2022 Speakers

Jairo Arana’s journey in self-advocacy began after being diagnosed late in life with autism and taking a 3-day intensive pipeline leadership training program. That step led him to becoming more involved in self-advocacy and participating in LEND. He started out as a part-time consultant at UM Mailman Center for Child Development and was hired full-time in 2017m where he assists in his LEND/UCEDD’s pipeline leadership program.



Image of older white male with gray hair wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera.Dr. Daniel Armstrong is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, with multiple leadership roles related to child health at the University of Miami and the Holtz Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital Center at the UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, including Executive Vice Chair for the Department of Pediatrics, Director of the Mailman Center for Child Development (UCEDD), Co-director of the University of Miami Sickle Cell Center, Program Director of the University of Miami’s Masters of Science in Clinical And Translational Investigations, and co-leader of the Biobehavioral Oncology Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. On the hospital side, Dr. Armstrong is Associate Chief of Staff for the Holtz Children’s Hospital.


Image of a white woman with shoulder length hair wearing a sweater and blouse smiling at the camera.Dr. Kara Ayers  is the Associate Director and an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD). She is Director of the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities and also a member of the Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI). Dr. Ayers’ interests include disability identity/culture, bioethics, disabled parenting, community inclusion, and the use of media to teach, empower, and reduce stigma. Dr. Ayers infuses the mantra, “Nothing about us without us,” into all of her scholarly and community-based pursuits.


Andrés J. Gallegos was designated as the Chairman of the National Council on Disability by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the afternoon of his inauguration on January 20, 2021. Andrés concentrates his practice on disability rights and healthcare law.  He founded and is the Chair of the RD’s disability rights practice, where the firm’s main emphasis is to improve access to healthcare and wellness programs for persons across all types of disabilities, across the country. To attain accessible healthcare services for persons with disabilities and effectuate systemic change, our firm utilizes a three-prong approach of: education (for consumers and providers); advocacy; litigation, when required.


Dr. Anjali J. Forber-Pratt has joined ACL as the director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Dr. Forber-Pratt began her research career in 2006, and her primary area of expertise is disability identity development. Prior to joining ACL, she served as an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University. In addition to teaching courses and serving as a mentor to undergraduate students and thesis advisor for candidates for master’s and doctoral degrees, she served as principal investigator for research projects covering a range of disability issues, including training of special education teachers, experiences of students with disabilities at every education level, and identity development. She has authored 33 peer-reviewed journal articles and is the author or co-author of a number of textbook chapters.


Kevin Kling is a well-known playwright and storyteller, and his commentaries can be heard on NPR’s All Things Considered. His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world. He lives in Minneapolis. Kevin Kling, best known for his popular commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his storytelling stage shows like Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log, delivers hilarious, often tender stories.  Kling’s autobiographical tales are as enchanting as they are true to life: hopping freight trains, getting hit by lightning, performing his banned play in Czechoslovakia, growing up in Minnesota, and eating things before knowing what they are.


Gloria Krahn, Gloria Krahn, a past President of the AUCD Board, is one of the nation’s leading public health experts. For many years, she served as the director of the Division of Human Development and Disability in the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Earlier in her career, she held several positions at the Oregon Health & Science University, including professor of pediatrics in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and director of the Oregon Institute on Disability & Development/University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She also held academic positions at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University and the University of Pittsburgh.


Image Description: Headshot photo of John Tschida, a smiling man with glasses, graying brown hair and goatee, wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and red and blue patterned tie.John Tschida, MPP 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.