Members of MIUSA's International Advisory Committee represent diverse fields and experiences. Their expertise and commitment to advancing disability rights and leadership globally will assist MIUSA to continue to advance its mission.
As a professional English-Spanish translator in her country of Peru, Angela Marin helps her clients and co-workers solve problems and answer questions. She is a founding member of the Technology and Disability Association of Peru, an organization which promotes the independence and rights of blind women in Peru and also gives training to blind and visually impaired people such as herself to use adaptive computer software for accessing information and communication. During her Community Solutions Program fellowship in the United States, Angela worked with the Nebraska Center for the Blind, receiving mobility and independent living skills, as well as working with the center staff to improve and adapt some of the technology programming. She has worked to advocate for the development of a similar independent living training center in Peru since returning, as well as to offer smaller, independent courses to blind students.
Angela is an alumna of MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability and has expertise in disabled women’s leadership.
Crosby Cromwell served as the Vice President of Partnerships and External Affairs for the International Women’s Forum, where she was charged with helping lead the fiscal growth and expansion of partner relationships, communication and external programs for the organization. Previously, Crosby was a senior program officer at the Walmart Foundation where she led Women’s Giving under the U.S. and International Giving Team. She has also served seven years in the non-profit sector focused on matters related to disability and has received multiple awards for her work within the disability community.
Ekaete Judith Umoh is an international disability rights activist committed to inclusive development for people with disabilities; especially of women and girls with disabilities. She is the founder and Executive Director of Family Centered Initiative for Challenged Persons (FACICP), a non-governmental organization founded in 2000 which works to promote inclusive development for women and girls with disabilities in gender and development programs in Nigeria.
In 2015 she was elected Executive Council Member at African Disability Forum-ADF, representing women with disabilities in Africa on the board and currently, Vice chairperson 1; Gender and Development at West Africa Federation of the Disabled- WAFOD. Between 2010-2012 she served on the International Planning Committee of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development-AWID representing women with disabilities globally and in 2014 she became the first elected Female National President of the Joint National Association of Persons with disabilities, an umbrella organization of all DPOs in Nigeria and also elected first woman with a disability to lead a mainstream women’s network (Global Fund for Women Grantee's Network) Nigeria.
Ekaete is an expert in social inclusion, with a focus on disability inclusion across diverse thematic areas, such as sexual and reproductive health, community mobilization, civic education, political participation and women’s empowerment. Her works includes advocacy, research, reporting and documentation, counseling, training, facilitating, and organizing support group activities. She has served as a disability and social development consultant to international development agencies, helping these agencies include the issues of people with disabilities in their programs and project.
Ekaete is an alumna of MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability.
Eliana Vera retired in 2016 after more than 35 years’ experience leading programs with foundations and non-governmental organizations in the international development sector. Her last position was with SNV USA, as Project Manager for the Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding project, funded by the Gates Foundation. The project worked with smallholder farmers in Ghana, Kenya, and Mali, to build their capacity to access the market represented by national school meals programs. Previously she served as Managing Director for Global Philanthropy at the Council on Foundations and Principal Partnerships Officer within the Office of Outreach and Partnerships at the Inter-American Development Bank. Eliana has also worked at the International Youth Foundation, the National Center for Nonprofit Boards, the Synergos Institute, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Partners of the Americas. Eliana holds a MA in International Studies from The American University in Washington, DC, and a BA in International Relations from the University of Maryland.
A former special education consultant and high school principal, Jane is passionate about the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities into schools, communities and work places, working to incorporate best practices into policy and educational systems. She loves working across systems and in varying cultures to help create opportunities for people with disabilities and their families to fully participate in life.
After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Speech Pathology and a Master's degree from the University of Oregon, Jane started her career by initiating the Life Skills Network Program in Eugene School District. She went on to serve 24 years at the University of Oregon's Western Regional Resource Center, where she assisted state departments of education implement Special Education law throughout U.S. states and territories (e.g. Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau). She founded and co-directed the National Center on Post-School Outcomes and helped states learn about and use information about how students with disabilities do after high school. Her career focus has been on inclusion of students with disabilities in school with an emphasis on high schools. She has consulted throughout the U.S. states and territories as well as in Japan, Guatemala, Zambia, and Uganda.
Rounding out her career, she served as Principal at Gateways High School, an alternative high school in Springfield, OR. In this position, she also had responsibility for various special education programs and started the innovative Springfield Online Program to provide another option for students in kindergarten through high school.
Rotary is a central part of her passion and work as well. She has been deeply involved in the Rotary Foundation, efforts to eliminate Polio worldwide, membership efforts, and will serve as her Club president in 2018. As a Rotarian, Jane helped MIUSA secure funding to support the 2016 WILD program.
Jane, her husband, and daughter have served as MIUSA host family many times and have hosted international students from around the world. Her sister had polio as a child and uses a power wheelchair and her brother has cerebral palsy.
John L. Wodatch is a civil rights attorney with over 30 years of experience with the Federal Government, specializing in the rights of persons with disabilities. He provides advice and information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Other Disability Rights Laws and Regulations. He served with the U.S. Department of Justice for 21 years as the Chief of the Disability Rights Section in the Civil Rights Division and currently serves as the president and board member of the National Association of ADA Coordinators.
Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation. From 2010 - 2017, she served as the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. As the Special Advisor, Heumann led the Department efforts to encourage and assist foreign governments and civil society organizations to increase their commitment and capacity to protect the rights, and ensure the inclusion and full participation of, persons with disabilities. She served as the World Bank's first Advisor on Disability and Development and served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education from 1993 – 2001. She previously worked with numerous disability rights organizations including co-founding the World Institute on Disability and the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, California. Follow The Heumann Perspective on social media for broad discussions on disability.
Karen Johnson Lassner has 35 years of international experience developing, managing, implementing, and evaluating community health services. Her experience is particularly broad, having worked early in her career for ten years for a Brazilian civil society organization, followed by ten years as an independent consultant for UN and US Government Agencies, and for the last fifteen years for Management Sciences for Health. Karen’s technical areas of expertise include planning, implementation and evaluation of primary health care, reproductive health services, prevention of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and building the leadership, management, and governance capacity of organizations to deliver health services. Her specific skills include strategic and operational planning, management needs assessments, monitoring and evaluation, leading and managing organizational change, governance strengthening of civil society organizations and multi-sector bodies and management of community health programs. She is also a seasoned face-to-face and virtual facilitator and trainer. Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, her years of experience in Latin America and the Caribbean include work in Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Guyana. She has also worked in Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Japan and Viet Nam. Karen holds MA/MPH degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a BA degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Laurie Winthrop, Principal of Winthrop Coaching and Consulting, provides development solutions and resources for companies needing targeted expertise in leadership and organizational effectiveness. A respected business leader and coach, her areas of focus include leadership agility, emotional and cultural intelligence, relationship management, navigating networks, team building and collaboration. Laurie also has deep experience in all aspects of employee relations, developing company culture and communications solutions. In her career Laurie has worked in every aspect of the retail/fashion industry and spent several years on international assignment, as Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Ralph Lauren – Europe and Middle East.
Laurie also has a passion for supporting non-profit organizations, especially those focusing upon services for children, women, and AIDS research and education. She has provided fund raising and event support for The Contra Costa AIDS Project and the Bay Area Big Sisters & Brothers. In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), providing job training and placement services for women and immigrants. Laurie also organized events for the Oakland Children’s Hospital Library and reading programs in New York City.
Kevin Boling is a retired administrator of the 4J school district in Oregon and principal, most recently at Bertha Holt Elementary School. He currently works part time for 4J developing interventions to address non-attendance issues, which includes accommodations for students experiencing anxiety and other mental health concerns. He is a passionate advocate for inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream schools and has spoken to many international groups, utilizing his lens as a principal, teacher and activist.
Maegan Shanks an alumna of a MIUSA exchange program bringing young deaf and disabled leaders to Costa Rica. Currently, she is an Adjunct Faculty and Program Assistant for the International Development M.A. Program at Gallaudet University, the world's leading bilingual university designed for deaf and hard of hearing students. Prior to this, she worked as the Disability Inclusive Development Learning Coordinator at CBM International. Maegan is passionate about equal access to education for the deaf community and youth with disabilities, gender equity and intersectionalities.
Marcie Roth established Inclusive Emergency Management Strategies (IEMS) LLC after transforming nationwide whole community inclusion from inside FEMA from 2009-2017. She brought over 30 years of strategic leadership across local, national & global disability advocacy and civil rights initiatives. IEMS designs & delivers customized tools, resources & technical assistance to anticipate & resolve whole community inclusive emergency management challenges across local, national & global stakeholders. IEMS manages the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, www.disasterstrategies.org. The Partnership is a national emergency management stakeholder coalition with state & territory affiliates & a shared mission of equal access & full inclusion for the whole community before, during & after disasters.
Ms. Roth was appointed by President Obama to FEMA in 2009 as Senior Advisor, Disability Issues. In 2010, at the request of DHS, she accepted a career position, establishing the FEMA Office of Disability Integration & Coordination, building a team of 150 experts & leading over 400 disaster deployments.
Prior to her appointment to FEMA, Ms. Roth founded the Global Disability Solutions Group, providing leadership towards improving outcomes for 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, consulting with the World Bank on their Global Disasters and Disability initiative. Roth served in executive leadership roles with the National Coalition for Disability Rights, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, National Council on Independent Living & TASH. She is a global expert on disability inclusive disaster risk reduction, representing the US Gov't to the UN. Continuing her commitment to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, she serves as Handicap International's 2017 Hilton Fellow & as a Juror for the UNISDR-Nippon Foundation international Sasakawa Award issued at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Dr. Maritheresa Frain
Dr. Maritheresa Frain is a private consultant in international educational exchanges. With over 25 years of experience in study abroad, Maritheresa was most recently the Executive Director of Study Abroad for CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchanges), where she oversaw a world-wide network of over 250 programs in 60 cities and 42 countries. During her nearly 18-year tenure at CIEE, Dr. Frain developed innovative programming designed to break down barriers of cost, curriculum and culture to ensure all students had access to international learning experiences. She has lived and worked abroad for 25 years in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Russia and Switzerland. Maritheresa has taught at St. Louis, George Washington and Syracuse Universities in Madrid, Universidad Lusíada in Lisbon (Portugal), Moscow State University (Russian Federation) and Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville, Spain). Dr. Frain served as the Consular Agent of the United States Embassy in Seville, Spain.
Originally from Philadelphia, Maritheresa completed her undergraduate work in International Politics at The Pennsylvania State University and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations at Georgetown University. Maritheresa has published on political parties, transitions to democracy and NATO defense strategies in the Mediterranean. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese with proficiency in French and Russian. Dr. Frain worked for the International Monetary Fund in DC and was a visiting professor at Georgetown University. Maritheresa lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Juan. Their daughter, Carmen, is studying at Elon University in North Carolina.
Marshall Peter served as CEO of Direction Service, Inc., a multi-program family support agency, for thirty-six years and for seventeen years as the founding Director of CADRE, The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education. After receiving an M.S. in Special Education from the University of Oregon, Peter began working as a parent advocate in 1976 at Direction Service, where he provided ongoing support and advocacy services to more than 500 families who have children with disabilities. Peter's early work as an aggressive advocate evolved into an interest in developing methods for facilitating home school partnerships that are respectful, considerate and yield equally powerful results for children and families. Peter has delivered presentations, training and consultation throughout the United States on appropriate dispute resolution, strategic planning, facilitative advocacy, consumer empowerment, wraparound services and conflict resolution system design. Peter served on the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission, the Oregon State Advisory Council for Special Education, the Oregon Disabilities Commission and as Chair of the Eugene School District Equity Committee.
Martha Lee Walters was an attorney who represented individuals in employment and civil rights matters for 30 years before she became an Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. She became the first female justice on the state's highest court in three years when she was appointed in 2006. A native of Michigan, she worked on the Casey Martin lawsuit against the PGA Tour, which went to the Supreme Court.
Megan Smith is the International Disability Alliance Inclusive Development Liaison. Her main focus is advocating for the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities within the UN Sustainable Development processes. Prior to IDA, Megan worked with grassroots organizations in Afghanistan, Nepal and Jordan, focused on anti-landmine advocacy, gender rights, and improving access to family planning and psychosocial support programs. She also worked with UNICEF Cambodia, on their social inclusion programs. Megan Smith is a former employee of Mobility International USA, where she led several international exchange programs.
Page graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a B.A. in an interdisciplinary field combining Information Technology, Media, and Society, and in 2015 with a Master's in Communication focused on human computer interaction. As a Master's student, Page dove into interaction design research in self-driving cars, and she discovered her passion for examining human behavior and improving user experiences. Motivated by her interest in human behavior and her passion for accessible mobility, Page contracted on Waymo’s User Experience team for two years. Currently, Page is a User Experience Researcher on Google's Travel team, and she's a technical writing tutor at Stanford's Technical Communication Program. Page is an active advocate for accessible travel, and she most recently participated in MIUSA's Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability summit in 2017. Page is honored and excited to be on MIUSA's International Advisory committee in her personal capacity.
Paul Hippolitus is currently the Director of World Institute on Disability (WID’s) Employment and Benefits Disability Initiative. Before that he was the Director of the Disabled Students’ Program, University of California, Berkeley where he oversaw a program supporting the education and employment of 2,000 students with disabilities. He also created and taught an innovative course entitled “Professional Development and Disability,” a course designed to develop the self-confidence and skill of people with disabilities to competitively seek employment. Previously, he was a Senior Employment Advisor with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) U.S. Dept. of Labor, where he supervised their disability programs, as well as supported all their innovative disability grant efforts. Prior to ODEP, he was the Director of Programs for the U.S. President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin
Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin became Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Israel in July of 2015. Prior to this, he served as Senior Rabbi from 2003 until 2015 and served as TBI's Rabbi since 1995. Rabbi Yitzhak is the past chair of the Committee for Ethical Kashrut of OHALA: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, an affiliate member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, a member of TRUAH (formerly Rabbis For Human Rights -North America) an associate of CLAL-National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and is a member of the rabbinic cabinet of J-Street as well as a member of the Oregon Board of Rabbis. He has had a lifelong interest and commitment to Disability Rights advocacy and formerly served as the Program Director of Independent Living Programs in Eugene, Oregon. He was a member of the Developmental Disabilities Committee of Lane County and several other advocacy and service organizations. Rabbi Yitzhak has a strong interest in social activism, interfaith dialogue, and disability rights.
Dr. Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh
In August of 2012, Dr. Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh joined the University of Oregon as Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, with the responsibility for collaboratively leading the University of Oregon’s efforts to embed inclusion, equity and diversity in its institutional practices, policies, and norms. Her portfolio reaches broadly across many aspects of campus life, supporting the academic mission of the institution to ensure that students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds have an equal opportunity to access, as well as to thrive and, ultimately, to succeed at the University.
The Vice-President’s responsibility also includes engaging with a wide variety of communities external to the university, facilitating partnerships with the office toward those ends. As part of her portfolio, Yvette leads the university’s strategic diversity planning efforts, development of institutional policies, coordination of research and evaluation infrastructure for diversity work, coordination of pipeline programs and providing organizational leadership for the following campus entities: the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), the Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC), and the Center on Multicultural Academic Excellence (CMAE).
Prior to joining the University of Oregon in her current position, Yvette served as a tenured Professor of Political Science and a Dean at Indiana University in Bloomington. While there, she won outstanding research awards, secured national funding for her research projects, served as a Fulbright Scholar at University of Zagreb in Croatia and also led national committees focusing on issues of equity, diversity, teaching excellence and ethics. She is the author/co-author of five books, dozens of scholarly essays and numerous journalistic/trade essays. She is a consultant on diversity/gender issues. Yvette, who is a trained lawyer and registered mediator, is a member of the Indiana State Bar.