TASH Welcomes New Board Members for 2012

TASH would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2012 Board of Directors election. The final results are in, and the newest slate of TASH Board Members include: Nila Benito, Emily Titon and Terri Ward. Additionally, Michael Callahan and Ari Ne’eman have been re-elected for a second term. We look forward to their contributions to TASH! If you are attending the 2011 TASH Conference, please stop by the TASH booth or attend the TASH Membership Meeting to meet and interact with board members.


Nila Benito

In 1994, I attended my first TASH conference, which was soon after my sons were diagnosed with autism. I was truly inspired by TASH and its clear message of inclusion for all. This not only gave me hope, but the answers I had been seeking about how to support my sons in having the most fulfilling, rewarding lives possible. Today, I fully embrace and work tirelessly to make inclusion a REALITY for many.

It would be a true privilege to serve as a TASH board member. I am certain that I would make a significant contribution because I am fully committed to inclusion and my personal experience as a mom which has given me an insider’s view of the struggles and successes of implementing inclusion in schools, the community, and in employment.

As Coordinator of Community Inclusion for the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities-University of South Florida, I have dedicated my career to promoting positive outcomes for and a greater understanding of inclusion, positive behavior supports, customized employment, family/professional collaboration, and public policy.

My professional experience includes working as a Tampa Tribune reporter and public relations director at a children’s hospital. I was chairperson of the Florida Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Employment, Community Living, and School to Work Transition and served two terms as chairperson of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

I am excited about this opportunity to uphold TASH’s vision of a world in which people with disabilities are included and fully participating members of their communities.

Michael Callahan

I first heard of TASH when it was AAESPH back in 1976 from Marc Gold. He had come to my home state of Mississippi and had caused my world to shift regarding my views on people with disabilities. Marc encouraged me to become involved in a national advocacy organization and, from his point of view, TASH was the only option that represented a radical new position – that of community participation. In the thirty plus years since, I have grown to see TASH as my professional home base for values, for working relationships, for cutting edge information and most importantly for stoking the fires necessary for enthusiasm and optimism. I became a life member of TASH in the early 1990’s and have been committed to promoting community, integrated employment as an expected social role for all persons with disabilities. I am a full time consultant and have consulted throughout the US, Canada and Europe in the area of employment of persons with disabilities for the past twenty-five years. I have worked with Marc Gold & Associates (MG&A) for twenty-nine years, serving as president since Marc’s death in 1982. I am also an officer in a non-profit organization, Employment for All, which is dedicated to the full access to employment for all persons with disabilities. I will continue to bring a focus on employment to the TASH board, publications, training events, and advocacy.

Ari Ne’eman

Ari Ne’eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. He is an Autistic adult and a leading advocate in the neurodiversity and self-advocacy movements. In 2009, President Obama nominated Ari to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues. He was confirmed by the Senate in July 2010 and currently chairs the Council’s Policy and Program Evaluation Committee. Ari worked to shut down the New York University Child Study Center’s “Ransom Notes” campaign and also led other successful disability community responses to offensive advertisements, including the response to the Autism Speaks “I am Autism” fundraising video. In his policy work, Ari has worked on a wide variety of disability rights related legislation relating to education, transition, employment, rights protection and other areas.

In April 2010, he was appointed by Secretary Sebelius as a public member to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning autism. Appointed by Governor Jon Corzine, Ari served as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represented autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. In 2008, Ari served as the first ever Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership. That year, he also received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award, and in 2009, he received the Expanding Horizons Award from United Cerebral Palsy. He is also a board member of TASH, an advocacy organization focusing on advancing social justice for people with significant disabilities. In addition, he was named by the New York Jewish Week as one of their “36 by 36″ in 2010. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where he studied political science in the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program. His work has beenprofiled by the Guardian, Newsweek, New York Magazine, the Newark Star Ledger, Yediot Ahronot, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Good Morning America and other national and international media.

Emily Titon

Emily Titon grew up in Massachusetts, and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 22. Throughout her public school education she experienced a combination of general education and special education class placements. As a high school volunteer, she provided assistance to students with significant disabilities, helping them to make friends – seeing that they did not have enough opportunities to be included. She believes that much of the teasing and bullying experienced by people with disabilities is the result of a lack of understanding by peers and a lack of personal relationships with others who do have disabilities. Emily first became involved in the Neurodiversity movement in 2002, and was introduced to TASH in 2007 when she was invited to speak at the New England Chapter conference. Her experience with TASH members and the message of TASH made her fall in love with everything about our organization. Currently, Emily is a board member of the Rhode Island Advocates in Action, lives in her own apartment with the Bridges agency, and wants to help be a voice for people who can’t speak. She regularly volunteers in her community and was a volunteer in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. As a member of TASH, she is interested in becoming involved in the Human Rights and Community Living Committees.

Terri Ward

I have been involved with TASH activities for nearly twenty-five years, as a student member, a state member, and as a professional teacher educator and researcher. When I entered graduate school, special education and services to children and families with significant support needs was about benevolence and care-taking. It was only through early involvement with TASH that I began to understand the meaning of advocacy, professional development, and the importance of research and policy on local and national levels.

My early exposure to TASH’s mission and values enabled me to become a strong advocate for children with disabilities and their families, often in contrast to practices at the time. I spent my teaching career in New York and Florida teaching in center-based schools, public schools, and inclusive situations. I became an active TASH supporter on the state level, collaborating with others through my work with the Florida Inclusion Network. Since then I continue to support inclusive education as a teacher educator in New York.

Perhaps many reading this, noticed my most recent publication in RPSD recalling my own experience as a student labeled with a disability. The segregation, the bullying, and the low expectations experienced during many years has made me very committed both personally and professionally to serving and supporting others who also work toward a more inclusive future for all.

Through the years, I have become more involved with TASH, serving as a guest reviewer for the RPSD and as an evaluator for annual conference sessions. I would be honored to serve on the TASH Board, where I could use my professional commitment and personal passion to help support current efforts regarding restraint and seclusion, the reauthorization of the IDEA, post-secondary education, and supports to individuals in natural community settings