Our Presenters

 

 

  • Presenter: Abbi Mars, Abbi is employed as an Information Specialist at Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center. She began her employment in July 2020. Abbi is a recent graduate from Ohio Christian University majoring in Human Services and Religious studies. She is the mother of four children and lives in rural Shelby county. Abbi’s oldest child was diagnosed with severe autism at age two. As a young adult, he is currently attending the Hope School in Springfield, Illinois. She is no stranger to advocating for services for children. She spends most of her time volunteering with different organizations and promoting inclusion for special needs children within those organizations.
  • Presenter: Annemarie Stone, Annemarie Stone has a BA in English Education and an MA in Reading and Literacy.  She is a Reading Specialist.   She has worked with kids and teens who have comprehension and literacy needs, many of whom are also neurodiverse:  ADHD, Autism, etc.  She has a child with Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing, and who is also Twice-Exceptional.
  • Presenter: Mike Shea, Mike Shea is an attorney in the Special Education Clinic of Equip for Equality offering free legal advice to help parents advocate for their children and representing parents at IEP meetings, mediations, and due process hearings.   He is a former pastor, the husband of a special educator, and a father of six children, including one with an IEP.
  • Presenter: Dr Kerry Magro, Dr. Kerry Magro is an award-winning professional speaker, best-selling author and autism consultant to the HBO series Mrs. Fletcher that aired last Fall. He started professional speaking 9 years ago via the National Speakers Association and has spoken at over 900 events during that time. In addition Kerry is CEO & President of KFM Making A Difference, a nonprofit organization that hosts inclusion events and has provided 68 scholarships for students with autism for college. In his spare time he hosts a Facebook Page called A Special Community that now has 195,000 Facebook followers where he does on-camera interviews highlighting people impacted by a diagnosis to break down barriers in our community. His videos have been watched over 25 Million times. Kerry’s best-selling books Defining Autism From The HeartAutism and Falling in Love and I Will Light It Up Blue! have all reached Amazon Best-Seller Lists for Special Needs Parenting. For his efforts, Kerry has been featured in major media and worked with amazing brands including The Today ShowCBS NewsInside EditionUpworthy and Huffington Post among others. He is based in Hoboken, New Jersey and can be contacted for collaborations at Kerrymagro@gmail.com
  • Presenter: Dr. Richard Selznick, Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist assistant professor of pediatrics and a Wilson-certified reading instructor. He is the Director of the Cooper Lerning Center, a Division of the Department of Pediatics/Cooper University Healthcare. Dr. Selznick’s latest book, “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts for Parents,” was recently published. Along with The Shut-Down Learner, his other books are “School Struggles” and “Dyslexia Screening.” To learn more about Dr. Selznick and to read his blog posts and other material, go to www.shutdownlearner.com
  • Presenter: William Moore, William Moore has 15 years of middle school experience. Illinois Education Association trainer for ACES. National Education Association trainer for ESSA and Just Schools. I have presented to over 2,000 teachers, students, counselors, and administrators. 
  • Presenter:  Kathyrn MacLeod, PhD Dr. Kate MacLeod is an Assistant Professor of Inclusive and Special Education at the University of Maine at Farmington and a co-founder and consultant at Inclusive Schooling. Her teaching, research, and consulting are guided by a passion for inclusive education and social justice. Her research is focused on best practices for the inclusion of students with complex support needs, understanding the culture of inclusive schools, and inclusive teacher education. And as a consultant, Kate has the privilege of working with administrators, teachers, and families to create more inclusive schools that value diverse students.
  • Presenter:  Michelle Clyne, Coordinator  she has worked for Project Reach/Philip Rock Center for over 30 years, currently as the coordinator of the statewide DeafBlind program. She is a teacher of students with visual impairments, and has taken coursework in DeafBlindness from Michigan State University. She has done volunteer/contractual work for Hilton-Perkins International Program and Helen Keller National Center. She is a member of the National Deaf-Blind Intervener Certification Portfolio (NICE) Review Board and helped create several of the Open Hands, Open Access Deaf-Blind Intervener Learning Modules.
  • Presenter:  Leigh Merryday Porch, President and Founder of Putnam Project Lighthouse, Inc.  a nonprofit dedicated to elopement awareness and prevention in Putnam County, Florida. Leigh is an educator with certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders and special education. She is the writer behind Flappiness Is, a blog about her experiences as the parent of a child with nonverbal autism.
  • Presenter:  Rosemary Laudani, Manager for IL ABLE, has been with the Treasurer's Office since 2015. She has had the pleasure in working in several divisions in the Treasurer's Office Banking, HR and Unclaimed Property prior to coming to ABLE.
  • Presenter:  Gayl Bowser, M.S., currently works as an independent consultant and is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Wyoming's Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND).
  • Presenter:  Elizabeth C. Hamblet,  is a learning consultant in Columbia University disability services office, has worked at the college level for over 15 years after several years' work as a high school special education teacher and case manager.
  • Presenter:  Sue Walter,  is a Coordinator with the Illinois Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Network. Over the past 20 years, secondary transition has been her personal and professional passion. She has developed a variety of transition-related training materials including person-centered planning, self-determination and transition-focused IEP’s; she has traveled around the state to reach educators, parents, students and community providers. Susan has presented at numerous workshops and conferences at the local, regional and national level and has also authored or co-authored several articles focused on secondary transition. Most importantly, she is the parent of a young adult who has a disability that requires significant supports and services and she adds that perspective to enhance her work. Susan has supported her daughter, Jennifer, in navigating the adult service system, participating in a customized employment process and moving toward a self-employment/entrepreneurial career as an artist.
  • Presenter:  Priscilla Singer, an associate for Spain, Spain & Varnet P.C. firm concentrates her practice in the areas of special needs and general estate planning, probate, guardianship, and real estate.
  • Presenter:  Dr. Ann Turnbull has been a professor, researcher, and advocate for individuals with disabilities, their families, and service providers for four decades. She is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Kansas which has the number one ranked doctoral program in special education. She has authored 32 books and over 275 articles and chapters. In 1999, Ann and her husband, Rud, were selected by the National Historic Preservation Trust on Developmental Disabilities as two of 36 individuals who have "changed the course of history for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the 20th century." Her greatest learning has come from her son, Jay Turnbull (1967-2009), who she has always called her "best professor" about the needs of individuals with significant disabilities over the lifespan.
  • Presenter: Chris Wasik is an educational consultant and coach for the Illinois Statewide Technical Assistance Collaboration and has many years of experience providing support to school districts to assist them in including children with disabilities in general education classrooms. She is also the parent of a son with developmental disabilities who graduated from general education classes at his local high school and is now successfully employed at a local grocery store and has shared his experiences by presenting at conferences and workshops. Chris is a former trainer for Family Matters PTIC.
  • Presenter: Bec Oakley is a writer and disability educator who lives in Australia with her two teenage sons, both of whom have autism and other special needs. Along with the articles and re-sources you'll find on her award-winning blog at Snagglebox.com, she has written a series of children's storybooks to promote disa-bility awareness for the non-profit Help A Child Grow Fund which benefits kids and young people with disabilities.
  • Presenter: Jenn Skalitzky, Jennifer works for UCP-Infinitec as an Assistive Technology Facilitator.  She coordinates webinars, performs collaborations, and provides trainings.   Jennifer received a Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders from Eastern Illinois University and received a M.S. in Disability and Human Development from the University of Illinois - Chicago (UIC).  Her area of specialization was Rehabilitation/Assistive Technology, and she completed a Graduate Assistantship with UIC's Assistive Technology Unit (ATU).  After graduation she worked for UIC's ATU where she supported students and adults using AAC devices.  In addition, she has worked at Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO) as an Assistive Technology Facilitator.  While there she supported the assistive technology needs of students with severe physical disabilities, students with Autism and learning disabilities.  She also supported staff through trainings and the implementation of assistive technology.  In the past, Jennifer has been an adjunct teacher at Lewis University and taught the undergraduate and graduate class on Assistive Technology for the Special Education Department.
  • Presenter: Barbara T. Doyle, M.S. Clinical Consultant and Autism Specialist Barbara is a nationally known teacher, consultant, trainer, presenter and author.  She is known for her passionate approach to presenting practical and realistic solutions for everyday issues at home, school, and social situations.  Her more than 43 years of professional experience add to her life experiences as a family member of six people with disabilities.  Barbara’s mission is to make the world a more inclusive place for everyone by increasing understanding, creating a truly accessible service delivery system and promoting effective teaching, adaptations and accommodations. In her private practice, she educates families, schools, and agencies interested in improving the lives of people with autism spectrum disorders, deafness, and other disabilities.  She has a deep understanding of sensory impairments and developmental disabilities at both a personal and professional level.
  • Presenter: Emily Iland, M.A. Educational Consultant and Autism Specialist Emily is an award-winning author, advocate, film-maker, researcher and leader in the autism field.  As the mother of a young man with autism spectrum disorder, she brings personal experience and insight to her professional roles.  Emily is an experienced educational consultant, past president of the Autism Society of Los Angeles, and adjunct profession in the Department of Special Education at California State University, Northridge.  She was recently honored by the California Senate for her work with the State Autism Taskforce on Equity and Diversity.  She is the co-author of Autism Spectrum Disorders from A to Z, the author of Drawing a Blank, and the writer and producer of BE SAFE The Movie.
  • Presenter: Sue Castles, Training Coordinator for the Illinois Assistive Technology Program. She has worked for IATP for 20 years providing trainings, information and referral and funding information. She has presented on AT and funding issues throughout Illinois and at national conferences. She has a BA in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield (formerly Sangamon State University).
  • Presenter: Patty Hooper, Patty started working at Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center in 2012 as an information specialist. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in Education. She is the mother of three children, two of whom have Individualized Education Programs, and who receive Special Education services. Before becoming a mother, Patty taught high school English in Chicago's inner city. As a former teacher, she understands the school system and the difficulties that face educators. As a parent, she is aware of the challenges that parents encounter when ensuring that their children are receiving the best services available.
  • Presenter: Karrie Potter, Karrie is employed as an Information Specialist at Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center. She began her employment in July 2005.Karrie is the mother of a child who has been through the Early Intervention Program, Early Childhood Program, and receives Special Education services. She is knowledgeable in navigating different sides of the surgical and medical diagnostic fields due to her child's lengthy medical history. She is a source of support to parents who are navigating the same fields. She draws upon her own experiences when helping parents with each and every one of their concerns.
  • Presenter: Dr. Meghan Burke, Megan Burke is the parent of a child with support needs. She also has a brother, Ryan, with Down syndrome. She is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on parent advocacy and access to services for individuals with disabilities. She used to work for a Parent Training and Information Center in Chicago. Thus, she has always been passionate about educating and empowering parents about their special education rights. She is is also on the board of Family Matters.