Executive Director, Harmony Home
Bio: Carol McKinney began working with people with developmental disabilities in 1976 when she was a high school volunteer in a Special Day Class. It was during that time Carol realized her lifework would be to advocate for and provide services to people with developmental disabilities. Carol’s plan was to teach; however, while working her way through college as an aide in a Special Day Class she realized the classroom was not for her; the community was where she wanted to be. Carol co-founded Harmony Home, Associated in 1982. Carol’s education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies, with an emphasis on Special Education, from San Francisco State University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from St. Mary’s College. Carol’s past and present professional affiliations include the Contra Costa County Developmental Disabilities Council, Regional Center of the East Bay Provider/Vendor Advisory Council, Mt. Diablo Adult Education On Track Advisory Committee, California Disability Services Association, Co-Chair of the California Supported Living Network (CSLN), Co-Chair of Governmental Affairs for CSLN, California Association of Non-Profits, and California Chamber of Commerce.
Esme Grant Grewal
Senior Director of Government Relations, ANCOR
Bio: Esmé Grant Grewal is ANCOR’s Senior Director of Government Relations. In this role, she works with the Government Relations Committee and ANCOR GR team on all legislative and policy priorities and leads the organization’s relationships with Congress and the Administration. Prior to this role, Esmé served as the Director of Public Policy for the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), where she worked with all State Councils on Developmental Disabilities on federal advocacy and policy priorities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has past appointments with the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law and as Chair of the American Branch of International Law Association’s Disability Committee. Esmé is Co-Chair of both the Developmental Disabilities, Autism and Family Support Task Force and International Task Force for the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of over 100 leading national disability organizations based in Washington, DC. Prior to joining NACDD, Esmé led the Disability Rights Program for the U.S. International Council on Disabilities and worked extensively with former Congressman and Majority Whip, Tony Coelho. Esmé has served the San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Disability where she had the opportunity to participate in implementation of the City’s ADA Transition Plan. As an attorney and member of the California Bar Association, she has published multiple law reviews on various topics of disability law. She is a past Board Member of Quality Trust. She is a proud sibling to a brother and sister with developmental disabilities.
Executive Director, National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)
Bio: Joseph M. Macbeth is the Executive Director at the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years - beginning as a Direct Support Professional. Macbeth is recognized as a national leader in the advocacy and advancement the direct support profession and is a highly sought after speaker on the workforce crisis affecting human service provider organizations. He has co-authored the series of publications titled "Voices from the Frontlines", produced an award winning Realistic Job Preview titled "Working as a Direct Support Professional: We Get It Done", and has partnered with the State University of New York (SUNY) and assisted more than 500 direct support professionals advance their college education through the "Disability Studies Certificate". He currently sits on the board of directors for the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL), the College of Direct Support and Relias Learning's National Advisory Boards and most recently was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Member of the Advisory Council for the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Macbeth is also involved with AIEJI, an international organization based in Denmark that promotes the work of social educators. He lives in Albany and Inlet, NY.
Consultant and Code of Ethics National Trainer and Facilitator, NADSP
Bio: John Raffaele is a New York State Licensed Master Social Worker and an experienced professional educator and trainer, specifically in the field of human services. John's graduate education is from Yeshiva University in New York City and SUNY New Paltz, NY. Most of his career, however, stems from more than two decades spent with direct support professionals and the people they serve, and over that time, he has educated thousands in the NADSP Code of Ethics and Competencies. Most of the people with whom he has worked and supported over the last 25 years are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youth. He lives in Woodstock, NY.
Executive Director, Southern California Housing Collaborative
Bio: Nathan is responsible for all aspects of locating and developing affordable housing. Nathan meets with local housing authorities, development agencies, potential lenders, potential development partners, and staff and elected governmental officials to discuss the need and funding for affordable housing and SCHC's role in providing such housing. Prior to joining SCHC, Nathan worked as an independent life and health insurance broker for fourteen years in San Diego. He has been actively involved with insurance associations such as the San Diego Association of Health Underwriters and the California Association of Health Underwriters. Nathan has also been a member of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of San Diego and has supported the BIA's related nonprofit organization, BIA Cares, which is a volunteer based organization supporting projects and services that assist needy San Diegans. Nathan has a child with Cerebral Palsy and, as Executive Director of the Southern Housing Collaborative; he is able to further his passion of helping those with developmental disabilities.
Self Advocate, Self Advocate
Bio: Stephen Hinkle has been speaking around the country for over 13 years in the fields of Autism, Inclusive Education, and Disability Policy. Stephen obtained a Master’s degree in Special Education with emphasis in Disability Policy Studies from Northern Arizona University in 2011. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2007 from San Diego State University. Stephen has previously worked in the Information Technology field specializing in technical support and distance learning.
Stephen graduated from high school in 1997 with a standard diploma and was mostly in regular classes since 4th grade. When Stephen was diagnosed with Autism, his parents were told by a psychiatrist to institutionalize him. He was never institutionalized and was raised as a normal child with special needs. Stephen is very talented in the field of technology and has been able to program a computer since he was four years old.
During Stephen's life, it has been an uphill battle to advocate the public education system to meet his needs which was a challenge for his parents. Stephen spends his time training teachers and parents to help people with special needs succeed. He also works to help school systems, advocacy organizations, and others adopt better policies and methods to improve the success rates of people with special needs and reduce the culture of poverty and loneliness that many with special needs experience growing up.
Today, Stephen makes his home in San Diego, CA. In past years, he has lived in Flagstaff, AZ, El Paso, TX, Alamogordo, NM, Mesa, AZ, Indianapolis, IN, Virginia Beach, VA, and Dallas, TX. He has one brother, Scott.
Bio: Christina Elliott began her new post as Executive Director of the California ABLE Act Board July 1, 2016, most recently serving as the Acting Executive Director of the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board, which is also chaired by California State Treasurer John Chiang. In that capacity, she oversaw the work of developing a groundbreaking retirement savings program for 6.8 million Californians who do not have access to retirement savings plans at work.
Prior to joining California Secure Choice, Ms. Elliott held various leadership roles at the California Public Employees Retirement System, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California State Board of Equalization.
Ms. Elliott also serves as a County Commissioner on the First 5 Sacramento Commission where she is able to marry her passions for public service and for the needs of young children in Sacramento County. Ms. Elliott received a Bachelor’s Degree in government journalism from California State University, Sacramento and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. In 2016, Ms. Elliott was one of the award recipients of Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 under 40” award.
Diana Pastora Carson
Bio: Diana Pastora Carson is a teacher, author, disability rights advocate, and a consultant and speaker on inclusion and diversity as it relates to disability. And just as she did as a child, Diana seeks to include her brother in the world.
Bio: Joaquin Carson has survived segregated education, social isolation, and lack of understanding amidst his communication attempts. The experience of being disabled by "fences" (his environment), more than his autism, continues to inspire the work of his sister. Joaquin has lived in a state institution twice in his lifetime due to mistaken judgments about his personhood and lack of dignifying responses to his existence. After 3 years of fighting for his freedom, Joaquin is finally living...in the community, in a home of his own, with loving neighbors, including his sister.
Bio: Patti has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 40 years working in Intermediate Care Facilities, State Operated Group Homes, Day Programs, a Supported Living Agency and housing non-profits.
Patti is principal of Uplinger Consulting and is the Coordinator for Lanterman Housing Alliance.
Patti worked as the Individual Housing Assistance Program Coordinator and Deputy Director for North Bay Housing Coalition. She currently is the Executive Director for Housing Now. Both agencies are non-profit organizations that locate and maintain affordable housing for Californian’s with developmental disabilities.
Patti served on the Board of Directors for the Sacramento Housing Alliance for 9 years. Being on the Board was an avenue to partner with other social service agencies and non-profit housing developers.
Patti was appointed by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to serve on the Developmental Disabilities Planning and Advisory Committee for Sacramento County and currently is the Chairperson.
Patti has been a speaker at different conferences: Supported Life, Housing California, California Supported Living Network, Partners in Policy Making, Pride Transition Fair, The ARC of California Policy Program and different Alta California Regional Center advocacy and advisory groups.
CEO, STEP, Inc.
Director of Community Services, Toolworks