Keynote Speaker

Monica Cuskelly PhD, FASSA

Monica Cuskelly PhD, FASSA

Professor and Director of Research Applied Research Centre for Disability and Wellbeing College of Arts, Law and Education University of Tasmania Australia

Title:  Finding the balance: Researchers’ contributions to global efforts to improve the lives of people with a disability.

This presentation will focus on the ways in which researchers’ contributions to the global effort to improve the lives of individuals with a disability can be strengthened, including a consideration of authentic partnerships with those with lived experience. 

Monica Cuskelly is the Research Director of the Applied Research Centre for Disability and Wellbeing and a Professor in the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania.  Her research has focussed on the lives of those with intellectual disability, with a particular focus on development, family life, and, more recently, the challenges of adulthood. Monica led the Down Syndrome Research Program at The University of Queensland for 12 years.  She has over 120 peer reviewed publications as well as 30+ chapters and several edited books.  She had a term as a member of the Expert Panel of the Australian Research Council and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Prof. Theresa Lorenzo

Prof. Theresa Lorenzo

Head of Division Programme Convenor for Disabity Studies Doctoral Programme Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Faculty of Health Sciences University of Cape Town South Africa

Prof Theresa Lorenzo is Head of Division and Programme Convenor for Disability Studies Doctoral Programme at the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD in Public Health from UCT, with a thesis titled “We don’t see ourselves as different: A web of possibilities for disabled women for social and economic inclusion”. She also holds an MSc in Community Disability Studies from the University of London, a Higher Diploma for Educators of Adults from the University of Witwatersrand, and a BSc in Occupational Therapy from the same institution.

Prof Lorenzo’s expertise and teaching focus is on community-based rehabilitation, youth, women, and disability-inclusive development, and monitoring disability inclusion and social change. Her research focus areas include disability and inclusive development in rural impoverished communities, disabled youth enabling sustainable livelihoods (DYESL), disability inclusion in higher education, and monitoring and evaluation of community-based inclusive development programs in African countries. She has a specific interest in participatory action research and mixed methods.

Google Scholar:

Research Gate:

Plenary Speaker

Abigail O. Akande, Ph.D., CRC

Abigail O. Akande, Ph.D., CRC

Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation & Human Services The Pennsylvania State University - Abington College USA

Title: "The academic study of rehabilitation: Prioritizing university curriculum for the preparation of practitioners in the international field"

Dr. Akande will discuss the disparities in availability between post-secondary training programs in community-based rehabilitation disciplines and the plethora of medical training programs in universities. Social, cultural, political, and bureaucratical barriers will be discussed, as well as some foundational principles of rehabilitation program development. 

Assistant Professor Abigail O. Akande is a qualitative researcher with a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation from the University of Arizona, an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University, and a BA in Child Development from Tufts University. Her research interests include opioid use disorder among immigrants, vocational rehabilitation for immigrant women with disabilities, women with disabilities in under-resourced countries, disability policy, and reproductive justice for people with disabilities.

Dr. Akande is known for her expertise in narrative interviewing, case study, and grounded theory approaches. In addition to her research, she also focuses on curriculum development and incorporates compassion cultivation through experiential learning, cultural humility, advocacy through policy engagement, and interdisciplinary collaboration through virtual international exchange in her approach.

As a teacher, Dr. Akande teaches courses such as Medical Aspects of Disability, Intro to Rehab Services, Intro to Disability Culture, Counseling Techniques, Rehabilitation Foundations, and Cross-Cultural Counseling. Her contributions to teaching have earned her awards such as the Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence’s Teaching Fellow Award and Distinguished Teaching Fellow Medallion at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, as well as membership in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at the University of Arizona.

Guest Speaker

Ms. Isabel Mavrides-Calderon

Ms. Isabel Mavrides-Calderon

Disability Justice Activist, ACLU Organizer,
Teen Vogue 21 Under 21, Public Speaker
New York, United States

Title: "Nothing About Us Without Us: The Importance of Centering Disabled Student Voices In Educational Policy Decisions"

Isabel Mavrides-Calderon is an 18-year-old Intersectional Disability Justice activist and organizer. She focuses her work on disability policy, accessibility and education. She has organized protests across the country and internationally. Most notably, she organized a series of successful protests that helped take down a Supreme Court case that threatened to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, Mavrides-Calderon has worked as an accessibility consultant for multiple think tanks, and protests such as the National Australian Climate Strike. She has hosted multiple conferences and events with the ACLU. She is currently hosting a monthly ACLU webinar series called “Educating for Access” dedicated to breaking down disability history and policy. Within the educational policy space, she helped lead a successful campaign, and testified to city council on the importance of keeping remote options in NYC public schools in 2021. She has published papers for The National Association for the Education of Young Children on teaching young children about disability. Isabel has given guest lectures at universities across the country on educating disabled students. Isabel has won multiple awards for her work, most recently she was named one of Teen Vogue 21 under 21 Revolutionary Youth.

Organized By


Subscribe Us

Copyright © 2023 WDRC. All right