2022 Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Virtual Symposium & Award Celebration

Event Details

Wednesday, July 13, 2022
1:00 – 5:00 PM:ET:  Legal Symposium
7:00 – 8:00 PM ET:  Award Celebration

Each year, TASH celebrates 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 sixth annual Outstanding Leadership in Disability Law Virtual Symposium and Award Celebration, on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. A half-day legal symposium will explore, From Solid Foundations Come Strong Supports, followed by a celebration of Michael S. Lottman for his exceptional leadership in disability law.

About Our Distinguished Honoree – Michael S. Lottman, JD

A portrait of Michael Lottman. He has silver-rimmed glasses and a lopsided smile. He is wearing a brown suite, pale green shirt and a yellow tie.Michael Lottman began his long career in mental and developmental disability law in 1973 when he joined the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and was promptly assigned as the government’s lead attorney in the historic lawsuit against the infamous Willowbrook State School. This led to a flurry of hearings, a trial on the merits, and extended negotiations alongside the great Bruce Ennis and others which resulted in the landmark Willowbrook Consent Judgment (1975). After this settlement was reached, Mr. Lottman was selected to serve with six others on the part-time Willowbrook Review Panel, a monitoring body which he had helped to design.  Later, changing hats, he became the lead plaintiffs’ attorney for a time and continued to participate in various compliance activities until a permanent (misnomer) injunction was entered in 1993.

Inspired by the Willowbrook experience, which he always considered the high point of his career … [Read More]

Legal Symposium Opening Remarks

A photograph of Alison Barkoff. She has short, dark, curly hair, bright eyes and a crooked smile. She is wearing a dark blazer and a necklace and is against a neutral photographer's background.Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator, Administration for Community Living (ACL) and Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging

Award Celebration Keynote Presentation

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion – A Conversation with Katherine “Katy” Neas and Sachin Dev Pavithran, Ph.D., moderated by Regina “Gina” Kline, Esq.

An official U.S. Government portrait of Katherine NeasKatherine Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education

A portrait of Sachin Dev Pavithran. He has a crooked smile and is wearing a dark suite. The hedgerow and marble of a government building are behind him. The handle end of his white cane is slightly in frame.Sachin Dev Pavithran, Ph.D., Executive Director, United States Access Board


1:00 - 1:15 PM ET

Welcome and Opening Remarks


  • Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, TASH
  • Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging, Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living
  • Mathew McCollough, Director, Office of Disability Rights, Government of the District of Columbia

Recording of Alison Barkoff's opening keynote address.

1:15 - 2:15 PM ET

Meeting the Challenge – Making Community Living a Reality

All people have the right to live and participate in the community of their choosing. Panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities to true community living, including issues around housing, implementation of the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver and systems reform of Day Habilitation services.


  • Judith A Gran, Esq., Partner, Reisman Carolla Gran & Zuba LLP


  • Jennifer Lengyel, Executive Director, Total Living Concept and President, TASH Board of Directors
  • Michael S. Lottman, JD, Attorney
  • Ricardo and Donna Thornton, Advocates

Recording of Session One.

2:15 - 2:30 PM ET Break

2:30 - 3:30 PM ET

Using Our Voice – Protecting Voting Rights

People with disabilities and other marginalized communities face growing threats to voting access and rights. Panelists will explore legislative and litigation efforts to address this threat, including through PAVA, Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access, as well as self-advocacy initiatives to inform and empower voters are disabled.


  • Hezzy Smith, Esq., Director of Advocacy Initiatives, Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD)


  • David T. Hutt, Ph.D., Deputy Executive Director for Legal Services and General Counsel, NDRN
  • Cheri Mitchell, Self-Advocate, The Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc.
  • Rebecca S. Williford, Esq., Deputy Director of Litigation, Disability Rights Advocates

Recording of Session Two.

3:30 - 3:45 PM ET Break

3:45 - 4:45 PM ET

Closing the Gap – Advancing Inclusive Education

Students with disabilities, including those with the most significant support needs, should be educated in general education classrooms alongside their nondisabled peers. Panelists will explore issues around the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA) to advance integrated education where all schools have high expectations for all students.


  • Frank Laski, Esq., Attorney


  • Mary A. Falvey, Ph.D., Emeriti Professor California State University, Los Angeles
  • Tia Nelis, Self-Advocacy Engagement Coordinator, TASH
  • Barbara E. Ransom, Esq., Attorney, Law Office of Barbara E. Ransom

Recording of Session Three.

4:45 - 5:00 PM ET

Closing Remarks


  • Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, TASH
  • Mathew McCollough, Director, Office of Disability Rights, Government of the District of Columbia
Please join us for a lively celebration in honor of Michael S. Lottman's lifetime of work dedicated to the civil and human rights of people with disabilities.
7:00 – 7:05 PM ET

Welcome and Evening Overview

Michael Brogioli, Executive Director, TASH
Emcee: Regina Kline, Founder & Managing Partner of Enable Ventures and Founder & Chair, SmartJob

7:05 – 7:25 PM ET Keynote Presentation: Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion – A Conversation with Katherine “Katy” Neas and Sachin Dev Pavithran, Ph.D.

7:25 – 7:55 PM ET

Celebrating Michael S. Lottman, J.D.

Presenter: Brian J. Dion, MPA, Chief Development Officer, Community Options; Treasurer, TASH Board of Directors

7:55 – 8:00 PM ET

Closing Remarks

Jennifer Lengyel, Executive Director, Total Living Concept and President, TASH Board of Directors

A photograph of Alison Barkoff. She has short, dark, curly hair, bright eyes and a crooked smile. She is wearing a dark blazer and a necklace and is against a neutral photographer's background.

Alison Barkoff is currently serving as ACL’s Acting Administrator and as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging.

A sibling of an adult brother with developmental disabilities and a civil rights attorney, Alison is a lifelong advocate for community living – both professionally and personally – and has been at the forefront of national efforts to expand the home and community-based services that make it possible.

As part of countless coalitions of people with disabilities, older adults, and advocates, she has fought to uphold the rights of people with disabilities and older adults and ensure their access to health care, housing, employment, education, and all other facets of American life. She has testified before Congress and the US Commission on Civil Rights on disability rights and community living.

She has served in a variety of leadership roles with disability rights organizations, including leading advocacy efforts at the Center for Public Representation and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

She also is a veteran of the federal government. As Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, she led efforts to enforce the rights of people with disabilities to live, work and fully participate in their communities. She also led interagency initiatives with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Medicaid HCBS and with the Department of Labor on direct care workforce issues

She has brought that same focus on collaboration and coordination to her current role. Under her leadership, ACL is working with partners across HHS and the federal government on initiatives and interagency approaches to issues that affect people with disabilities and older adults, such as expanding access to HCBS and affordable, accessible housing; strengthening the direct care workforce; increasing competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities; and advancing equity, to name just a few.

A portrait of Brion Dion

Brian Dion has been a resident of Pennsylvania for over 11 years.

He has 40 years of experience as an Advocate, Volunteer, DSP, State-appointed Intellectual Disability official in three states including Pennsylvania, and as a nonprofit Executive. He has made it his mission to assist several states in moving folks out of state-run facilities and children out of residential treatment faculties, into small community settings over the years.

He has been on the TASH national board as Treasurer for five years.

He is currently the Chief Development Officer with a national non-profit organization that supports folks with Intellectual Disabilities in 11 states and serves as a Consultant for Iowa, overseeing the closure of a 150-bed facility.

A tight-in portrait of Mary Flavey

Mary A. Falvey, Ph.D. is an Emeriti Professor and former Dean of the Charter College of Education California State University, Los Angeles. She has advocated for hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities to be educated alongside their nondisabled peers while receiving the supports and services to be successful, she is the parent of an adult son with learning disabilities and the aunt of a 31-year-old man with Down syndrome and autism. She has written, edited, and contributed to journal articles and chapters in over 11 journals, 18 books, and has written four books.

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 portrait of David Hutt

David T. Hutt, Ph.D. directs and oversees the 12 staff members of the NDRN Legal Services Unit who provide assistance on a range of legal rights and management issues which impact persons with disabilities and the federally created Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system. Dr. Hutt has a range of expertise in disability rights issues which includes employment discrimination law, guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, vocational rehabilitation, and various federal and state enforcement mechanism. He assists the Protection and Advocacy system with authorities under the P&A enabling acts, standing in federal court, lobbying issues, legal ethics, abuse and neglect investigations and monitoring, and human trafficking. Dr. Hutt has a long history of working with various coalitions and partners, and most recently lead efforts to organize the Fourth National Guardianship Summit held in May 2021.

Prior to his current role, Dr. Hutt was involved in international disability rights issues, and led the research and writing of four reports for the National Council on Disability published between 2018 and 2021 on the enforcement of federal disability rights law and the federal AbilityOne program. He previously managed the development of the first Social Security Representative Payee Review Project and provided training and technical assistance to the Client Assistance Program. Prior to joining NDRN, Dr. Hutt was a staff attorney at Legal Services of Central New York representing clients in employment discrimination, vocational rehabilitation, consumer debt, and accessibility cases, including a federal trial under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He earned a B.A. from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and holds a J.D. and Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is licensed to practice law in New York State and the District of Columbia.

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, Esq. 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 portrait of Frank Laksi: he has dark grey hair parted at one side, and glasses. He is wearing a suite and tie.

Frank J. Laski, Esq. is former Executive Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, served as Director of Disability Projects for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, is Past President of TASH and served as its Executive Director pro tem (1994). Mr. Laski is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the University of Massachusetts. Currently Frank is engaged in a public interest law practice exclusively focused on representation of people with disabilities and their organizations. He has an extensive record in litigating cases brought to enforce the rights of people with disabilities including systems reform cases such as: Conn. ARC v. Thorne, Jackson v. Fort Stanton Hospital & Training School, Homeward Bound v. Hissom Memorial Center, Halderman v. Pennhurst, People First of Tenn. v. Arlington Developmental Center, U.S. v. Tennessee, Rosie D. v. Romney and Rolland v. Romney.

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 has spent the last 29 years working with and for individuals who experience I/DD. She is currently the Executive Director of Total Living Concept in Kent, Washington. She is a passionate advocate for social change and equity for individuals who experience disabilities. Before moving to Washington, Jennifer worked in a variety of positions over 23 years at Jay Nolan Community Services, working to shut down congregate facilities and provide individualized supports in living, employment, and recreation. She is currently the President of the TASH Board of Directors. First and foremost Jennifer is a mother of 2 beautiful children and a wife to a loving partner.

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 a self-advocate and has 20 years working for people with disabilities and the elderly. She working with self-advocates nationally, and helps people get out of nursing facilities and back into the community and find housing. Cheri is a seasoned public speaker, writer, and artist. She is a successful national grassroots organizer and serves as the National Chair of the Long Road Home campaign &ndaash; 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. She has worked at the Georgia P&A, the Georgia Advocacy Office, for nearly 17 years and has been the HAVA coordinator and a staff advocate. Cheri was on the SARTAC advisory board for five years.

Official government portrait of Katherine Neas. She has dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. She is wearing a ribbed, cream-colored shirt. Behind her are the United States flag and a flag with the seal of the Department of Education

Katherine "Katy" Neas serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, at the U.S. Department of Education. In this capacity, she serves as advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to the education of children and youth with disabilities, as well as employment and community living for youth and adults with disabilities.

Neas previously served as senior vice president of public affairs at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) overseeing federal and state government public policy activities, federal regulatory affairs, grassroots and political action efforts, public relations along with payment and practice management activities. Prior to joining APTA, Neas spent 23 years at Easterseals, a national nonprofit provider of direct services to children and adults with disabilities and their families. She also was legislative staff to Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D.-Iowa) of the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy between 1987 and 1991, where she worked on all disability legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Picture of Tia Nelis. A woman with long brown hair wearing a maroon sweater

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 portrait of Sachin Dev Pavithran. He has a crooked smile and is wearing a dark suite. The hedgerow and marble of a government building are behind him. The handle end of his white cane is slightly in frame.

Sachin Dev Pavithran, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Access Board. In this role, Pavithran oversees research funded by the Access Board that supports the development of rules and voluntary guidelines in the areas of transportation, information communication and technology, the built environment, and outdoor recreation. With over twenty years of direct involvement in development, testing, and training for assistive technology, Pavithran has given lectures and training in accessible information technology for individuals and groups, as well as assisted in the evaluation of products related to web accessibility and design. Pavithran also has extensive experience working with the higher education community in providing access to instructional materials to facilitate transitioning from K – 12 to post-secondary education into the workforce. As a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Pavithran has presented and provided training in the U.S. and worldwide, including in the United Arab Emirates, India, Egypt, Syria, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and Mexico.

A photograph of Barbara Ransom, an African-American woman smiling with narrow eyes, short black hair with silver streaks parted with bangs. She is wearing a white shirt with a collar and a beige jacket. In the background is a large shelf of pale yellow law books with red and black stripes on the spines.

Barbara E. Ransom, Esq. received her B.S.Ed. in 1971 with the thought that she would do what she had been born to do — be a teacher — for the rest of her life. Barbara applied her teaching credentials to almost every level of education — wisely leaving the middle school experience to more stalwartly comrades. For more than a quarter of a century, Barbara has represented individuals, classes and advocacy organizations in the pursuit of ensuring that persons with disabilities receive rights secured through the U.S. Constitution, Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and various state constitutions and civil rights laws. Recognizing that our nation has been made richer for its ability to fashion laws that value the humanity and potential in each of us, Barbara has used these laws to the best of her ability to ensure that school districts, state and local public servants, businesses — and even some opposing counsel and judges — remain mindful of the soul of America.

A portrait of Hezzy Smith. He has dark receded hair and a dark beard. He is wearing an open collared white shirt with a brick wall in the background.

Hezzy Smith, Esq. is a trilingual attorney, a proud sibling, and Director of Advocacy Initiatives. He's responsible for much of HPOD’s self-advocacy programming. He has worked closely with self-advocacy and disabled peoples' organizations both in the United States and abroad to advocate, research, and produce awareness-raising materials. His Spanish, English, and Bangla language materials have shaped disability rights strategic litigation and important decisions by national and regional courts, and his disability rights scholarship has appeared in collections published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, as well as both U.S. and international law reviews.

A photograph of Ricardo and Donna Thornton. Ricardo is a black man with a shaved head and a large smile. Donna is a white woman with grey hair and glasses. Ricardo leans into the frame and rests his hands on Donna's shoulders.

Ricardo and Donna Thornton are active strong self-advocates in the Nation’s Capital. They married almost 40 years ago and have a son, Ricky, who is now in his mid-30s, is married, and the father of three, making Ricardo and Donna very proud involved grandparents. Ricardo is Co-President of the District’s self-advocacy coalition, Project ACTION!, whose members are all adults with disabilities. Donna is a Board member and both are active and involved. Ricardo speaks internationally on deinstitutionalization, advocacy, human rights, and Special Olympics. He has received many awards, including his selection in the late 1990s as a "Washingtonian of the Year."

Ricardo and Donna were the subjects of a made-for-TV movie entitled, “Profoundly Normal,” and appeared multiple times on 60 Minutes, where Mike Wallace followed their lives as one of the first couples with developmental disabilities to be married and have children. Both Ricardo and Donna are former residents of the District of Columbia’s institution for people with developmental disabilities, Forest Haven.

Ricardo is employed by the District of Columbia Public Library system, in which he has worked for over 40 years. He currently is working at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library. Both Ricardo and Donna are active in their faith community, where Ricardo is a Deacon and Donna is a Trustee and Usher. Both Donna and Ricardo have been active in the past in a local theatre group, Player Unlimited.

Ricardo is active in Special Olympics both locally and internationally. He also serves on a variety of Boards and committees, including the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the DC Developmental Disabilities Council. He previously served on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He is strong advocate, motivator, and mentor to other advocates, with and without disabilities.

Donna also mentors newer advocates and has served on a number of boards and committees, including the Arc of DC, the Department on Disability Services’ HCBS Waiver Advisory Committee, the DC Supporting Families Community of Practices, the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities Board, and the DC Family Support Council. Donna retired two years ago after a long career at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she was employed for over 35 years.

Both Ricardo and Donna have testified in front of the DC City Council and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Ricardo and Donna receive services from DC’s Developmental Disabilities Administration, as does Ricardo’s brother William, who also lived at Forest Haven.

There’s a 6-minute video about them and their time at Forest Haven and since. It’s a great introduction to Ricardo and Donna. https://www.jointherevolution.org/50-game-changers/ricardo-thornton.

A portrait of Rebecca Williford. She has shoulder-length black hair parted slightly to one side. She is wearing a lavender cardigan over a dark shirt.

Rebecca S. Williford, Esq. specializes in impact litigation on behalf of people with disabilities and has achieved multiple precedents on matters of first impression, advancing the rights of people with disabilities nationwide. For example, in BCID v. Bloomberg, she litigated a class action to a successful trial verdict, representing more than 900,000 people with disabilities in a challenge to New York City’s failure to address their needs in its disaster plans. She is also counsel in Legal Services for Prisoners with Children v. Ahern, which resulted in a court-enforceable settlement agreement to provide disability-based accommodations to persons housed in one of the largest county jail systems in California. In ACB v. Hulu, she represented people who are blind and have low vision, resulting in Hulu’s agreement to make its website and software applications accessible via screen readers and to provide audio description tracks for streaming content where possible. In Center for Independent Living v. Wal-Mart Stores, she represented people with mobility disabilities in a case that resulted in the development of a first-of-its-kind card reader point-of-sale payment device accessible to shoppers with mobility disabilities. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Disability Rights Bar Association. She is a co-editor of Lawyers, Lead On: Lawyers with Disabilities Share Their Insights (ABA Press 2011) and a past Commissioner of the ABA Commission on Disability Rights. Rebecca earned her B.A. in political science with highest honors and her J.D. as a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a law student, Rebecca co-founded and served as president of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities.

Ticket Pricing

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

Members Non-members
Professional $110 $120
Student $65 $75
Self-Advocate/Family/Retired $50 $60

Wait! Before purchasing tickets, did you know that event sponsorships include from one to six tickets? Check out our conference prospectus here or sign up to be a sponsor online here.

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.