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Dr. Susan Abend is founder of the Right Care Now Project, whose mission is to
transform healthcare delivery for individuals with intellectual and developmental
disabilities (IDD), to make sure that everyone with IDD has access to expert care,
wherever they live. Above all, they aim to prevent unnecessary suffering from
ineffective and inexpert care.
She has over 36 years of experience is an endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism
specialist. Of that 15 years are in the healthcare quality and information
management field, and in the care of people with IDD. She has served in multiple
administrative roles responsible for the measurement and improvement of
healthcare quality: she was the Medical Director of Medistaff, Inc. and Vice
President of Quality and Medical Affairs for Johnson Memorial Health System.
Most recently, she was the Executive Director of the Healthcare Quality
Management Group, in Framingham, MA.
While Assistant Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of
Massachusetts Medical School, Dr. Abend developed the medical services for the
UMass Neurodevelopmental Unit, the UMass Neurodevelopmental Ambulatory
Team, and has studied and written about health issues in the IID community.
Dr. Abend is a graduate of the six-year BS/MD program at Union College and
Albany Medical College.
Shahriar Afshar has been a public-private bridge builder, government relations expert and strategic communications leader for over 30 with the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego and several charitable, business and professional organizations. He is a public speaker and has presented at trade and civic groups, and a spokesperson with the mainstream TV/print media. Shahriar has hosted visiting foreign dignitaries and built local & national grassroots campaigns to engage civic leaders, members of Congress and Fortune 100 companies to advance everything from critical local projects to global economic diplomacy.
Shahriar is now leveraging his expansive public-private network & background to launch four podcasting media platforms to support civil political discourse, good government administration, transformational technology and autism awareness at: Politics365.com, PublicServiceSchool.com, USCanTec.com and AutismSpa.com.
Shahriar has a BS/MPA from San Diego State University and lives with his wife & two boys in San Diego, CA.
Sandra Aldana is an educational consultant and disability advocate. She held a variety of education al positions including an instructor of advanced Spanish grammar and beginning literature, a graduate teaching and research assistant, and a consultant and facilitator at the ALS Association’s Kern County Patient and Caregiver Support Group.
She was appointed to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities in Ms. Aldana earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in education from University of
California, Santa Barbara and a Masters of Public Health degree in Health Education from California State University Northridge.
Mario Alfaro serves as the Director of Partnerships at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte(PPMM). He has 18 years of health education experience and currently been with PPMM for 15 years. Mario’s recent career highlight was being named
the 2019 APPLE Blossom Award winner at the PPFA National Conference for Education Departments! This was presented to a Vice President/Education
Director of less than two years who has risen quickly to the forefront with new ideas, energy, and commitment. Mario also serves as co-chair to PPMM’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion committee.
With 23+ years of public health experience working in a variety of non-profit healthcare agencies, Mario currently focuses on education, expansion, and
equitable access to ed. services. Aside from his PPMM work, Mario has used his experience to serve as an Adjunct Trainer for the California Department of Public Health, STD Control Branch for almost 10 years where he provided STD training to educators and community partners throughout the Central Valley of CA.
Dr. Nora Baladerian, PhD
Dr. Nora Baladerian is director of the Disability without Abuse project whose mission is to cultivate a supportive online community around the topic of disability and abuse.
She has over 40 years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage child and family counselor. Her specializations include: trauma or abuse related issues, depression and anxiety, gerontology, and children and adults with disabilities. Dr. Baladerian provides training on the topic of sexual assault risk reduction in the IDD community and has world-wide recognition of her work.
She served as a consultant to the Justice Department on disability and abuse, as well as a consultant to a variety of groups and agencies through the US and Europe.
Dr. Baladerian is based in Los Angeles where she provides counseling services. She
holds a Ph.D., Psychology from Sierra University and an M.A., Educational Psychology. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Lic. And Marriage, Child, Family Counselor, Lic. ML19380
Anna Bullard is the Vice President of Government Relations at Behavioral Health
Center of Excellence and has a daughter with autism.
She has over 10 years experience developing legislation and advocating at the state and federal level. She successfully passed legislation in Georgia, titled “Ava’s Law” which creates access to therapy for those with autism.
She has served a a Board Member of Autism Society Greater Georgia Chapter, was an Autism Speaks advocate and <> .
Diana Pastora Carson
Diana Pastora Carson, M.Ed. has been an elementary educator for over
30 years, and co-teaches a disability studies course at San Diego State
University. She is a consultant and educator on diversity as it relates to
disability and is the author of several articles and books including
Beyond Awareness: Bringing Disability into Diversity Work in
K-12 Schools & Communities, and children’s book, Ed Roberts:
Champion of Disability Rights. Her disability awareness work has
earned her statewide PTA recognitions in the areas of advocacy and
outreach, as well as her school’s designation of Teacher of the Year.
Aside from her TEDxTalk, Diana has been featured in several articles
and podcasts. She served two terms on the Board of Directors of
Disability Rights California, and currently serves as a board member of
Disability Voices United. Diana credits her passion for this work to
brother, Joaquin, who endured years of segregated schooling and
subsequent institutionalization. She takes the most pride in knowing
that after many years of fighting for his release, Joaquin now lives a
life of self-determination, inclusion and quality, in the community, as
her next-door neighbor.
Brian Donovan is the director of the award winning documentary,
Kelly’s Hollywood (currently on Amazon and Kanopy), about the
intimate relationship he had with his spectacular sister who was born
with Down syndrome (www.kellyshollywood.com). Brian has toured
internationally speaking about inclusion, equality and how imperative
it is for everyone to be given the chance to pursue their dreams. He
has also been a professional actor for more than 30 years in film,
television and radio. He has worked on-screen with such luminaries as
Jim Belushi, Jim Carrey and Angelina Jolie. He has been the voice of
countless animated heroes; currently as Rock Lee from the juggernaut
hit, Naruto. In addition, Brian has been the executive director of the
Los Angeles Repertory Theater since 1994, producing and directing
more than a hundred inner-city high school workshops and live shows.
Brian currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and dog, Cosmo.
Television reporter and radio personality Elizabeth
Espinosa has a nose for good stories. The Los
Angeles native won Emmy awards for a half-hour
documentary on child warriors in Uganda and
Rwanda and for her coverage of the 2013 typhoon
that ripped through the Philippines. She also
produced and hosted a special report on disabled
and abandoned children in El Salvador. Espinosa has
always been drawn to stories about people dealing
with adversity, in part because of her own
experience growing up with a brother with special
Doris Evans is an executive consultant at Catalight Foundation, formerly known as
Easter Seals Bay Area.
She has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare and social service industry,
delivering on high-level, complex projects.
She is a member of the <>.
Ms. Evans holds a Masters in Public Administration in Organizational Leadership from California State University, East Bay and a Bachelor’s of Science in Developmental and Child Psychology from Saint Mary’s College of California.
BA in Urban Studies from New York University
Master of Public Policy from University of Southern California
Currently a Human Resources Director at a large health plan in the Bay Area
10 years in Management Consulting, followed by 10 years in Healthcare
Kalyn’s brother, Jonathan, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 3, shortly before Kalyn’s birth. As a result of his treatments, Jonathan was left with developmental and physical disabilities. Jonathan and Kalyn attended the same schools, and Kalyn was the primary caregiver on weekday afternoons from age 9 to 16, while learning to cope with her diagnosis of anxiety and depression. When they were in their 20s,
Jonathan suffered a massive stroke. A recovery highlight was being able to attend Kalyn’s graduation from her Master’s program. Despite a partial recovery, Jonathan continued to have respiratory issues as a result of his permanent tracheostomy, and died a year later.
Kalyn enjoys independent films, camping, enjoying all of the natural beauty that California has to offer. She enjoys spending time with her cat, dog and husband (not necessarily in that order!)
My identity has and always will be as a Sib first, even though my brother is no longer with us. I am so excited to have the opportunity to help grow CaliforniaSibs, as a way of honoring that relationship and sense of self.
Nancy M. Fitzsimons
PhD, MSW, LISW
Nancy Fitzsimons is a Professor of social work at Minnesota State University,
Mankato where she teaches graduate courses in social welfare history, services,
public policy and policy practice, macro social work practice; and an
undergraduate course in social work practice with people with disabilities. Her
scholarship focuses on interpersonal violence perpetrated against people with
disabilities. She has authored law enforcement, direct support professional, and
other disability-focused training curriculum; journal articles, and the book A Call
to Action: Combating Violence and Abuse of People with Disabilities. She was
the co-chair and lead author of Minnesota’s Comprehensive Plan to Prevention
Abuse and Neglect of People with Disabilities. She is a former member and Chair
of the Minnesota Council on Disability. She currently serves as the Board
Secretary and the Public Policy Committee Chair at The Arc Minnesota. Dr.
Fitzsimons previously worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD). During her 8-year
tenure at IDHD, her work included directing the Abuse and People with
Disability Prevention Initiative. Prior to working at IDHD, she worked for 7 years
as a social worker in a variety of settings serving people with disabilities,
including home-based child and family services, residential services, respite
care, independent service coordination, and as a social worker in a
Amy Machado is the owner of SEEDS Therapy Center and has worked with individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities for over 20 years. She has extensive experience working with individuals with disabilities of all ages and has spent her career creating innovative programs to assist young adults with the transition into adulthood and beyond.
Amy’s drive to reduce sexual exploitation stems from her direct work with countless individuals and families who have shared their personal stories of exposure, assault and sexual abuse. Throughout her career as a Behavior Analyst, she has worked with many individuals and families seeking information about relationships and how to connect with others. From their experiences and their desire for social autonomy, she is dedicated to making STC an inclusive place for people with disabilities to learn invaluable information about connecting with others appropriately and safely.
Mrs. Machado conducts trainings and workshops throughout San Diego county for
parents and professionals on abuse and risk reduction. Amy earned her master’s degree in Teaching and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.
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 Westside Regional Center’s local advisory
committee, and a member of the Statewide Advisory Committee. Judy has
written and edited two books on the Self-Determination Program and has
spoken extensively throughout California and trained thousands of individuals
Also a faculty member at UCLA, Judy teaches undergraduate courses in the
Disability Studies Program. She recently led the Autism Media Lab which
produced seven short documentaries on the inclusion of people with
non-speaking autism. Her past professional experience includes over 30 years
with national policy organizations, most extensively focusing on immigrant and
Judy has a BA from UCLA in Communications Studies and a Masters in Politics
and Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University
with coursework at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Judy
lives in L.A. with her husband, attorney Allen Erenbaum, and son, Joshua, and
she visits her daughter, Emma, often at Barnard College at Columbia University
in New York.
Honorable Marisol Rubio
Honorable Marisol Rubio is an elected representative, representing District 1 on the Department San Ramon Sanitary District Board of Directors. She is also the care provider for her adult daughter Alex who has
She has over 20 years of experience with medical and care professionals. She was a former K-5 bilingual science teacher, original research mentor and health promotion officer.
She is a member of the Contra Costa County Democrat Club and chair of the Diversity Committee .
Ms. Rubio holds a Bachelors of Art degree from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Molecular and Cell Biology and Neurobiology emphasis.
Ruben Rivas, RPA, is a long-standing member of the
commercial real estate industry and current Senior
Manager of Operations for Irvine Company Office
Properties. He is a member of the Board of Directors for
Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA)
Orange County and Government Affairs including the
BOMA Orange County Political Action Committee.
Ruben is the President of the Down Syndrome
Association of Orange County (DSAOC) and an Athlete
Ambassador for the National Down Syndrome
Society (NDSS). He is also a nonprofit advisor and chief
content provider for Down Syndrome United; a social
media resource through LinkedIn dedicated to successful
business and education of the extended community.
Dr. Cri Campbell- Schine
Cri Campbell Schine, PsyD is the founder of Schine Enterprises, LLC.
She serves as an administrator for The Miles Hall Foundation and is the
chair of their Mental Health Committee. She co-founded MDUSD
Parents for Multicultural Education and is the MDUSD Racial Equity
Task Force leading member of policies and procedures. She serves as a
survivor lead for Lamorinda Moms Demand Action.
Dr. Campbell-Schine’s professional background is in clinical psychology
and includes experience consulting with institutions to design and
implement mental health and wellness programs. As a social justice
advocate, she is working to improve the way school districts, cities and
counties respond to mental health crises and support individuals in
Lloyd Schine III, M.Ed, M.A. has over 20 years of Development and Alumni Relations experience working with institutions which are grounded in core principles that focus on values of serving others, especially the poor and marginalized, respect for all persons and inclusive community, social justice, and the need for quality education.
He is the Director of Institutional Advancement and Donor Development for Bay Scholars in San Francisco and formerly was the former Director of Alumni Relations at De La Salle High School in Concord, serves as the Diversity Chair of the Pleasant Hill Civic Action Commission, is a member of the Saint Mary’s College of California Alumni Board of Directors and is the Founder of Diablo Valley Tutoring.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst
MS in Special Education
Early Childhood Special Education Added Authorization
Education Specialist Credential
BA in Social Work
Liza Stack has a Master’s in Special Education and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has twelve years of experience teaching special education and has served as a content specialist and consultant within Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Special Education Department, for the last four years. Although most of her professional career involved working with younger students, she is now supporting teachers that serve transition-age students. Areas of personal interest
include self-determination, self-advocacy, person-centered planning, and learning more about representation of individuals with disabilities as active participants in their communities. Liza also currently serves on the Board of Focus on
Unity in Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating research-based knowledge to improve instruction, leadership, and positive outcomes for all students.
Liza has a younger brother with autism that currently lives with his father. As a big sister, she has always known that she would help care for her brother in his adult life, but that realization became clearer after their mother passed and shortly
after his father was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is interested in helping her brother develop greater independence in his life while establishing a closer relationship with him. Liza also has an older sister that she lives with and her eldest sister passed this year.
Liza plays flyball with her two fur babies. She loves to bake desserts to share with others. And when home alone, she has fun singing karaoke and dancing by herself.
Words to Live by:
A little at a time gets it done every time.
Everything “The Little Prince,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, has to offer.
And her mom used to always lift her up by singing “High Hopes” about that little ant and the rubber tree plant.