2021 Program Speakers


Photo of Dr. Carol Salas Pagan wearing a white shirt with red dots as she smiles at cameraCarol Salas Pagan has been the Puerto Rico-UCEDD Director since November 2015, and before that, she was the Associate Director for almost 3 years. A Doctor in Clinical Psychology and previously a PR/UCEDD trainee, she also graduate from the National Disability Leadership Institute. She represents the PR/UCEDD in the Multicultural Council and on AIDDs National Diversity Advisory Committee. Currently, she is faculty of the Graduate School of Public Health of the Medical Sciences Campus of the UPR. She is also an appointed member on the PR P&A office board and member of the PR-DD Council, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Locally Dr. Salas is an active member in diverse Advisory Councils and boards of nonprofit organizations for the Protection, Advocacy, and independent living movement for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, and violence against women.

As UCEDD Director she consults with special projects with 2 LEND programs to coordinate intercultural learning experiences for their LEND trainees.


Featured Speaker:

Timothy Shriver leads the Special Olympics International Photo of Timothy Shriver smiling at camera and wearing a jacket and tieBoard of Directors, and together with 6 million Special Olympics athletes in more than 200 countries, promotes health, education, and a more unified world through the joy of sport.

Shriver joined Special Olympics in 1996. He has been a leading educator who focuses on the social and emotional factors in learning. He co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Co-Chairman of the National Commission on Social and Emotional Learning, President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Member of the Board of Directors for the WPP Group, LLC, and a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company.

Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master’s Degree from Catholic University, and holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He has produced four films, authored The New York Times bestselling book Fully Alive – Discovering What Matters Most, and has written for dozens of newspapers and magazines.


Program Speakers: 

Photo of Tawawar Goode wearing a necklace and purple shirtTawara Goode is the President of the AUCD Board of Directors. She is also professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She has been on the faculty of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD), for going on forty years and has served in many capacities. She has degrees in early childhood education, and education and human development. Professor Goode has extensive experience as a principal investigator for federal and private sector grants and contracts. She is the director of the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) at GUCCHD. She is also the Deputy Director of the GUCCHD’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and focuses on national level efforts to advance and sustain cultural and linguistic competence in this field. Her publications include peer reviewed articles, book chapters, monographs, policy papers, guides and instruments that support cultural and linguistic competence in a variety of human service and academic settings. Professor Goode has served on numerous boards, commissions and advisory groups at the local, regional, and national levels that are concerned with the health, mental health, and well-being of culturally and linguistically diverse populations and communities in the U.S., its territories, and in tribal communities.

Photo of John Tschida with a red and blue tie and navy jacketJohn Tschida is the executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). He has spent more than 20 years using data and research to drive policy change and service development for individuals with disabilities. Before joining AUCD in February of 2017 as associate executive director, he was appointed as director if the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. NIDILRR is the federal government’s premier applied research agency impacting individuals with disabilities.

Prior to joining NIDILRR in 2014, he served as director of public policy and innovation at Allina Health in Minnesota, where he helped integrate medical and community-based services for people with disabilities. At the Courage Center, Minnesota’s leading nonprofit provider of rehabilitation services, Mr. Tschida was vice president of public affairs and research. There, he built and directed a public policy and research team that focused on defining and achieving better outcomes for people with disabilities. He also led a statewide, cross-disability legislative coalition of more than 100 provider and advocacy organizations.

Photo of George Jesien wearing a tie and jacket while smiling at the cameraGeorge Jesien has devoted his career to the development, implementation and evaluation of programs and policies designed to improve health and educational outcomes and quality of life of persons with disabilities. Beginning his career with training in educational psychology, Dr. Jesien worked in the field of early intervention at the local level. Over time he gained experience both internationally and at the state and national levels as a grant writer and manager for a variety of projects in the field of early childhood. This led him to seek doctoral level training, culminating in a PhD in human development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994. Dr. Jesien led the early intervention program at the Waisman Center, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the University of Wisconsin from 1989-97, and in this capacity greatly strengthened to breadth and depth of programmatic activities there. In 1997, he became executive director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and his experience there together with his background made him an ideal choice to become the executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in 1999.

Dr. Jesien transformed AUCD into one of the vital voices for research, education and advocacy for persons and families with disabilities in the United States today. He played a critical role in the enactment of the Combatting Autism Act and took a leadership role in the formation of the Friends of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (formerly known as the External Partners Group), serving as its chair for two years and as an ex officio member of the executive committee for several years thereafter. Dr. Jesien has traveled extensively, providing technical assistance on disability.

Photo of Jeiri flores with a green shirtJeiri Flores is a strong, passionate Puerto Rican disability rights activist from Rochester, NY. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in the study of Sociology and African-American Studies at SUNY Brockport in 2014. She serves as a resource for residents in her community by connecting them to existing services and supports. As a disability advocate Jeiri shares her unique perspective at various colleges and conferences where she introduces attendees to the struggles and invisibility people with disabilities face. She provides insight regarding inclusion, citizenship, disability intersectionality and challenges that remain unaddressed by society. She hopes to influence young disabled people to fulfill their purpose and create a new narrative for what it means to be disabled.

Photo of Richard Ferrante wearing and red tie and white shirt and grey jacket

Richard Ferrante is a Research Professor with the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of South Carolina. He is a former Director of Disability Resources for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Ferrante was the first recipient of the Friend of the Genetic Counseling Program Award. In 1983, he urged the genetics faculty to develop the Genetics Counseling Program and has served as primary faculty in the classroom and on thesis committees ever since.


Photo of William Kiernan with gold and blue stripped tie and black jacket looking at camera William Kiernan is the former dean of the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD). He has served as a content expert for state, federal, and international governments in the areas of employment policy and practice for people with disabilities. Kiernan is also the former director of the Institute for Community Inclusion, a research and training institute housed within SGISD.

Kiernan has more than 130 publications about employment, school inclusion, and transition from school to adult life for people with disabilities, and has been the director on over $100 million in grants. These grants have addressed research in employment policies, procedures, and practices; training in rehabilitation counseling; and vision rehabilitation.

Kiernan has served on numerous national and international panels addressing systemic change in the employment of people with disabilities. He has been a member of several national boards, serving as president of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, as well as of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

 Shawn Aleong  enrolled in the Temple University Academy for Adult Learning in 2012. Before he finished the AAL program, Shawn received the opportunity to speak in front of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey about the Able Act. Shawn graduated from the Temple University Academy for Adult Learning in 2014 with a certificate of completion.

In January 2015, Shawn enrolled as an undergraduate student at Temple University, majoring in Legal Studies under the Continuing Studies program. Aside from taking classes, Shawn has many different roles on campus within various organizations. Shawn is currently the Juvenile Justice Chair for the PA State NAACP Youth & College Division, previously serving as the Juvenile Justice Ambassador for the Temple University Progressive NAACP during the 2013-2014 academic school year. He is also involved with Temple Student Government, serving as the Deputy Director of Campus Life and Diversity, Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial Team, and other various organizations. Shawn is also a member of the Institute on Disabilities’ Consumer Advisory Committee. Shawn prides himself in being an advocate for people with disabilities and the youth and plans to continue his advocacy in the future.



Photo of Peter Ogik with a blue jacket and tie and wearing a black hat.Peter Ogik is a disability rights activist. Mr. Ogik is on the Board of Directors of Africa Union for Persons with Albinism. He is the Director of Youth and fundraising. Mr. Ogik is also the Executive director and Co-Founder of the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA)  – a non-governmental organization  led  by  persons  with  albinism,  for persons with albinism, based in Jinja, Uganda. He is also on the Board of Directors of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU). Mr Ogik was the first person with albinism to be born into his fishing community. His own experience battling against extreme stigma inspired him to devote his life to practical support for persons with disabilities including those with albinism in his region; and to advocacy and awareness raising at national and international levels.

Mr Ogik is also a musician he has performed in many events including: the Commonwealth Parliamentary Summit in 2019, International Albinism Awareness Day 2020, International Disability Day in 2020, an event organized by The United States International Council on Disabilities ( USICD), and has worked with many artists. In 2016, in collaboration with Standing Voice, he worked with other musicians and artists from across Africa to spark dialogue around albinism in communities across Tanzania.