Mary Ann Brennen’s lifelong career has been working with and for people with intellectual disabilities. Her career began at the Belchertown State School, which became the first facility in Massachusetts to close. Mary Ann’s career with the Department of Development Services has included a variety of positions in recreation, training, quality enhancement, administration, and family support. In addition to positions within the Department of Development Services, Mary Ann played a key role working with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association in the development and provision of a training curriculum for municipal and state police recruits on recognizing and responding to abuse against persons with disabilities. Mary Ann is currently a co-coordinator of Widening the Circle, a project under the auspices of the Arc of Massachusetts funded by The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Disabilities.
Tom Doody has been involved with disabled people for over forty years. He has worked in direct service, management, training and consultation roles. For over thirty years, Tom has been actively involved with Social Role Valorization training, and was an associate of the late Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger, former Director of the Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry at Syracuse University. For the past thirty years, part of Tom’s work has been to encourage families and agency staff to actively promote freely-given relationships between disabled people and their neighbors. His main work during this period has been as senior coordinator of North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy, an organization exclusively focused on initiating and supporting freely-given relationships involving people with mental disabilities.
George Fleischner has been the CEO of Nonotuck Resource Associates, Inc. since 1987. He brought to the organization a firm and deep rooted set of values that centered on his profound belief in family, community, life sharing, authentic relationships and love. In 1990 George, backed by these beliefs, created and set into motion Nonotuck’s new path by closing all its group homes and moving everyone into the more personalized service of shared living. George lives in the small town of Williamsburg.
Elin Howe, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, has more than 35 years of experience in the field of developmental disabilities, including four years as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Howe has also served as Vice President of Consulting Services at the Columbus Organization, which helps states and private agencies provide the highest level of services to people with developmental disabilities. In addition, Ms. Howe has worked extensively with parents, consumer and advocacy groups, private sector providers, organized labor and in legislative relations. Ms. Howe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Massachusetts State College at Salem and her Master of Public Administration degree from the State University of New York at Albany.
Nate Johnson has always been passionate about serving people and community. He has worked at community non-profits throughout his career. His areas of experience include recruitment, community-building and public speaking. He earned a BA of Sociology from UMass Amherst. Throughout his career Nate has worked with people who have disabilities and/or other challenging circumstances. He is a coordinator at North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy (NQCA) a non-profit that develops and supports helpful friendships between a person with a mental disability or disorder and an ordinary citizen. Nate lives in Orange MA, where he serves as Chair of the Cultural Council and as a Library Trustee.
Michael Kendrick is the Director of Kendrick Consulting International and is involved in education and training, consulting and evaluation in the disability and mental health fields. Though a long term resident of Western Massachusetts, he largely works internationally in various countries including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, the UAE, and others. He was formerly the assistant commissioner for the current Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. In addition to extensive public speaking engagements, he writes and publishes extensively on many topics related to leadership and progress in the field.
Beth Mount has worked for 40 years toward the ideal that every person with a disability can be a valued member of community life. She has practiced the art of person-centered planning with thousands of people with disabilities and their families from every walk of life and from every corner of the world. She has designed and leads a variety of Learning and Leadership Institutes that facilitate innovation and integrate Theory U methodologies into planning with individuals, families, regional networks and government agencies. Beth is well-known for her commitment to developing direct support professionals as allies and activists in inclusion though Everyday Heroes and Make a Difference Projects. Beth uses art and creativity to strengthen collective capacity to learn with and include all people in wisdom making. She is deeply involved in strengthening community with a collective of artists and activists in Harlem NYC. Her artwork and community initiatives have been featured in a variety of art museums and venues. Google search “Beth Mount + Person Centered Planning” to verify references that continue beyond 200 pages, and show the scope and variety of references to her work.
Steve Murphy received Undergraduate Degrees in Special and Elementary Education from Westfield State University. He has also completed Graduate coursework in Public Administration at the University of Rhode Island. He is one of the original co-founders of Westport Associates and serves as the Executive Director.
Emily Murgo Nisenbaum is the mother of two children; Josh, who is married to Tina, and Amy, who has what she calls “Up” syndrome. Both children have flown the “nest” and have rich and fulfilling lives in their communities. Emily has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in the Education of People with moderate, severe and profound disabilities from Rhode Island College. She has worked in the disability field for almost 40 years. For the past 28 years, she has worked at the Nemasket Group in Fairhaven, a private nonprofit organization that provides individualized supports to people with disabilities and families. Emily is also a founding member of Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change. MFOFC is a statewide, grassroots coalition dedicated to individual and family supports. She was its Chairperson for 13 years and remains active on the board. Emily was instrumental in the development of the SE MA Family Leadership Series and has just completed the coordination and facilitation of the 23rd consecutive Series in SE MA.
John O’Brien learns about building just and inclusive communities from people with disabilities, their families, and their allies. He uses what he learns to advise people with disabilities and their families, advocacy groups, service providers, and governments and to spread the news among people interested in change by writing and through workshops.He works in partnership with Connie Lyle O’Brien and a group of friends from 18 countries.He is a Fellow of the Centre for Welfare Reform (UK) and is affiliated with the Center on Human Policy, Law & Disability, Syracuse University (US), inControl Partnerships (UK), and the Marsha Forest Centre: (Canada).
Jorge Pagán-Ramos has been married for almost 27 years to his wife Walma. Walma gifted Jorge with two great women Ruth and Abby who have a variety of complex medical challenges. They moved from Puerto Rico to the US almost 18 years ago searching for better quality of life and better medical services. His daughters are DDS eligible and are in Transition to Adult life services. Jorge abandoned his accounting and business career in PR to start over here in the US. For the last 15 years he has worked for the nonprofit DDS provider, the Nemasket Group. His girls gave him a new career providing families like their own support services. Also, Jorge kept a small private practice of tax services and is an IRS tax professional too. His goals as father and caregiver are to navigate for the complex systems of services to help his and other families from different cultures too. He learned very early in his new life here in the US that leadership is not position it is action. He understands his daughters’ disabilities are not an excuse for them not to have a better life and better future.
Jeannine Pavlak is an innovator and leader in the field of employment for persons with disabilities. She is currently the Executive Director of New England Business Associates, a community provider known nationally and internationally for its work in supported employment. Ms. Pavlak has assisted hundreds of individuals with disabilities become successfully employed and has been awarded the Massachusetts Leadership Award for her outstanding professional achievement, vision and direction. Jeannine has a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Management and currently serves as the Secretary for National APSE. In addition to her professional role, she is a parent to five children, one of which has a significant disability.
Deborah Reidy has worked on behalf of people with disabilities since 1976. Early in her career, she became committed to supporting people with disabilities to participate as valued members of their communities. She focused her early work on social integration and community education. In the mid-1990s, she began to focus on leadership development more broadly. She’s designed and led dozens of leadership programs and has published a book on leadership for families of people with disabilities and their allies, Why Not Lead? She has founded several organizations and was Director of Training for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services in the mid-90s. Since 2002, she’s been President of Reidy Associates, which works with leaders in nonprofits, community organizations and state and federal government.
Dennis H. Rice co-founded Alternatives Unlimited, Inc.; a non-profit rehabilitation agency located in central Massachusetts in 1976 and has served as Executive Director since 1979. He has led the steady growth of Alternatives from its original three programs to a comprehensive agency of more than 60 programs, with a budget of $45 million spread over a large, mostly rural area. His expertise includes extensive work in the development and implementation of successful residential and vocational services for adults with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Mr. Rice has provided training and consultation throughout New England, the Midwest, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia to human service agencies interested in adapting innovative approaches to rehabilitation. Mr. Rice earned his Master’s in Education from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an emphasis in human development, organizational development and the creation of non-traditional settings. Mr. Rice has received numerous awards and recognitions, including USPRA 2009 Irvin Rutman Award, for his visionary efforts implementing innovative approaches to building community for citizens of all abilities. Last year, he also received the Worcester Business Journal Non-Profit Leader of the Year and the Telegram & Gazette Visions Cultural Enrichment Award.
Jim Ross has worked in human services for over 35 years supporting people with disabilities. This work includes summer camps, disability-related information & referral, founding and directing a non-profit human service organization and providing direct care. In addition to his position as co-coordinator of Widening the Circle, Jim currently provides support to the Board of Directors of Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (a statewide self-advocacy organization and is involved in developing an orientation for PCAs in Massachusetts. Jim has a life-long interest in supporting people with disabilities to participate fully in community life. He believes that people with and without disabilities should be together wherever they live, learn, work and play. Two of Jim’s children have disabilities themselves, making this work intensely personal for him.
Michael Seibold has served as the Director of Community Services at Alternatives Unlimited, Inc., a non-profit rehabilitation agency located in Central Massachusetts, since 1979. His experience includes forging partnerships with funders, individuals and families to create flexible, highly personalized residential and employment services that support individuals with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. Areas of expertise include psychiatric rehabilitation, leadership development, results oriented management, training and supervision, and managing organizational change. Mr. Seibold has provided training and consultation throughout the United States and Canada and has presented at numerous conferences on topics such as innovative approaches to rehabilitation, community building and recovery. More recently, Mr. Seibold and agency director Dennis Rice have articulated a new approach to assisting individuals with disabilities to develop valued roles in the community. They call this multi-pronged approach “Redefining Community… Discovering the value and gifts of every citizen.” Mr. Seibold holds a BA in Spanish and an MA in Psychology from Catholic University, Washington, DC.
Christine Shane, Ph.D. is Chairperson of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, at Fitchburg State University. Her areas of interests are Person Centered Planning, Not for Profit Management and Program Design. Dr. Shane has designed and implemented major human service program initiatives on state and national levels with such organizations as the National Institute of Mental Health, Massachusetts Department Developmental Services and the Massachusetts Department of Special Education. She specializes in the evaluation and implementation of human service programs and supports adults with disabilities and their families. She serves as the Chairperson of the State Advisory Council for the Department of Developmental Services, and she attended the original PASS workshops offered by Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger and Ms. Linda Glenn in Canada and the United States.
Sharon Smith has worked for over 35 years in the non-profit sector developing and implementing service models that promote the employment and support of individuals with disabilities. She began her career as a direct service professional in WORK Inc.’s residential department and has held a variety of positions as she navigated her career in the industry. Along the way Sharon earned a Master of Social Work and Masters of Business Administration from Boston University. Today, Sharon is the Chief Operating Officer of WORK Inc. and under her leadership, the organization launched a major strategic plan to close its center based employment programs by increasing employment outcomes, expanding jobs in the AbilityOne arena, piloting a new high school program model based on a best practice, and implementing new initiatives such as the MA Pathways to Career demonstration project to enhance an individual’s social and professional capital and lastly, to pursue social enterprises as engines for job creation.
Maura Sullivan is the Director of Government Affairs for the Arc of Massachusetts. Maura has a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University. An experienced speaker, lecturer, and a grassroots organizer for autism insurance reform, she has extensive experience in media, advocacy, and health policy. Maura also worked for the University of Massachusetts Medical School for five years in programs that support the treatment of autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. She helped develop the first UDiscovering product, Discovering Behavioral Intervention: A Parent’s Interactive Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis. Previously a LEND Fellow at UMass Medical School (Leadership and Education in Neuro-Developmental Disorders), Maura is The Arc’s Operation House Call (OHC) instructor at Boston University School of Medicine. Maura is an honored recipient of the Margaret Bauman Award for Excellence in the Autism Community. She helped to develop the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network and has served as Vice President of the New England Chapter for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.
Larry Tummino has worked for over 43 years for the Department of Developmental Services including the past 8 years in the role of Deputy Commissioner. His career began in 1971 when he served as a “house parent” in one of the first group homes opened in the Commonwealth. He went on to serve in a variety of Administrative roles at the Area, Regional and Central Office level. He “retired” in August, 2014 but has remained with the Department on a part time basis to take the lead role on the Creating our Common Wealth initiative, as well as in the areas of Employment and Shared Living. In 2014 he was honored for his contributions by receiving the Gunnar Dybwad Award.
Randy Webster has been working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Human Services since 1977. His primary roles have been in operations. For the past three years he has been the Assistant Commissioner of Community Operations for the Department of Developmental Disabilities. Prior to that he served as Area Director for the Fall River Area, a position he held for about twenty three years. His role as Area Director combined with a sustained, enduring commitment to the work of the Syracuse University Training Institute have been instrumental in informing the values which are the foundation of his leadership values.
Jack Yates works in staff development for People, Incorporated, in Fall River, and has worked in services for people with mental impairments for over forty years. For several years Jack taught a graduate course at the Harvard Divinity School entitled “The Inclusive Community”.