Learn who will be speaking at the 2023 MegaConference!
Ivanova Smith, BA is the Self Advocate faculty for the UW Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, hub team faculty for Project ECHO Autism Washington, and for AtWork activist advocates. Ivanova was recently appointed to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee composed of public stakeholders and federal officials that coordinates federal activities concerning autism spectrum disorder and provides advice to the US Health and Human Services Secretary on issues related to autism. Ivanova also served on the board for the Washington State Rehabilitation Council (WSRC) and the Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare (WITH) Foundation Advisory Council. She co-chairs the Pierce County Developmental Disability Advisory Council, past chaired Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) and leads the local People First chapter in Pierce County. Ivanova is happily married with two daughters. They are devoted Christians.
The cast of Truelove: The Film joins the Tennessee Disability MegaConference to discuss Williams syndrome and living a life of love for all.
Truelove: The Film tells the share life through the eyes of Callie Truelove, a 16-year-old girl with Williams syndrome. Produced by Phil Viardo and Christopher Knight of Brady Bunch fame, the film is an encouraging story and also features Clancey Hopper of Tennessee’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
More Breakout Speakers: coming soon
Intelligence Analyst in the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
I.A. Hannah Altobelli serves as an Intelligence Analyst in the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I.A. Altobelli is assigned to the Missing Persons Unit working as the units lead for Silver Alerts. I.A. Altobelli was previously assigned to the Sex Offender Registry working on deceased offender removals. I.A. Altobelli received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security from Middle Tennessee State University. I.A. Altobelli served as an Intelligence Analyst for the Tennessee Department of Correction-Criminal Conviction Record Unit prior to her position at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Educational Consultant with Transition Tennessee
Hope Armstrong is an Educational Consultant with Transition Tennessee. Prior to working at Transition Tennessee, Hope worked as a Pre-Employment Transition Services provider in a community college setting. This presentation was developed by Transition Tennessee, a Department of Human Services and Department of Education funded project housed at Vanderbilt University charged with working to improve outcomes for transition-aged youth across the state.
Graduate Assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Caroline Bell is an M.Ed student at Vanderbilt University in the Special Education Low Incidence Program. She works as a graduate assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project.
Family Resource Specialist and Lead Trainer at Family Voices Of Tennessee
Tonya is a Family Resource Specialist and Lead Trainer at Family Voices Of Tennessee. She is the mother of three children.
Musician and Self-Advocate
Andrew is a singer-songwriter, voice-actor, & entrepreneur with oculocutaneous albinism & autism, He uses his love of country music & voice to pursue a career in the entertainment business. Borderless Art’s Young Soloist & Fan Fav 2020, The Arc TN Work Initiative 2022, member of Toastmaster, People First & The Arc, he embraces his disabilities while singing, acting, and helping others.
Membership Coordinator with The Arc Tennessee
Membership Coordinator with The Arc TN. Parent of 3 children – 2 with disabilities. Toastmaster. Grandmother. Angela has been advocating with the disability community for the last 20 years.
Program Coordinator for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Amanda Brewer is a Program Coordinator for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ Person-Centered Practice Unit. She is certified in Person Centered Thinking and Personal Outcome Measures.
Educational Consultant with Transition Tennessee
Leah Burgess is an Educational Consultant with Transition Tennessee. Prior to working at Transition Tennessee, Leah worked as a Community Resource provider and supervised the Employment and Independent Living programs. This presentation was developed by Transition Tennessee, a Department of Human Services and Department of Education funded project housed at Vanderbilt University charged with working to improve outcomes for transition-aged youth across the state.
Manager, Provider Workforce Development, LTSS Provider Relations, for BlueCare
Christian Ceccotti is the Manager, Provider Workforce Development, LTSS Provider Relations, for BlueCare, a Division of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Christian has worked with BlueCare providers for the last 3 years, the first portion concentrating in the East Grand Region. Prior to coming to BlueCare, he worked across several industries in human resources and operations management. In these roles, he gained an appreciation for the roles every employee plays in each organization’s success. He is eager every day to apply prior experiences and philosophies to the ongoing workforce development efforts to provide for the services of individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. To Christian, there is no stone left unturned in addressing the challenges providers face in building a sufficient and sustainable workforce. There is no unconquerable challenge, no unscalable barrier to attaining healthcare workforce stability.
Graduate Assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Allie Cole is a PhD student at Vanderbilt University in the Special Education Low Incidence Program. She works as a graduate assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project.
Associate Director of Our Place Nashville
Jordan Collins grew up in Durban, South Africa, and moved to Nashville in 2011 to attend Belmont University. Jordan has nine years of non-profit experience, and has been a part of Our Place Nashville since it’s inception in 2015 where he served as the first resident director at the first Our Place Nashville Friendship House, helping to build the model for community living. He now serves as the Associate Director of Our Place Nashville, an organization that provides affordable housing in inclusive communities for adults with developmental disabilities.
Anna Lea Cothron
System Transformation Director for TennCare
Anna Lea Cothron is the System Transformation Director for the Division of TennCare which serves as Tennessee’s state Medicaid agency. In this role, she leads the efforts to make the long-term services and supports system work better for older adults and people with disabilities. She has worked in state government for 8 years and is excited to be supporting workforce development efforts to address workforce challenges for direct support professionals (DSPs) in Tennessee.
Vice President, Clinical and Program Operations at Project Transition
Transition Dr. Stacey Dixon, is the Vice President, Clinical and Program Operations at Project Transition. She joined Project Transition after serving as the Behavioral Supports Director for Long Term Services and Supports programs at BlueCare Tennessee, a Medicaid managed care organization, which is a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years of experience of working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and co-occurring behavioral health disorders.
Intern for Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Sophie Edelman is working towards her BS in Child Studies and Cognitive Studies with Honors at Vanderbilt University. She works as an undergraduate intern for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project.
Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Programs at BlueCare
Naveh Eldar has worked in the field of disability services for more than 20 years. Most recently he has worked on the Long-Term Services and Supports team at BlueCare and is currently the director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Programs.
Program Director at Core Services
Nick Filarelli, Program Director at Core Services of Northeast Tennessee. Nick has worked for the past 17 years with individuals with IDD, beginning his career as a Direct Support Professional. First entering the field with an agency whose program philosophy was to shelter and protect, Nick has had a front row view of the difference in the quality of life when individuals direct their own lives. For the past several years Nick has functioned as an enabling technology champion for Core Services, helping to transform into a technology first organization and promoting the use of technology to help people achieve true independence.
Regional Family Engagement Coordinator with The Arc Tennessee
Annette Graves is passionate about education and helping to empower children and adults. She has committed thirty years of her life to the area of education. Instructing in self contained and special education inclusion classes. Annette graduated from the Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute, these classes provided leadership and advocacy training for adults with disabilities and their family members.
Content Specialist with Flex Jobs
Kevin is a content specialist with FlexJobs and a webmaster for the Chattanooga Autism Center from Chattanooga, TN. He holds a Master of Library Science degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and an undergraduate degree in professional writing from Elon University. Kevin is a self-advocate who runs weekly support group meetings at the Chattanooga Autism Center and has helped plan and organize the annual Southeast Adult Autism Symposium online in 2020 and 2021 and in-person in 2022. All the programs Kevin facilitates with the Center are designed specifically for autistic adults. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys writing fiction and poems, playing piano, singing, and reading.
Director of Advocacy at The Arc Tennessee
Heather Henderson serves as The Arc Tennessee’s Director of Advocacy and has been investing in the I/DD community over the last 10-plus years. Though her career started in Architecture and Design, she pivoted her focus to the disability community when a friend asked her to consider joining The Arc Tennessee’s People Talking to People program. Since then, she has worked as a Direct Support Professional, Program Manager for a provider agency, Independent Support Coordinator, and Person-Centered Practice Facilitator with DIDD, all before returning to The Arc Tennessee as part of the Advocacy Team.
Consulting Teacher for Transition/Post-Secondary Outcomes
Lesley Guilaran is married to her college sweetheart, Fonsie and is the mother of 3 sons, Angel, Aden and Xiao. Lesley is currently a Consulting Teacher for Transition/ Post- Secondary Outcomes with Jackson Madison County Schools but has had several roles in her career. Lesley has been a teacher in the JMCSS school system for 7 years as an inclusion teacher at a public Montessori school, a stay at home mom for 10 years, a lobbyist for The Florida Coalition for Children and a legislative assistant for the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. Lesley also served on the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities for 6 years, and currently serves on the following boards: Center for Supported Decision Making, State Family Support Council, and the West Policy Planning Committee for DIDD.
Graduate Assistant for Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Emma Hodges is an M.Ed. candidate at Vanderbilt University in the Special Education Low Incidence Program. She works as a graduate assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project.
Vice President of IDD Programs for UnitedHealthcare
Mandy is the Vice President of Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Programs for UnitedHealthcare. Prior to joining UnitedHealthcare, Mandy served the state of Tennessee for over 16 years including leadership roles with TennCare and the Department of Human Services.
Workforce Development Director for Amerigroup
Nichelle Johnson is the Workforce Development Director with UnitedHealthcare of TN. Prior to joining UHC, Nichelle was the Assistant Program Director with Workforce Essentials, managing a team of 18 coordinators who assisted individuals with pursing High School Equivalency Diplomas, Basic skills upgrade, and job placement. Nichelle was also able to forge relationships with state partners and has been able to leverage her network in her current role with UHC. Nichelle leads Workforce Development efforts and provides direct assistance to Tennessee providers as well work collaboratively with our partner MCOs to implement statewide workforce development initiatives.
Founder of Kara Kemp Coaching
Kara fosters collaboration & connection through storytelling & coaching. A champion of people and their stories, she is co-creator of the Bloom Stage & the national award-winning storytelling event, United We Style. Most recent accolade: Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence 2022.
Sandra Mooney is a Montgomery, Alabama native, mother, and life-long advocate for promoting self-efficacy. A self-motivated transformative leader passionate about program startup through team building, intentional relationship development, and community resource leveraging. Utilizing the knowledge and experience she acquired advocating for underserved communities in the profit and nonprofit sectors for over 10 years, Ms. Mooney currently is championing Charles Lea Center’s vision and mission as the State Director of Tennessee.
Deputy Director of Person-Centered Practice with DIDD
Lindsey Morrison is the Deputy Director of Person-Centered Practice with DIDD. She lives and works out of Chattanooga, but travels the state, working with advocates and promoting person-centered practice across Tennessee.
Matt Moser is originally from Sterling, Illinois, and attended Illinois State University for his undergraduate degree and Drexel University for his MBA in Business Analytics for which he graduated Suma Cum Laude. Before entering the finance profession, Matt served as an Officer in the Army with the 101st Airborne Division. He served multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He serves as the Treasurer on the board of directors for The Arc of Davidson county, volunteers with Best Buddies of middle Tennessee, is a member of the VFW, a Wounded Warrior Project Alumni an active member at Crosspoint church and volunteers with other Veteran organizations as well.
Licensed Master Social Worker at Project Transition
Michelle has over 13 years of experience working in the mental health field. She received her BA in Sociology from University of Tennessee and MSSW at University of Tennessee College of Social Work. Michelle has extensive experience working in mental health outpatient settings in the integrated services team, peer support programs, and women’s advocacy programs.
Diversity Outreach Coordinator at Disability Rights Tennessee
Dalmys Sánchez was born and raised in the Dominican Republic where she also trained as an elementary education teacher. At the age of 18 she was awarded a highly competitive university fellowship to study Special Education for two years in St. Louis, MO. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. Dalmys joined Disability Rights Tennessee as the Bilingual Intake Advocate (Spanish/English). She currently holds the position of Diversity Outreach Coordinator, where she gets to share with Tennesseans about the agency’s protection and advocacy services for people with disabilities. Dalmys is passionate about finding and creating educational opportunities to educate the community about their disability rights in all areas of life.
Program Coordinator at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Janet is program coordinator for the IDD Toolkit and writer and coordinator of the TennesseeWorks blog, Rise to Work. She is also an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities.
John, Evan’s dad, is a longtime advocate at the local, state, and national levels. He served on the boards of Autism Tennessee, The Arc Tennessee, the Autism Society of America.
Public Information Specialist for the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities
Emma Shouse Garton: lives in Nashville and works for the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities as their Public Information Specialist. Emma has been with the Council since 2011 and helps lead the Council’s communications efforts, including their website, social media, magazine, and email newsletters. She leads the Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS) statewide sibling support network and was Tennessee’s representative in the national Supporting Families Community of Practice from 2012-2017. Emma’s family includes her husband T.J. and their 2 pet bunnies, her parents, and twin younger brothers (Evan and Brendan), who are 27 years old. Evan has autism and intellectual disability and lives in his own apartment in Franklin, TN with the help of support staff. Emma graduated from Belmont University with degrees in social work and sociology.
Director of Provider Workforce Development for Amerigroup
Simone Stewart is the Director of Provider Workforce Development for Amerigroup. In her role, she leads the workforce development efforts to support providers in the recruitment, selection, and retention of Direct Support Professionals and Caregivers across Tennessee. Simone is committed to working toward innovative workforce solutions for the Tennessee DSP workforce.
Dr. Martha Summa-Chadwick
Executive Director of Music Therapy Gateway In Communications
Dr. Martha Summa-Chadwick has achieved a national reputation as an educator, presenter, performer, and advocate for music in therapy. She is a frequent guest speaker discussing biomedical music techniques.
Educational Consultant for Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Erin Turner is an Educational Consultant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project at Vanderbilt University. She has thirteen years of experience working across diverse special education programs and school districts.
Graduate Assistant for Enhancing Peer Networks Project
Lilly Tyson is a candidate for an M.Ed. in Special Education: Low Incidence Disabilities at Vanderbilt University. She works as a graduate assistant for the Enhancing Peer Networks Project.