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Keynote Speakers

Performers

Keynote Speakers

Patch-AdamsPatch Adams
Portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie “Patch Adams”, Patch continues to travel the world speaking to audiences about “Clowning as Medicine” and “Living a Life of Joy”. Patch is a bigger than life personality and thrills audiences about his many travels and philosophy on life.


Michael-AroninMichael Aronin
Michael uses his comedic skills to entertain and introduce ideas on how to breakdown attitudinal barriers with humor. He is also recognized as a funny stand-up comedian who uses his cerebral palsy as the foundation for his keynote and workshop presentations.

 


Louise-AshbyLouise Ashby
Author of “The Magic of the Mask”, Louise returns to the speaking platform after recovering from an automobile accident that has left her with a brain injury, partial sight loss and 238 bolts, screws, and steel plates as part of her reconstructed face. It’s an amazing story and one that inspires and motivates all to strive to reach their potential.

 


Barbanell 1Eddie Barbanell
Eddie is a champion of the “R-Word” campaign, an actor, and a Board Member of Special Olympics. With a gift to act and to speak, he has entertained and motivated audiences throughout the country. He is best known for playing the character of Billy in the 2005 film “The Ringer” and more recently in the TV series “The New Normal” and “Workaholics”.


Josh-Blue_thumbJosh Blue
Best known as the comedian who puts the cerebral in Cerebral Palsy, Josh exploded onto the national comedy scene by capturing the attention and endearment of the country as the winner of Season One of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”. Embracing his disability Josh has recently introduced a speaking program that has informed and entertained audiences.


BrewerJamieHSJamie Brewer
Jamie Brewer is best known as Adelaide “Addie” in the “American Horror Story”. She brings a fascinating story of how a woman with Down syndrome can be successful as an actress and community advocate. She was one of the youngest Arc chapter presidents and is a well-spoken campaigner for removing the “R” word.

 

 


Kathy-BuckleyKathy Buckley
Kathy broke onto the national scene as the first hearing-impaired comedian. She entertains college audiences nationwide with her disability-based stand-up and inspires corporate audiences with a program filled with inspiration, motivation and humor.

 


Ollie-CantosOllie Cantos
With an expertise in network building, Ollie is a nationally-recognized DC-based civil rights leader, presidential appointee, community activist and inspiring speaker.

 


Gabriel CordellGabriel Cordell
Actor and model, Gabriel set out to be the first and only person to use his personal manual wheelchair to roll 3,100 miles across the United States. His adventure was documented in a soon-to-be-released film “Roll With Me: A Journey Across America”. Gabriel’s journal was a grueling one and his keynote speaks to the will of the human spirit.

 


Lou-FerrignoLou Ferrigno
The Incredible Hulk is just part of the powerful story behind Lou Ferrigno. A professional body builder for many years, Lou has never let his hearing impairment stand in front of him. He has become a sought after corporate spokesperson, actor, health and fitness activist, and motivating speaker.


Chris-FonsecaChris Fonseca
Chris is quick, cutting edge, and one of the funniest comedians with or without a disability. He is the only comedian with a visible disability to perform on the “Late Night Show With David Letterman” and other credits include headlining at the “Montreal Just For Laughs Festival”, “The San Antonio Latino Laugh Festival” before 16,000 people, and a frequent opener for Gabriel Iglesias. He is also a featured performer on college campuses and at corporate events.


Mark-GoffeneyMark Goffeney
Mark has been entertaining as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist with no arms since he was a teenager. With over 10 million YouTube hits, Mark has entertained and told his story throughout the world. Mark’s presentation is highlighted by his mastery of the guitar, a beautiful voice, and comedic stories.


Temple-GrandinTemple Grandin
The author of the best-selling “The Way I See It” and five other books on human and animal behavior, Temple is perhaps the most recognized speaker on issues relating to Autism. Temple was the subject of the HBO biopic “Temple Grandin” starring Claire Danes and is listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential People”.


Robert-David-HallRobert David Hall
David played Coroner, Dr. Al Robbins on the long-running hit series, CSI, Crime Scene Investigation”. As a double-legged amputee, he has been honored throughout the country for his efforts to raise public awareness of disabilities and related employment issues. In his keynote presentation he shares his story of becoming disabled and challenges he faced in re-directing his life to become an actor and advocate.


Geri-JewellGeri Jewell
Geri is one of the most sought-after speakers on diversity and disability. She is a pioneer in the entertainment industry and was the first person with a visible disability to be featured on a primetime sitcom, “The Facts of Life”. Geri presents humorous, enlightening, empowering, keynote and workshop programs. She is also a true advocate for diversity. She is also often requested to speak on her relationship to the LGBQT communities.


Diana Elizabeth JordanDiana Elizabeth Jordan
Diana Elizabeth Jordan’s powerful performance in Watch Your Head” by Lynda Rodriquez captivates audiences in this one person show about an actress’ journey of “re-self” discovery following a brain hemorrhage. Diana Elizabeth Jordan shares her personal journey of living with cerebral palsy and conquering adversity, Diana is committed to changing perceptions about disability diversity and inclusion through her work as an actress.


Afi-Tiombe-Kambon(thumb)Afi-Tiombe Kambon
Afi is a historian, actress and storyteller. Her stirring and powerful one-woman show of “Black Diamond” and “An Extra Cup of Molasses” unites disabilities with African-American history on the stage. Truly a moving experience, her performances have graced the stages of college campuses throughout the country.


garyheadsuitGary Karp
Gary takes us inside the real, human experience of disability with clarity, passion, and humor. Drawing on his own forty-plus years on wheels since injuring his spinal cord, he cuts through disability stereotype and obsolete models, painting a clear picture of real people who happen to have disabilities. His special talent is to make the conversation comfortable talking about disability etiquette.


Nelson-LauverNelson Lauver
Known as The American Storyteller, Nelson’s success story is all the more remarkable since it took 29 years before he was diagnosed as dyslexic and unable to read. After three years of vocational rehabilitation to learn to read he started his journey as a radio personality, businessman, and speaker. Nelson’s keynote presentations and workshops include “Don’t Give Up on That Kid”, “The Most Unlikely to Succeed”, and “Grit, Who’s Got It, and How Do We Teach It”.


Brett-LeakeBrett Leake
After eight appearances on The Tonight Show, Brett has never scoffed at the title of “cleanest comedian on the circuit”. Sharp, witty and intelligent are three frequently used words to describe his comedy. Brett has MS and was recently recognized by the State of Virginia as their “Caregiver of the Year” as his father also has MS. Brett is truly an exceptional person and entertainer.


Light-MotionLight Motion
An integrated dance team like no other. Light Motion has been described in the New York Times by three simple words – “A Must See”. The two-women team has been recognized for their grace, agility. and creativity. They deliver both a classical performance or a combination performance and disability awareness dialogue.


Jerry-MathersJerry Mathers
Jerry is a diabetic who travels the country advocating for people with diabetes and talking about being “the Beaver” on the television sitcom seriesLeave it to Beaver”.

 


RJ_MitteRJ Mitte
This young, talented actor portrayed Walter White, Jr. on the hit AMC television show, Breaking Bad”. Both RJ and his character have cerebral palsy. RJ shares his personal story in his presentation as he continues to advance his acting career, modeling, and inspiring students.

 


Dat-NguyenDat Nguyen
Dat came to the United States from Vietnam as a young, self-taught guitarist. Within several short years he mastered the language and enrolled in college. Described by his college professor as one of the finest young classical guitarists in the country, Dat went on to win many national competitions. He has played with Stevie Wonder and continues to entertain audiences with his classical guitar compositions.


Nick-PopaditchNick Popaditch
Nick speaks about his experiences during his military service and the challenges that “wounded warriors” face upon returning to civilian life. As an ex-Marine who was wounded three times in four tours of duty dating back to Operation Desert Storm, he reflects on his experiences in his book, “Once a Marine”.


Potter_Lauren_111setupLauren Potter
Lauren is best known for her role as Becky Jackson on the hit television series, “Glee”. She has become an outstanding role model for those with Down Syndrome. Lauren’s speech, “Follow Your Dreams” inspires her audiences and she also serves on many national advisory boards for those with developmental disabilities.

 


David-RocheDavid Roche
David has transformed the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights. The story of his heroic journey from shame to strength has inspired standing ovations from the White House and Kennedy Center to audiences around the world. The subject of a PBS special and the author of his biography by the same name, David is charming, articulate, and an entertaining addition to many disability awareness programs.

 


Marc-RomeroThumbMarc Romero
Marc & Ben present the Adaptive Sports Evolution – Top adaptive athletes Marc Romero (US Adaptive Ski Team, stand-up, amputee) and Ben Mortensen (wheelchair basketball pro, seated athlete, spinal cord injury) share with audiences the world’s top adaptive action sports profiles, technologies and “can-do” mindsets.

 


Matt-SavageMatt Savage
Matt was diagnosed with autism at young age and by the time he was eight he was labeled a musical savant. At 23, he has had a fourteen-year professional career as a jazz musician, recording artists (13 DVD’s) and composer. He has played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Chick Corea, the Ellington All Stars and, Wynton Marsalis. He currently teaches music to students with Autism when not traveling the world performing and speaking on college campuses about his music and experiences.


Rachel-SimonRachelSimon
Rachel is one our most popular speakers, She is the author of the best selling book and Hallmark Hall of Fame production of the same name, “Riding the Bus With My Sister”. She is becoming known as the literary voice for those with a disability, having also published the NY Times Best Seller, “The Story of Beautiful  Girl” and is currently writing another disability-themed book. Her personal stories and experiences open the door for a dynamic keynote and workshop experience.


Alex-ValdezAlex Valdez
Alex is the first comedian to gain national recognition as a comedian with a disability. For the past thirty years he has also been a dynamic Keynote Speaker and master Disability Awareness trainer. Alex presents an entertaining program titled, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Diversity”. Government and corporate clients have referred to him as the best disability trainer.

 


Mark-WellmanMark Wellman
Mark is the pioneer of “extreme athletes” with a disability.  He has climbed El Capitán and Half Dome using his adaptive gear and sit-skied across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mark uses his many adventuresome experiences to deliver a motivating presentation and frequently uses his adaptive climbing gear to scale climbing walls as part of his program.


Gail-Williams-BlairGail Williamson
Gail is a past “National Mother of the Year” and is the parent of a child with Down Syndrome. She is past director of the Media Access Committee, a Los Angeles based Down syndrome organization and currently is a theatrical agent for actors with a disability. She is a delightful, frank and professional speaker about the employment and representation of those with a disability in the media.


 Performers

Michael-AroninMichael Aronin
Michael uses his comedic skills to entertain and introduce ideas on how to breakdown attitudinal barriers with humor. He is also recognized as a funny stand-up comedian who uses his cerebral palsy as the foundation for much of his humor workshop presentions.


Josh-Blue_thumbJosh Blue
Josh came to prominence after winning the first season of “Last Comic Standing”. His position in the comedy community has risen from performing in small clubs to being a major headliner at large venues, colleges campus and corporate special events. Chris embraces his disability and has recently introduced a speaking program.


Kathy-BuckleyKathy Buckley
Recognized as the country’s first hearing-impaired comedian, Kathy’s side-splitting personal stories come with a valuable message. She has headlined at The Improv, The Ice House, and The Laugh Factory, among other top-named clubs throughout the country. She is a favorite on college campuses and at corporate functions.


Chris-FonsecaChris Fonseca
Chris is a seasoned comedy veteran who was the first and only person with a visible disability to be a featured performer on the “Late Show With David Letterman”. Added to his list of credits are his many appearances on Comedy Central and at the San Antonio Latino Comedy Festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, colleges campuses and at corporate special events. Most recently he was the opening act for Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglecias. Chris has a degree in journalism, and his mastery of words makes for a show replete with well-written and executed jokes.


Mark-GoffeneyMark Goffeney
Mark has the rare distinction of being one of the few successful professional guitarists with no arms. Overcoming the doubts of family and friends, Mark has risen to be a well-respected guitar player. Either solo or with his band, Mark enjoys playing the blues and rock. His online videos have received over ten million hits and although many have been posted by in amazement of his talents, his skills have been recognized around the world.


Geri-JewellGeri Jewell
Geri broke into the entertainment industry as a stand up comedian. Even during the height of her acting career, she has held true to her roots. Geri’s shares her humorous stories and jokes about her long history in Hollywood and her relationship to the LGBTQ communities.


Diana Elizabeth JordanDiana Elizabeth Jordan
Diana Elizabeth Jordan’s powerful performance in “Watch Your Head” by Lynda Rodriquez captivates audiences in this one person show about an actress’ journey of “re-self” discovery following a brain hemorrhage. Diana Elizabeth Jordan shares her personal journey of living with cerebral palsy and conquering adversity, Diana is committed to changing perceptions about disability diversity and inclusion through her work as an actress.


Afi-Tiombe-Kambon(thumb)Afi-Tiombe Kambon
Afi delivers a program excellent for Disability and Black History celebrations. A single-leg amputee as the result of childhood cancer, she delivers two 20 minute plays that speak to women, sexual abuse, and disabilities as interpreted through her own family history during slavery.

 


Brett-LeakeBrett Leake
After eight appearances on The Tonight Show, Brett has never scoffed at the title of “cleanest comedian on the circuit”. Sharp, witty and intelligent are three frequently used words to describe his comedy. Brett has MS and was recently recognized by the State of Virginia as their “Caregiver of the Year” as his father also has MS. Brett is truly an exceptional person and entertainer.


Light-MotionLight Motion
An integrated dance team like no other. Light Motion has been described in the New York Times by three simple words – “A Must See”. The two-women team has been recognized for their grace, agility. and creativity. They deliver both a classical performance or a combination performance with disability awareness dialogue.


Dat-NguyenDat Nguyen
Dat came to the United States from Vietnam as a young, self-taught guitarist. Within several short years he mastered the language and enrolled in college. Described by his college professor as one of the finest young classical guitarists in the country, Dat went on to win many national competitions. He has played with Stevie Wonder and continues to entertain audiences with his classical guitar compositions.


David-RocheDavid Roche
David has inspired thousands on college campuses, theatre audiences and via his many television and movie rolls including his featured presentation, “The Church of 80% Sincerity” and his video “Love At Second Sight”. David is a master at the spoken word and his program transforms the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling presentation.


Matt-SavageMatt Savage
At a very young age Matt was diagnosed with autism but by the time he was eight he had taught himself to play the piano and was labeled a musical savant. Now, at just 23, he has traveled the world performing and has recorded 12 albums. Matt has been reviewed as one of the finest young improvisational jazz pianists. He performs solo or with his Matt Savage Trio…