RE:CON 2021

re:con 2021 Presenters
Backgrounds & Bios

Home/Presentations/Presenter Bios

re:con 2021 Presenter Bios

View Presenter Bios

Return to presentation summaries.


KEYNOTE: Jim Bitterle

Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner, joined EDSI in 2008 to lead its management consulting division.  He has 35 years of corporate leadership and management consulting experience.  

Today, Jim is responsible for EDSI’s national consulting operations.  He is currently spearheading EDSI’s efforts to help clients optimize their organizations to support growth, diversification, and cultural improvement. As a part of these efforts, Jim has authored the new book, “Unquittable”.

Jim is also a seasoned trainer and speaker.  He is regularly rated as the top presenter at events.  As a prior Divisional President and COO, Jim provides real world examples, as well as deep subject matter expertise as a trainer or speaker.

Prior to his consulting career, Jim spent 11 years as an executive with profit and loss responsibility leading both domestic and international business units for multi-national corporations such as Flint Ink and Gibson Musical Instruments.  

Jim holds his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

KEYNOTE: Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, PhD

Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, PhD, served two terms as the fifteenth president of the League of Women Voters of the United States and chair of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (1998–2002). She is the only woman of color to have served as national president in the organization’s first one hundred years. Since the early 1980s, she has served in a range of capacities at the local, state, and national levels of the league. Her career in public school and higher education spanned more than forty years. At the time of retirement, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins continues to be an advocate and activist for civil rights, social justice, educational excellence, and stronger citizen participation in the electoral process for underrepresented populations. She actively serves on numerous boards and advises community-based organizations. She has received numerous awards for her contributions. Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins most recently served as is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Aimee Sterk, LMSW

Aimee Sterk, LMSW, is a woman with mental health, medical, and physical disabilities and has been working in the aging and disability community for over 20 years. She started her career helping people transition out of nursing homes and progressed to policy and program development to support community living using assistive technology. Aimee is a mom, a reader, a currently sporadic yogi, and a West Michigan born and raised nature lover.

Alan Osbourn

Director of Human Resources for MMI

Alan started with Mid-Michigan Industries in April of 2021. He has over 10 years of dedicated Human Resources experience and 20 years of Managerial experience. Currently, Alan sits on the boards for the 501 Alliance and Valley of the Society for Human Resources Management. With a Master’s in Business Administration and as a Certified Professional for the Society for Human Resource Management, he is continuously working to develop staffing strategies that will result in long-term positive retention.

Amanda Garza

Amanda Garza is the Juvenile Services Manager at Peckham. Amanda has worked for Peckham for nearly 13 years and has spent her entire career within the Youth Services Department. Amanda has two Bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University and recently earned her MSW at Louisiana State University. Her strength-based approach and relationship building with the youth have always been her greatest asset. She is committed to serving the youth entrusted to Peckham and advocates for opportunities in the greater community.

Amy Maes

Amy Maes is currently the Associate Director for Disability Network Eastern Michigan. She has been working with Michigan’s Disability Community for over 23 years. Before working with DNOM, Amy served as the Leadership & Advocacy Consultant for Disability Network Michigan (DNM). Amy is formerly the Director of the Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL) the Center for Independent Living (CIL) serving the entire Upper Peninsula (UP). Amy is also a practicing attorney licensed in the State of Michigan and served as the Director of Litigation for Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services, Inc.

Belinda L. Jones BA, MA, LLPC

Belinda L. Jones, founder, and Director of training and placement assistance is a graduate of WSU holding a MA in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and Community Inclusion, and a BBA from Cleary University. Our team collectively has over 20 years’ experience in corporate, and remote customer service which has broadened our capabilities to offer a comprehensive training program and placement assistance to persons with disabilities.

Bret Hyble

Business Resource Network Coordinator for Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works
Bret has been with Michigan Works for two years to lead the development and management of the Business Resource Network (BRN) in the Great Lakes Bay Area. Prior to joining Michigan Works, Bret has over 33 years of leadership and management experience with 8 years as the President of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce, 13 years as an fundraiser for Central Michigan University Athletics and Sacred Heart Parish/Academy Foundations, 12 years of coaching football at the collegiate level with Northwood University, Alma College and Central Michigan University.

Caitlin Brown

Caitlin Brown (she/her/hers) is the founder of Mindful Detroit, a licensed macro social worker (LMSW), and an experienced registered yoga instructor (E-RYT 200, RYT 500). She began her journey with yoga and meditation due to her own struggles with anxiety. As a social worker, she has also turned to her mat and her cushion for important and reflective self-care to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue that is all too common in helping professions. She founded Mindful Detroit to share yoga, mindfulness, and wellness services. She received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher certification from the Asheville Yoga Center in 2010, her BA from the University of Michigan in 2006, her MSW from Wayne State University in 2012, and her 300-hour Foundations in Yoga Therapy certification from Inner Peace Yoga Therapy in 2020. She is currently training to become a Yoga Therapist through Inner Peace Yoga Therapy. Caitlin is also an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University, where she teaches coursework on yoga, mindfulness, and mind-body-spirit approaches in social work practice. She also teaches social work continuing education workshops and consults on curriculum design related to yoga, mindfulness, and wellness.

Carla Dean

Carla Dean is the Employment & Training Director at STEP. For the past 23 years she has worked in recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training for diverse populations. Recognized for excellence in a myriad of Vocational Rehabilitation & Human Resources functions; she is passionate about creating employment opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds and abilities while helping businesses meet their targets. Carla has a BA in Psychology and MBA in Integrated Management, both from Michigan State University.

Cathy McRae

Cathy McRae is a Certified Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) and is the Director of the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program for The Arc Michigan, coordinating the work of CWICs in 27 counties in Michigan’s southern, lower peninsula. Prior to joining The Arc in 2013, Cathy served as Assistant Director of the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, a statewide organization providing services and advocacy to beneficiaries of Michigan’s Medicaid Home Help Program, as well as training and support services for Home Help Providers. She participated in developing Michigan’s Adult Abuse and Neglect Prevention (AANP) Program and Criminal History Check legislation. She has been a trainer for AANP, and has participated in training development, primarily focused on Independent Living concepts.

Charles W. Beall

Charlie is the Data and Targeting Director for Voters Not Politicians and the Count MI Vote Education Fund. Charlie’s primary role as D&T Director is the growth and management of VNP’s digital & targeting strategies, database administration, and organizing tools for VNP-led programs and campaigns.

Charlie was the Deputy Field Director for Voters Not Politicians during the Proposal 2 Campaign in 2018. As Deputy Field Director, Charlie managed an aggressive remote voter contact operation which resulted in the largest peer-to-peer texting program in the state during the 2018 election cycle. Charlie is a cum laude graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Political Science. He is the proud uncle of four, and enjoys cycling and traveling in his spare time.

“My passion is to defend and advocate for all voters in our state to ensure that every citizen has a voice in their democracy.”

Cherie Johnson

Cherie Johnson, CEO for MMI, has worked for community rehabilitation organizations for over 33 years, serving in entry level, professional, supervisory, and management positions during that time. In her current role of CEO at MMI, Cherie leads an organization that provides a range of services to over 900 youth and adults in the Central Michigan area. Cherie is a CARF surveyor and she serves on a variety of local and statewide committees to enhance services and to support the development of inclusive communities. Cherie also serves on the Incompass Board of Directors and currently chairs its DSP task force.

Chip Werner

Community Relations Director: Disability Network Oakland & Macomb. A versatile and energetic professional with more than 20 years of experience in strategic prospecting, rapport building, and product or service knowledge. Chip is adept at providing exceptional customer service and leadership for making sound business decisions in complex situations and changing environments. He is an accomplished public speaker comfortable with small group discussion and large auditorium presentations across the globe.

Clare Luz, PhD

Clare Luz, PhD is an Associate Professor in the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and a gerontologist whose research focuses on long-term care health services, particularly the direct care workforce shortage. She is also Director of IMPART Alliance, which is a statewide organization dedicated to building a sustainable infrastructure in Michigan for developing and supporting the direct care workforce. She has served on the Michigan Long-Term Supports and Services Advisory Commission, the Michigan Society of Gerontology board, the National Quality Forum’s Home and Community-Based Care Committee, and currently co-chairs the statewide MDHHS Direct Care Workforce Advisory Committee and the statewide IMPART Alliance DCW Coalition.

David Bates

David Bates, Assistant Program Manager for WIOA/JMG. David is in his 16th year of employment at Peckham Inc. He graduated from Siena Heights University with a BA in Community Service: Concentration in Family Systems. David is from Lansing, Michigan and has a long history of working with At-risk population from returning citizen to adjudicated youth. David has a combined 16 years’ experience of workforce development. David lives by the moto “Worry is the Mis-use of Imagination” The complexity of the problems we face calls for the majority to see everyone being equal, working toward a better today. If not; tomorrow may never come!

Edward Woods III

As the Communications and Outreach Director for the Michigan Independent Citizens
Redistricting Commission (MICRC), Edward Woods III leads the awareness and engagement
efforts as it relates to redistricting for the Commission. In this role, Edward is responsible for the

  • Collaborate with statewide organizations and community groups to engage all.
  • Communities of Interest in the redistricting process.
  • Coordinate and respond to media inquiries.

Being a lifelong Michigander, Edward has extensive experience working for
governments and nonprofits in senior leadership, communications, and professional
development positions. As a two-time elected nonpartisan official and advocate, Edward
enjoys this unique opportunity to explain Michigan’s new redistricting process.

Emily Dieppa

Emily Dieppa, Director of Workforce Development, PHI, leads PHI’s practice work, focused on strengthening the direct care workforce through developing innovative approaches to improving direct care job quality. Her current work involves research on the business case for strategies that support this workforce including ways in which to determine return on investment and the economic impact of recruitment and retention strategies. Emily has extensive experience in creating pathways to economic sustainability and leading organizational development during times of transition. She has worked with Michigan’s Olmstead Coalition, a group of elder and disability rights advocates, to draft policy recommendations for the state’s Medicaid-funded home and community-based services. Emily has a BA in Political Science from the University of Arizona and completed a highly competitive Economic Opportunities Fellowship through the Aspen Institute’s Detroit Workforce Systems Leadership Development Academy.

Erin Shannon

Erin holds two degrees from Saginaw Valley State University, a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and a Bachelors of Social Work. She also has her Masters of Social Work with a Clinical Concentration from Michigan State University and is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Michigan. Erin is currently employed at Disability Network Capital Area in Lansing as a Program Manager for Community Engagement where she coordinates agency programming and facilitates community involvement for individuals with disabilities.

Hung Jen Kuo

Hung Jen Kuo, Assistant Professor at the Michigan State University College of Education, is a research partner on the project, evaluating Avail on its usability and efficacy in helping people become more independent in their work tasks.

Jeanette Brown

Jenny Brown is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Dutton Farm and Everybody Inc., a non-profit and social enterprise that work to remove barriers to community access and inclusion in the workforce. She founded Dutton Farm in honor of her sister who was born with Down Syndrome and struggled as an adult to find a place to put her many talents to use. She has spent the last decade relentlessly and fearlessly advocating for the rights and equal opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities. Her work was instrumental in building Dutton Farm from 5 people and an annual budget of $25,000 in 2010 to 100 people and an annual budget of 1.2 million in 2019. She has supported individuals in entering the workforce, volunteerism, community engagement and higher education.
Jenny earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from Oakland University. She was named in L Brooks 40 under 40 class of 2016 and Auburn Hills Chamber woman of the year in 2019. She has also led Dutton Farm to win Local and National Awards including: the National Down Syndrome Congress Employer of the Year Award, Chick Fil A’s True Inspiration Award, Rochester Chamber’s Non Profit of the Year Award and MIchBusiness Non-profit of the year award among others. She sits on the Rochester Hills Mayor advisory board for diversity and inclusion as well as a task force with Incompass Michigan for Direct Support Professionals. This year, Dutton Farm was named Corp! magazine champion for diversity and inclusion. She led the way through the global pandemic for both her non-profit and social enterprise to stability and growth.
Jenny lives in Lake Orion with her husband, Brent, who is a police officer and 5 children, 3 biological and 2 adopted. Jenny and her husband spent several years as foster parents and provided a temporary foster home for children of all ages. They have foster parented babies less than a year old, and children as old as 17 and everything in between. She is deeply passionate about social justice and using her talent to bring equality to those who have been treated unfairly.

Jenipher Guerin

Jenipher Guerin is the Clinical Services Manager of the Vocational Services Program for Judson Center. The Vocational Services Program annually supports over 300 teens and adults with disabilities within Wayne and Oakland Counties in their search to identify, obtain and maintain the skills needed to secure opportunities for meaningful community inclusion thru volunteerism and employment. In her role at Judson Center Jenipher works closely with the clinical team and job coaches to provide experiences that promote these inclusive opportunities.

Jenipher has a Master’s degree from Michigan State University in Social Work with a specialization in organization and community leadership. This endorsement leans toward addressing large scale social problems within the community and solving them through developing programs that affect the change that is needed. Jenipher has been with Judson Center in whole for over 20 years, with over 30 years of experience in the field fostering her ability to perform knowledgeably and effectively.

Jessica Hester, PhD, CRC

Jessica is the American Red Cross Disability Integration Program Lead for Michigan, and serves on the Mid-Michigan Disaster Action Team. While active in “on the ground” disaster response, she also works with Red Cross chapters throughout the state to prepare for and assist PWD during emergency operations. Jessica works as an independent Disability Research Consultant, most frequently with the Michigan Public Health Institute.

Joan Gustafson

Joan Gustafson is External Affairs Officer for Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). Founded in 1990, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA)  is a 501 © (3) charitable charitable organization dedicated to nonprofits and the communities they serve by promoting anti-racism and social justice. MNA is a statewide membership organization that achieves its mission through advocacy, training, technology services and civic engagement.

Joan is responsible for the development and execution of a comprehensive public affairs and communication strategy for the organization. Previously, she spearheaded the communication and government affairs efforts for the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI). Prior to joining IFPTI, Joan was the Regional Director of West Michigan for Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and served as the Governor’s liaison and ombudsman for the region. Joan was also appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports for a term commencing May 22, 2020 and expiring April 30, 2022.

Joan holds a degree in economics from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, you’ll find Joan golfing or reading.

Kayla Patino

Kayla holds two degrees from Michigan State University, a Bachelors of Science in Psychology received in 2016 and a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling received in 2019. She obtained her National Certification in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2019 and also her State Limited Licensure in Professional Counseling. Kayla is currently employed at Disability Network Capital Area in Lansing as a Program Coordinator for Adult Services where she supervises multiple programs for adults with a wide array of disabilities.

Kellie Blackwell

Kellie Blackwell, MA, CRC is an Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist with the Michigan Assistive Technology Program; a part of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Kellie joined the AT Team in January 2021, after working at Disability Network Capital Area for more than 11 years.

Kellie brings with her both personal and professional experience with AT. She identifies as someone with a vision impairment and has used AT for more than 25 years. Professionally, she has both trained individuals on adaptive software and introduced people to a variety of AT devices since 2009. She has a passion for access. This often translates into digital access; ensuring digital content is accessible for all people, no matter their situation.

When Kellie is not working, you can usually find her hanging out with her family, enjoying an audio book, and even taking her new tandem bike out for a stroll.

Kendall Brocavich

Kendall Brocavich has worked with adults with disabilities in various capacities for over 15 years. She has been employed with United Cerebral Palsy of Metropolitan Detroit since 2015. Currently, she serves as UCP Michigan’s WIPA Project Director and as a Benefits Counselor/CWIC for MI-UCP.

Kimberly Pietrylka-Miller

Kimberly Pietrylka-Miller, Vice President at New Horizons, Kimberly has worked at New Horizons since 2011. In her current role, she oversees the general management of all program and services offered to participants, including program development, delivery, and evaluation, as well as fundraising, budget setting, business and knowledge management, external relationship engagement and community networking. She coordinates and supervises all branch/site operations, development and implementation of projects and new services as they align with the agency’s mission of providing employment opportunities for individuals facing barriers to employment. Kimberly also acts as liaison with agency funding sources and constituents. Kimberly earned her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Wayne State University and holds a BS in Psychology from Michigan State University.

Lakisha Foreman

Vocational Training Specialist Intern and Job Placement Specialist, studying psychology and law at Wayne State University.

Laura Hall

Laura Hall has over 15 years of experience working within the disability community. She has worked at Michigan Disability Rights Coalition for the past eight years, serving as a Co-Director of the Michigan Assistive Technology Program and as Project Lead on Youth Engaged in Leading and Learning, a grant awarded by the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council. Laura is a proud woman with a disability, and is committed to dismantling systems of oppression that affect people with disabilities and the broader community. She is passionate about access to assistive technology as a tool for independence, helping others develop disability pride and leadership skills, and challenging the systems impede the civil rights of people with disabilities. For all of her work in the disability community, Ms. Hall was the recipient of the Developmental Disability Council’s Unsung Advocate Award and Disability Network/Capital Area’s Marsha Moers Community Advocacy Award. She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a B.A. in Education and a Master of Social Work degree.

Lauren Baker

Public Policy & Outreach Specialist for the Disability Network Eastern Michigan
Experienced Public Policy Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the civic & social organization industry, and has been with The Disability Network Eastern Michigan for over 9 years. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Public Speaking, Public Policy, Facilitation, and Government Advocacy. She has been a strong advocate for accessible/affordable transportation in SouthEastern Michigan, as a member of both the SMART Bus and Regional Transit Authority Citizen Advisory Committees. Lauren received a Bachelor of Science focused in Elementary Education and Teaching from Eastern Michigan University.

Leslie Fiorenzo

Leslie Fiorenzo is the founder of, a coaching and training company focused on helping teams work together more effectively and productively. Using proven tools, she facilitates and energizes teams with 3 key skills to thrive now – even in these unprecedented times. With a keen interest in organizational effectiveness, she helps organizations eliminate toxicity by creating a drama free workplace. Understanding the importance of leadership – particularly now – she helps managers and senior leaders become more confident, productive, and fulfilled. Leslie’s unique perspective and approach comes from 30 years spent in corporate environments as a human resources professional. A lifelong learner, she has achieved a number of certifications including a facilitator with Conversational Management, Thera-Rising, IPV Consulting and DISC based learning tools. Her commitment to helping others grow and develop led her to teach human resources, business, and marketing courses as an adjunct faculty member at Davenport University and as an independent consultant with Business Network International. Leslie received her bachelor’s degree from Spring Arbor College and her master’s in human resource development from Western Michigan University.

Linda Hedenblad MSE, CRC, MINT member

Linda has spent her adult life working directly and indirectly in service of people with disabilities. Her job titles have included: Therapist, Homeless Outreach Specialist, Mental Health Case Manager, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Senior Researcher, Program Manager, and Business Owner. As an educator, Linda has gained a national reputation for presenting topical issues while infusing humor and vitality into her training style. In addition to her role as an educator, Linda is the owner of the VR Development Group which offers online courses for busy rehabilitation professionals. As a lifelong advocate off accessible learning, Linda is also co-owner of YesLMS, the most accessible learning platform on the market today.

Lisa J. Friedrich, PhD

Lisa Friedrich is the Chief Program Officer of Dutton Farm, a non-profit agency whose mission is to empower and support adults with disabilities to live a life of purpose, inclusion, and dignity. She has a designed and guided a four-division program of Adult Education, Community Involvement, Workforce Development, and Telehealth Services that prioritizes self-determination and energetic engagement. Under her leadership, substantial growth in all areas has established Dutton Farm as a well-known curriculum-based joyful place for disabled adults to find learning, friendship, and support, serving over 100 participants. Lisa believes in actively building bridges and crafting new pathways for all adults to access the many resources and activities available in our great communities.

Lisa earned her PhD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. After ten years of on-ground teaching English and Communications at the university level, she continues her expertise in curriculum design and adult instruction as an online adjunct faculty member at A.T. Still University teaching Research Design & Writing for their graduate programs of Health Administration. She also currently serves on four dissertation committees that guide students in their doctoral pursuits. Teaching adults with excellence is her career-driving passion.

Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Lisa has lived her entire life in the mid-west with over ten years in Indiana and twenty-one years in Michigan. She loves everything natural and outdoors enjoying all that is Pure Michigan – camping, hiking, boating, and snow-skiing. She resides in Oakland Township near her two adult sons, now 22 and 25. They are all big fans of creative writing, movies, and the culinary arts.

Lou Adams

Lou Adams is the President-Elect of National Rehabilitation Association and serves on the Board of the Clare-Gladwin RESD. Lou has served as the Training and Technical Assistance Manager for National Disability Inc’s Workforce Innovation National Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) and Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center – Quality Management (VRTAC_QM) grants. Previously, Lou has served as the Training and Technical Assistance Director for the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Technical Assistance Center.

Mr. Adams spent 30 years with Michigan Rehabilitation Services first as a counselor and consultant and various leadership roles including Deputy Director and Acting Director.

Lou lives with his wife Dixie on Surrey Lake in Clare County and enjoys spending time with his many grand children and catching up on his reading.

Mary Jane Shafto

Mary Jane’s background is in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. After teaching high school English for 25 years, Mary Jane retired and then joined Disability Network Eastern Michigan in August of 2017. Mary Jane supports the facilitation of job readiness skills training throughout the Oakland and Macomb County School Districts. She works to develop curriculum as well as Employment Services training material. Mary Jane is delighted to be working with high school programming where she can help make a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities.

Menachem Hojda LMSW

Menachem Hojda is a Clinical Social Worker and Trainer with Oakland Community Health Network and Fairsky Foundation. He is passionate about making the world a more compassionate place by sharing information about the power of connection and empathy to build resilience as a response to trauma.

Merkeb Yohannes

Merkeb Yohannes joined MCEDSV in 2017 and is an Associate Director. She joins MCEDSV after nearly 10 years of working in advocacy and program management at a non-profit organization serving those with disabilities. Prior to that she lived in Atlanta, Georgia primarily working in social services amongst Immigrant and Refugee families and was an active member of various social justice community groups. Merkeb has vast experience working in developing countries with international non-profit organizations, local governments and faith-based organizations in areas of woman and girl empowerment, grant management, HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention, media material development for public health issues, and workforce training and development. As a Lansing resident, she continues to volunteer in her community with local agencies that advocate and support survivors as well as with the Refugee community.

Mychal Fearncombe

Mychal Fearncombe, Executive Director at Community Enterprises of St. Clair County, Mychal began working for Community Enterprises of St. Clair County in 1988 as a direct care worker and has held a variety of positions until assuming her current position in 2016. Mychal earned her Master’s in Business Administration from Walden University and her BBL from Baker College.

Myla Lyons

Vocational Training Specialist Intern and Job Placement Specialist, studying biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience at the University of Michigan.

Paul Landry

Paul Landry serves as a Director of Employment Programs at MI-UCP and manages the Work Incentive Planning & Assistance (WIPA) Project covering Livingston, Oakland and Wayne counties. He has established the Fee for Service with Michigan Rehabilitation Services & the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons. Paul is also involved in Michigan’s Employment First initiative subcommittee, aiding Benefit Counseling services at a statewide level and making recommendations regarding the state’s Medicaid – Freedom to Work program. Paul is also a Benefits Counselor and CWIC Certified.

Rene Dell, MA, LPC, NCC, CRC

Rene Dell received her Masters in Counseling from Oakland University. Rene is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor who currently works as the Senior Director of Rehabilitation at JVS Human Services. She sits on the board for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. She has extensive experience working with individuals who sustained traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, intellectual impairments, developmental disability, mental health diagnosis, substance use disorders and other catastrophic injuries. Rene has been successful in placing individuals with significant disabilities in competitive community-based employment. She has worked with those who are referred by Michigan Rehabilitation Services, those currently receiving Workers Compensation benefits, and private pay cases which all involve working with participants with a wide range of disabilities. Rene looks at each person on an individual basis and develops an approach which maximizes the potential for the participant.

Rosanne Renauer

Rosanne Renauer, PhD, LLP, CRC is a recent graduate of the Rehabilitation Counselor Education program at Michigan State University and a limited licensed psychologist. Retired in 2018, after a thirty plus year career with Michigan’s state vocational rehabilitation agency, she remains an optimist dedicated to leadership, mentoring and the pursuit of systems change through effective collaboration and full inclusion. Rosanne led the statewide transition initiative for students with disabilities among other systems change efforts and managed the agency’s resource and program development work emphasizing policy, community partnerships, technology, customer services and staff development. Rosanne is a current Board member of the Michigan Rehabilitation Association and the Multicultural Association on Rehabilitation Concerns and a past President of the National Association on Rehabilitation Leadership.

Sam Sweet

Samantha Sweet is the avail customer support & success specialist. She has worked for the past 8 years in various roles supporting individuals with I/DD in Alabama and Colorado. A few years in early intervention and the past 6 years in supported employment. Most recently, she was an employment supervisor for a non-profit in Denver, CO who provided services such as Assessments, Paid Internships, Job development, Customized Employment, long-term job coaching, and more. They utilized VR and Medicaid funds to provide those services. In July 2020, their program implemented Avail using VR funds. There were many positive outcomes for our program with the use of avail and that program is continuing to utilize it today to help individuals they support become independent in their community. In June 2021, she moved to Buffalo, NY and with that life change, she began working with Avail, in part because of how much it positively affected our program but mostly because she knows how much it can help other programs and individuals seeking independence.

Sarah Britton

Sarah Britton leads the Prevention and ReEntry Services department at Peckham and she is obsessed with advocating and leveling the playing field. She over-sees adult & youth programs across Ingham, Genesee, Clinton, and Eaton counties. She is active in community focus groups like Phoenix Court: Human Trafficking Unit, GANG Task Force, Community Coalition for Youth, and Mentor Collaboratives. Sarah has nearly 2 decades of experience working with court-involved youth and returning citizens and has established twelve new thriving programs across four counties within the past 10 years; expanding support from 65 participants a year to nearly one thousand participants a year. She is eager to innovate. She is eager to have difficult conversations if it results in growth. There is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone – and she is always looking for growth.

Sarah George

Sarah George is the Director of Mission Initiatives at Peckham. She has worked at Peckham since 1999. In her current role, Sarah provides strategic thinking and clinical expertise in the research, design, implementation and evaluation of programs and services that support Peckham’s mission to maximize human potential for people striving for independence and self-sufficiency. Sarah earned her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She also holds a BSW from Western Michigan University.

Sarah DeLand

Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Social Relations from Kalamazoo College and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.  Sarah also completed the coursework for her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) certification through the University of Massachusetts. Currently, Sarah serves as an Associate Clinical Manager at the Judson Center, managing and overseeing the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis services for children, teens, and young adults with Autism for two clinic locations. Previously, Sarah served as a direct clinician, overseeing the implementation of intensive applied behavior analysis services with children with autism ages 7-19 at the Judson Center. Within this area, Sarah specialized in social skill development for children with ASD, especially focused on transitioning skills to the natural environment, and transitioning from intensive therapy to the school environment. In addition to overseeing intensive ABA programming, Sarah has also provided training and consultation services to local area schools in dealing with challenging behavior and implementing about behavior plans within the school setting. Previously, Sarah served as the Clinical Supervisor at Judson Center Autism Connections, providing supervision for the clinical services, including counseling, social skills groups, and summer programming. Sarah has also served a direct therapist role at the Judson Center, running social skill groups, managing the summer program, working with individual clients providing both counseling and play-based therapy.   

Stephanie Wambaugh

Stephanie Wambaugh received her Masters of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in 2013, and since then has been working at the Braille and Talking Book Library as the Youth and Outreach Librarian. She has presented at numerous state venues, including the Michigan Library Association Conference, MAER, and Re:Con 2018.

Stormie Jacobs-Wakemup

Business Resource Network Success Coach for Great Lakes Bay Michigan Workks
Stormie has more than 10 years of experience in the Human Services, working with primarily those in underrepresented categories. Matching experience with education, her skill set is hands on with employees. Successful rapport building is key to success of the Network. The Business Resource Network works as a collaboration network helping secure employee retention. With Stormie’s years in social work, she works with directly with the employees on a weekly basis to achieve their goals and in return provide the business with a stronger employer retention.

Susan Fitzmaurice

Susan Fitzmaurice has been a lifelong advocate for the disabled, with broad background and experience in empowering and creating new opportunities for people with disabilities of all ages. Susan has over 50 years of experience in both professional and volunteer positions spanning all facets of the disability community. She has demonstrated creativity and results in marshaling diverse resources and solving real-world problems in both governmental and non-profit roles. Her proven leadership in building coalitions and communities spans organizational and disability boundaries.

Susan was the ADA Coordinator for the city of Dearborn for nearly 10 years. She is a long-time employee, volunteer, and board member of Michigan Arts Access. She manages her son’s microenterprise, Teddy’s Ts. Susan received a BA in Philosophy at the Thomas Jefferson College at Grand Valley. She then went on to earn a MS in Special Education at Bank Street College of Education in New York City, followed by a BA in Psychology at Grand Valley, and two MS from Syracuse University, in Rehabilitation Counseling and in Disabilities Studies.

Terrie Hylton, PhD

Terrie Hylton has been working with people with disabilities for over 35 years. She is currently employed by “Services to Enhance Potential” as the Competitive Integrated Employment Manager. She previously worked for Michigan Rehabilitation Services as counselor and manager and retired after 33 years.

She earned a PhD from Michigan State University in Rehabilitation Counselor Education, master’s degree in Higher Education Counseling from Wayne State University, bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Studies from Madonna University and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Wayne State University.

She has four peer-reviewed scholarly publications and performed over 45 presentations locally nationally and internationally.
Her Professional Recognitions include:
National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns – Virgie Winston-Smith
Lifetime Achievement Award- 2019
National Rehabilitation Association- Max T. Prince Meritorious Service Award- 2015
National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns -T.K. Bridges Practitioner Award- 2005
Michigan Rehabilitation Services-Counselor of the Year -1998 and 2000
ARC of Oakland County- Communications Award – 1997 Co-authored “Bridges”

Traci Comer-Scarsella

Traci Comer-Scarsella has over 20 years of experience in the human services field, specifically working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has worked for The Arc of Macomb County as an Adult Advocate and currently works for Disability Network Eastern Michigan (a CIL) as the Program Services Director overseeing the Employment Services department, which includes the Pre-Employment Services Training (Pre-ETS) program. The Pre-ETS program is designed, in partnership with vocational rehabilitation, to work with youth in transition. In this role, she assists and supervises the delivery of informational services, educational services, trainings, resources, curriculums, interventions and facilitation to persons with developmental disabilities and their families in their communities. She also is a Trustee for the MISD Inter-Agency Transition Council and Macomb Academy school board president.

Thank You to our Sponsors!


Logo - STEP Services to Enhance Potential


Logo Work Skills Corporation


Meijer Peckham

new horizons

Logo New Horizons Rehabilitations Services, Inc

Judson Center

Logo - Judson Center
View All Sponsors

re:con Awards

BOOM is a statewide award ceremony recognizing individuals with a disability who have excelled. The goal of the BOOM Awards is to provide stereotype-busting role models for people with disabilities.

Boom Awards

logo apex awards

The apex awards recognize outstanding achievement in the following categories: Outstanding Employer, Outstanding Community Partner, Transformational Leadership, and Lifetime Achievement.

Apex Awards