2021 Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Virtual Symposium & Award Celebration


The 2021 TASH Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Symposium and Awards Celebration banner. A gold and purple star against a background of faded pale purple light flares. It includes the detail that it is July 14, 2021, using a virtual online platform.

Virtual Symposium & Award Celebration Details

Wednesday, July 14, 2021
1:00 – 5:00 PM:ET:  Legal Symposium
7:00 – 8:00 PM ET:  Award Celebration

TASH is celebrating those who have made history in the disability field, and who have worked tirelessly in the legal field for equity, opportunity, and inclusion for people with disabilities. TASH is pleased to announce the fifth annual Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Virtual Symposium and Award Celebration, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. This year, owing to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, we have decided to move our in-person event to a virtual platform. A half-day legal symposium will explore Preserving and Restoring Rights, followed by a celebration of Curt Decker for his exceptional leadership in disability law.


About Our Distinguished Honoree – Curt Decker, JD

A portrait of Curt Decker. He has a thin high hairline and horn-rimmed glasses. He is wearing a dark striped suite and a colorful tie in pink and purple stripes.Curt Decker has been affiliated with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) since its inception in 1982. As Executive Director of the nation’s largest non-governmental enforcer of disability rights, Curt oversees all activities related to training and technical assistance, membership services, and legislative advocacy. Before founding NDRN with other P&A Directors, Curt served as Director of the Maryland P&A, Disability Rights Maryland. Curt also served as Director of the H.E.L.P. Resource Project for Abused and Neglected Children, and was a VISTA worker prior to working as a senior attorney for Baltimore Legal Aid Bureau.

Curt is a past chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of over 100 national disability groups, and serves on the boards of Friends of Research. In his career, Curt also served as a legislative consultant for numerous groups, including the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the National Public Law Training Center, and the Maryland Academy of Physician’s Assistants. He is a graduate of Hamilton College and Cornell Law School.


1:00 - 1:15 PM ET

Welcome and Opening Remarks


  • Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, TASH
  • Regina Kline, Founder and CEO, SmartJob, LLC

1:15 - 2:15 PM ET

Panel 1: Restoring Rights: Moving Beyond Guardianship

In a time when the focus of disability policy and services is empowerment and advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities, there remains the practice of guardianship. Guardianship assumes that people with disabilities, especially individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are not competent and unable to make decisions for themselves. We know this is not the case; through supported decision making, Micro boards and other methods, people with even the most significant disabilities are making decisions and living full lives. This panel will explore how to move beyond guardianship including methods that empower people with disabilities to make their own decisions.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE): 1 credit available


  • Morgan K. Whitlatch, Legal Director, Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities


  • Deborah A. Dorfman, J.D., Executive Director, Disability Rights Connecticut
  • Michael Kendrick, Director of Initiatives on Supported Decision-making, Center for Public Representation
  • Ryan and Susie King, Disability Rights Advocate and Parent Advocate

2:15 - 2:30 PM ET Break

2:30 - 3:30 PM ET

Panel 2: Olmstead Enforcement: What's Next?

In its landmark 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with “mental disabilities” have the right to live in the community rather than in institutions and that state and local governments cannot discriminate against people with disabilities by excluding them from participating in government services, programs or activities. The Court cited the ADA’s “community integration mandate” which requires that people with disabilities be given opportunities to live and work in the most appropriate, integrated settings of their choosing. This panel will focus on how state and local governments have progressed in ensuring that people with disabilities are able to live, work and participate in their communities as they see fit.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE): 1 credit available


  • Mathew McCollough, Director, Office of Disability Rights, Government of the District of Columbia


  • Jean N. Bowen, Former Executive Director, Western Connecticut Association for Human Rights
  • Judith A. Gran, Esq., Partner, Reisman Carolla Gran & Zuba, LLC
  • Cheri Mitchell, The Georgia Advocacy Office, Long Road Home Chair, SARTAC

3:30 - 3:45 PM ET Break

3:45 - 4:45 PM ET

Panel 3: From Institutions to Community: The Power of the Protection & Advocacy (P&A) and Self-Advocate Partnerships

Initially focused on safeguarding the well-being of individuals living in institutions, the Protection & Advocacy network (P&A) has broadened authority to provide legal representation and advocacy services to all people with disabilities to help ensure full access to inclusive education, entitlements, healthcare, housing, voting, and competitive/integrated employment (just to name a few), and has been at the forefront of the deinstitutionalization movement. Panelists will discuss how the P&A partners with self-advocates to raise public awareness of legal and social issues affecting individuals with disabilities and how these partnerships have resulted in closures of institutions and the expansion of opportunity, inclusion, and self-determination for people with disabilities.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE): 1 credit available


  • Tia Nelis, Self-Advocate Engagement Coordinator, TASH


  • Curt Decker, J.D., Executive Director, National Disability Rights Network
  • Jack W. Derryberry, Esq., Legal Director, Disability Rights Tennessee
  • Chester Finn, Self-Advocate and Speaker

4:45 - 5:00 PM ET

Closing Remarks


  • Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, TASH
  • Jenny Lengyel, Executive Director, Total Living Concept and President, TASH Board of Directors

Please join us for a lively celebration in honor of Curt Decker's lifetime of work dedicated to the civil and human rights of people with disabilities.

Agenda Forthcoming

A photograph of Jean Bowen. She has white hair parted high to her left. She is wearing a blue cotton shirt and is against a brick wall in a cafeteria.

Jean N. Bowen was Executive Director of the Western Connecticut Association for Human Rights for 29 years, an advocacy organization for individuals with disabilities and their families. Along the way, she organized and advised People First of Connecticut and numerous local chapters along with serving as a National Advisor to Self-Advocates Being Empowered (SABE). Jean has a deep commitment to the individuals who lived in Southbury Training School and represented individuals there for over 20 years. She assisted in the federal court class action, Messier v. STS, by organizing two plaintiff organizations and 10 individual residents as plaintiffs. She developed an inclusive condominium project in Danbury, Connecticut, which provided homeownership to adults with developmental disabilities.

Currently, Jean is a Volunteer Leader in Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Rhode Island and organizes a program to build Safer Communities for Justice to build awareness and cooperation in the community to improve trust in police to solve homicides in Providence, Rhode Island. She chairs her faith community Social Justice Team, is a volunteer for The Womxn Project, Climate Action Rhode Island and The Tomaquag Museum, an arts and advocacy home for the Narragansett indigenous people.

A portrait of Michael Brogioli. He has high grey hair, parted to his left. He is wearing an open collared shirt and a dark suite. He is against a blue speckled photographer's backdrop.

Michael J. Brogioli has served as Executive Director of TASH since 2020. Michael (Mike) brings over twenty years of senior management experience in the nonprofit sector including past leadership positions as executive director of the Autism Coalition for Research and Education, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) and RESNA. Mike also has experience working on Capitol Hill where he served as a Jacob Javits Fellow and legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle. Most recently, Mike worked on an interim basis as a Senior Advisor to Eurasia Programs for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where he advised on programs involving civil society organizations including those that advocate for people with disabilities.

A portrait of Curt Decker. He has a thin high hairline and horn-rimmed glasses. He is wearing a dark striped suite and a colorful tie in pink and purple stripes.

Curt Decker has been affiliated with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) since its inception in 1982. As Executive Director of the nation’s largest non-governmental enforcer of disability rights, Curt oversees all activities related to training and technical assistance, membership services, and legislative advocacy. Before founding NDRN with other P&A Directors, Curt served as Director of the Maryland P&A, Disability Rights Maryland. Curt also served as Director of the H.E.L.P. Resource Project for Abused and Neglected Children, and was a VISTA worker prior to working as a senior attorney for Baltimore Legal Aid Bureau.

Curt is a past chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of over 100 national disability groups, and serves on the boards of Friends of Research. In his career, Curt also served as a legislative consultant for numerous groups, including the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the National Public Law Training Center, and the Maryland Academy of Physician’s Assistants. He is a graduate of Hamilton College and Cornell Law School.

A portrait of Jack Derryberry. He has white hair and beard. He is wearing a pale blue suite and standing against a large green bush.

Jack Derryberry, Esq. received his B.A. in history at Duke University in 1969 and his J.D. at the University of Tennessee in 1972. His practice has consisted of class action litigation on behalf of persons with disabilities, social security disability matters, special education law, TennCare appeals, health care certificates of need and more. He served as counsel in People First of Tennessee v. Arlington Developmental Center and People First of Tennessee v. Clover Bottom Developmental Center. He provided legal services pursuant to John L. v. Adams at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center and New Visions Youth Development Center for the Department of Children's Services from 1992-2007. Before joining Disability Rights Tennessee, Jack worked as a partner in the firm Derryberry & Derryberry in Nashville, Tennessee.

Portrait of Deborah Dorfman. She has dark hair and glasses. The photograph is slightly dark and she has turned her head slightly down and away, though here eyes are looking at the camera. She is in front of a lighter colored shelf of books, further making her stand out.

Deborah Dorfman is currently the executive director of Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT). Prior to working at DRCT, Deborah was the managing attorney for the Everett Field Office of the Northwest Justice Project in Washington state. She has almost 30 years of experience litigating individual and class actions, as well other systemic reform cases, in the areas of disability and related law, with a particular focus on legal issues pertaining to people with intellectual and/or mental health disabilities, including juvenile justice, access to Medicaid and state-funded services and other public benefits, Olmstead and other disability discrimination, special education, prison and jail conditions, abuse and neglect, fair housing, civil commitment, and forensic mental health, among other issues. Deborah has also been an adjunct professor at New York Law School in the Mental Disability Law Online Program and at St. John’s School of Law and has given numerous presentations, nationally and internationally, and published a number of articles on disability rights issues. Deborah received her law degree from New York Law School in 1992. She also has a M.A. in History for New York University and an A.B. in Social Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

A photograph of Chester Finn. He is a black man with short, high salt-and-pepper hair. He is wearing glasses, a grey collared shirt and a course-woven brown suite jacket. Two colorful orange paintings are in the corner of the room behind him.

Chester Finn is an advisor to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS). He served three terms as National President of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) and he is the past President of SANYS. Chester is employed by, but does not speak for, the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (NYS OPWDD).

A portrait of Judith Gran: a woman wearing a pink blazer and pears. She is turned quarter-profile against a brown photographer's backdrop.

Judith A. Gran, Esq. practiced law at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia from 1984 to 2009. She served as Director of Disability Projects from 1998 to 2009. She has conducted class action litigation to obtain community services for institutionalized persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, California, Illinois and Tennessee. Her work as counsel for the Arc of Pennsylvania and the plaintiff class during the implementation phase of the consent decree in Halderman v. Pennhurst from 1986 through 1998 led to significant improvements in community service systems in Philadelphia and other counties. Ms. Gran represents special education students in administrative and judicial proceedings in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states, including the class action suit Gaskin v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a case brought to enforce the least restrictive environment mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that is now in the implementation phase. She is a currently a partner at Reisman Carolla Gran & Zuba LLP.

A photograph of Michael Kendrick. He has high, parted hair, crows feet and a salt-and-pepper beard. He is wearing a suit. The photograph is outdoors against some greenery.

Michael Kendrick is the director of initiatives on supported decision-making at the Center for Public Representation. His work currently consists of five demonstration projects on supported decision-making in Massachusetts and one in Georgia in cooperation with the Georgia Advocacy Office, as well as a technical assistance center for Massachusetts. He has spent the last twenty years in international consulting and prior to that was the Assistant Commissioner for the Massachusetts Developmental Services Department, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Community Development and consultant to the International Initiative On Disability Leadership.

A portrait of Ryan King. He is an African American man with a big smile, bright eyes and a thin mustache, wearing a suite, against a dark blue curtain.

Ryan King is a 38-year-old Washington, D.C. resident who has several challenging disabilities but has lived his life to the fullest by always trying and not giving up. He was born prematurely, causing the following medical conditions: developmental delays in speech, cognitive skills, fine and large motor skills, cerebral palsy, perception deficit, and sickle cell anemia. Making choices and decisions along with wanting to be independent has always been a strong passion for him. He was educated in the D.C. public school system and graduated in 2003. Ryan is self-determined and a strong advocate for himself and others. In October of 2016, he fought to end his guardianship by using the Supportive Decision-Making (SDM) process and won with the guidance of Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities. This win has provided him the opportunity to tell others his story at conferences and training events, being featured in the Washington Post and other national publications. His skills of being an advocate comes from the support of his family and his involvement in the following organizations as a board member: Quality Trust, Lifeline Partnership, and ProjectACTION!. He has been employed for 21 years by Safeway Corporation. For enjoyment he likes cooking, attending sporting events, listening to music, and traveling. Ryan believes in his words of "Don’t judge me before you get to know me".

A portrait of Susie King, an African American woman. She has short hair and rosy cheeks. She is leaning in towards the viewer and wearing a chunky sweater.

Susie King has been a resident of Washington, D.C. since 1971. She is the mother of a daughter and a son and has been married for 48 years. Her early education was in Charleston, South Carolina. Secondary education was at Wilberforce University, where she received a B.A. degree in sociology in 1971 and a M.A. degree in teaching from Federal City College (now University of the District of Columbia) in 1975. In 2009, she retired from the District of Columbia Department of Human Services, Family Services Administration after 30 years of employment. As a result of her son having developmental disabilities, she became an advocate for persons with disabilities and is presently affiliated with the following organizations: ProjectACTION!, and Lifeline Partnership (board member since 2009 and former President and Vice-President). She previously served on the following boards: D.C. Parents and Friends of Children with Special Needs for 29 years and D.C .Developmental Disabilities Council for six years. In addition to advocating, she enjoys reading, traveling, helping the elderly, collecting antiques and art.

A photograph of Regina Kline: She is smiling largely with curly blond hair down her left shoulder. She is wearing a purple blazer.

Regina “Gina” Kline is an entrepreneur, civil rights lawyer, and thought leader dedicated to building the future of work by advancing the rights and interests of people with disabilities as innovators, workers, business owners, and consumers. As Founder and CEO of Smart Job, LLC, Gina leads the first global company singularly focused on closing the disability wealth gap through impact investment. Gina is nationally known for her litigation and policy work in advancing the rights of people with disabilities to move from sub-minimum wage and segregated employment to competitive integrated employment. She previously served as Senior Counsel in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she provided legal and policy counsel regarding efforts to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C.’s mandate for community integration in employment, education, law enforcement/criminal justice, homelessness, and health care.

A color portrait of Jennifer Lengyel. She is smiling with pursed lips. She has straight, shoulder-length brown hair, a red shirt with a white undershirt, and a thin golden necklace.The background has large slanted windows with bright light streaming in.

Jennifer Lengyel is the President of the TASH Board of Directors and the Executive Director of Total Living Concept in Kent, Washington, a person centered agency supporting over 70 individuals in different capacities to live, work and become valued community members. She has been working and advocating for individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes for the last 24 years.

A portrait of Cheri Mitchell. Her shoulders are turned 3/4 and she is looking slightly left of straight-on. She is wearing a black collared shirt and her glasses up on her head. You can see the back of her power chair and a paining in the background.

Cheri Mitchell is first and foremost a Self-Advocate. She has spent the last twenty years working on behalf of people with disabilities and people who are elderly, and mentoring and supporting self-advocates across Georgia and the nation. She is dedicated to helping people get out of nursing facilities and back into the community and helping people find housing. She has worked at the Georgia P&A, the Georgia Advocacy Office, for nearly fifteen years. She is a member of the Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) Advisory Committee and the TASH Self-Advocacy Committee. She is a successful national grassroots organizer and serves as the National Chair of the Long Road Home campaign - an initiative to celebrate the successes gained through the implementation of the Olmstead decision and to point to work that still remains to be done. Cheri is a former President of People First of Georgia, a cross-disability organization, a former Chair of the NDRN Self-Advocacy Committee, and served on the NDRN Program Advisory Committee. She is a seasoned public speaker and social justice poet, writing and artist from the disability experience. Cheri loves making a difference and helping people find their voice.

A portrait of Matthew McCollough. He has spikey black hair and a big smile. He is wearing a black suite and a gray and silver shirt and tie. His is standing against a pale wood paneled wall. The arm of a person out of frame is around his shoulder.

Mathew McCollough, a Filipino American with developmental disabilities, is currently the Director for the District of Columbia Office of Disability Rights (ODR), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance office for the District Government. Previously, Mr. McCollough served as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Developmental Disabilities Council, the Communications Manager for the DC Office of Disability Rights and a Grants Manager and Trainer with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and for the National Service Inclusion Project. Mr. McCollough has served on several boards and commissions and including the Chair of the District of Columbia State Rehabilitation Council, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Health Equity Council and the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights. In 2016, he was elected Board President of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the Association’s first President with developmental disabilities. In 2016, he was inducted in the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. Mr. McCollough was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 and 2015 to serve on the United States Access Board, an independent Federal agency devoted to establishing accessibility standards. He received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from James Madison University.

A color portrait of Tia Nelis. She has long dark hair parted high on her head. She is wearing a maroon shirt and sitting in a beige high-backed chair.

Tia Nelis is the Self-advocacy Coordinator for TASH. She comes to TASH after serving as a Self-Advocacy Specialist at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center within the Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago. She also is one of the past chairperson of the National Organization of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). She founded and successfully promoted People First of Illinois, where she served as president. Tia, a long-time member of TASH, has received the Burton Blatt Award, awarded by the Illinois TASH chapter, as well as the Elizabeth Boggs award from the President’s Committee. Tia has drawn on experiences relating to her own disability in promoting and demonstrating the benefits of empowerment for people with disabilities. She has wide experience in conducting training and advocating for progressive polices with legislators and public officials.

A photograph of Morgan Whitlatch. A woman with half-up red curly hair. She is wearing a blue suite with a complicate pattern. In the background is a silver body of water and further back a city skyline.

Morgan K. Whitlatch is the Legal Director of Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, a non-profit advocacy organization advancing the interests of people with developmental disabilities since 2002. Morgan has devoted her legal career to working with and on behalf of people with disabilities in matters involving capacity, guardianship and alternatives, and the right to self-determination; community integration; living life free from abuse and neglect; and accessing public benefits and services. She leads systemic policy, practice, and training initiatives, including those of the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making and the Jenny Hatch Justice Project. Prior to joining QT in 2009, Morgan was an attorney at Disability Rights Rhode Island. She has been recognized by Georgetown University, Human Rights Action - Amnesty International, as making outstanding contributions through her work as a human rights practitioner. She graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, and with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Wesleyan University. She is a member of the Disability Rights Bar Association.

Continuing Legal Education (CLEs)

American University Washington College of Law is pleased to offer Continuing Legal Education credit for the Fifth Annual Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Symposium. The list below contains state-by-state CLE accreditation information. Please note that attorneys may earn CLE credit through reciprocity or self-submission from mandatory CLE states not specifically listed below. If you have any questions about CLE, please contact us at cle@wcl.american.edu.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit:

  • Total 60-minute hours: 3.0
  • Total 50-minute hours: 3.5
MCLE State General CLE Accreditation Status
California 3.0 Pending
Florida Pending
Georgia 3.0 Pending
Illinois 3.0 Pending
New Jersey Pending
New York 3.5 Pending
Pennsylvania 3.0 Pending
Tennessee 3.0 Pending
Virginia 3.0 Pending
Washington Pending

Ticket Pricing

Below are the ticket prices for our virtual Legal Symposium and Award Celebration:

Professional with CLEs $285
Professional $95
Student $60
Self-Advocate/Family/Retired $45

Continuing Legal Education, or CLE, is a system of ongoing professional education for attorneys that takes place after their admission to the bar.


Sponsorship & Advertisement Opportunities

As a sponsor of TASH’s Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Virtual Symposium & Award Celebration, your organization will be given a platform to share its story and build brand awareness. Attendees include thought leaders, professionals, policymakers, self-advocates and more! Your investment helps further TASH’s impact on the lives of people with disabilities and helps ensure that they’ll live a life of full inclusion. View our sponsorship and advertisement prospectus.

Become a Sponsor