(Presenter information is subject to change.)
Pat Amos, M.A. Trainer/Consultant
Pat Amos, M.A., has been an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for over 30 years. She is a founder of Autism Support and Advocacy in Pennsylvania (ASAP) and the Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, past president of the Greater Philadelphia Autism Society, a founder and past president of the Autism National Committee, has served as a member of Pennsylvania’s Developmental Disabilities Council, as a board member and chair of the Human Right Committee of international TASH, and currently is on the board of Networks for Training and Development. Pat works as a consultant to families and to human services organizations on issues involving positive approaches, best practices, and fostering the growth of inclusive communities. She is the parent of four adults, three of whom experience significant sensorimotor differences and all of whom have taught her amazing lessons.
Josie Badger, Youth Leadership Director, PEAL Center
Dr. Josie Badger received her Doctorate in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne University in 2014. She completed graduate school for Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh in April 2009 and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. In May of 2007 she graduated summa cum laude from Geneva College, majoring in Disability Law and Advocacy. Dr. Badger works at PEAL as the Youth Director, assisting youth in transition and leadership development.
Samantha Baillie, MA Family Based Supervisor, Every Child
Samantha Baillie is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from La Roche College in 2004, and her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011. She has been working in community mental health for twelve years, primarily providing family therapy to high risk children on the autism spectrum and their caregivers. Samantha is the Clinical Supervisor of the Family Based Autism Program at Every Child Inc. and continues to see clients in private practice.
Ceil Belasco, Parent/Educator
Ceil is both a teacher and a parent of an adult with disabilities. Her background includes 35 years as a special education teacher and 6 years as Director of Training for the PEAL Center.
Jeannine H. Brinkley, Executive Director, PEAL Center
Jeannine Brinkley formerly worked as a technical assistance provider for PaTTAN and is currently the Executive Director at the PEAL Center. Lorie Brew is the Project MAX Coordinator for Eastern PA, and Tammi Morton is the Project MAX Coordinator for Western PA.
Nora Geig Chatha, Esq., Tucker Arensberg
Nora Gieg Chatha is a shareholder in the firm’s Estates and Trusts, Investment Management and Fiduciary Services and Long Term Care Practice Groups. Nora represents individuals, fiduciaries and healthcare providers in all areas of estate planning and wealth preservation, with a focus on special needs, public benefits and long-term care related issues. Past experience as legal counsel with the Pennsylvania State Medicaid (Medical Assistance) Agency, the Department of Human Services (formerly of Public Welfare), and knowledge of Orphans’ Court practice and fiduciary duties allows Nora to provide comprehensive representation to clients in a variety of complex situations.
Articles and Presentations: Nora has been quoted on the topic of special needs trusts, with publications in “The Regulation of Investment Management and Fiduciary Services,” Thompson West (2008) and frequently presents educational and continuing education courses to local institutions and community groups, including the Pennsylvania Bankers’ Association, the Fiduciary Education Foundation and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute.
Honors and Awards: Nora successfully defended her clients’ positions in a variety of trust and estate related matters, including the published opinion of Debone v. Commonwealth, 929 A.2d 1219 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007).
Memberships and Activities: Nora is an adjunct instructor with Robert Morris University teaching the Federal Estate & Gift Course for its M.S. in Taxation Program and serves as President of the Estate Planning Council of Pittsburgh. Nora is a member of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations and their Elder Law and Estates/Trusts/Probate sections.
Jurisdictions: Nora is admitted to practice before all Pennsylvania State Courts and the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and has been accredited to practice before the United States Veterans Administration.
Education and Background: Nora obtained a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she was awarded a Community Services Award.
Heather Conroy, LCSW, Evolve Coaching
Heather Conroy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board Certified Behavior Analyst with a Masters’ degree from the University of Pittsburgh. For more than 10 years, Heather has worked with children, adolescents, and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and mental health diagnoses in various settings. With Evolve Coaching, Heather supports post-secondary students, job-seekers, and individuals hoping to build stronger social relationships. Evolve Coaching clients, like all of us, aim to make their own positive changes; however, we also focus on the importance of advocacy in an effort to build an accepting and educated community of peers, professors, and employers.
Jim W. Conroy, Co-President, Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance
Graduating cum laude from Yale University in 1970 with a BA in Physiological Psychology, Dr. Conroy began his career doing research on the impacts of the Developmental Disabilities Act of 1970. He received his MA in Sociology/Program Evaluation and Ph.D. in Medical Sociology from Temple University in 1992. While at Temple University, he was the Principal Investigator and designer of the Pennhurst Longitudinal Study, the largest study ever done up to that time on the topic of moving people with developmental disabilities from institutions to small community homes. Since then, Dr. Conroy has directed more than a dozen similar longitudinal studies in other states. He has been responsible for more than 250 formal research reports to government agencies and foundations, as well as more than 30 articles in scholarly journals and 10 book chapters.
His works have been publicized on CBS 60 Minutes, ABC Nightline, public television, public radio, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.
Michele Conti, J.D., LL.M, Life Enrichment Trust
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Michele completed her studies at Allegheny College in Meadville and St. Anne’s College, Oxford. She received her Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University in 2004 and her Master of Laws Degree specializing in taxation with a focus on estate planning from Villanova University.
Michele educates LET clients, consumers and family members guiding them with making the best decisions to comply with the special needs planning rules. Michele also supervises the LET Trust Assistants and maintains the updates with the various governmental benefit regulations across the country. LET currently has beneficiaries in 44 states.
Ted Dallas, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department Human Services
Ted Dallas assumed duties as Secretary of the Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015. Since taking over at the Department, Secretary Dallas has implemented a full Medicaid expansion that has provided healthcare to approximately 450,000 Pennsylvanians who were previously uninsured and begun implementing several other significant reforms at the Department.
Previously, Secretary Dallas served as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources. Under his leadership, the Department set state records for moving individuals from welfare to work and for collecting the highest amounts of child support in the state’s history. The Department was also recognized by the federal government as one of the most efficient and highest performing states at administering food assistance, which resulted in extra funds coming to the state.
Secretary Dallas also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Martin O’Malley in Maryland, Executive Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and First Deputy Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia. He also worked in the private sector for a Fortune 500 company.
Secretary Dallas was recently chosen to receive a national award from Casey Family Programs for his contributions to the child welfare field and his efforts to improve the lives of children and families and the Thomas J. Zuber Memorial Patient Service Award from SEIU recognizing his efforts for implementing the Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from Temple University.
Kelly Davis, Program Representative, PA Department of Treasury
Kelly Davis is responsible for promoting both the newly enacted PA ABLE Program, the benefits-protected and tax-advantage saving programs for people with disabilities, and the PA 529 College Savings Program, the tax-advantaged college savings (Section 529) program, serving in that capacity since 2005. As a Program Representative, Mrs. Davis has extensive knowledge about both programs. She travels throughout the Commonwealth to educate families about both programs. She works with many businesses, schools, other state agencies, non-profit organizations, and legislative offices to reach the families they serve.
Mrs. Davis holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BS) in Communications with a minor in Public Relations from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Kelly currently resides in Harrisburg with her husband, Aaron, and their daughter, Harper.
Scott A. Dougherty, Educational Consultant, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
Scott A. Dougherty is an Educational Consultant at the Pennsylvania Training & Technical Assistance Network, Pittsburgh Office. He works in the areas of assistive technology, alternate eligible content, Deaf/hard of hearing support, Deaf-blindness, and support for students with complex support needs. His previous work experience has included teaching at a residential school for the Deaf; working as an intermediate unit consultant in assistive technology; and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of assistive technology, instructional technology, and American Sign Language.
Kimberly Eckel, Child Wellness Coordinator, Project Launch
Kim Cauley Eckel is currently the Young Child Wellness Coordinator for Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health). Prior to holding this position, she was a Senior Advisor in the Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation at Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services and spent nearly a decade in management consulting at the beginning of her career. Mrs. Eckel holds a BA in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University, an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford and is pursuing a PhD in Political Science from Boston College.
Amy Engbarth, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation | Labor and Industry
Amy Engbarth began her career with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation with the Pittsburgh BVRS District Office in 2009. She has her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from West Virginia University and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Amy joined OVR’s Central Office in the Special Programs Division as the Western Regional Transition Specialist in March 2015. Along with providing training and technical assistance in the western region, her roles and responsibilities include statewide lead on Pre-Employment Transition Services, Supported Employment and Discovery and Customized Employment.
Dennis Falo, Director of Clinical Services for Every Child
Dennis Falo is the Director of Clinical Services at Every Child, Inc. and has been with the agency since 2002. He is responsible for the day-to-day clinical operations of Every Child’s Family Based Mental Health and Family Focused Solution Based Services. Dennis served as a trainer for the Western PA Training Collaborative, a nonprofit agency that provides supervisory trainings for human service agencies throughout the Pittsburgh area. He has been a presenter at the 2011 National Alliance for Children and Families Conference in Washington D.C.
David Gates, Esq., Senior Attorney, PA Health Law Project
Mr. Gates has been representing families and adult consumers in accessing services and supports under Medical Assistance and other forms of health insurance since 1976. He previously worked for the Bucks County Welfare Rights Organization, Bucks County Legal Aid, State Sen. Roxanne Jones, and the National Health Law Program in Washington DC. He is currently a Senior Attorney with the Pennsylvania Health Law Project where he has worked since 1991. He has represented children and adults with disabilities in appeals before the DPW/DHS, Common Pleas Court, Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, the Federal District Courts for the Eastern & Middle Districts, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the PA Supreme Court. He has won the following awards: Rose Rosa Advocacy Award- Montgomery Co. ARC (1996); Striving for Excellence Award- PA Legal Services (1999); PA Initiative on Assistive Technology Advocacy Award (1999); Philadelphia Alliance of MH/MR Provider’s annual award (1999); Excellence Award from PA Legal Aid Network for his work with Homeworks, an independent living homeownership project for three individuals with disabilities (2009); Advocacy award- ABA in PA Initiative (2016) and Champion for Social Justice- PEAL (2016). He is on the Boards of Autism Living and Working, the CIL of Central PA and the PA Assistive Technology Foundation.
Emily Heim, MA, Mental Health Therapist, Outreach Teen and Family Services
Emily Heim is a child and family therapist who has been in practice since graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 2002 with her Master’s degree in Community Counseling. She has been working at Outreach Teen & Family Services since 2005 providing individual and family therapy, mental health screening and parent support and education. For the past two years, Emily has also held the title of program manager and community outreach. Various programs she coordinates include TeenScreen, ART (agression replacement training) and Choices, a drug and alcohol education class. Prior to Outreach, Emily worked as a school based therapist and in child welfare services.
Heather Hoeke, LCSW, Assistant Director of Outpatient Services, Wesley Spectrum Services
Heather has over 10 years of varied professional experience providing clinical services to children, adolescents and families with mental health and autism spectrum diagnose. She served as therapist and supervisor for the implementation of co-location services between Wesley Spectrum and Pediatric Alliance. Heather has training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, crisis intervention, Trauma-Focused CBT, perinatal mental health interventions, and play therapy. Her interests include working with young families to create a warm and supportive home environment as well as helping all children and adolescents to utilize their strengths and relationships to overcome challenges and lead healthier lives. Heather has conducted trainings for mental health providers, educational staff, families, medical professionals, and residential staff.
Brittany R. Holzer, Esq., Tucker Arensberg
Brittany is an attorney in the firm’s Estates and Trusts, Investment Management and Fiduciary Services, and Long Term Care Practice Groups. Her practice focuses on estate planning, general corporate advice, and banking transactions.
As a member of the Estates and Trusts group, Brittany works with families and individuals to assist in the development of a complete estate plan, including financial and health care powers of attorney, as well as living wills. She also works with individuals and health care institutions to assist in guardianship proceedings. Additionally, in her estate practice, she focuses on special needs planning and medical assistance/long term care planning.
Her general corporate work involves representation of clients with regard to a wide variety of contracts and agreements including merger and acquisition documentation, organizational and formation documentation, and real estate transactions, as well as various other corporate dealings. Her banking practice involves representation of financial institutions in connection with secured and unsecured credit facilities, ranging from single bank to multi-bank transactions.
As a member of the Investment Management Group, she works with various financial institutions, corporate fiduciaries and advisors regarding regulation, compliance and a broad range of other legal issues.
Honors and Awards: While in law school, Brittany was on the University of Dayton School of Law’s Student Bar Association General Board and was elected Class Secretary in her second year and School Secretary in her third year. Brittany was also nominated as the Marshal of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity in her third year.
Memberships and Activities: Brittany is a member of the American Bar Association, Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Allegheny County Bar Association, as well as an active member of the Estate Planning Council of Pittsburgh. Brittany has a passion for giving back and getting involved in the community. Such involvement includes being a member of the Children’s Trust through the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Ladies Hospital Aid Society. Additionally, Brittany has been selected to serve on the Family House Gifting Gala Committee for the last three (3) years and has previously Co-Chaired the Crystal Owl Gala for the Challenge Program, Inc.
Jurisdictions: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Education and Background: Brittany earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Administration of Justice, with a related concentration in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.
Prior to graduating law school, Brittany was a summer associate at Tucker Arensberg and also interned for three years for the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Juvenile Court Project. While in Dayton, Brittany also interned with Sherrets Law Offices, a firm specializing in estate planning, trust and probate law.
Nancy A. Hubley, Esq., Pittsburgh Director, Education Law Center
Ms. Hubley is the Pittsburgh Director of the Education Law Center (ELC). Ms. Hubley’s practice for over three decades has focused on the legal rights of the most vulnerable children, including children with disabilities, English language learners, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care and juvenile court placements, and very young children. She has handled individual and class action cases and lectured locally, statewide and nationally on all major areas of public education, including special education, early intervention, school discipline, enrollment and other issues of at-risk students. She is a graduate of Antioch School of Law and Denison University. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar and the Bar for the District of Columbia.
Jessica Kettel, MD, PhD, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
Dr. Jessica Kettel received her MD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2005 as part of a joint MD/PhD training program, having completed a PhD in immunology in 2003. She then completed her general psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatric fellowship in June 2010, both at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC).
Dr. Kettel has been employed at WPIC since July 2010, becoming Medical Director of the Merck Child & Adolescent outpatient clinic for Autism and Developmental Disorders in January 2012. She is also an attending psychiatrist at the Merck Adult clinic and is involved in research under the direction of Dr. Ben Handen, sponsored by Autism Speaks.
Dr. Carole Kunkle-Miller, Ph.D.
Dr. Carole Kunkle-Miller is a Licensed Psychologist, Collaborative Coach and Certified Health Coach, with offices in Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon, Pa. She is Director of Carole Kunkle-Miller, Ph.D. and Associates, a group psychotherapy and consultation practice serving the psychological needs of children, teens, adults and families for over 30 years. She has also completed extensive training from the Institute for Life Coaching. She is the parent of two sets of twins, who have given her first-hand experience in family dynamics and discovering collaborative solutions. Carole is a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Psychological Association, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania. She is also the vice chair-person of the membership committee for CLASP. She has published in professional journals and books, presented nationally, consulted to businesses and professional sports teams including the NBA, been interviewed on national and local media and has produced a CD on stress management.
Rosanne Levine, CRNP, Pediatrics South
Rosanne Levine has a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked in Behavioral Health and primary care for Pediatrics South for five years. In the past, she has worked for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in underserved communities, and for the neurology and allergy departments. She has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing.
Suzanne Lochie, Director of Pupil Services, Keystone Oaks School District
Suzanne Lochie, currently the Supervisor of Pupil Services at Keystone Oaks School District, has worked in the Keystone Oaks School District since 2011, when she obtained the role of Coordinator of Pupil Personnel and Special Education. She also previously worked in the District as a Wesley Spectrum school-based mental health therapist at the elementary level for four years.
Following a Bachelor’s program in Psychology at Penn State University, Suzanne 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, and currently works as an outpatient therapist at Relationship Resolutions providing individual and family therapy.
Alicia Logue, MA, BCBA, NCC, LPC
Alicia Logue is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Behavior Analyst with over 15 years of experience helping children, adolescents, and families. Her specialties are working with people affected by autism spectrum disorders, helping parents manage challenging behaviors, and assisting youth and young adults who are transitioning to adulthood. She enjoys training and supervising others and she has presented and consulted both locally and internationally.
Whitney Menarcheck MS, LPC NCC, Watson Institute
Whitney I. Menarcheck, MS, LPC, NCC, is an outpatient therapist at the Watson Institute in Sewickley, PA. A native of southwestern Pennsylvania, Whitney’s personal experiences of grief and loss as a child inspired her to pursue a career as a child and adolescent counselor. Whitney is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She received her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. Whitney has extensive experience working with children and adolescents experiencing grief/loss, trauma, anxiety and depression. She has professionally presented on childhood parental bereavement and is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Currently she provides psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and families with a variety of symptoms and presenting concerns.
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 Corps, 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 certified secondary educator. He later graduated with a law degree from Catholic University, where he also ran their public interest auction, was given a community service award, 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 on boards 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 as the Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Special Education, on the Judiciary Committee as Secretary, and as a member of the Labor, Human Services, and Children & Youth committees. Dan also works as Co-Chair of the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Caucus, and on the At-Risk Children, Government Reform, Early Childhood Education, LGBT Equality, Steel, and Fire/EMS caucuses.
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.
Michael Minor, MA, NCSP, Educational Consultant, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
Michael Minor is an Educational Consultant at PaTTAN Pittsburgh and assigned to the Autism, Behavior, MTSS-RtII, School Psychology, and Secondary Transition initiatives. He has been a Nationally Certified School Psychologist for the past 15 years and worked in Delaware and Pennsylvania at the building and district level.
Amy M. Morgan M.S. CCC-SLP, Aspire Pediatric Therapy
Amy M. Morgan is a 2000 graduate of Speech-Language Pathology Department of the John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences.
Amy began her career as an Early Intervention SLP therapist, providing speech-language therapy to children under the age of 3 within their homes throughout Allegheny County. Having a strong desire to maintain connected with these families, and continue being the active treating SLP, Amy took the necessary steps to become a provider under many medical health insurance plans. Amy then began her own private practice, Aspire Pediatric Therapy, opening her home to many children within her community to provide Speech-Language Therapy services.
With the increased demands for services, Aspire Pediatric Therapy expanded to meet the needs of the community and added Occupational Therapy and Feeding Therapy. In conjunction with her business partner, Christine Zundel, Amy Morgan leads the team at Aspire Pediatric Therapy, reaching out to over 300 families on a weekly basis for the past 10 years. Amy’s original passion for continuity of care and personal connections with families still remains at the forefront of services provided.
Amy’s work within the community allows for her to provide support and educational opportunities to many parents and children. She has been a mentor to many future Speech-Language Pathologists and frequently collaborates with medical and educational professionals.
Amy is happily married and a mother of 3 beautiful children. She enjoys reading books, cooking, and traveling. Amy continues to participate in educational opportunities within the field of Speech-Language Pathology as a means to remain current with developments within the field. Amy’s continued professional aspirations include servicing children throughout the community and providing families with the tools necessary for their children to succeed.
Congressman Tim Murphy
Congressman Tim Murphy is currently serving his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Murphy (Upper St. Clair) was first elected to the House in November 2002 to represent Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, encompassing the South Hills of Pittsburgh including portions of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Murphy also currently serves as a Commander in the United States Navy Reserves.
For the 115th Congress, Murphy will continue his role as Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations (O&I), and will serve on three additional subcommittees: Subcommittee on Health, Subcommittee on Energy, Subcommittee on Environment.
Murphy will also continue his role as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus.
The only practicing psychologist in elected federal government, Dr. Murphy relies on four decades of experience to advocate for meaningful reforms in the U.S. healthcare system. Serving as co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus and a founding member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, he focuses on policies to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all families.
As Chairman of O&I, Murphy led a multi-year investigation into our nation’s broken mental health system. The outcome was his landmark crisis mental health reform legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) which was signed into law in December 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The law fosters evidence-based care, addresses the shortage of psychiatric hospital beds, empowers caregivers and help patients get treatment well before their illness spirals into crisis. Learn more here.
Also as O&I Chairman, Murphy has led numerous investigations including the General Motors airbag and key system failures, the botched Affordable Care Act website rollout, the Volkswagen emissions system data manipulation, and the multi-year investigation into the Solyndra swindle which left taxpayers liable for $535 million in unpaid federal loan guarantees.
In the Congressional Steel Caucus, Chairman Murphy advocates for American steel by overhauling the failed trade system, ending foreign currency cheating, rebuilding our manufacturing base, and boosting American steel and coal. In 2015, Chairman Murphy helped shepherd historic trade enforcement legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk for signature, marking the first time in over 20 years new laws enacted to protect American steel against foreign trade cheats.
A Commander in the Navy Reserve, Murphy is currently assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda where he continues to practice psychology in the Traumatic Brain Injury/PTSD Inpatient Unit. His ADT has included service at Navy Special Warfare Coronado, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
Before being elected to Congress, Murphy served in the Pennsylvania State Senate and in private practice Dr. Murphy specialized in child and family treatment in the greater Pittsburgh region as well as serving at a number of hospitals including Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Magee Women’s Hospital, Transitional Infant Care and St. Margaret’s Hospital. He holds two adjunct faculty positions with the University of Pittsburgh, serving as an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health and in the Department of Pediatrics. He became widely known as “Dr. Tim” through regular appearances on local and national radio and television and is also the author of two books: the award-winning “The Angry Child” (2001), and “Overcoming Passive-Aggression” (2005).
Murphy, one of 11 children, grew up in a hardworking family and earned a bachelor’s degree from Wheeling Jesuit University, a master’s degree from Cleveland State University, and his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. He and his wife Nan reside in Upper St. Clair and attend St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Bethel Park. Daughter Bevin and son-in-law Dan are the proud parents of Thomasina and Luca and live in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Representative Tom Murt
Rep. Thomas Murt is a dedicated and tireless public servant who has served for many years as a School Director and Township Commissioner prior to being elected to the House in 2006. He was most recently reelected in 2016. For the 2017-18 legislative session, Rep. Tom Murt has been appointed to the Human Services, Commerce, Children and Youth, and the Labor and Industry committees. Murt was also named the Republican chair of the Human Services Subcommittee on Mental Health.
As an active committee member, Murt has dedicated himself to fighting for property tax reform, early childhood education, improved health care, and educational opportunities for Pennsylvania’s veterans.
But Murt is most known as a leading advocate for people with special needs and their caregivers. Murt has testified before the powerful Appropriations Committee every year since he was elected to seek additional funding for families who care for adult children with special needs. Murt visits group homes and facilities throughout the state across Pennsylvania where individuals with special needs live and receive care.
Murt’s groundbreaking work in defense of the children of Pennsylvania who work in the entertainment industry won national applause. Murt’s child labor legislation, which was incorporated into a larger labor reform package that became law, sought to update existing child labor laws to protect children in the entertainment industry, specifically those involved in “reality television” programming in Pennsylvania.
As a veteran, Murt’s role on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee is critical. There he advocates for Pennsylvanians who have served in our armed forces and has supported programs to increase veterans’ benefits in areas such as employment, education, and job training. Murt has also worked diligently to ensure that veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) receive the healthcare they deserve.
Murt served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1990 to 2008. He was called to active duty in 2003 and served in Iraq with the U.S. Army’s elite 4th Infantry Division. While in Iraq, Murt was assigned to many Civil Affairs and humanitarian missions in and around Tikrit. He assisted in opening schools and health clinics, and also assisted in training the Iraqi security forces.
For his service in Iraq, Murt received the Army Commendation Medal and was nominated for the prestigious Humanitarian Service Medal. During his 14-month deployment in Iraq, he wrote of his experiences as a Staff Sergeant in a featured column, “Voice from Iraq,” which appeared weekly in Montgomery Newspapers. In 2008, Murt retired as a Staff Sergeant from the U.S. Army Reserve.
Murt always puts public service ahead of politics, and works collaboratively with members of both parties. For all his efforts, Murt has been honored with: the Rose R. Rosa Advocacy Award from the ARC of Montgomery, Bucks and Berks counties for his efforts towards the betterment of life for people with developmental disabilities; the Montgomery County Child Care Consortium Early Childhood Education Champion Award; and the 2010 Upper Moreland Man of the Year. In addition, he received the Martin Luther King Award from the Upper Moreland Middle School for addressing school violence and bullying. He also received the Giraffe Award from the Upper Moreland Intermediate School for his humanitarian work in Iraq.
Murt remains active in his community. He is a coach for the Upper Moreland Little League Program, St. David’s CYO, and the Upper Moreland Soccer Club. He also serves as a religious education instructor for St. David Parish in Willow Grove. In addition, he volunteers on the board of directors of the Upper Moreland Education Foundation and the Upper Moreland Historical Association, which he founded in 1996.
Murt was born and raised in Hatboro. He graduated from Archbishop Wood High School. He earned a B.S. in Economics from Penn State University and an M.A. in Education from La Salle University.
Murt also has taken other graduate coursework in Economics at Temple University and also earned a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Instructional I teaching certificate from Gwynedd-Mercy College. Before his election to the House, Murt was the Assistant Director of the Counseling and Advising Center at Penn State Abington. He still serves as a part-time faculty member at Penn State and currently teaches in the business department. Murt is currently a Temple University doctoral candidate in Educational Administration.
Murt and his wife, Maria, a Nursing Instructor at Temple University’s Department of Nursing, live in Upper Moreland with their three children, Katherine, Daniel, and Patrick.
Kevin Prince, Psychologist, Keystone Oaks School District
Kevin L. Prince is a PA Certified School Psychologist at Keystone Oaks School District grades K through 12. He has worked for Keystone Oaks School District since 1999. His current duties include testing and identification of student for special education services, consulting with teachers, principals, and counselors to develop research based behavior plans and interventions, and participating in Student Assistance Teams grades K through 12. He was also a part-time Guidance Counselor, grades six and seven, for several years. Prior to working at Keystone Oaks School District, he worked at Chartiers Mental Health as an Intensive Case Manager and at the Ursuline Center as a Protective Service Worker investigating abuse and neglect. Kevin received his first Master Degree in Psychology prior to pursuing his certification as a School Psychologist at Duquesne University.
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, Jeff 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.
Dara Sakolsky, MD, PhD, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
Dr. Dara Sakolsky is a board-certified adult and child/adolescent psychiatrist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She has extensive clinical experience treating youth with mood and anxiety disorders. She is currently the associate medical director at Services for Teens at Risk (STAR) clinic and psychiatrist at the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services (CABS), Robert Morris University (RMU) Counseling Center, and Center for Advanced Psychotherapy (CAP). Dr. Sakolsky has served as a co-investigator on several studies examining the diagnosis and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. She is currently the principal investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health grant, which examines the long-term outcomes of youth with anxiety disorders.
Katie Smith, Youth Leadership Coordinator, PEAL Center
Katie serves in two roles at PEAL. As the youth leadership assistant, she works with the Leadership, Empowerment, and Advocacy Program (LEAP). There she creates training materials, coordinates and leads youth development and leadership trainings, and provides guidance for transitioning youth with disabilities. She also serves as the facilitator for the Imagine Different Coalition, a group of passionate advocates in Pennsylvania with a common concern about the number of children with disabilities growing up in congregate care that champion for policy and system change to assure that all children grow up in nurturing families.
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement of the Consumer Health Coalition
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church having been ordained 23 years. For the first ten years of her ministry, Sally Jo was pastor to congregations and communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania, New Castle, and Erie.
For the past thirteen years, Reverend Snyder has worked in justice ministry settings as a community organizer on local, state and national levels. Of particular concern to Rev. Snyder are issues which impact marginalized populations, children, the impoverished, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.
Since March of 2007, 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). Snyder leads advocacy trainings and education events for diverse populations and seeks to empower and involve individuals in both self and systemic advocacy.
Snyder oversees the distribution of the “How to BE a Proactive Patient” guidebook and the Academy of Empowered 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.
Rev. Snyder 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, Sally Jo is a published author and impassioned speaker and has done work in announcing and radio.
Michelle Stockunas, Manager of ACHIEVA’s “A Home of My Own”
Michelle Stockunas is the “A Home of My Own” Project Manager at ACHIEVA. She has 20 years of experience in the disability field in the areas of behavioral health, intellectual disabilities, and young adult transition services. She has served people with disabilities and their families, through coordination of residential services and supports, all across Allegheny County. Her career experience in the disabilities field includes all aspects of residential services, including direct care of those with disabilities, assisting individuals and their families with residential opportunities in the community, as well as both supervisory and management experience. Michelle received her B.A. in Psychology from California University of Pennsylvania in 1996.
Michael J. Stoehr, Educational Consultant Special Projects, Pennsylvania Department of Education; Bureau of Special Education; Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
Michael Stoehr works for the Pennsylvania Department of Education as the lead educational consultant for Secondary Transition and Special Projects with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PATTAN). He has worked in the special education field for the past 32 years and has extensive experience in the areas of secondary transition, assessment, job analysis, and job coaching. Mr. Stoehr has presented extensively throughout Pennsylvania and nationally on a variety of topics including transition communities of practice, effective transition planning, interagency collaboration, and youth engagement and self-advocacy.
Amy Sukay, Preschool Service Coordinator, Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Amy Sukay holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Correction, a Teaching Certification in Speech Correction, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has worked with a range of populations from birth to adults, and is currently employed as a Preschool Service Coordinator for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit DART Program where she coordinates early intervention special education services for children aged 3-5. Amy also provides professional development to the preschools and child care centers in Allegheny County where the AIU serves children. Amy is fluent in sign language and chairs various committees related to young children and inclusion. Amy will be part of our Navigating Early Intervention session.
Steve Suroviec, director of the IDD Division and COO of RCPA
Steve Suroviec is director of the IDD Division and COO of RCPA, assisting with cross-system collaboration and organization-wide projects. Before joining RCPA, Steve Suroviec served in the Department of Human Services as special advisor to the secretary and deputy secretary for Developmental Programs. He has held other positions in government, including executive director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, director of human services for Erie County, policy director and deputy secretary for the Department of Health, and legislative assistant to Congressman Tom Ridge. Mr. Suroviec also served The Arc of PA as executive director for many years. He was appointed by President Bush in 2006 to serve on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Steve is a veteran of the US Air Force, and he holds a Master’s Degree in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from National University.
Lori Sutton, MS.Ed.,Director of Special Education, Bethel Park School District
Lori Sutton 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.
Sue Swenson served as acting assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services in the Obama administration and as commissioner for developmental disabilities in the Clinton administration. Her middle son Charlie had profound disabilities, was included in school, lived in the community, and loved his life. He died at age 30 in 2013. Sue is currently the volunteer president-elect of Inclusion International, the UN-recognized disabled people’s organization for children with disabilities, their families, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Nancy Thaler, Deputy Secretary, Office of Developmental Programs, PA Department of Human Services,
Nancy Thaler directs Pennsylvania’s intellectual disability system consisting of state operated centers, private ICFs/ID and community services and the state’s autism system.
Tina Tolkacevic, Inclusion Specialist, Mt. Lebanon School District
Tina 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 the 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.
Christine Zundel, OTR/L, Aspire Pediatric Therapy, LLC, Aspire Pediatric Therapy
Christine Zundel earned her Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from the University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified in occupational therapy with a specialty in pediatrics. Christine is a co-owner of Aspire Pediatric Therapy and the Director of Occupational Therapy. She has 24 years of experience in the field, including inpatient, trauma, burns, outpatient, hand therapy, skilled nursing, and mental health. Christine has also completed extensive continuing education and professional development throughout her career. Her professional interests are in feeding, sensory processing, neurological development, visual processing, and mental health. She has certifications in feeding and therapeutic listening.
As a proud mother of 3 wonderful children, Christine’s professional focus has shifted exclusively to working with children, infancy through young adults. For the past 12 years, she has had the privilege of helping children overcome their challenges and obstacles to achieve functional independence and realize success. Christine also emphasizes family education, coaching, and support to facilitate optimal carryover and independence at home and in the community.
While addressing feeding difficulties with clients for years, Christine saw a significant need for a formal feeding therapy program to meet the needs of children and families in the community. Along with her business partner, Amy Morgan, Christine developed and implemented a formal interdisciplinary feeding therapy program at Aspire Pediatric Therapy. Over the past 7 years, Aspire Pediatric Therapy has helped hundreds of children and families gain long term skills for feeding and eating success. In keeping with her mission of community outreach, she has presented for various community organizations, school districts, and parent groups.