Thought Leaders

Dr. Maya Sabatello — Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics and Culture Project Columbia University 

Maya Sabatello is an associate professor of clinical bioethics at Columbia University, and a long time disability rights advocate. ABILITY’s Chet Cooper caught up with her to discuss disability advocacy work. Chet Cooper: What motivated you to get into this field? Maya Sabatello: I did not grow up in the United States and I ... Read more

Lex Gillette — Four Paralympic medals, four world champion titles, and he is the current world record holder in the Long Jump

Lex Gillette is a globally recognized Paralympic track and field athlete for Team USA. Competing primarily in the long jump, Lex has amassed four Paralympic medals, four world champion titles, and he is the current world record holder in the event. He is the only totally blind athlete on the planet to eclipse the ... Read more

Donna Duarte — An educator, public speaker, and deaf and disability rights advocate, identifies as Deaf+

Donna Duarte identifies as Deaf+. She is an educator, public speaker, and deaf and disability rights advocate. Her pronouns are she/her/hers. Donna has had the unique opportunity to attend college and university as both a temporarily able-bodied student and as a person who is both Deaf and has disabilities. Those divergent experiences, including her ... Read more

Charles Webb — Founder of Stoke for Life Foundation geared towards adaptive water sports and ocean therapy healing

My name is Charles Webb. I’m the founder of Stoke for Life Foundation. I’m a T 7-8 incomplete paraplegic. I’ve been paralyzed since 1986. I was 19 years old when I got injured. Oh, and Stoke for Life is my foundation. We’re a 501 C 3 that is geared towards adaptive water sports and ... Read more

Margarita Elizondo — Motivational speaker, founder of Rolling With Me, model, dancer and writer

Margarita Elizondo is a motivational speaker, founder of Rolling With Me, model, dancer, and writer. She was paralyzed in 2006 from the chest down from an act of violence. She began speaking about her experience in churches and schools shortly after her injury. She was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2013 and Mi Modelo Especial ... Read more

John R. Johnson, PhD. — South Dakota Center for Disabilities’ Director of Research and Development.

John R. Johnson, PhD, started as a Special Education teacher in Ohio and Kentucky before completed his doctorate at the University of Illinois. John worked as a Research Associate at the Transition Research Institute and later as the Director of Evaluation for the National Transition Alliance. John worked at the Institute for Community Inclusion ... Read more

Kenna Chic — A law fellow with the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation

Kenna Chic is currently a paralegal at a health law firm. She graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where she studied Foreign Service with a minor in Disability Studies. Her greatest passion is disability policy and advocacy, especially as it relates to psychiatric disabilities. At Georgetown, Kenna had served as both ... Read more

Elayne Otstot — Outreach specialist for the independent film Invalid Corps

Elayne Otstot is a recent graduate and aspiring attorney/public health policy professional from the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. She is passionate about emergency management and disaster preparedness; disability access and inclusion; and health disparities affecting rural, disabled, and other vulnerable and marginalized communities. Currently, Elayne is community outreach specialist for the independent film Invalid ... Read more

Jeff Moyer produced the song “The ADA Anthem”

Jeff Moyer’s life, (71), has been shaped by progressive blindness, kidney donation, and his late, younger brother Mark’s severe cognitive disability. Mark suffered the cruelty of neighborhood children, and 33 years in barbaric institutions and aggregate living situations. Jeff established a supported living home for Mark where he lived peacefully until his death in ... Read more

Karen Willis author of “My Life Journey With Autism”

Karen Willis is a disability rights activist, self-published author of her book My Life Journey With Autism. Karen is the current Vice President of Montgomery Pride United and the current state president of People First of Alabama. She is 28 years old and currently lives near Montgomery, AL with two dogs (one of which ... Read more

Suzanne Stolz is a creator of disability curriculum for high school students

Suzanne Stolz, Ed.D. serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego. A former high school English teacher, administrator, and leader of disability programs, she has expertise in online instruction, curriculum design, mentoring, school culture, Universal Design for Learning, and disability studies. Her research, related to conceptions of disability and disability pedagogy, ... Read more

Natalia Rivera Morales a PhD candidate and Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh

Natalia M. Rivera Morales is a PhD candidate and Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. Her areas of academic and research interest comprise Antillean Literature and Philosophy, Bio/Necropolitics, Rhizomatics and Schizoanalysis, Psychoanalysis and Trauma Studies, Critical Disability Theory, Critical Race Studies, Minority Rights Jurisprudence, and ... Read more

Art Blaser, PhD JD

Art Blaser is Professor of Peace Studies and Political Science and has been on the Chapman University faculty since 1981. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law. His research and teaching interests include disability studies, human rights, and international nongovernmental organizations. He has been ... Read more

Judy Mark

Judy Mark has a 23-year old son with autism, which led her to become co-founder and President of Disability Voices United. Judy leads DVU’s advocacy and programmatic efforts. Judy was instrumental in the passage of the Self-Determination Law and has been active in the implementation as a member of the DDS workgroup, Chair of ... Read more

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan

Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán is the Senior Policy Manager for AIDS United, where she brings her own unique intersectional specialties to the fight against the HIV epidemic. Particular areas of expertise and focus are the intersections of issues affecting people living at the intersections of transgender identity, disability and mental illness from a social justice ... Read more

Dior Vargas

Dior Vargas, MS, MPH is a Queer Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist and lives with Dysthymia, PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder tendencies. She is the creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, a response to the invisibility of Black Indigenous People of Color in the media representation of mental illness. ... Read more

Sally Burton-Hoyle, PhD

Dr. Sally Burton-Hoyle, sister to a person on the autism spectrum, has served on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and is currently a panelist on the National Quality Forum for Person Centered Planning (PCP) and Practices. Dr. Burton-Hoyle has developed both graduate and undergraduate programs in Autism Spectrum Disorders at Eastern Michigan University. ... Read more

Deepa Goraya, JD

Deepa Goraya is a civil rights and Disability Rights attorney currently working at Disability Rights Maryland, and living in Washington DC. She currently works on Medicaid and other healthcare issues such as representing individuals with disabilities in administrative hearings to obtain and maintain support services such as home and community based services through Medicaid ... Read more

Tim Jin

Tim Jin  graduated from Cal State Long Beach in speech communication. Tim was born with Cerebral Palsy. Been an active member on several advisory boards, such as IHSS, USC UCED, Self-Determination Program Local Advisory Committee for RCOC, TASK, Disability Voices United, and California Communications Access Foundation.   Tim has been using an AAC device ever ... Read more

Beth Haller, PhD

Beth Haller teaches Disability Studies and Media Studies at Towson University in Maryland, where she taught full-time in the Mass Communication Department from 1996-2020. She is adjunct faculty for the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Disability Studies master’s and undergraduate programs, for York University’s Critical Disability Studies graduate program in Toronto, Canada, and ... Read more