Presenters for Day Two – May 26, 2022
Rachel Kolko Conlon – Rachel Kolko Conlon, PhD, received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and her master’s and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Rachel is on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where her work focuses on obesity and eating disorders in children, adults and families, with an emphasis on increasing access to evidence-based care.
Julie Faieta – Julie Faieta, PhD, is a rehabilitation science researcher and a licensed clinical occupational therapist whose area of focus is digital health design for older adults. Presently, her primary area of research is in the development and evaluation of assistive and pervasive technology-based interventions to address health span and quality of life in neurodegenerative and caregiver populations. With a specific interest in Alzheimer’s disease and technology mediated sleep supports, she is working to develop interventions that can be effectively implemented with those at risk of disease development, and across each stage of the disease progression.
Fran Flaherty – Fran Flaherty is a Deaf artist and educational consultant living in Pittsburgh for over 25 years. As a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, her work is centered in issues surrounding migrant family relations and assimilation, maternal feminism, & disability aesthetics that synthesizes traditional media and physical computing. Flaherty is committed to improving the lives of people who are Deaf and/or Disabled by bringing disability awareness through her artwork. Her current solo exhibition is entitled “Deaf Brown American Mom” and is on display at Space Gallery in the Cultural District until May 15, 2022.
Chaz Kellem – Chaz Kellem serves as a Program Manager for the Enterprise Equitable Health Institute (EEHI) at Highmark Health. EEHI is advancing a comprehensive internal and external strategy designed to promote a culture of equity and inclusion. Prior to joining Highmark Health, Chaz served as a Director in Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. Chaz earned his Master of Science Degree from Robert Morris University and his Bachelor of Science degree from Edinboro University of PA. He is active in the community serving on various boards and committees along with investing his time in other civic organizations.
Alicia Koloski – Alicia is passionate about using her personal experience of an eating disorder and navigating treatment as an adult as well her platform as a registered dietitian to bring awareness to weight stigma, eating disorder prevention and mental health. As a dietitian working in corporate and higher education food service, she embraces the Intuitive Eating Principles and Health at Every Size® approach to wellness. She wants to engage in conversations around the limitations of eating disorder treatment availability for all populations and the role fat phobia plays disordered eating practices.
Heather McLean – Heather McLean began her career working in mental health 19+ years ago. Heather currently works at MHA-SWPA in Greensburg, Westmoreland County Pa as their Outreach Coordinator. Heather has been a member of the Ray of Hope, Westmoreland County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Task Force since 2009. She has been serving as the Chair of the task force since 2016. Heather is a certified QPR Gatekeeper instructor and has provided QPR trainings to schools, community/social service agencies, businesses, medical personnel/first responders, and faith-based organizations for many years.
Laura McWilliams – Laura McWilliams is deputy director for the Juvenile Division of the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender. Laura joined the PD’s office in 2013 and has spent nearly seven years working in the Juvenile Division. Laura practices law with a focus on holistic defense and enforcing the tenets of procedural justice—that the most fair system is one in which the child’s voice is heard and he or she is fully involved in the outcome. Laura received a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit and a J.D. from Suffolk Law School in Boston.
Eric Meyer – Eric Meyer, PhD, is a professor and the director of the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. A licensed clinical psychologist, the goal of his research is to improve long-term functioning and quality of life in people living with complex combinations of trauma-related mental and physical health conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, substance use disorders, depression and traumatic brain injury. He is particularly interested in the potential of acceptance and mindfulness-based behavioral interventions to improve long-term functional outcomes in people living with psychiatric and physical disabilities.
Alison Paniccia – Alison Paniccia has worked as a licensed professional counselor and board-certified music therapist since 2013. With extensive experience working in residential treatment centers with adolescents with physical and emotional dysregulation, Alison began working for The Emily Program and exclusively with eating disordered clients in 2019. She specializes in outpatient services including cognitive behavioral therapy for binge eating disorder as well as family-based treatment for children and adolescents with a variety of eating disorders.
Christine Porter – C. Christine Porter is the Education Attorney for the Juvenile Division of the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender. Prior to joining the public defender’s office in 2021, Christine practiced education law with a private firm in Seattle, where she represented students with disabilities and their families. She has also practiced disability and elder law with Neighborhood Legal Services in Pittsburgh and litigated employment discrimination cases as a partner with a small plaintiff-side firm in Seattle. While living in Seattle, Christine served on the boards of several nonprofits advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities. She received her M.A. in Philosophy and J.D. degrees from the University of Washington.
Sheila Roth – Sheila G. Roth, Ph.D., LCSW, EMT is the Manager of the Continuum of Support Program for the City of Pittsburgh Office of Community Health and Safety and a Professor of Social Work in the Masters in Social Work program at Carlow University. Dr. Roth is a licensed clinical social worker in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has worked with first responders in a supportive capacity for over 30 years. She continues to serve first responders in a volunteer role through the Allegheny County/Pittsburgh Critical Incident Stress Management Team and through her work with public safety peer groups in the City of Pittsburgh.
Jeff Ruder – 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, and he is a 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. He also works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations representing victims of housing discrimination. In addition, Jeff serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, and he previously 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.
Alexandra Salerno – Alexandra Salerno currently serves as the program supervisor for the UPMC Center for Eating Disorders. She is a licensed practicing counselor (LPC) in the state of PA and has an interest in eating disorders and athletes. Alexandra is looking forward to being a part of this year’s Summit and sharing her knowledge about this field.
Kristy Trautmann – Kristy Trautmann is executive director of FISA Foundation, a charitable grantmaking foundation that champions justice, equity, safety and inclusion for women, girls and people with disabilities and addresses systemic racism as it impacts these groups. FISA, The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation have co-sponsored extensive programming addressing the intersection of race and disability.
Allison Ware – Allison Ware is an assistant public defender in the Juvenile Division of the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender. Allison joined the PD’s office in 2021 and has recently transitioned from representing children charged with summary offenses to joining the Education Team and representing children in juvenile court. Allison practices law with a focus on holistic defense and ensuring that each child feels heard and is an active part of their case. Allison received a BA from St. Vincent College in Latrobe and a J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law.
Tessa Watkins – Tessa was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 29. Despite receiving the diagnosis later in life, they were still autistic since birth. Their specific presentation of autism went undiagnosed for nearly 30 years. Tessa and other autistic people like them are often still doubted, denied supports, and discriminated against due to the lack of autism awareness in mainstream society because they don’t fit the stereotypes depicted in media. Tessa has a Bachelor of Science, works as a programmer in the digital marketing industry both for a local advertising agency as well as a freelancer for startups and new/small businesses because solving problems with technology is one of their special interests. Tessa is also married and together they are the proud parents of a spirited toddler that’s also on the spectrum.