(Presenter information is subject to change.)
Jennifer Antkowiak is an award-winning newscaster and knows about caregiving. She’s a wife, mother of five, and step-mother to one. Jennifer would tell you that she feels blessed to have been a caregiver for her mother-in-law and, most recently, for her father-in-law, both of whom died of cancer. Jennifer also knows how long-term illness can affect a family. Her mother had post-partum depression and died of a heart attack at age 50. Jennifer’s experiences have fueled her passionate mission to help the world’s caregivers.
Dr. Josie Badger, J Badger Consulting, Inc., RAISE, #IWantToWork Campaign
Dr. Josie Badger received her Bachelor’s degree from Geneva College in Disability Law and Advocacy, a Master’s from the University of Pittsburgh in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a Doctorate from Duquesne University in Healthcare Ethics. In 2014 Josie founded J Badger Consulting Inc. where she provides youth development and disability consulting services for organizations, including the PEAL Center, on transition and leadership development. She is the Co-Director of the national RSA- Parent Training and Information Center technical assistance center (RAISE). She is also the campaign manager of the #IWantToWork Campaign, to improve the employment of people with disabilities. She serves as a board member of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, The Woodlands Foundation, and FISA. In 2012, Dr. Badger was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America. Previously, she was an author for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the book Launching into Adulthood, and she served as president of the National Youth Leadership Network and the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN).
Tina Beer, Mt. Lebanon School District
Tina Beer earned her Master of Education degree and completed additional post-graduate work in the field of Special Education at the University of Pittsburgh and her Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and Elementary Education at Clarion University. She is one of two Inclusion Specialists in the Mt. Lebanon School District’s Office of Student Support Services. Tina previously held the positions of Special Education Supervisor and Director of Special Education in local educational agencies in the area.
Matthew Berwick, UPMC Health System Disabilities Resource Center
Matt Berwick, M.A. joined the UPMC Health System as the Program Manager of the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC) in 2017. The focus of the DRC is facility compliance, education and training, policy and community engagement. In his role as Program Manager, he routinely works with facilities planning, conducts accessibility audits for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. He also leads staff training and development sessions on Disability Etiquette, Awareness and Effective Communication. A personal consumer of disability-related services, Matt has worked in this area for over 7 years, serving on local, state and national boards for people with disabilities. He holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, and an M.A. in Adult Learning and Training.
Gab Bonesso is an award-winning standup comedian, columnist, actress and children’s performer. She has won the title “Best Comedian in Pittsburgh” three times. Twice voted by the readers of Pittsburgh City Paper and once voted by the readers of Pgh Magazine. Gab is credited for pioneering the Alternative Comedy scene in Pittsburgh and in 2012 she was awarded a Grant by the Pgh Foundation and was given an Experimental Artist Residency at Carnegie Mellon University where she developed new work. Gab wrote a weekly column for AOL from 2010-2012 called “Rocking the Suburbs”. During 2011-2013 Gab performed corporate comedy and hosted corporate training videos for American Eagle Outfitters. Gab also toured the United States and Canada hosting a documentary series for the company. In 2011 Gab teamed up with Pittsburgh-based musician Josh Verbanets (lead singer of Meeting of Important People) and co-created The Josh and Gab Show which is an anti-bullying rock and roll comedy stage program for children. The Josh and Gab Show has been featured in schools, music festivals, churches, libraries and conferences all over the North Eastern region of the United States and they headlined a music festival in Monterey, Mexico. In 2015 Gab delivered a TedX Talk at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh on the subject of The Role of Adults in the Anti-Bully Movement. In 2017 Gab was the first comedian signed to Misra Records. Her first comedy album: Everyone’s Dead was a cathartic release after the back-to-back losses of her mother and brother the year earlier. Gab has written and appeared on radio as an On Air Producer for CBS (2007-2008). She was even nominated for an AIR Award for “Best New Talent”. As a comedian Gab has featured or opened for headliners such as Richard Lewis, Brain Posehn, Tommy Chong, Jen Kirkman, John Hodgman, Kurt Branholer, Dustin Diamond, Adam Sank and Lizz Winstead. As an actress Gab has appeared in spots on Television/Internet for Sony Jobs, The Ruscitto Foundation and WQED Anti-Bullying PSA’s, City Paper Local Motion Fashion Show, American Eagle Outfitters and The Scare House – Burgatory – Lemieux Foundation “ScareHouse Shake” Promotion. Gab can currently be seen in Movie Theaters around Pgh in an Anti-Bullying PSA shown directly before the movie trailers. Lizz Winstead (co-creator of the Daily Show) has referred to Gab Bonesso as a “superstar” and Richard Lewis said that Gab Bonesso is “the real deal and f***ing hilarious”.
Jacquelyn Connell, ACHIEVA Family Trust
Jacquelyn E. Connell serves as Trust Attorney for ACHIEVA Family Trust. In her current role, she works with organizations, attorneys, families, and individuals with disabilities on reviewing and establishing special needs trusts. Prior to working at ACHIEVA Family Trust, she focused her practice on estate planning and estate administration. She has extensive experience in drafting and reviewing Wills and Powers of Attorney, as well as advising clients on estate planning techniques with regard to trusts, real estate, and long term care. Jacquelyn is a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and its Law and Disability section. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude and her Juris Doctor from Duquesne University.
Christina Costello, PAHrtners Deaf Services
Christina Costello is originally from South Jersey and graduated from West Chester University. She worked for PAHrtners Deaf Services (greater Philadelphia office) for almost five years as an Intensive Case Manager. Due to her professional experience there, she decided to attend Gallaudet University to obtain her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Upon graduation Christina moved to Minnesota where she worked for the state of Minnesota’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division in the Mental Health Program as a Mental Health Specialist (therapist). It was there that she became a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Christina worked in Minnesota for almost six years before returning to PAHrtners. This time she joined the PAHrtners location in Pittsburgh as Operations Director of Community Mental Health. Currently, Christina is working to expand community mental health services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in Western Pennsylvania. The goal is to provide blended case management services to adults and outpatient therapy to both adults and children, all in a linguistically and culturally appropriate setting.
Nicole Dawson, NAMI
Nikki served in the US Army from 2003-2011 with a combat tour to Iraq. While in, she met her husband of 10 years David. Their experiences navigating the VA and dealing with their mental health diagnoses led her to seek out opportunities to ensure that veterans such as herself can access the resources they need. As an employee of NAMI Keystone PA she as an In Our Own Voice Presenter and is working to establish NAMI’s presence in the veteran mental health space as well as nurture existing relationships.
Dr. Collin Diedrich, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania
Dr. Collin Diedrich has a PhD in Molecular Virology and Microbiology from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a Certificate in Disability Legal Studies from University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is a postdoctoral associate researching how HIV changes immunological responses to tuberculosis. Prior to his current position, Dr. Diedrich was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Cape Town in South Africa for approximately 3 years. Dr. Diedrich has multiple learning disabilities and is an advocate and professional speaker for students who have learning disabilities. He is also the founder and president of a newly formed non-profit, Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania that will provide services to students and adults with learning disabilities and those affected by them. You can read more about Dr. Diedrich on his personal website: www.ldphd.org
Dr. Heather Doyle, Mt. Lebanon School District
Heather has served as the Director of Special Education at Mt. Lebanon School District since May 2018. Prior to coming to Mt. Lebanon, Heather was the Director of Pupil Services at Copley-Fairlawn City Schools in Akron for four years, the Assistant Coordinator of Special Services at Medina City Schools in Medina, Ohio, for three years, and a school psychologist at Medina City Schools for six years. She also has served as an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University and Ashland University. Heather attended Bethany College in West Virginia where she studied psychology and visual art. She received her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in School Psychology and her Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from Kent State University. Heather was named Ohio School Psychologist of the Year in 2014. She is also a recipient of the Service and Leadership Award from Kent State University College and Graduate School of Education, Health, and Human Services. Heather has published articles and book chapters on relational aggression, social and emotional learning, and educational testing. She has also worked on grant projects focusing on expanding post-secondary transition services for students and promotion of healthy eating and exercise as well as the Ohio Dyslexia Pilot Project.
Carol Frazer, LPC, Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative
Ms. Frazer is a Practice Transformation Specialist for the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative. Her responsibilities include helping health systems implement and sustain quality improvement strategies at the practice level. She is a member of the Adolescent Behavioral Health Initiative team, which is working to improve access to quality behavioral health care through youth advocacy. As a member of the Community Health Workers Champions team, she trained frontline workers to identify and report possible mental health issues, and increase confidence in engaging those with a mental health diagnosis. Previously, Ms. Frazer served as director of care management at Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, where she developed a comprehensive integrated care management program, and assisted in developing quality measures that meet National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) standards. Prior to that, she was an outpatient therapist, clinical supervisor, and unit director at Mercy Behavioral Health, leading efforts to co-locate behavioral health in primary care settings. Ms. Frazer also maintained a private practice in the Pittsburgh area for 16 years, providing therapy to patients with comorbid health conditions, and training local non-profits to help children cope with issues of sexual assault and alcohol dependency in their families. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and her master’s degree in Counselor Education at the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Michael Gamel-McCormick, Office of Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania
Michael Gamel-McCormick is the Disability Policy Director for Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He held a similar position in the office of Sen. Tom Harkin, as well as being Sen. Harkin’s senior education staffer. He began his career as an early childhood education teacher, teaching in inclusive settings. He was a special education technical assistance provider for over 40 counties and cities in Virginia. For 15 years, he was a professor and dean at the University of Delaware as well as the director of the university’s Center for Disability Studies. Just prior to joining Sen. Casey’s staff, he was Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.
Rich Howard, River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.
Rich Howard is the president of River Fiduciary Services, Inc. While serving on the board of directors for Passavant Memorial Homes, a non-profit human services provider that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health diagnoses, in 2004 Rich became the founding Chairman of the Board for Life Enrichment Trust, a supplemental needs trust business related to the non-profit. In 2008, he became part of corporate management for Passavant. In 2016, he helped establish River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc., a non-profit corporation that provides Trustee Services, Guardianship Services, and other supports that provide the benefit of professional fiduciary services.
Kimberly Kir, Every Child, Inc.
Kimberly Kir, MA, is the Associate Director of Clinical Services for Every Child, Inc. where she oversees the agency’s work with families impacted by a mental health diagnosis. Kim earned her Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Duquesne University and over the span of her career has worked directly with chronically mentally ill homeless women and children with complex mental health diagnosis and their families. Prior to joining Every Child, Kim was the Director of Administration for the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center.
Katelyn Lamm, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Katelyn Lamm serves as the board chair for the Western PA chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, having been involved as a local board member with the organization for over 10 years. She has delivered numerous presentations on suicide prevention in our local communities over the years, and she is certified in SafeTALK suicide intervention. Her professional background also includes eight years in public policy. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Duquesne University in music therapy and psychology.
Suzanne Lochie, Keystone Oaks School District
Suzanne Lochie has served as the Supervisor of Pupil Services in the Keystone Oaks School District since 2015. Prior to that, she served as the District’s Coordinator of Pupil Personnel and Special Education. She also previously worked in Keystone Oaks as a school-based mental health therapist at the elementary level. Suzanne earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Penn State University, then went on to earn an MS.Ed. in School Counseling at Duquesne University and Principal Certification at California University of Pennsylvania. Suzanne has also maintained her certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor and National Board Certified Counselor.
Shawn McGill, MSW, LSW, Shawn McGill Consulting, Inc.
Shawn is the CEO and founder of Shawn McGill Consulting, Inc., a company providing consultation in areas such as sexuality, gender identity, and general behavior supports. Shawn’s philosophy is that we must look at supports from a prevention aspect as opposed to being reactive. Implementing supports based on the unique preferences, needs and core clinical issues of each person is essential based on ways they learn and are motivated. She holds certification in Quality Management and is a Bureau of Autism services FBA Trainer. Shawn received her BA in Psychology & Sociology from Carlow in 1998 and her MSW in 2000 from the University of Pittsburgh.
Amanda Meredith, Every Child, Inc.
Amanda Meredith, LCSW, is an experienced licensed clinical social worker who has worked with children and families, both in the home and an outpatient setting for the past ten years. She developed a dual specialty treating those diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder through her work at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic’s Pediatric OCD program. In 2015, Amanda graduated from the International OCD Foundation’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute. She maintains an outpatient therapy practice at The Center for OCD and Anxiety and also serves as a Clinical Instructor for both Masters and Doctoral Counseling students at Chatham University.
Lori Milcic, Pressley Ridge
Lori Milcic, MA, CI, CT, QMHI, began her career in the psychology field, but eventually her knack for languages took priority. She became a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter and began freelancing for and with the Deaf community she has grown to value immensely. Today, Lori is one of three Qualified Mental Health Interpreters in Pennsylvania, works full-time at Pressley Ridge as Coordinator of Communication Support Service and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Lori has been training for over 2 years in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, which focuses on the interaction of neuroscience and trauma. She also provides communication assessments for complex clients, as well as training and consultation throughout the community. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology, works on the Healthbridges.info committee and is actively involved in the Allegheny County Behavioral Health Task Force for People who are Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing. Lori has almost 20 years of experience in the field. Her deep calling is to create collaborative environments where effective access is provided for all people, no matter their communication preferences. In her “spare” time, Lori walks dogs, rescues chickens and performs music.
Representative Dan Miller
As the eldest child of immigrant parents, Dan was the first member of his family born in America. Raised by a single mom from an early age, finances were often challenging. Even so, his family instilled in him a strong appreciation and recognition of the special opportunities America offers. As a result, Dan has made public service an important part of his life.
He enlisted in the Army National Guard after high school. While his military service was cut short due to injury, he found another way to engage in service. As a Team Leader in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corp, he led a team of young people working on community projects across the Mid-Atlantic. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in education and history and became a teacher. He later graduated with a law degree from Catholic University, where he received two community service awards, chaired their public interest auction, and served as executive editor of their communications journal. Upon passing the bar, Dan decided to serve the community again as a public defender focusing on juveniles and later as a county solicitor where he worked to make sure kids were safe in their homes and received a proper education.
Dan and his wife Kim moved to Mt. Lebanon where he joined the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. In 2011, he was awarded the Medal of Merit for his attempt to save the life of a three-year-old child from a devastating house fire. He went on to be elected as a municipal commissioner, and has served the community as a board member of such local institutions as Outreach Teen and Family Center, the Center for Theater Arts, and the Hollywood Theater in Dormont.
Dan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2013 and currently serves on the Education Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Labor and Industry Committee, as well as on the Human Services and Children and Youth committees. He is the Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Special Education and the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Caucus, and also is a member of the Steel, Government Reform, Early Childhood Education, LGBT Equality, HOPE and the Fire/EMS caucuses. He also serves as Chair of the Allegheny County Delegation.
As state representative, Dan has received awards for his advocacy for people with disabilities from ACHIEVA, The PEAL Center, and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, and he has been awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA.
Deborah Murdoch, MPH, Jewish Healthcare Foundation
Ms. Murdoch serves as a Program Manager at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and works on the Adolescent Behavioral Health Initiative, Patient Safety Fellowship, and Minority AIDS Initiative. She facilitates statewide collaborative learning sessions and peer-exchange, conducts on-site and virtual coaching, collects program data, and compiles lessons learned. Prior to joining the Foundation, she spent eight years working in international public health, including two years working on a community-based HIV program in South Africa as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and three years in Uganda working on a national HIV and AIDS care and treatment program funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Ms. Murdoch earned a BS in Neuroscience from the College of William and Mary and an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Eric O’Connor, River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.
Eric O’Connor is the vice president of River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc. A graduate of Robert Morris University with Degrees in Human Resources and Business Management, Eric’s background includes working with business owners to produce positive financial outcomes and he also served as a trust officer with Life Enrichment Trust. He holds FINRA Series 7, Series 66, Series 6 qualifications, is a Circle of Wealth Advisor, and is an Authorized Practitioner of the Nelson Nash Institute. Eric was a founding board member of River Communities Fiduciary Services, and currently serves as Chairman for the Beaver County Children and Youth Services Advisory Board.
W. Gerard Oleksiak, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
W. Gerard “Jerry” Oleksiak was appointed to the position of Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry by Governor Tom Wolf in September of 2017. In April of 2018, he officially became the thirty-fifth secretary to serve in that capacity since the department’s founding in 1913.
Before joining the Department of Labor and Industry, Secretary Oleksiak served as president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) – with 180,000 members, the largest professional association and labor union in the commonwealth. In addition to his service as president, he served as PSEA vice president, treasurer, and, beginning in 2007, as a member of the board of directors. During his tenure, he worked effectively with labor unions, advocacy groups, and legislators on both sides of the aisle on important education and labor issues impacting all Pennsylvanians.
Prior to PSEA, Secretary Oleksiak spent more than three decades as a classroom teacher, most of that time as a special education teacher at the Upper Merion Area School District in King of Prussia, PA. While at Upper Merion he was part of many key district committees, involving superintendent searches, strategic planning, Blue Ribbon applications, and various other aspects of district operations. He also served as president of the Upper Merion Area Education Association (UMAEA). Secretary Oleksiak was inducted into the Upper Merion Area School District Wall of Fame in 2007, and received recognition throughout his career for his work as an educator and an advocate for public education.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Secretary Oleksiak graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and later earned a Master’s degree in Education. He and his wife of over forty years live in Montgomery County, PA, and have three children and four grandchildren
Jeff Ruder, Esq., Ruder Law
Jeff Ruder is the founder and principal of Ruder Law. Since 2006, Jeff has focused his practice on advocating for the rights of disabled children in public schools. Jeff is also frequent speaker to professional and parent groups regarding the rights of students with disabilities.
Jeff also serves as an Allegheny County Solicitor, handling matters involving child abuse and neglect. In addition, Jeff works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations where he represents victims of housing discrimination. Jeff also serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board. Previously, he worked as a guardian ad litem for Legal Aid for Children. Jeff is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1996 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.
Tracy Scanlon, Outreach Teen & Family Services
Dr. Tracy Scanlon completed her doctoral work at Duquesne University. She received a B.S.in psychology from Geneva College and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University. She is a licensed professional psychotherapist, a professor of psychology and a Certified Thanatologist as well as a Certified Employee Assistance Professional. Dr. Scanlon is a critical incident responder with the Allegheny County Emergency Response Team.
Dr. Scanlon has been an instructor at Community College of Allegheny County since 2001 and also works with both under graduate and graduate counseling psychology students at California University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Dr. Scanlon is the Director of Professional and Program Services at Outreach Teen and Family Services in Mt. Lebanon Pennsylvania.
Although her academic interests are relatively broad, she has spent much of her career in service to the culturally and-economically disenfranchised. She has spent over 25 years as an advocate examining how negative life experiences, such as early life trauma, poverty and grief impact mental wellness. Her private practice focus is loss and trauma. Her published research agenda includes an investigation of schools as mental health systems of care to increase hardiness and to mitigate adverse outcomes.
She maintains a private practice in the Mt. Lebanon area of Pittsburgh and travels across the tristate providing critical incident and disruptive event management services as well as conferences and trainings.
Jeanine Schultz, PEAL Center
Jeanine Schultz is the Director of Training at the PEAL Center. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the areas of education, adult and systems advocacy, transition to adulthood, and supports. She has conducted over 100 trainings through the Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and Families. Jeanine has served as a board member for the Down Syndrome Center of Pittsburgh, has a degree in Informational Technology, and is a graduate of The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities. She and her husband are the parents of four children.
Eileen Sharbaugh, St. Paul’s Episcopal Nursery School
Eileen is the Director of St. Paul’s Episcopal Nursery School in Mt. Lebanon, where she began working in 1989 as a teacher. Eileen is also a co-founder of Jeremiah’s Place, Pittsburgh’s first and only crisis nursery that opened in 2014 in the Lincoln-Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh. She has spent most of her professional and volunteer career as an early childhood educator and advocate.
In addition to St. Paul’s, Eileen has worked for The Homeless Children’s Education Fund, was a Together Time instructor for a pilot program through the Fred Rogers Company, was an instructor for Friends of Child Find Inc., and was the first Coordinator for Mt. Lebanon’s Teen Center. She and her husband were also foster parents with The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh to twelve children over a ten-year period.
Eileen currently serves as a board member with Jeremiah’s Place, and has previously served as a board member for other community organizations such as Outreach Teen & Family Services, Century United Soccer and Sheldon Calvary Camp.
Joel Shaul, LCSW, Watson Institute
Joel Shaul has over 30 years over experience as a therapist, and he specializes in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He provides social skills training groups, as well as individual and group therapy for children with autism. Outside of Watson, Joel develops teaching products for children with Autism.
Bryce Shirey, Every Child, Inc.
Bryce Shirey, MA, BSL, received his Masters in Psychology from Duquesne University and is a Licensed Behavior Specialist. For over fifteen years, Bryce has worked directly with children and adolescents with a variety of diagnoses, serving as both therapist and behavioral consultant. He has provided individual, family and group therapy, as well as case management for families struggling with a mental health diagnosis. He has significant experience in cognitive behavior therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, and structural family therapy. Bryce joined Every Child as a Clinical Family-Based Supervisor, where he oversees Every Child’s Autism Specialty Family Based teams.
Lissa Geiger Shulman, Trying Together
Lissa Geiger Shulman is the Director of Public Policy for Trying Together. In this role, Lissa develops policy and advocates for issues surrounding early intervention, child care, pre-k, and home visiting. An important part of Trying Together’s policy agenda is advancing developmentally appropriate practices in birth through age 8 programs, and investing so that every family receives the support needed for their young children to grow, learn, and succeed. Previously Lissa was the Chief of Staff to a state representative where she worked on policy in the areas of education and disability rights and services. Lissa has an M.A. in Education and taught in both Pittsburgh Public Schools and Kansas City Public Schools.
Brenda Slagle, Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging
Brenda Slagle is the Caregiver Support Coordinator for Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging (AC DHS/AAA). She is a native Pittsburgher who received her Master of Science Degree in Professional Counseling from Carlow University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.
Brenda is a certified trainer for the Older Adult Version of the Mental Health First Aid certification course, the Powerful Tools for Caregivers psychoeducational series, and the American Red Cross Family Caregiving Series.
She serves on the Senior Companion Advisory Board, DHS Integrated Team Committee, Caregiver Resource Committee, United Way Open Your Heart to a Senior Advisory Board and the Veteran Community Partners’ Team.
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, Consumer Health Coalition
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church having been ordained 25 years. For the first ten years of her ministry, Rev. Snyder was pastor to congregations and communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania, New Castle, and Erie. For the past fifteen years, she’s worked in justice ministry settings as a community organizer on local, state and national levels. Of particular concern for her are issues which impact marginalized populations, children, the impoverished, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.
Since March of 2007, Rev. Snyder has been on staff of the Consumer Health Coalition where she is the Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement. She created and leads the very successful “I AM YOUR NEIGHBOR” program which advocates for rights, resources, room, and respect for persons with all types of disabilities (physical, mental, sensory, and developmental, cross). She leads advocacy trainings and education events involving both self and systemic advocacy. In these trainings, Rev. Snyder listens to, learns from, creates alongside and advocates with persons marginalized due to income, ability, race, orientation and perceptions of power.
Rev. Snyder oversees the distribution of the “How to BE a Proactive Patient” guidebook and the Academy of Activated Consumers which educates persons to ensure the integration of persons’ physical health care and mental health care and teaches persons to be involved and engaged in every medical appointment. She wants to empower consumers to be the “Most Valuable Players” on their health care teams. She was appointed to and serves as the Vice-Chairperson for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and is chairperson of the Health Workgroup.
A gifted and talented communicator of the spoken and written word, Rev. Snyder is a published author and impassioned speaker and has done work in announcing and radio. She enjoys movies, reading and hiking. She is a proud Pittsburgh Pirates fan, a life-long member of “Steelers Nation,” thinks Dr. Seuss is one of the great theologians of the 20th Century and that Mister Rogers should be nominated for sainthood. Rev. Snyder believes that community is all of us.
Lori Sutton MS.Ed., Bethel Park School District
Lori Sutton is the Director of Special Education for the Bethel Park School District. Lori earned her B.S.Ed in Special Education with dual certification in special and elementary education at Duquesne University and her M.S.Ed. in School Psychology with a Supervisor of Special Education certification from the University of Pittsburgh. She has additional certifications in English K-12 and English as a Second Language Program Specialist.
Fred Terling, NAMI Keystone PA
Fred has been dealing with bipolar disorder since first being diagnosed in the military, 32 years ago. Despite his illness, he has become extremely active in both SW Pennsylvania with NAMI Keystone PA as an In Our Own Voice Presenter, Connection Facilitator and most recently, completed training on the National Level to become a state trainer for NAMI Connection Facilitators. In Washington County, he is on the Board for the Mental Health Association. On the state level, he is currently the President of the Board for the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association.