Vice President, Government Relations
Easter Seals Headquarters (Washington, D.C)
Katy Beh Neas manages Easter Seals federal and state public policy activities, including a staff of senior lobbyists who are integral to the development of health, education, employment, and other policies that help children and adults with disabilities live, learn, work and play in the community.
Neas has been a member of Easter Seals’ Government Relations team since January 1995. She is an officer of the national disability coalition, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and chairs its Education Task Force.
Prior to Easter Seals, Neas was the associate director of the American Association of University Affiliated Programs for persons with Developmental Disabilities. She also was legislative staff to Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D.-Iowa) of the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy between
1987 and 1991, where she worked on all disability legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
Clinical Professor and Director, Special Education Clinic
Rutgers University School of Law (Newark, NJ)
Esther Canty-Barnes is a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Special Education Clinic at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. Professor Canty-Barnes earned her B.A. from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina and Juris Doctorate from Rutgers-Newark. She represents indigent parents and caregivers of disabled children in need of educational services, teaches law students in this specialized area of the law, and provides educational programs for parents/caregivers, attorneys, court personnel, case managers, and others responsible for the welfare of disabled children. During her tenure with the Special Education Clinic, she has broadened the clinic’s community outreach by coordinating workshops, roundtable discussions and trainings, and projects to develop partnerships and linkages within the community to better serve the needs of disabled children. One such project includes the “Special Education in the Courts Initiative” in which the clinic provides legal assistance to parents, caregivers, and other persons responsible for the welfare of disabled children in foster care. The program was subsequently expanded to include trainings for judges and others who are responsible for the care and custody of children in foster care to ensure that children with disabilities were appropriately identified and provided the much needed services to which they were entitled by law.
Professor Canty-Barnes serves on the Supreme Court Committee on Women in the Courts, where she chairs the Subcommittee on Women of Color, and on the NJ Children in the Courts Improvement Committee, a state-wide judicial committee, where she provides input regarding the educational needs of children in foster care. She also serves as a Board member of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) of the Association of American Law Schools.
The Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey, the NJ Section of the National Association of Women Judges, and the Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Legal Education have recognized her for her advocacy of children with special needs.
William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School
Bill Henderson has been an educator in Boston for the past 33 years. Bill holds a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from Goddard College, and an ED.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Bill began his career as a bilingual (Spanish) teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels. He has worked as a staff trainer and curriculum consultant and as an assistant principal. Bill has also presented extensively at universities and conferences, and he has served as a consultant for school systems and agencies. For the past 16 years, he has been principal of the O'Hearn Elementary School.
Recently, the Patrick O'Hearn Elementary School changed its name to the William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School, in order to honor their former principal Dr. William Henderson Jr. The William W. Henderson is a small, urban elementary school serving children from diverse ethnic, linguistic, and ability backgrounds from early childhood through Grade 5. The Henderson has gained national recognition for its excellent full inclusion program. Students who are involved in regular education, students who have moderate to significant disabilities, and students considered talented and gifted learn together and from each other. Teachers and support staff team to work with all children in integrated classrooms.
When not working, Bill enjoys exercising, gardening, playing the saxophone, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
President and Chief Executive Officer
John M. Kelly has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Meeting Street since 1998 and served as a member of its Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1997. Prior to accepting the position of President at Meeting Street, Kelly was General Counsel for Cornish Associates, L.P., a real estate development company headquartered in Providence. In that role, he also served as the lead staff person for the Coalition for Community Development, a community organization formed to implement the revitalization of downtown Providence. Before joining Cornish Associates in 1995, Kelly was a partner with the law firm of Tillinghast, Collins & Graham in Providence.
Kelly is a member of the American, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts Bar Associations. He is chairman of The Highlander Charter School and The Dunn Institute in Providence. Kelly also serves as Chair of The Providence Revolving Fund. He is the former chairman of the Providence Zoning Board of Review and also previously served as a member of the Board of Park Commissioners for the City of Providence. Kelly was previously the chair of The Genesis Center in Providence and also a Board member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence..
Kelly, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts native, received his law degree from Boston College Law School and his bachelor's degree in government from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He resides in Providence.
Exceptional Parent Magazine
Dr. Rader is the Editor in chief of Exceptional Parent Magazine, the world's most highly respected magazine devoted to parents and professionals raising and supporting individuals with significant and complex disabilities. Under his tutelage the magazine has won innumerable prestigious awards for editorial excellence.
Dr. Rader is the Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center at Orange Grove in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Rader functions as a medical futurist in trying to predict the future medical problems of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities as they age. He is crossed trained in both internal medicine and medical anthropology.
Dr. Rader is the President elect of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and a Fellow of the American Association on Mental Retardation. He was the first appointed Special Liaison for Family Healthcare Concerns at the Presidents Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Dr. Rader is a past recipient of the Exceptional Physician of the Year Award granted by parents of children with special needs.
He has authored over 50 articles on neurodevelopmental disabilities and has lectured extensively all over the world on the dynamics of the special needs community.
Dr. Rader was a member of the Surgeon General's Task Force on Healthcare Disparities for People with Mental Retardation as well as serving as a consultant to the NIH's Office on Rare Diseases. He serves as a medical consultant to Special Olympics. He is an adjunct professor of Human Development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as serving on the Genetics Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee. He serves on the board of the American Association on Health and Disabilities. He was the first physician elected as an honorary member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. He is a member of the New York Academy of Science.
Director, Lakeshore Foundation/UAB Research Collaborative and Professor
University of Alabama at Birmingham
James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Professor, is the University of Alabama at Birmingham Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences, Director of the Lakeshore Foundation/UAB Research Collaborative, and Senior Scientist in the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine and Center for Aging. His research interests explore the use of new and emergent technologies in developing biobehavioral and environmental strategies to promote beneficial physical activity and healthful weight management in people with disabilities. His studies have involved tailored interventions to address obesity in adults with physical disabilities, antecedents and consequences of obesity in youth and young adults with disabilities, and identification of barriers and facilitators associated with physical activity in people with disabilities.
He has developed a web-based health risk appraisal (HRA) and wellness coaching platform that includes rich-tailored messaging support (telephone, internet, text message, video) to provide a flexible, cost-effective health promotion
delivery system nationwide for weight management and reduction of obesity and obesity-related secondary conditions in youth and adults with disabilities. He has been a principle contributor to our understanding of the effects of physical inactivity on health trajectories in people with disabilities. He also served as the PI of an NIH-funded 5-year trial examining the effects of the built environment on obesity and secondary health conditions in minorities with mobility disabilities.
He is the Director of two federally funded Centers, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities. He is also Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) on Obesity and Obesity-Related Secondary Conditions in Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities. Dr. Rimmer is on the advisory board of the NIH National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research and CDC’s Health Disparities Advisory Committee to the Director.
Pure Play Workshops
Jean Schappet was the Founder, President, and Chief Designer for Woodset Inc. Jean has a personal mission - to positively influence the self-image of multitudes of children. This mission moved the family business from a small company to a nationally respected play equipment manufacturer. From 1998 until July 2006 Jean served as Creative Director & co-founder of Boundless Playgrounds, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the development of playgrounds that are universally accessible to all children – including children with physical, developmental and sensory disabilities.
Since leaving Boundless Playgrounds, Jean has continued her course of independent study. As a result of this study and child observations the next step in her personal mission emerged. For children to experiences maximum benefit from their independent play the play environment must be prepared by nurturing adults. In 2007, Jean formed Pure Play Workshops with her daughter Patty. Together they provide certified training programs for child-care professionals. This training helps adults understand and prepare for the predictable play behaviors of children and their pure play. Ms. Schappet's career includes consulting, designing play environments and specific-use play components, developing trainings about play, and teaching. She is currently writing her second book.
Chief Executive Officer
Boundless Playgrounds, Inc.
Frederick A. Leone is the Chief Executive Officer of Boundless Playgrounds. Leone’s prior experience includes: serving as Senior Vice President and General Counsel For The Americas for The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. where he provided executive oversight for all legal and compliance matters; and as Senior Real Estate counsel at the international law firm of Rogers & Wells (n/k/a Clifford Chance LLP). Leone also has extensive non-profit experience with groups such as the RAIN Community Land Trust, Target Margin Theater, Big Brother – Big Sister, and The AIDS Resource Center. He formally served as an elected member of the governing board for Elwood, New York Public Schools. Leone has also served as the only 5-term President of The Yale Club of New York City, an 11,000-member university club serving Yale alumni. Leone has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Yale University and a Juris Doctorate from the Fordham University School of Law.
Soula Antoniou has served as president of VSA arts since October 2002. During her tenure, Ms. Antoniou expanded the educational and artistic programming of VSA arts to include programs and affiliates throughout the United States and in 54 countries worldwide. Under her leadership, VSA arts significantly increased participant reach to over 7 million people annually. Ms Antoniou was instrumental in creating a new body of work in the visual and performing arts through the lens of disability, including the first new media exhibition in the world.
Signature programs and educational initiatives launched during Ms. Antoniou’s tenure include: the VSA arts Institute, a professional development forum for teaching artists, educators, and administrators; the Start with the Arts Family Festival; development of Start with the Arts at Home©, a new parent component to VSA arts’ early childhood resource Start With the Arts; international classroom exchanges in music and the visual arts; an online literary journal; and a four-part series of classroom resources in the literary arts. Ms. Antoniou also spearheaded a new collaboration with Weekly Reader to create middle and high school programs that engage students in math and science through the visual arts, reaching more than 100,000 teachers and 10 million students.
Ms. Antoniou executed the award-winning 2004 International VSA arts Festival, which hosted 1,200 artists, performers, and members of the arts, education, and disability communities from around the world in Washington, D.C. She maintains key relationships with national organizations and continues to develop new alliances with organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Americans for the Arts. She led the renewal of VSA arts’ affiliation with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Ms. Antoniou joined VSA arts in 1993. Prior to that, she was business manager and assistant director for finance and administration at the Massachusetts Office of Disability. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Massachusetts and has completed graduate course work in organizational management at Harvard University.