A LOOK AHEAD SERIES
NOVEMBER 11, 2017 PRESENTERS
Our speakers are amazing! Please let them know how much they are appreciated! They are here as volunteers without expectation of payment for their time or travel – here to share their knowledge and experiences with conference participants; to empower and encourage them as they look ahead.
Jeff Miller, Disability Rights Texas
Jeff has held various policy related positions at Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) starting in 2006, including work in the areas of health care access, community integration, and special education. He is currently a Policy Specialist focusing various issues including alternatives to guardianship, voting rights and special education. Jeff received his law degree from the University of Louisville School of Law and holds a B.A. in Speech Communication from the University of Houston. In addition to his policy work at DRTx, Jeff has also served as Policy Director for the Arc of Texas, managed his own consulting firm, and served as a project director at the Kentucky Developmental Disabilities Council.
Jeff Garrison-Tate, Institute for Person-Centered Practices
Jeff Garrison-Tate bio: Jeff has supported people with disabilities and their families for 35 years. He began his career as a Direct Support Professional and has held positions as a Special Education Teacher, a Community Services Program Director, Community Advocacy Organizer, Policy Manager, and Executive Director for an Early Childhood Intervention Program. He is a Founding Partner of the Institute for Person Centered-Practices and a Certified Mentor Trainer with The Learning Community on Person Centered Practices. Jeff is a frequent invited presenter at conferences, and provides training on person centered practices for organizations throughout Texas and the US.
Cindi Paschall, Arc Greater Mid Cities
Cindi is a parent passionately involved in advancing the rights of people living with disability labels. She has dedicated the past 21 years to advocacy, applying her personal experience and knowledge in helping others. Over the years she has worked and also volunteered for various organizations set up to assist and empower individuals who have a disability and their families. Currently Cindi serves as the President of Arc Greater Mid Cities and is a frequent speaker at state and local events.
Robin has worked in the field of special education for over 35 years, serving as a Special Education Teacher, Educational Diagnostician, Transition Specialist and Transition Coordinator. She started her career working with Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD. After five years there, she moved to Grapevine/Colleyvillle ISD for two years and then on to Carroll ISD for 23 years. She came full circle and completed her last years in public education back in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD. Robin is currently working as a Transition Consultant for local school districts and agencies and as an Employment Service Provider for the Texas Workforce Commission. She is the Owner/Director of her own company called Achievable Employment Solutions, LLC.
In addition, Robin is on the Board of Directors for the Child Study Center in Fort Worth.
Denise Sonleitner, Texas Parent to Parent
Denise lives in Austin, is married to Steve, and has two adult children, Ava and Maverick. Maverick, who is 21 years old, has multiple disabilities associated with Angelman Syndrome. In early 2010, with the support of friends and family, Denise set up a personal network for Maverick, known as ‘MavMen.’ Denise loves talking to other parents (and anyone else who will listen!) about personal networks and how this powerful tool can help families raising a son or daughter who has a disability. Presently, Denise is facilitating personal networks with families in the Austin area. Over the last several years, Denise helped Texas Parent to Parent (TxP2P) develop the Texas Network Connections (TxNC) network facilitation program, which was launched in Austin in 2016 and is now expanding to other areas of the state.
Carissa Paschall, The Self-Determination Group
Carissa is a young adult who does not let her disability get in the way of living life as she defines it. She is a public speaker and has presented at local and statewide events. Carissa is a co-founder of The Self-Determination Group and believes people with disabilities should have a voice. She is a fierce disability rights advocate and works on policy change at the local and state level. In her spare time Carissa enjoys an active social life with family and friends.
Scot Evans, The Self-Determination Group
Scot is an accountant who spent sixteen years in the oil and gas industry. While working at a local Arc in 2014, he became friends with several individuals with disabilities. Scot is currently an adjunct instructor at Tarrant County College South Campus where he teaches people with disabilities. He focuses on teaching office skills, professional communication and workforce preparation through the “A Step Above” and “A Step Beyond” programs. Scot also serves as the volunteer advisor for with The Self-Determination Group.
PAST CONFERENCE SPEAKERS
Jessica Ramos, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD)
Jessica Ramos is the Public Policy Director for the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). She is responsible for monitoring state and federal policy along with legislative affairs for the TCDD and coordinating public policy advocacy activities on TCDD’s behalf. The Council’s mission is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. Jessica has a MSSW in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Kyle Piccola, The Arc of Texas
Kyle directs all public policy efforts for The Arc of Texas. He plans, organizes and directs the implementation of The Arc’s governmental affairs and advocacy efforts to advance its mission and policy positions at the state, federal and agency level. Kyle also represents The Arc of Texas before volunteers, local chapters, elected officials, state agency staff and other policy makers. In addition, Kyle works to support and collaborate with self-advocates, family members and volunteers to facilitate their involvement in advocacy activities and networks with allied organizations and coalitions to advance high priority issues that impact Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Carrie Boggess, Adventures Unbound
The mission of Adventures Unbound is to offer supervised travel opportunities for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities to increase independence and improve quality of life while providing respite for families and caregivers.
Adventures Unbound was created in 2015 by Carrie Boggess, a Certified Recreation Therapist and travel agent. With over eight years of professional experience working with individuals with disabilities as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, and growing up with two uncles with disabilities. Carrie has over 20 years experience people with disabilities. After taking her uncle on a cruise in 2013, Carrie began thinking about the difficulties and possibilities of traveling with people with disabilities. Thus, the idea of Adventures Unbound began.
Adventures Unbound offers one to two day supervised day trips a month. Volunteers accompany the travelers on every trip to assist with supervision and care based on each individual travelers’ needs.
Janice Scott, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Janice Scott is a registered and licensed dietitian with an additional board certification in pediatric nutrition. She holds a Master’s degree in Food Science from Texas Woman’s University. Her experience in providing nutrition counseling and medical nutrition therapy spans over 30 years. Janice has been employed as the Clinical Nutrition Manager and Assistant Director of Dietary at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children for the past 30 years. In addition to her employment, Janice is passionate about community nutrition and the effects of poverty on children. Her volunteer activities including Cooking Matters with North Texas Food Bank, the Dallas Area Coalition for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity and the Mayor’s Youth Fitness Initiative.
Debbie Wilkes, DR Wilkes Consulting
Debbie Wilkes has over 40 years supporting students with disabilities and provides support to parents, schools and universities in the area of transition, employment and person-centered planning. Debbie has been working in the area of transition since 1987 as a classroom teacher, transition assessment and director of Special Education. She is a board member for The Arc of Texas and serves on the committees for Governmental Affairs, Inclusion Works! and Transition Works! As a board member for My Possibilities, a continuing education program for people with developmental disabilities, she has created the Educational Framework. She is an Associate with the Institute on Person Centered Practices.
Tresi Weeks, Weeks Law Firm
Tresi is an attorney and owner of the Weeks Law Firm in Plano, where she assists clients with estates, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship and special needs trusts, and planning for children with disabilities.
Tresi is a Special Needs Insider blogger for the Dallas Morning News; the President of the Estate Planning and Probate Section of the Collin County Bar Association; Board Member for Disability Rights Texas, Board Member for the Dallas Association for Independent Living; Advisory Council Member of My Possibilities; Board Member for the Dallas Society for Financial Service Professionals; and is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Tresi earned both her Bachelor of Arts and J.D. (law degree) from Baylor University.
Tresi is married to Kevin and they have one daughter, Jordan. She enjoys hiking and organic gardening, and is a member of Watermark Community Church.
Cheryl Harris, Imagine Enterprises
Since 1998 Cheryl Harris has been a part of the Imagine Enterprises team, providing support to projects focused on the needs of individuals with disabilities. In 2007 Imagine Enterprises made application to DADS to become a Financial Management Services Agency (FMSA) for the HCS and Texas Home Living waivers and today we are an FMSA with over 260 clients with Cheryl serving as the Chief Operating Officer for CDS, overseeing the day-to-day operations.
Cindi Paschall, Arc Greater Mid Cities
Cindi is a parent passionately involved in advancing the rights of people living with disability labels. She has dedicated the past 20 years to advocacy, applying her personal experience and knowledge in helping others. Over the years she has worked and also volunteered for various organizations set up to assist and empower individuals who have a disability and their families. Currently Cindi serves as the President of Arc Greater Mid Cities and is a frequent speaker at the state and local level.
Claudia García currently holds the position of Long Term Service and Support (LTSS) Administrator for Maximus. Maximus is the Enrollment Broker for all of the Medicaid Programs in Texas: Texas Star, Star Kids and Star Plus. This engagement allows her to pursue her desire to help those most vulnerable and in need: that is, the elderly, infants, pregnant women, et al. Mrs. García has successfully facilitated, coordinated and executed health fairs and has brought other community agencies to participate and join in the distribution of health benefit information & onsite health screenings.
Claudia García is certified by the State of Texas as a Community Health Worker (CHW) and has held multiple executive positions in non-profit organizations such as President of the Collin County Social Services Association, Plano ISD Head Start Health Advisory, and member of the IDD Council of Tarrant County. Also, works closely with some of the Independent School Districts and agencies in the area such as: Dallas ISD, Arlington ISD, ADRC of Dallas, Texoma and Tarrant County.
Amanda Dillon, STAR+PLUS Specialist, Policy and Program Development, Medicaid/CHIP Services Division, Medical and Social Services Division, Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Cindy Pierce, M.Ed.
Cindy Pierce has proudly served in education for thirty nine years. Her roles have included special education teacher, counselor, special education administrator, and ESC Transition consultant at Region 10. Her specialties are self-advocacy, transition, employment and program development. She is currently an independent consultant for Cindy Pierce Consulting.
Brooke Ulrickson Allen was appointed by the Tarrant County Commissioners as Judge of Probate Court No. 2 and the assumed the role in October of 2016. Her experience as a skilled litigator, knowledge of the law, conservative judicial philosophy, strict attention to ethics and hard work, and tried and true efforts promoting Texas values in the ballot box made her well-qualified for this important court.
As an attorney, Allen was frequently recognized by her peers for her dedication to the law and hard work. Allen is a Fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, a honor bestowed only 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys each year, was consistently voted a “Top Attorney” by Fort Worth Magazine, a “Texas Rising Star” in Texas Monthly, and was named “Attorney of the Year” by the Fort Worth Paralegal Association.
Christina began working with Fusion Academy Plano in 2014 as a Yoga/Life Skills/Wellness Teacher and transitioned to the Director of Admissions and Outreach role in 2016. The Fusion journey is in perfect alignment with her life’s path as she was introduced to meditation in grade school, taught health/physical education classes since she was a teenager, worked in promotions/marketing professionally and has been interested in alternative methods for education throughout her adulthood.After 10 years of practicing, studying and teaching Yoga in her mentor’s studio, she created Imagine Yoga. For the past five years, Imagine Yoga has been her platform to specialize in teaching one-to-one yoga classes and facilitating workshops and events for adults and children. She has attended numerous yoga/meditation/mindfulness retreats, workshops, classes with teachers locally and from all over the world. Christina regularly finds moments of stillness in her active and adventurous life. She is a working mom of 4 kids ages 15-8 in a blended family that includes a recently adopted quirky dog. Her modern family keeps her laughing and practicing gratitude. The only thing she knows for sure, she learned from the Beatles: Love is all you need.
Jacqueline M. Dodd
Jackie has been licensed by the State Bar of Texas since 2001 after receiving both her bachelor’s degree and Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University. With a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development, Jacqueline has a strong passion for representing families and children. This led her to seek her board certification in Juvenile Law which she obtained in December 2008 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. As the mother of a young child with disabilities, Jacqueline understands the struggles and challenges that come in raising children, and the stress and difficulty that occurs in families when seeking to ensure your children have all of their needs met in educational settings. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to work with families, children, police officers, other professionals, court staff or attorneys to better the lives of those individuals in the community. Jacqueline is committed to continue this mission through helping juveniles, children, parents, and families in her community move forward from their challenges through her work at the Ramage Law Firm.
Caitlin is the Program Supervisor for the Best Buddies Texas Job Program in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. Caitlin graduated from the University of North Texas with two bachelor degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Psychology and has over seven years of experience working with individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).