Agatha DeFranco is a board member and parent advocate for Autism Speaks.
Ann Clark is an applied behavior analysis consultant providing home based tutoring programs to persons on the spectrum. Her experience spans helping individual families, managing autism and supported parenting programs at a community agency, providing transition assessments for a college experience program for students with disabilities and presenting as a guest lecturer at both the college and graduate school levels.
Antoinette Taylor is a board member for Autism Speaks and professional presenter. Antoinette has over 15 years of experience in special education and disability services/policies and has worked with support groups, community centers and churches throughout the Chicago area.
Chris is best known for the four years he spent playing Charles “Corky” Thatcher on the hit ABC-TV show “Life Goes On” and his reoccurring role as Taylor, the angel of faith on the hit CBS-TV show “Touched By An Angel.”
Today, Chris, with with Joe and John DeMasi, brings a message of love, inclusion and celebration to schools, festivals, conferences and conventions through music.
Daniel Cochrane is an assistive technology specialist and a special education teacher for Wheaton-Warrenville School District. He is also finishing a Master of Science in Disability Studies at University of Illinois-Chicago’s Institute for Disability & Human Development.
David Krueger is a musician, artist and member of the Arts of Life Band. He’s also an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Dr. McGuire is the Director of Psychosocial Services at the Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, part of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. He has thirty years of clinical experience in both the mental health and disability fields. He has been with the center since its inception in 1992. The mission of the Adult Down Syndrome Center is to enhance the well being of adults with Down syndrome by providing comprehensive holistic community based health care services by a multi-disciplinary team. They are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Adult Down Syndrome Center of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Advocate Medical Group.
Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners.She is the author or co-author of ten books and a director of a documentary film titled We Thought You’d Never Ask: Voices of People with Autism.
Paula was named the National Down Syndrome Congress Educator of the Year in 2007 and the Belle Center of Chicago’s Inclusion Advocate of the Year in 2006. Paula is the chair of the Oak Park Inclusion Network.
Ginger, who has physical disabilities, is a dancer for MOMENTA Performing Arts Company and a faculty member for the Creative Movement Workshops under the auspices of the Academy of Movement & Music.
Karen is a longtime resident of Oak Park and parent of person with Down syndrome. Karen’s daughter Georgia recently graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School and works at Trader Joe’s in Oak Park with supports provided through Seguin Services. Karen is articulate and a strong advocate for the rights of people with developmental disabilities. With her husband Glenn she has been a leader in promoting inclusive education and community integration for not only her daughter but for others with developmental disabilities. Georgia is skilled as a spokesperson as well, having presented at events and recently on Disney radio.
Having lost his legs in a trash compactor accident, Kris has found ways to conduct his daily activities, maintain his human dignity and express himself artistically through dance, as part of several pieces choreographed by MOMENTA. Kris also assists with instruction of persons with physical and developmental disabilities through the Academy’s Creative Movement Workshops.
Laurie Chern is a board member and parent advocate for Autism Speaks.
Nina Allen has been the president & CEO of Thrive Counseling Center in Oak Park since 2011. She returned to Oak Park after nearly 10 years in Alaska where she served as CEO of South Peninsula Behavioral Health and the Clinical Director of Norton Sound Health Corporation. She also served as chair of Alaska’s State Mental Health Board and Vice-President of the Alaska Behavioral Health Organization. Before moving to Alaska, Nina worked as Director of Behavioral Science at West Suburban Health Care in Oak Park.
Patricia Withers is a parent of person with autism.
Robert is a musician who plays acoustic guitar, and drums. He is also an artist who works mostly in colored pencil rendering portraits of famous musicians. His work has been exhibited at the Judith Swaslow gallery in downtown Chicago. Robert is an active member of the Thresholds Members Council and a tireless advocate for his peers. Mr. Bell is in recovery from mental illness.
Ryan is the Artistic Director for the Arts of Life program in Chicago, and the director for the Arts of Life Band. He is a trained community-based artist with a B.F.A. in painting from California State University, East Bay. He has lived in Chicago for four years and has been a professional in the field of visual and performing arts for over 18 years. Ryan’s bands have toured throughout the U.S. and Europe numerous times creating a strong following in the alternative arena. In June of 2007, the zany marching band he plays with, Mucca Pazza, was featured on the Conan O’Brien show and Chicago’s Lollapalooza 2006. In addition to his accomplishments in the music field, Ryan is also the founder of Reversible Eye Gallery in Humboldt Park. In the spring of 2006 he joined the staff at Arts of Life and has brought a whole new array of experiences and opportunities to the studio.
Sheri Lenzo, wife of Kris Lenzo, handles assistive technology for Oak Park District 97. She is working toward her Master’s at UIC under the direction of Glenn Hedman, Clinical Associate Professor, Coordinator-Assistive Technology Unit at UIC’s Institute for Disability & Human Development.