Preview Our Keynote Speaker Lineup

TASH is honored to have a slate of keynote speakers whose personal and professional experiences have impacted lives, populations and communities. Those attending this year’s conference will have the opportunity hear the thoughtful, inspiring and, sometimes, challenging words of these speakers during the opening and closing general sessions of the TASH Conference. Whether you’re already registered to attend the upcoming conference in Chicago, or are still considering it, you’ll want to learn more about the keynote speaker lineup during this year’s event.

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Pat Quinn: Governor, State of Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn has received national recognition as a champion for people with disabilities. Among other honors, he received the Advocacy Matters! award, The Arc of the United States’ most prestigious honor, for promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of people with disabilities; and for increasing resources, services and supports that promote full inclusion and participation in the community. In July of this year, he signed the Employment First Act, which requires Illinois state agencies to work together to make employment for people with disabilities a priority. The Governor’s goal is to make Illinois the nation’s leading employer of people with disabilities. He also signed a Consent Decree that will move 3,000 individuals with disabilities off the state’s waiting list, and provides the choice of community living options to the 7,000 people who live in Intermediate Care Facilities for people with Developmental Disabilities.

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Peyton Goddarda: Author and Advocate for Inclusion in Education and Society

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Peyton Goddard is the first person using supported typing to graduate valedictorian from a U.S. College. She is a long time advocate for inclusion in education and society. She is an advocate on behalf of valuing all people, especially those most vulnerable to devaluation, segregation and abuse, as she was for several decades when she lacked a dependable mode of communication. Goddard suffered years of neglect and abuse in schools where she was considered incapable of learning. Goddard is the author of i am intelligent: From Heartbreak to Healing, A Mother and Daughter’s Journey through Autism, which talks about her remarkable story. Her work provides evidence of the need to treat all children as respected members of society. She is the receipt of several awards including the 1995 Collaborative Advocacy Award from TASH.

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Mary Gonzalez: Faith-Based Community Organizer, Gamaliel Foundation (retired)

Mary Gonzalez is co-founder of the Gamaliel Foundation, an international network of faith and value-based community organizations in 17 USA states, four provinces of South Africa and three regions in Great Britain. She also founded NTOSAKE, a leadership training program specifically designed for women within the Gamaliel network. She is currently serving California as a Gamaliel consultant, mentoring organizers and leaders and assisting a new group of institutional leaders establishing a new organization in Sacramento County, Calif. She has been recognized as one of President Obama’s early mentors during his time as a community organizer in Chicago.

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Fabricio Balcazar: Promoter of Inclusion for Minority and Under-served Populations

Fabricio Balcazar has conducted research on the development of systematic approaches for promoting the empowerment of minorities and under-served populations, including Latinos with disabilities and their families over the past 20 years. Balcazar is a professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research has included the development and evaluation of approaches for promoting empowerment approaches to vocational rehabilitation service delivery, school-to-work transition planning, dropout prevention, the promotion of the ADA in Latino neighborhoods, and career development leading to employment opportunities. Balcazar is the director of the new Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and recently co-edited a book entitled Race, culture and disability: Issues in Rehabilitation Research and Practice.

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Father Gregory Boyle: Founder of Homeboy Industries

Father Boyle has been a champion for disenfranchised people for more than three decades. He has developed positive alternatives to the dangerous and destructive life on the streets, including establishing an elementary school, day care program, community organizing projects and the establishment of legitimate employment for young people. He is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit economic development enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Café. Greg is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.” He has served on the State Commission for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The National Youth Gang Center Board and the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Task Force.

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