speaks, a program connecting art and literacy for students in public schools.

Fran Sillau
(Stones Floating on Water)

Sillau has served as a teacher, writer, director, actor, and producer. He was awarded the 2008-2009 VSA Teaching Artist Fellowship and was a recipient of the Access to the Arts grant awarded by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was recently commissioned by Children's Theater Foundation of America to write The Brass Ring, a play about growing up with a disability. Sillau is a teaching artist, actor, and director for The Omaha Theater Company in Nebraska and assists teachers integrating theater into core subjects.

Joel Snyder
(Audio Description: An Aid to Literacy)

One of the first audio describers, Snyder began describing theater events and media in 1981. In addition to his work in these genres (Sesame Street, DVDs, and film), he develops audio description tours for museums including the Smithsonian Institution, J. Paul Getty Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the National Aquarium. He has introduced audio description throughout the United States and in more than 25 countries. Recently, Snyder presented description in Montpellier, Shanghai, and for the World Blind Union in Geneva. He has trained describers in Brazil and Italy at the International Conference on the Arts & Society and in Spain at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

Susan Snyder
(Think Pink: A Multi-sensory Toolbox)

Snyder is president of Interactive Drama for Education and Awareness in the Schools, a consulting and publishing company dedicated to facilitating child-appropriate educational models. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, along with numerous professional certificates, and is an active teacher and internationally renowned clinician. Snyder combines her interests to develop curriculum designs that promote hands-on, brains-on, integrated learning. She’s a senior author for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and a self-published author. She is a founder/director of The Total Learning Institute.

Jaime Solano Ramírez
(Universal Design for the Learning of Arts in the Context of a Museum)

Solano is associate professor and director of production advertising in new communication technologies and in animation and image synthesis for the Camilo José Cela University. Solano is also director of a summer course on audiovisual communication and architecture at Camilo José Cela University. In addition to his teaching, he has also authored several articles on the accessibility of museums through information and computer technologies.

Brenda Spielmann
(Light Writers: Photography for All Abilities)

Born in Brazil, Spielmann studied photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. Since 2008, she has been an artist-in-residence at Bloorview Kids Rehab where she works with mixed-ability groups of children and youth. Having a son with a disability led her to focus her artistic and professional practice on children and youth. She created the digital photography program Light Writers to provide an artistic and vocational option in the photographic medium.

Robyn Swanson
(Inclusive Early Childhood Creative Arts Curriculum)

Swanson is a professor of music education at Western Kentucky University. She serves as coordinator of music education and as graduate program adviser. Prior music teaching experiences include Black Hills State University and pre-school through eighth grade music education in Sterling, Illinois, and Cherokee, Iowa. She is known for her expertise with designing music and creative arts curriculum for all learners. Swanson has been involved with developing instructional programs as well as teaching children with disabilities since 1980. She has presented numerous teacher training workshops for VSA at the international, national, and state levels.

Dwayne Szot
(Art without Limits)

As an artist, Szot is emotionally and aesthetically attracted to machines and the marks they make, the human quality of machines, and the two as extensions and aspects of each other. Szot's early work focused on machines as physical, creative extensions of himself. He created many fantastical machines while finishing his master's degree in sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan. In 1990, Szot received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and created the first wheelchair painting machine, “Project Mobility,” which has grown into “Zot Art's,” a national program.

up

T

Lauren Thomas (Allegro’s Inclusive Dance Education)

In addition to her duties as a grant writer for the Allegro Foundation, Thomas has worked closely with various universities and private research firms to identify effective strategies and their underlying mechanisms in teaching children with disabilities through the arts. With a strong background in applied research, she recently began a Ph.D. program in developmental psychology and hopes to continue to study the relationship between movement and development for children with disabilities at the Allegro Foundation.

Roger Thomas (School Arts: The Sum of All Parts)

Thomas has been working in the music field for 30 years. He is the music teacher at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, where he adapts general music for students with visual impairments and who have other disabilities. Thomas is the director of the annual holiday program that includes every student in a school-wide presentation for families and community members. He co-produces the schools' culture classes, bringing music, art, history, geography, and foods from four countries each year to interactive classes. He has performed and presented music workshops in the United States and South Africa.

Susan Togut (The Great Integrity)

Togut is a multi-dimensional public and gallery artist, facilitator, and educator who received her master's in fine arts from Pratt Institute in New York City. Over the past 30 years, she has facilitated workshops for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities in schools, healthcare facilities, and community settings, including participants with cancer, mental illness, and autism. She has been the director of fine arts at Northeast Center for Special Care in upstate New York since 2004 and works with patients with traumatic brain injuries. Togut helps people engage fully in their lives through the arts, including the orchestration of many large-scale public art projects. Her own art focuses on the fragility of life and cycles of nature, particularly regeneration.

up

U

Francisco Utray (Universal Design for the Learning of Arts in the Context of a Museum)

Utray is an associate lecturer in audiovisual communication at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He currently runs a research project on the accessibility of digital television in the Spanish Center for Subtitling and Audiodescription. He has participated in helping implement accessible digital television for TDT, a television network in Spain. He has a Ph.D. from the University Carlos III of Madrid in information sciences.

up

V

Chjiraporn Oringa Vathanasin ( Movement Metaphor: Special Needs Drama Education)

Vathanasin is a certified educator who has formal training in linguistics and psychology. She has vast experience in public relations management and communication training in institutions of higher learning in Singapore. In the past decade, she has been volunteering her services to support inclusive arts programs with NGOs like VSA Singapore, Down Syndrome Association Singapore, Northlight School, and more recently, the community service program at the Singapore YMCA. She has co-presented creative drama/movement workshops in Athens (2006) and Hong Kong SAR (2007).

up

W

Susy Watts (Arts-Infused Learning: Inclusive Pathways to Learning)

Watts leads curriculum and assessments for Arts Impact, a professional development program for teachers. Watts writes arts curriculum and trains teachers in school districts across the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. She is also evaluating the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts' LACMA On-site programming and its effects on the larger county community. She evaluates outdoor education youth programs at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, Washington. Watts also served as national advisor to the Education Committee of the American Association of Museums (AAM) for nine years, and she recently designed the interactive learning segments for the AAM-Yale University Executive Education Seminar (2007).

Sarah Whatley (Strategies for Inclusion in Dance)

Whatley is a professor of dance at Coventry University in the United Kingdom. She is a researcher, writer, practicing dance maker, and teacher. She has been investigating dance technique development for several years, focusing more recently on the experience of dance students with disabilities and their progression into higher education environments and transition to work. This focus resulted in her 2008 publication, Moving Matters. Her dance practice is rooted in somatic principles and she is editor of the international Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices.

up

Y

Stephen Yaffe (Stones Floating on Water and VSA Teaching Artist Fellow Panel)

Yaffe, an arts and education consultant, has evaluated and conducted needs assessments of numerous programs. His professional development work has been called, "brave, visionary, smart," by the director of education programs for PBS. He is the VSA Teaching Artists Fellows coach and co-chair of the Arts in Special Education Consortium in New York. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, his plays have been performed in several cities. He and his wife, a former actress, have written together for 15 years and are co-recipients of the Joyce Carol Oates Playwriting/Mentoring Fellowship. Their current screenplay is in development.

top