Tawara Goode, MA, is an associate 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 over 30 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 Director of the Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and focuses on national level efforts to advance and sustain cultural and linguistic competence as evidence-based policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in this field.

Emmanuel Jenkins is the founder of a nonprofit organization called We Stand 4 Something. His organization supports individuals with disabilities and their families. Emmanuel is currently employed by the state of Delaware, where he works full-time for the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council, as a Community Relations Officer. Emmanuel serves on many Boards and Commissions, locally and nationally. He is the chair of the state of Delaware’s Rehabilitation Council, the chair of the Delaware Employment First Oversight Commission, and the vice chair of the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Services Advisory Committee. Emmanuel graduated from the Partners in Policymaking program in 2014. Emmanuel recently became a member of the Advisory Committee for the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance. He is also the chair of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) Self-Advocacy Committee. After completing his LEND cohort Emmanuel Became a LEND Faculty Member for the University of Delaware, Self Advocacy Discipline. Emmanuel married his wife and 2009. He is the proud father of a 17-year-old boy a.k.a. almost a man. Emmanuel is also a motivational speaker with over 20 years of experience. Emmanuel hopes to hold a seat in Congress in the near future.

Sandy Magaña, PhD, MSW, holds the Professorship in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. She received a Master of Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino and her Ph.D. from the Heller Graduate School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. Magaña completed post-doctoral training from the NICHD funded Post-Doctoral Program in Developmental Disabilities Research at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a faculty member in the UW-Madison School of Social Work for 12 years and later served as a Professor at the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At SHSSW, Magaña is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS) and Director of the Autism Consortium of Texas Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and other Related Disabilities (ACT LEND). Magaña’s research focus is on the cultural context of families who care for persons with disabilities across the life course. Her current research includes investigating racial and ethnic disparities among children with autism and developmental disabilities and developing culturally relevant interventions to address these disparities. She has received funding for her research from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

Photo of Dr. Carol Salas Pagan wearing a white shirt with red dots as she smiles at cameraCarol Salas Pagán, PsyD, is the President of the AUCD Board of Directors. Dr. Carol Salas Pagan has been the Director of Puerto Rico University Center for Excellence in Education, Research and Service on Developmental Disabilities, PR/UCEDD, since November 2015, and before that, she was the Associate Director for almost three years. A Doctor in Clinical Psychology and previously a PR/UCEDD trainee, she also graduated 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.

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 of 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.

Bob Williams (he/him) helped co-found CommunicationFIRST in 2019, after retiring from a distinguished four-decade career in federal and state government and the nonprofit sector, most recently as Director of the US Independent Living Administration at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He is a nationally recognized leader on policy issues relating to supporting people with the most significant disabilities to live, work, and thrive in their own homes and communities. When Mr. Williams was born with significant cerebral palsy in the 1950s, his parents were told to put him in a state institution and to never look back. His parents rejected that advice; he did not enter that institution until he was an adult assisting with the lawsuit that closed it down. As a teenager, he led a successful strike of students in his segregated special education class to fight for equal educational opportunities and inclusion in regular education classes. After graduating with a degree in Urban Affairs from George Washington University, he joined the team appointed to monitor the closure of Forest Haven, the District of Columbia’s institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, advocating on behalf of 120 residents with complex communication, developmental, and health needs. Mr. Williams has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of HHS for Disability, Aging, and Long Term Care Policy, and Commissioner of the US Administration of Developmental Disabilities. He was HHS Secretary Donna Shalala’s principal advisor on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and he co-led the task force that developed the US government’s successful arguments in the Olmstead v. LC case before the US Supreme Court. Subsequently, he led HHS’s efforts to facilitate state implementation of the Olmstead decision to reduce the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities and ensure they receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. He lives with his wife, Helen Rader, in Southwest Washington, DC, where they enjoy visits with the grandkids, walking along the riverfront, Netflix binges, and all things Springsteen.