Featured Presentations & Events

Opening Plenary

Awards Luncheon

Closing Plenary

Opening Plenary

Tuesday, July 9 • 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Preceded by the Welcome Reception, 7:00 pm– 8:00 pm

Conference Welcome

Cathy Raggio B&W Portrait imageCatherine Raggio, well-known in the disability advocacy community, officially began her role as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities in February 2007. Having worked in the disabilities arena for more than 30 years, she brings a wealth of experience to the position. Ms. Raggio was founder and, for a period of 12 years, the Executive Director of Independence Now, the center for independent living (CIL) serving Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council and Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy affiliates in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Ms. Raggio earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Speech Pathology from Bloomsburg University in PA.

Throughout her career, Ms. Raggio’s passion has been to advance the independence and personal power of people with disabilities. She continues this work at the Maryland Department of Disabilities where she has made employment the highest priority.

Section 504 at 40

Judith Heumann B&W Portrait imageThe AHEAD Conference begins with a lively reception to meet colleagues old and new and continues with a keynote presentation to honor 40 years of civil rights and disability activism.

Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She has been appointed Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State under President Obama.

In 1970 Judith and several friends with disabilities founded Disabled in Action, an organization that focused on securing the protection of people with disabilities under civil rights laws. While serving as a legislative assistant to the chairperson of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, in 1974 she helped develop legislation that became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. An early leader in the Independent Living Movement, she then moved to Berkeley where she served as deputy director of the Center for Independent Living. She organized the sit-ins at the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare offices in San Francisco and around the U.S. which resulted in HEW Secretary Joseph Califano signing the Rehabilitation Act’s Section 504 regulations.

John Wodatch B&W Portrait imageJohn Wodatch, retired from the Department of Justice, is a disability rights pioneer who has been instrumental in crafting federal disability rights laws and enforcing those laws for more than 40 years. After years of work in the civil rights arena, he helped to create and implement the first comprehensive regulations on disability discrimination in federal programs in 1973, the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. He joined the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 1980 to lead the Department’s oversight of Section 504, and immediately went to work defending the statute, because the Reagan Administration was working to repeal Section 504 from its beginning.

John was a principal architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act and was asked to lead the new unit that would enforce the ADA. He oversaw the drafting of the rules that would implement the law as we know it today.

Paul Grossman B&W Portrait imageAHEAD holds much affection and respect for Paul Grossman who has been a long-time supporter and contributor to the Association. He has been a popular speaker at AHEAD conferences and workshops for decades, where he makes disability law accessible to DS professionals and college administrators.

Paul just retired from OCR where he had a 40-year and active career investigating and resolving every type of discrimination in education, from segregation to disability access issues. Paul founded the disability law program at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco more than 10 years ago and has been involved with it since then. The issue currently of most interest to him is securing access to a college education for veterans with disabilities returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. On this topic, Paul is currently advising the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and the Office of the Vice President of the United States.

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Awards Luncheon

Friday, July 12 • 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Jim Ferris B&W Portrait imageEvery year, in this enjoyable luncheon setting, AHEAD honors members and friends who have made important contributions to the field of disability and higher education. This year we are pleased to welcome Dr. Jim Ferris, who, as he explains it: bats right, throws right, votes left. He is author of Slouching Towards Guantanamo, Facts of Life, and The Hospital Poems, which Edward Hirsch selected as winner of the Main Street Rag Book Award in 2004. Ferris, who holds a doctorate in performance studies, has performed at the Kennedy Center and across the United States, Canada and Great Britain; recent performance work includes the solo performance piece “Scars: A Love Story.”

Past president of the Society for Disability Studies, he has received awards in poetry as well as creative nonfiction. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, ranging from the Georgia Review to Text & Performance Quarterly, from the Michigan Quarterly Review to weekly newspapers. Ferris holds the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo.

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Closing Plenary

Saturday, July 13 • 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Disability in the News: A Review of Important and Illustrative Cases

Jo Anne Simon – Attorney at Law; Adjunct Associate Professor, Fordham University School of Law

Paul Grossman – Hastings College of Law; Retired Chief Regional Attorney, OCR, San Francisco

After having celebrated 40 years of Section 504, this keynote session–designed specifically for the membership of AHEAD–will review the active year of cases we just had in the Federal Courts given the implementation of ADAAA and accompanying regulations. These cases are instructive as we consider our own campus mission, climate, policies and services to students.