Sunday, April 6, 2008

Advisory Board Member: Rositta Ehrlich Kenigsberg

Rositta Ehrlich Kenigsberg serves as the Executive Vice President of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center Inc., located in Hollywood, Florida.

Since 1999, Ms. Kenigsberg has served in an advisory capacity to the Education Committee of the Florida Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, and in January, 2001 was named the first Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence Education Advisory Committee.

From 1983-86, Rositta E. Kenigsberg had the privilege of serving as a Second-Generation advisor to Nobel Laureate recipient Elie Wiesel, who, at that time was Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

In 1990, Ms. Kenigsberg served on the initial North American Advisory Board of the "March of the Living", along with Shoshana Cardin, Norman Lipoff, and Elie Wiesel. That same year, she participated in the 1990 March of the Living, an extraordinary trip to Poland, a journey that led her to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Treblinka. Walking into the camps and retracing her father’s past, only made her realize more than ever, that the authentic memory of the Holocaust must be preserved, protected, and perpetuated. Her father is the sole survivor of a family of over 120 members, and Ms. Kenigsberg is named for the grandmother, Raizel, she never knew.

In 1992, Ms. Kenigsberg spearheaded, programmed, and planned, along with the Southeast Florida Center on Aging, the First National Conference on the Identification, Treatment and Care of the Aging Holocaust Survivor. This 2 ½-day conference provided the first national forum for recognizing the unique needs and concerns of the aging Holocaust Survivor. Internationally recognized experts in aging, Alzheimer and Holocaust-related issues were brought together with health care professionals, social service providers, and Holocaust Survivors from throughout the country. Selected proceedings of this conference have been published and are available to the public.

One of Rositta E. Kenigsberg’s proudest achievements came in 1994 that ultimately led to the passage of Florida Statute 233.061, “Required Public School Instruction of the History of the Holocaust.” Due to her efforts, Holocaust Education is mandated today in the State of Florida for all Florida students from kindergarten to 20.

For over a decade, Ms. Kenigsberg has been a leading advocate – nationally and internationally – for securing Long-Term Home Health Care for Holocaust survivors, and most particularly, for our Florida Survivor community. In 1998, Florida’s former Insurance Commissioner and current Senator, Bill Nelson, appointed her to serve on the Florida Steering Committee to assist the Department of Insurance in implementing the historic Holocaust Victim’s Insurance Act.

She was recently named to the American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, as a national Vice President. Over the years some of her positions included: President of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, Executive Member of the American Friends of the Jewish Museum in Vienna, Austria, Member of the Advisory Committee for the U.S. Distribution of Funds from the Swiss Fund for Needy Victims of the Holocaust, and, locally as a member of the Advisory Committee of the newly developed Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Human Rights Studies for Florida Gulf Coast University.

In 1996, Ms. Kenigsberg received a 5 year term Presidential Appointment from then President Bill Clinton to serve as a Member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. During her tenure, she was privileged to become a Member of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Ms. Kenigsberg also served on the Museum’s Academic, and Collections and Acquisitions Committees.

In November 1998, she was named Chair of the Museum’s Second Generation Advisory group and served as a principal organizer and planner of the Museum’s January 2000 millennium event, “The Life Reborn Project”, which featured unprecedented exhibitions, cultural events, and culminated in a major international conference with almost 2,000 participants. The “Life Reborn Project”, was the untold, little known, and remarkable story of what happened to Survivors as “displaced persons” in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Currently, her efforts and energies are focused on the newly acquired facility at 2031 Harrison Street in Hollywood, Florida which will house the ongoing documentation and education efforts of the Center and feature the first South Florida Holocaust Museum and Reference & Research Library.

The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center has forged a Legacy of Remembrance that will forever and always bear witness to truth and history, commemorate and celebrate the values of decency, humanity, and dignity and, above all, honor our sacred pledge to those who were there – to never allow their memories, words, and silences to be denied, distorted, or forgotten.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Advisory Board Member: The Reverend Richard Stimson, The Special Gathering, Cocoa, FL

Richard O. Stimson is the Founder and Director of The Special Gathering, which is a community-based ministry to people who have cognitive disabilities.

He has directed The Special Gathering for the past 27 years. This growing ministry has eight programs in Florida and South Carolina with over 450 persons in attendance each week.

Reverend Stimson has a BA from Southeastern College in Elementary Education and
Christian Education. He received his special education training from Florida Southern
College and his Masters of Arts in Ministry from Moody Graduate School. He taught as a special education teacher for Polk County, Florida school system and served as a chaplain for Developmental Services, Inc. in Orlando, Florida.

Reverend Stimson believes that a successful ministry empowers the whole person; he has
geared his ministration to the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of people who are
developmentally disabled. An important key to his work has been to become an active part of this community. Therefore, his ministry has branched into different aspects of service to persons who have developmental disabilities, including advocacy, education, and social activities. Using a spiritual program as the basis, Reverend Stimson endeavors to meet the needs of members before those needs become chronic problems.

An active speaker at disability conferences, Reverend Stimson has spoken at the AAMR National conference and serves on the Journal on Disabilities Editorial Board.

He has served on the Christian Council of Persons with Disabilities Board of Directors, a national consortium of disability ministries, and he remains an active member of the organization.

He is past chair of the Human Rights Advocacy Committee for Children and Family Services, District 7 in Florida. Reverend Stimson has also served on The ARC Board of Directors for Brevard County and on the founding board of the Very Special Arts of Brevard.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Advisory Board Member: Cindy Burkhour

Cindy Burkhour is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Certified Park and Recreation Professional who has consulted around the country on a variety of recreation issues.

Cindy has been consulting in the areas of inclusive recreation and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

She is assisting recreation providers to comply with the ADA and to include persons with disabilities in typical recreation programs. She has worked with many municipal, county and state agencies as well as school districts, private industries and advocacy organizations.

Cindy has worked as a professional in the field since 1978. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Arts Degree in Parks and Recreation Administration from Central Michigan University.

She has been the director of a community recreation department and coordinator of therapeutic recreation services for a community recreation program. Cindy has taught Therapeutic Recreation and Adapted Physical Education on the adjunct faculties of Grand Valley State University, Aquinas College and Wayne State University and as a Visiting Professor at Eastern Michigan University.

She has volunteered and consulted with a variety of sports organizations for persons with and without disabilities including the National Alliance for Youth Sports, National & Michigan Disability Sports Alliances, Paralympics and Special Olympics.

In the past Cindy has chaired several leisure and recreation related committees for state and national disability advocacy and recreation organizations including TASH, NRPA, ARC, & MRPA.

She also served on the U.S. Access Boards’ Recreation Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Regulatory Negotiation Committees on Access to Play Facilities and Access to Outdoor Developed Areas to establish the ADA compliance rules for recreation facilities.

Cindy has had many articles on the inclusion of people with disabilities in recreation and sports published by a large variety of recreation, sport and advocacy organizations.

She has also written a guide book for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to assist communities in including persons with disabilities in their programs. Cindy developed and has directed "Access Recreation: Creating Access to Community Recreation Opportunities for ALL Kids!" projects in several states including Michigan and Missouri where, through inservice training she's assisted in the development of collaborative relationships between schools, families and recreation providers to support the inclusion of students with disabilities in sports, leisure and recreation activities.

Cindy also served as Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Adaptive P.E. consultant for Jenison Public Schools providing direct service and consultation to facilitate the inclusion of children with many different disabilities in art, music, physical education, recess, and extra-curricular activities.

She is currently directing the “Access to Recreation Initiative” funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and implemented through the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures. The $15 million dollar “Access to Recreation Initiative” is designed to assist local, regional and state level recreation providers to develop universal access to all recreation opportunities for all people, of all abilities, together.

She is also conducting ADA self-evaluations and developing transition plans for park and recreation facilities, programs and services to facilitate compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in several communities in Michigan and Illinois.

Cindy has been active in working with persons with disabilities her entire life. She has a sibling, who has multiple physical and mental impairments and she is also the parent of a child who faces a variety of challenges after experiencing several massive strokes. She advocates professionally and personally for the rights of ALL people to be included in all aspects of community life.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Advisory Board Member: Gretchen Beesing, Human Services Coalition

Gretchen Beesing joined the Human Services Coalition in October 2007 as the Community Engagement Director. Gretchen oversees HSC’s Story Bank and the Access through Action program for civic engagement. She also collaborates on the Parent Leadership Training Institute and the Neighborhood Leadership Program.

Gretchen holds a master's degree in social work from New York University. She completed graduate internships as a psychotherapist with The World Trade Center Healing Services Program of St. Vincent's Hospital and The Pratt Institute's Health and Counseling Center. While in New York, Gretchen worked for several years with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office providing social services to crime victims.

In addition to her HSC activities, Gretchen works as a psychotherapist for Care Resource. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Miami-Dade Unit.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Advisory Board Member: Janine Bertram Kemp

Janine Bertram Kemp is the Strategic Partner in Communications for Solutions Marketing Group, providing innovative strategies for businesses targeting consumers with disabilities.

She has written numerous articles for disability publications as well as reports and proposals for federal and state agencies. She frequently works with photo journalist, Tom Olin, documenting and archiving the disability movement.

A sampling of clients includes State of New Mexico Aging and Long Term Services, Pax TV, and the Federal Transit Administration.

She is the former Communications Director for the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD). Prior to that time, she was Chairman of the Board of Evan Kemp Associates, a durable medical equipment and accessible transportation company based in Maryland.

From 1988-1992, she served as Assistant to Evan J, Kemp, Jr., Chairman U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Evan, her late husband, was Janine’s entree’ to the disability movement.

In the 1980’s, a group of advocates decided Evan would become a Republican and bring George Bush 1 and others in that party “on board” to get the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. Evan was on the platform with George Bush on July 26, 1990, when the President signed the ADA into law.

Her relationship with Evan gave Janine a “front row seat” on a little seen or discussed portion of the history of the American disability rights movement. Janine serves on the board of the Disability Rights Center and is a member of ADAPT and Mind Freedom. She lives on the west slope of Mt. Hood, Oregon.

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Advisory Board Member: Shelley Kaplan, Southeast DBTAC

Shelley Kaplan is the Co-principle investigator and Project Director for the DBTAC: Southeast ADA Center, a project of the Burton Blatt Institute of Syracuse University. The Southeast DBTAC, funded in 1991, is one of ten regional information centers on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Kaplan is responsible for establishing effective ADA networks across the eight southeastern states served by the project to ensure the availability of accurate ADA information and technical assistance to facilitate voluntary and effective ADA compliance efforts.

Ms. Kaplan has authored three fully accessible web-based tutorials entitled, “Welcoming Customers with Disabilities to the One Stop Center”, “ADA Basics” and “Title II for ADA Coordinators.” These courses build awareness and knowledge about the benefits of full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the rich fabric of American life. To date, over 20,000 people have taken these courses to rave reviews.

Ms. Kaplan has expertise in public policy and disability-related legislation and professional experience in developing effective systems for the delivery of information, technical assistance, and training that have resulted in successful programs designed to maximize independence and choice for people with disabilities. She has designed a premier eight-state regional Network that is operated by people with and without disabilities. This decentralized Network offers extensive expertise and resources that expand BBI’s capacity to promote the full participation of people with disabilities in all areas of society by increasing access to assistive and universally designed technologies, expanding educational and employment opportunities, and promoting increased access into daily community life. Integral to this work is Ms. Kaplan’s ability to bring diverse stakeholders from across the eight-state region together in common purpose. Ms. Kaplan is a frequent speaker on the subject both nationally and regionally.

Her marketing skills have helped various programs become well known throughout the Southeast Region. Ms. Kaplan is a frequent speaker at national, regional and state conferences on wide range of topics including the ADA, AT, systems change, innovative information dissemination and technical assistance/training methods, and project management.

Ms. Kaplan has a Master’s of Science degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and is a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech and Language Pathology from the American Association of Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA). She is a native of New York, but has lived in Atlanta, Georgia for the past 26 years.

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Advisory Board Member: Sharon D'Eusanio

Sharon D'Eusanio is the Assistant Director for the Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs for the Office of Attorney General, Bill McCollum.

Ms. D'Eusanio is the mother of three grown children and resides with her husband Raymond in Boca Raton, Florida. In May of 1980, she became the victim of a violent crime which nearly took her life and left her blind. With the loss of her career, newly divorced and three children to support , she began her transformation from crime victim to community activist, author and professional speaker, trainer and consultant. Her message of hope, perseverance and determination is reflected in her presentations and autobiography, FEEL THE LAUGHTER , published in 1987.

Sharon has served as a consultant for the Office for Victims of Crime, Office on Violence Against Women and serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc., Crime Stoppers of Broward County, Florida and has served on various steering committees, focus groups and advisory boards and committees for local, state and national agencies and organizations.

She also sits as a member of the Broward County Human Trafficking Working
Group and the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Working Group. Through her membership with other community organizations, she has coordinated funding for a Community Outreach and Victim Awareness project in Broward County. Sharon has also attended the Southeastern Task Force meetings.

For her work in victim assistance and community service, she has received numerous local, state and national awards and recognitions which include, The National Crime Victim Service Award presented by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and was selected one of the 2005 "Women of Distinction" in Broward County by the March of Dimes.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Advisory Board Members: Laura and Greg George

Greg and Laura George created Spinal Cord Resources Network as a result of their own frustration with not being able to easily find information and resources availble to both the caregiver and new spinal cord injured patient.

In March of 2006 while Greg was coming home from the grocery story he became involved in a “hit and run” accident leaving him with a SCI at T-5 and paralysis from the stomach down. At that same moment Laura was three months pregnant with their first child. Then a year and a half later Greg had spinal cord fluid back-up which occurred 18 months later that caused partial paralysis in his right arm. Upon immediate awareness of the immense lack of education for those needing daily living items, Spinal Cord Resources Network, Inc. was created.

Our goal is to help educate and advocate the SCI community with the latest information that can help the community with daily living activities. It is very important to us to provide information that that should be and must be readily available.

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Advisory Board Member: Keri Darling, DVAS- Deaf Victims Advocacy Services, Vermont

Keri Darling is currently the director/trainer for Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services (DVAS), in the beautiful green mountains of Vermont.

Keri has been deaf since age 2 ½ years old, growing up in rural Vermont with a hearing loss with no access to interpreters or sign language was quite a struggle. Keri attended RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) where she found the different kinds of accessibility options that are available to hard of hearing or late deafened or deaf people. It was there at RIT, Keri learned about Deaf culture and sign language and boy did this change her life! Luckily, with Keri’s background growing up in a non deaf (hearing) community and her experience during college, to this day she can be involved in the Deaf community or the non deaf community fairly well.

Keri started out in the independent living field by becoming the Manager of the Deaf Independence Program under the Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL). In this capacity, she oversaw deaf staff, and clients who needed Independent Living Skills development and accessibility awareness for deaf and hard of hearing on systems level. During her time at VCIL, she was able to develop a telecommunications distribution program in Vermont for low income Vermonters who have hearing loss, who needed telephone equipment but couldn’t afford it. She was also instrumental in setting up TTY payphones in all Rest areas in the state of Vermont.

It was during this time as the manager of the Deaf Independence Program where Keri began to notice abuse happening in the deaf community, through her clients or other people in the general community. It was then she researched and found Marilyn Smith, Executive Director of ADWAS (Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services) from Seattle, Washington, who is the pioneer of the Deaf Domestic Violence (DV) and Sexual Assault(SA) movement, as her agency was the first ever Deaf agency, run by deaf, for the deaf victims/survivors of abuse.

Keri also learned about a federal grant called VOCA (Victims Of Crime Act), applied and received money to train law enforcement officers on how to communicate with Deaf and hard of hearing victims/survivors and resources available to help serve these victims/survivors. Keri was then invited to join the National Training that ADWAS provided so that other cities or states can start their own Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault agencies. After completing that training in 1999, Keri started DVAS in 2000 and has since been involved in the Deaf DV/SA movement.

In the past 8 years, Keri has received numerous local and national awards for her work in creating awareness about accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing victims/survivors. She has also been offering consultant work related to issues or barriers that Deaf and hard of hearing victims/survivors experience and how to break those barriers down, along with resources about technology and relay services information.

Keri has been a leading speaker on cultural accessibility: considerations when serving victims/survivors with hearing loss for many years now on the local and national level.
Keri has developed numerous training tools for law enforcement, hospitals and EMT’s when encountering Deaf people. If you would like to see more about this, please go check out our website, and click on training.

Currently, she is also serving on the Advisory Board for the newly formed JDVNC (Justice for Deaf Victims National Coalition) and she and her fabulous employees will be hosting the National Conference for JDVNC members in October 2008 in Vermont.

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Advisory Board Member: Reid Jaffe

Reid Jaffe is currently a Grants Coordinator in the Office of Emergency Operations, Florida Department of Health. His main responsibilities include writing and reviewing public health preparedness plans, and assisting others in their specific federally funded preparedness projects. He also staffs an ad hoc Florida Department of Health Disability Task Force, created to improve the ability of Florida’s hospitals to properly serve Florida’s disabled population, meeting more of their needs, in the aftermath of a catastrophic event, as well as in normal times. This entails ensuring that the needs of Florida’s disabled populations are integrated into statewide and regional hospital response plans, pre-hospital EMS response plans, and disaster behavioral health plans. The Task Force also educates and encourages persons with disabilities to be better prepared for emergency situations, and to work with their local emergency managers to better take the needs of persons with disabilities into their planning and response efforts.

Mr. Jaffe previously worked as the primary staff for the Medicaid AIDS Waiver program, then for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver program for persons with Developmental Disabilities, and the Medicaid Targeted Case Management programs.

Mr. Jaffe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in health planning and health administration, both from the University of Cincinnati.

A 30 year veteran of the Army and Army Reserve, Colonel Jaffe is a graduate of the Army War College, and a veteran of Vietnam, Panama, and Bosnia.

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