Ben has worked in the field of intellectual disabilities for over 20 years. He grew up in the UK and qualified as a learning disability nurse. In 2003 Ben founded Options in Bristol to help people with intellectual disabilities to buy or rent their own homes and manage their own support. In 2008 Ben moved to the New York and founded Open Future Learning.
Open Future Learning was created by collaborating with some of the most influential, revolutionary, and inspiring leaders and thinkers of our time.
This page highlights a selection of people who are featured in our films, a number of whom have also designed and written modules within our resources.
Bev Ashman is the Head of Practice at United Response, a national organization providing a range of services for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities in England and Wales. She has been working with people with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand and the UK for more than 30 years and her interests include practice, service development, practice leadership, and positive behavior support.
Bev has worked extensively with the late Prof Jim Mansell and Dr Julie Beadle-Brown on the implementation and evaluation of Active Support, and is the co-author of Person-Centered Active Support: a Handbook. Bev has also contributed to the development of training resources including the Promoting Person-Centered Support and Positive Outcomes DVD produced by the Tizard Centre and United Response.Read More
Janice Bartley works for the AHRC New York City’s training and recruitment department. Janice uses her own experiences as a person with a disability to share her productive life - full of desires, hopes, dreams and highlights that she is a bright, intelligent and, of course, a sexy woman.
Janice is well known for her contribution to ‘The Moth – True, Stories, Told, Live’ stage show where she showcased her storytelling abilities to tell her story about falling in love for the first time. She is also a graduate of the The MothSHOP Community Education Program and speaker for the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State.Read More
Julie Beadle-Brown is Professor in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, UK and Professor in Disability Studies, Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University, Australia. A psychologist by training, with almost 25 years of experience working as a teacher, researcher and consultant in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, Julie has worked with children and adults with disabilities, with their families, with the staff who support them and those that provide and commission their services.
Julie’s research, teaching and consultancy focuses primarily on helping services enable and empower people they support to grow in independence, experience real choice and control and become valued members of their community. The author of a range of academic publications and training resources around person-centered active support, Julie has worked with organizations around the world to implement and research person-centered approaches.Read More
Jill Bradshaw trained as a speech and language therapist. She worked in a community team supporting adults with intellectual disabilities and challenging behavior in London, before rejoining the Tizard Centre in 1995. She was appointed as a honorary lecturer in 2003 but returned as a sessional teacher in 2010, after a career break. She now convenes the Undergraduate Autism Studies Program and teaches on the Postgraduate Programs in Intellectual Disabilities.
Jill’s research interests include communication and challenging behavior, person-centered active support, staff attributions, communication environments, and total communication approaches.Read More
Bernard J. Carabello was born on January 19, 1950 in New York City. He was born with cerebral palsy, but was misdiagnosed as being mentally retarded at age three. Doctors urged his mother who was separated and raising eight other children on welfare to place Carabello in an institution. Carabello was placed at the Willowbrook State School in 1954, and remained there for 18 years.
In 1972, Dr. Mike Wilkins, a physician at the facility, declared himself Carabello's personal guardian and obtained his legal release from the Willowbrook State School. Soon afterwards, Wilkins was fired from the school. That day, Wilkins arranged for an ABC news reporter, Geraldo Rivera, to expose the conditions at the school and interview Carabello. Rivera’s 30-minute piece, The Last Great Disgrace, created a massive reaction of public outrage.
Carabello has since transformed himself into a major force in the movement for self-advocacy in New York and across the nation. He began work to organize a statewide self-advocacy organization and founded the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State in 1986. He continues to advocate for the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities today.
A story written by Dr. Beth Mount:
I will always remember the time Bernard Carabello celebrated his 50th birthday. On a cold, snowy night in January, 200 of his closest friends gathered together to laugh and cry as one person after another spoke of the acts of kindness, inspiration, and irritation Bernard has bestowed on them by being a true friend.
Bernard is a craftsman in the art of relationship building. He repeatedly brings people together to join in a purpose that is bigger than his own. He respects and recognizes the contributions of each person, whether they provide him with personal support or benefit the civil rights of all people. He is genuinely compassionate and irreverently intolerant of disrespect. He is generous beyond measure with his time, resources, and concern for others.
I find it hard to believe that he spent most of his childhood isolated and abandoned to a hostile and haunting institution. During the 20 years he spent at Willowbrook State School, he spent all of every Sunday sitting by the window hoping that someone would come to visit him, which rarely happened. As he was freed from isolation, he gave and received from others without ceasing. He lives with an insider's view of the healing power of relationships and the way that interdependence and cooperation can change the world.
Tanya is the Safeguarding Adults and Mental Capacity Act Lead for an acute hospital in the UK. In this role, she is responsible for training all acute staff from consultants to domestic staff on safeguarding and the Mental Capacity Act. Tanya also gives advice and support on all issues relating to these topics throughout the hospital working closely with outside agencies such as social care and the police.
Tanya was previously one of the first learning disability liaison nurses to work within an acute hospital in the country. This innovative post was designed to ensure that people with a learning disability have the same access to secondary healthcare as the rest of the general population. This was achieved by providing training, making reasonable adjustments, and providing hands-on care and support for the patients when needed.
Tanya’s career has been lead by a desire that services should be fair to all, and that people have a basic right to be respected, treated with dignity and compassion, and receive a good quality of care no matter what diagnosis or label they have been given.
Margaret Cushen is a Clinical Psychologist who worked extensively in the NHS in the UK specializing in work with people with learning disabilities. Her last role in the NHS was Lead Psychologist in Devon.
Margaret has always been passionate about the importance of support and training for staff and family members as well as working directly with people with learning disabilities. She currently works as an independent Consultant Psychologist providing training and mentoring for support staff in the private sector and helping organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their services.Read More
Simon is a well-known UK social innovator and writer who is working to redesign the current welfare system so that it will better support citizenship and strengthen our community life.
Simon is best known for defining key concepts such as individual budgets, self-directed support, the citizenship model and many others. He is the author of the book, “Keys to Citizenship” and many articles and papers. He now runs The Centre for Welfare Reform.
Simon has found a number of ways of putting his ideas into practice. He founded and led the organization In Control from 2003 to 2009. He also founded Shop4Support.com and the support provider Altrum. From 2000 to 2003, Simon worked as Director of Consultancy for Paradigm, promoting Person-Centered Planning and Self-Directed Support. In 1996, he founded the service provider Inclusion Glasgow to provide radically individualized support for people leaving institutional care. From 1990 to 1994 Simon led early experiments in individual funding and brokerage within Southwark Consortium (now Choice Support).
Simon began his career as an NHS Management Trainee at the King’s Fund College in London. He was a Harkness Fellow in 1994, where he researched inclusive education and welfare reform in the J. F. Kennedy Center in Denver, Colorado. In 2001, Simon obtained his doctorate in moral philosophy from the University of Edinburgh with a thesis arguing for the objectivity of morality. In 2007, Simon was awarded the RSA’s Prince Albert Medal for his contribution to Social Innovation. In 2011 the Social Policy Association gave Simon an award for making an outstanding contribution to social policy. He is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre.
Steven lives in Cornwall in the UK. He had a brain tumor when he was 6 years old which left him with poor concentration skills. Steven has been involved in learning disability services for nearly 8 years, and has learnt a great deal from the people he has met.
Currently, Steven is the Chair of Cornwall’s People First which is a self-advocacy charity run for by people with learning disabilities. He is also the independent co-chair of Cornwall’s Learning Disability Partnership Board.Read More
After working for 6 years as a care assistant with adults with intellectual disabilities in the 1980s at a large residential hospital Graham then changed career to become a qualified teacher. Initially working in mainstream primary schools, he then moved into further adult education for students with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, many of whom had severe challenging behavior.
Graham rejected the then accepted curriculum model, which at the time was supposed to be delivered in an “asocial” manner. Instead he developed his teaching rationale and methods by successfully adopting Intensive Interaction as his main classroom practice.
In 2003 Graham took up his current post of Intensive Interaction Project Leader for the NHS in Leeds in the UK, where he continues to work locally, nationally, and internationally to support others to adopt, sustain, and develop the quality of their Intensive Interaction practices and services. Graham is one of the founding directors of the Intensive Interaction Institute, he edits the UK Intensive Interaction Newsletter, and has been the primary organizer of the annual UK Intensive Interaction conference since 2005.
David Hasbury is an organizational and community development consultant, educator, and facilitator. For more than 20 years, he has been committed to engaging the power of co-creation by gathering people together to creatively shape the world around them.
He has worked throughout Canada, the United States, and England. Among his methods of education and group work, Dave utilizes "group graphics." This innovative model dynamically captures a group's words, images and colors enabling participants to, quite literally, "see what we are saying," getting everyone on the same page, and positioned for action.
Dave has worked extensively with diverse groups, large and small. He has supported groups interested in youth, people with disabilities, community development, the arts, inclusive education, literacy, health and social services, social planning, coalition building, and community economic development.
His work adds vision, forming a crystallizing catalyst, charting a course of action.
Simon Haywood originally trained as a teacher before going on to become an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) specialist. He quickly became disillusioned with that approach, feeling that it lacked the empathy and developmental steps that people with autism needed to truly develop meaningful quality of life experiences.
While studying for his master’s in autism, Simon developed a more dynamic approach to working with people, and it is this belief that has fueled his work since then.
Simon manages a supported accommodation service for adults with autism, and also co-owns and manages the Devon Autism Centre, a Relationships Development Intervention (R.D.I.) certified centre that offers family interventions and support services.
Dave originally trained as a teacher of secondary English. He started his career in 1976 as a teacher in a special school in Hertfordshire where he quickly realized his deep interest in people who were at the earliest levels of development. Dave found that working with people who have autism and with people who have behaviors that challenge the rest of us to be a fascinating and beautiful experience.
During the 1980s, as the Principal of Harperbury Hospital Special School in the UK, Dave was one of the originators of the Intensive Interaction approach. Dave left his Principal post in 1990 and established the Intensive Interaction Institute and has since dedicated his work to the dissemination of Intensive Interaction throughout the world. With his colleagues at the institute Dave spends his time speaking at conferences, giving seminars, and publishing books, articles, and training materials.
Myles Mimmelreich is a well-known motivational speaker on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), who has presented nationally and internationally for many years. Myles shares his experiences, which include both the challenges and successes that he had faced living with FASD. In his work as a mentor to people with FASD, Myles has helped them to understand and accept that we all share similar struggles and the desire to succeed.
As well, working as a consultant, Myles has done a great deal of work with the media. Myles’ goal is to help others with FASD find their voice and to help society understand that we are greater when we are untied and work together.
Dave Hingsburger has worked for over 30 years with people with intellectual disabilities. He has worked in a variety of positions during that time, but has always worked directly with people with disabilities in some capacity. At present, he is the Director of Clinical and Educational Supports at Vita Community Living Services in Toronto.
Dave has written many books and journal articles, and writes an award winning disability blog. Dave lectures at the national and international level on a broad range of disability related topics. In 2009 Dave was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame.
Lynda Kahn is a co-leader with Inclusion Press International in Toronto, Canada and together with her partner and husband, Jack Pearpoint, works with individuals, families, organizations and governments interested in positive change through facilitating conversations, planning sessions and offering training workshops. She is a member of the board of the Marsha Forest Centre on Inclusion, Family, and Community.
She served as the state of Rhode Island's Executive Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities from 1996 to 2005, serving in the public sector for 24 years. Her work included assisting in the closure of the state's institution, The Ladd Center, in 1993, collaborating on an individualized funding and budgeting approach for persons served by Rhode Island's Division of Developmental Disabilities, and serving as President of the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, and on the Association's Board for 8 years.
Her 40 years of experience has taken her from institution to community settings, involving values-based person-centered planning as a means to facilitate individual and organizational change. She is passionate about leadership, change, and personal engagement to work towards a more just world where everyone's voice and gifts are welcome.
She helped found Rhode Island's Service Quality Network, and later was instrumental in creating the Rhode Island Facilitator's Forum, which still thrives, as well as being a catalyst in the state's Integrated Initiative on Positive Approaches, eliminating aversive and restrictive procedures.
Lynda also currently serves as Board President for Neighbours, Inc., an innovative organization based in New Jersey that assists people in living full lives and directing their own supports.
Doreen Kelly originally trained as a nurse and has worked with people with mental health and learning disabilities since 1982. After qualifying as a nurse, she moved to the non-for-profit sector to work with people leaving institutional settings.
Doreen is now the Director of Partners for Inclusion in Scotland which she set up 12 years ago. Partners for Inclusion provides support that is tailor-made rather than trying to fit people into services that often don’t suit. “We set up the organisation because we recognized that services were often mediocre and just good enough, but did not put the focus on the individual. We wanted to do something different: to provide support that just wasn’t okay, but was first class”.
Partners for Inclusion works with 45 people. Some people live alone and have come-in staff, some people have flatmates or live-in staff, and some people live with families. The organization is committed to person-centred values and focuses on making the most of community support and relationships in the individual’s life.
Doreen is a Director of Beyond Limits, based in Plymouth in the South West of England. Beyond Limits has been set up to support people who have labels of being extremely challenging and are piloting this tailored approach using Individual Health Budgets (IHB’s). Beyond Limits supports people who, due to their perceived behavior, are placed “out of area” to come back home and take up their rightful place in their community, offering the tailored support that people need to do this successfully.
Doreen is also a founding board member of Manavodaya International UK and In-Control Scotland.
Gary has worked in the field of learning disabilities in the UK for over 30 years. In the early 1980's, his parents established a 23 bed residential care home for people with learning disabilities. Gary lived in this home with his parents with the other residents until his parents passed away. After their death, Gary acquired his own home. The experience of being able to move out of the large residential home was a life defining moment.
With the support of everyone who lived in the home, but against the will of the local authority, Gary supported the closure of the home. Each person living in the home was subsequently supported to make their own choices about where they wanted to live: if they want to live with others, who they would like to live with, and who would support them.
Since this time, Gary has strongly advocated for the closure of large residential care homes and for people to be able to take control of and direct their own lives. More recently, Gary founded a new organization called New Key which specializes in supporting people to have lives rich in self-control, relationships, citizenship, and natural support.
Diana Kerr is an independent consultant based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has over thirty years experience as a trainer, practitioner, and educator in the field of the care and support of older people. She worked as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses predominantly in the field of dementia and intellectual disabilities. Diana is an advisor to service providers and planners who support people with intellectual disabilities and dementia.
Diana has carried out research into supporting older people in care homes at night. This research has led to a renewed interest in night care, especially in relation to people with dementia. Diana works with night staff to develop training and improve services. Diana also has a lifelong interest and involvement with music making and has been advocating the use of music with people with dementia for many years. Previously, Diana was the Course Director for the MSc in Dementia Studies at the University of Stirling. Diana is the author of a number of publications on dementia, intellectual disabilities and dementia, and on nighttime care of older people.
Peter Leidy has been learning from people with disabilities since 1983. Peter is a consultant, facilitator, listener, learner, improviser, and speaker who focuses on personalized supports and community membership for people with disabilities. He also writes and sings songs about human service land and those who find themselves connected to it.
Peter conducts workshops, develops training materials, writes songs, speaks and sings at conferences, and works with organizations, government agencies, families, and paid supporters. Peter promotes positive support, inclusion, building healthy relationships, and thinking differently about people who are called “challenging.” Peter himself is known to be non-compliant at times and can often be found exhibiting attention seeking behavior.
For almost 20 years he worked for Options in Community Living, a supported living agency in Madison Wisconsin. His roles included direct support, service coordination, recruiting, and supporting direct support staff, community building, and administrative responsibilities.
Christine Lilley is a psychologist, whose focus has included many different kinds of neurodevelopmental disorders, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), intellectual disabilities, genetic syndromes, and learning disabilities. For many years, Christine worked at a diagnostic clinic where her responsibilities included participating in multidisciplinary diagnosis of FASD. Christine was a member of the steering committee that revised the Canadian Guidelines for Diagnosis of FASD, and she led professional education about FASD within the British Columbia provincial network of regional clinics.
Christine currently works in private practice continuing to assess children and young adults with a wide range of learning and behavioral challenges.
Yona Lunsky (PhD, C. Psych) is a clinical scientist in Dual Diagnosis Service at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, as well as an Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She has extensive experience conducting clinical and health systems research on health issues and developmental disabilities.
Dr. Lunsky also is a co-author on the Canadian primary care and developmental disabilities consensus guidelines and has advised Ontario policy makers on developmental disability legislation, the dual diagnosis policy guidelines, and the standardized assessment of support needs for adults with developmental disabilities in Ontario.
Joseph M. Macbeth is the Executive Director at the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years - beginning as a Direct Support Professional.
Joseph is recognized as a national leader in the advocacy and advancement of the direct support profession. He has co-authored a series of publications titled “Voices from the Frontlines”, produced an award winning Realistic Job Preview for community-based human services organizations titled “Working as a Direct Support Professional: We Get It Done”, and has assisted more than 500 direct support professionals to advance their college education through the “Disability Studies Certificate”.
Elizabeth McWilliams Hewitt, MA Ed., works in the field of developmental disabilities, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), ASD and anxiety in a variety of settings including respite care, residential, school and home-based programs. Through her private practice Elizabeth provides consultation to families and support teams in the field of developmental disabilities. Her services are based upon the unique needs of the individual, their development and what is meaningful to the person and their family.
In addition to her consulting work, Elizabeth also works as a sessional instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley in the Early Childhood Education/Child and Youth Care programs. This is a rewarding experience in which Elizabeth has the opportunity to share her passion with future practitioners.
Kay has worked with people with learning difficulties and people with mental health problems for over 20 years. She is best known for her innovative work with individuals: helping people form new relationships find work and get stuck into community life. Kay is passionate about supporting people to be respected and have a fulfilling and fun filled life.
Having worked at a senior level in both residential and personalized support services in the West of Scotland Kay founded LEAF (Life, Employment and Friends) in 2001. Her work has particularly focused on supporting people who have become marginalized to maximize their own potential. She specializes in working with individuals, families and staff who are stuck or who have run out of ideas. She often also works as a mediator between services and individuals.
Kay has also supported wider system change, working particularly closely with North Lanarkshire Council - one of the most innovative Scottish local authorities. Kay has helped social workers and managers to learn new skills and focus on capacity-building within their local communities.
Kay has expertise in person-centered approaches, community mapping and bridge-building, overcoming communication difficulties, sexuality and family-centered work. She is well known for her creativity and positivity and she believes like Charlie Chaplin that "A day without laughter is a day wasted".
Beth Mount has worked for 35 years in the US, towards the ideal that every person with a disability can be a valued member of community life. Her groundbreaking work Personal Futures Planning, promotes the positive futures and images of people with disabilities throughout the globe, and demonstrates that all of us count and all of us fit somewhere.
In addition to her social activism, Beth Mount creates art that complements and defines her unique style of cross cultural and multi-literate communication. She supports people to create person-centered plans via art, and she creates quilts that help people communicate the spirit and beauty of personal, organizational, and social change.
Through her publications and art, Beth weaves together stories, symbols and patterns of the longings, joys, struggles, and beauty of a people who are learning together, which brings the gifts of every person to life and creates a more beloved community by doing so.
Judith North has worked in social care since 1986. Her work experience started during and after University in roles as a support worker, first in day, and then in residential services. Her third job involved visiting long-stay hospitals and institutions in the South of England. It had a profound and lasting impact.
Judith has been a Commissioner and she has worked for a Health Authority, Local Authorities, and a number of third sector organizations. She wrote ‘Better Services for People with Autistic Spectrum Conditions” for the Department of Health in 1996 and she is privileged to include in her CV the roles of Chief Executive of Kingwood Trust, Corporate Director of Reach (Supported Living) in Wales, and Director of Consultancy for Paradigm. Her driving purpose is to improve services for the people who use them and for the incredible people who work in them.
Harvey Pacht was born and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. He received his Associates degree in Business Administration from Bronx Community College in 1981. Harvey has been active in the self-advocacy movement since 1986.
Harvey, along with his late wife Ethel and self-advocate Bernard Carabello, was instrumental in starting up the Self-Advocacy Movement in New York City. In late 1988, along with others, they were rewarded with the certificate of incorporation as a non-profit organization in New York State. Harvey looks forward to continuing his involvement with the self-advocacy movement and helping those with disabilities for as long as he can. Harvey is the proud father of Samantha Pacht.
Jack Pearpoint is an independent Canadian Publisher and catalyst for inclusion, diversity, teamwork, and change!
Jointly with his wife and partner, Lynda Kahn, Jack conducts workshops, consults with organizations, and collaborates with people with disabilities and their families, to engage in positive change that honors the gifts and contributions of all. Earlier, Jack, his late wife Marsha Forest, and John O'Brien, collaborated to create several person-centered approaches such as PATH, MAPS, and Circles of Friends. The collaboration continues now with John and Lynda.
Jack's forty years of organization experience include seven years in Africa implementing post-war reconstruction; sixteen years as President of Canada's oldest literacy organization, Frontier College; and nearly two decades as a full-time publisher and presenter.
Jack is the founding director of the Marsha Forest Centre: Inclusion, Family, and Community and remains its Executive Director. Jack and Lynda Kahn work internationally and have expanded their network beyond Canada and the United States to include people in Australia, England, India, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, and Uganda.
The largest part of David’s work involves meeting people who are said to exhibit "difficult behaviors." Most of these people exhibit difficult behaviors because they are misunderstood and/or because they are living lives that don't make sense. Often they are lonely, or powerless, or without joy. Often they are devalued by others, or they lack the kinds of educational experiences that most of us take for granted. Too often their troubling behaviors are the result of an illness, or even a delayed response to traumatic events.
You might say their behaviors are "messages" which can tell us important things about their lives. Learning to listen to the person’s difficult behaviors is the first step in helping the person to find a new (and healthier) story.
David also believes, to paraphrase Jean Clark, that a "person's needs are best met by people whose needs are met." Supporting a person with difficult behaviors also involves an honest assessment of and attention to the needs of a person's supporters.
In the recent past, David has provided consultation and training for individuals, families and professionals throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, and the Republic of Ireland.
John Raffaele is a New York State Licensed Master Social Worker and experienced professional educator and trainer, specializing in the field of human services and direct support. John's has graduate degrees from Yeshiva University in New York City and The State University of New York at New Paltz, NY.
Most of John’s experience stems from more than two decades spent with direct support professionals and the people they serve. Over that time, he has educated thousands in the NADSP Code of Ethics and Direct Support Competencies. John travels around the United States training, consulting and learning from people with disabilities and direct support professionals. Most of the people with whom he has worked and supported over the last 25 years are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youth.
Fredda started working for Job Path of New York City in 1980. Ms. Rosen is a member of the OPWDD Commissioner’s Provider Council, president of the New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies (NYSACRA), member of the board at Resources for Children with Special Needs (RCSN), and a member of the State Rehabilitation Council. She holds bachelors and master’s degrees from New York University.
Job Path supports people with developmental disabilities as they make choices about their lives and play valued roles in their communities. Their programs enable people to pursue jobs and careers, live in their own homes, and be connected to their communities.
Patti is deeply committed to equal opportunity, and a world in which all people are included. In 1995, she co-founded Neighbours Inc., an innovative US agency that affords people with disabilities the opportunity to take control of and direct their own lives and the resources that support them.
Over the past seventeen years, Neighbours has supported people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in moving into their own homes, controlling their own supports and resources, and living full, rich lives as contributors in their local communities. Neighbours focuses on creating vehicles for delivering support through a variety of structures and practices: supported living; brokerage; support coordination; fiscal management services; and agency with choice; all driven by the principles of self-determination, citizenship, and asset based community development.
In 2009, Patti founded Neighbours, International, an organization focused on collaborative learning design, technical assistance, consulting, and facilitation of individual, agency, and systems transformation in a variety of states and countries. Patti is currently the Chief Executive Officer of both Neighbours. She is a faculty member of University of Delaware’s Leadership Institute.
Although Heather was originally from Scotland she now lives in Perth Australia where, with her husband Richard Hill, they operate a company called h2 Training and Consulting that focuses on training staff who work with and for people with disabilities.
Heather has worked extensively in diverse roles with the disability sector since 1994. Including roles as a support worker, group home manager, team leader, and development worker.
Heather has many stories to tell… and her passion is working in the ‘grey areas’ of human services. She loves the challenge of finding ways of applying the ideas she talks about everyday to the day to day practice of working in the disability sector.
Sam has worked in the UK as a social worker and as a provider for people with learning disabilities for over 20 years.
Sam jointly owns Beyond Limits, a support organization that works with people with big, often unwarranted, reputations for challenging services. The aim of the organization is to move people out of Institutions, or to support them well so that they do not enter them in the first place.
Sam worked for several years as part of a Team in Cornwall England making public service systems changes to the services provided by the NHS after an abuse scandal in 2006. This led onto work with health and residential staff teams training them on cultural change in readiness for supporting people moving on from institutional care.
Unique, inspiring, motivational, valuable, provocative, life-changing. These are some of the words used to describe Kathie Snow’s presentations. Kathie challenges conventional wisdom and encourages others to adopt new ways of thinking about disability issues. Kathie believes each person with a disability has strengths, gifts, and talents, and that when we focus on those—instead of the diagnosis—great outcomes are possible!
Kathie is the mother of Benjamin, a young man with disabilities. Kathie has learned from Benjamin and others with disabilities, and now shares these extraordinary lessons. Kathie believes we can generate better outcomes for children and adults with disabilities when we change our attitudes, words, and actions. The inclusion of people with disabilities can best be accomplished when they move from dependence on special services (client-hood) to the abundant supply of natural supports and generic services in their communities (citizenship).
Kathie is enthusiastic, positive, and passionate about ensuring children and adults with disabilities live real lives, fully included at home, school, work, and play. The commonsense strategies she promotes can help turn this dream into reality. Be ready for provocative questions, positive solutions, and innovative thinking, mixed with humor and real-life experiences.
Sue worked in NHS Speech and Language Therapy services for people with learning disabilities from 1980 until 2008. Most recently, she managed the Speech and Language Therapy service for adults with learning disabilities in Nottingham.
She is particularly interested in the communication of people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities or autistic spectrum conditions. Her interests in both communication and human rights have involved her in both safeguarding and legal issues.
Since April 2008 she has worked as a freelance trainer, writer and consultant for a number of charities and other organizations. In 2009 she qualified as a Registered Intermediary, supporting vulnerable witnesses and victims in the criminal justice system. She is a trustee of an advocacy organization and enjoys trying to keep up with advances in technology for people with communication difficulties. She is passionate about the human rights of people with learning disabilities in every area of life.
Marc helps to teach workshops primarily throughout the US and Canada. They are all based on the work of Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger, who formulated both Social Role Valorization and Citizen Advocacy. As a service worker, he has supported children and adults with physical and/or intellectual impairments, as well as a mental disorder, at home, school and work. As part of this, Marc has evaluated a variety of human service programs in North America, including several Citizen Advocacy programs. He has also helped families and services think about what might be ideal for someone receiving services, and helped plan how to move towards that ideal.
He has given workshops and spoken at conferences on issues of violence in services, as well as the use of restrictive practices such as restraint, in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
Marc is the founding Editor of The SRV Journal, published twice a year, containing original articles, vignettes, book and film reviews, etc. on topics related to Social Role Valorization and PASSING. He is a member of the North American SRV Training, Development, and Safeguarding Council.
Marsha Wilson has worked for over 30 years with people with disabilities and their families in various educational settings. For about 20 years she was involved in adult vocational training, and has spent a number of years, developing program approaches for people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Marsha is particularly adept at program creation and curriculum development for those with prenatal alcohol exposure, and uses her critical thinking and advocacy skills to take on leadership roles in the formation of innovative projects for FASD.
She is an educator in the Classroom and Community Support Program at Douglas College, is a provincial representative on the National FASD Family Advisory Committee with The Canadian Northwest FASD Research Network and a founding member of The FASD Collaboration Roundtable. Marsha's graduate studies were in Family Support and FASD and she currently works in private practice with home learners who have disabilities and their families. She parents an adult son who has FASD and she says that "he has been her greatest teacher!"
Kate lives in Perth Australia where she works with human service organizations to further develop self-directed support and person-centered practices. She is an honorary lecturer with Lancaster University teaching on Leadership for Change.
Previously Kate worked for a range of leading development agencies in the UK, including Paradigm and Inclusion North. Kate is a Fellow of The Centre for Welfare Reform and has published a number of articles on human service change and development.
Kate had a leading role on some of the first Self Directed Support initiatives in the UK, and has used these experiences to share some valuable lessons about real system change and empowerment. She believes that real empowerment is so much more than simply moving money, but requires a radical change to the way in which we support people to lead change across all areas of life including our welfare systems and communities. Over the last few years Kate has been exploring approaches that assist people to best understand themselves and their impact. The work has led to a deeper understand of what we bring to our relationships, interactions and inclusion.
Kate developed Bright Souls, a community of like-minded people who share their learning and experiences to live positive and meaningful lives.