ICI Autism Series

About the Series

New ICI Series Expands Discussion of Autism

A new series of online conversations, hosted by the ICI, aims to move the conversation forward about full inclusion for people on the autism spectrum.

Titled "Expanding the Dialogue on Autism: Reflections on Research & Real Life," the series of online talks will engage experts in the field of autism, some of whom are on the spectrum themselves. The goal is to look at ways that people on the spectrum are shattering outdated expectations about their potential, their success, and their engagement in education, employment, healthcare, and community life.


Archived Webinars

Research & Real Life (from June 22)

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Healthcare (from May 22)

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Community Life and Engagement (from April 10)

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Employment (from March 22)


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Education (from March 7)


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Presenter Bios

Julia Landau , Esq., is the Director of the Autism Center at Massachusetts Advocates for Children. Ms. Landau, a specialist in special education law, has over thirty –five years of experience conducting legislative advocacy and litigation on behalf of children with autism and other disabilities. The Autism Center has successfully led advocacy efforts establishing important rights and protections for children with autism, including the Autism IEP Act, AAC law, autism anti-bullying protections, the Children's Autism Medicaid Waiver, the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, and other legislation addressing transition needs of older youth. An active member of the Autism Commission, the Autism Center worked closely with sister advocacy organizations to secure more recent passage of the Omnibus Autism Act. Ms. Landau has developed special education law training curricula and provided workshops for parents and professionals throughout the Commonwealth

Maria Paiewonsky, Ed.D., is a program coordinator and transition specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion. She also serves as Director of the Massachusetts Transition Leadership Initiative, a personnel preparation program that prepared Master's Level Transition Specialists at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Maria has coordinated numerous secondary and transition related projects and works with teachers, interdisciplinary team members, students and families to develop positive and inclusive college, work and community outcomes.

Ned Pavlak is a 2nd semester dual enrollment student at Holyoke Community College (HCC) in Western Massachusetts. He is studying communications and next year will fully matriculate at the college. In addition to his classes, Ned is an active member of the Students on the Autism Spectrum (SAS) club. He also presented with other student researchers at the 2017 State of the Art Conference on Postsecondary Education and Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities at Syracuse University.

Stephen Shore , Ed.D., is professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book _College for Students with Disabilities _combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

John Butterworth , Ph.D., is Director for Employment Systems Change and Evaluation and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston. John has over 35 years of experience in research, training, employment support and the management and development of employment services. He manages projects on employment support and state systems change including Access to Integrated Employment, a 30 year national data collection project on day and employment services and outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Advancing Employment for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the State Employment Leadership Network, a membership network of 25 state developmental disability agencies committed to improving employment outcomes. John's interests include systems and organizational change, data-based management and planning, state policy and strategy, employment outcomes, organizational development and transformation, improving employment supports, natural supports, and person-centered planning.

Lori Golden is Ernst & Young's Abilities Strategy Leader, driving efforts to build an enabling, inclusive environment for people of all abilities. She advises the firm's over 1,000 member AccessAbilities professional network and its Abilities Champions leaders network. Lori leads initiatives to enhance accessibility in Ernst & Young offices, communications, meetings, trainings and technology, educate EY people on abilities-related issues and create new diverse abilities recruiting strategies and employment models. Lori's helped build a variety of innovative programs at EY, including neurodiversity centers of excellence and "r u ok?, a mental health education effort which equips colleagues to support colleagues who may be struggling with the impacts of mental illness or addiction.

Alan Kurtz , Ph.D., is Coordinator for Education and Autism at the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine.For the last 25 years, Alan has provided extensive consultation both to schools and adult service providers regarding supports for individuals with ASD and other disabilities. Alan recently collaborated with Dr. David Hagner to implement two research projects examining the effects of a family-centered transition planning interventions for youth with ASD. Dr. Kurtz was the lead author of the Maine Employment Curriculum and worked closely with a person with ASD to develop a training on employment supports for individuals on the spectrum that they co-delivered throughout New England. Alan has served as a board member for both the of the Autism National Committee and the Northeast Regional Conference on Autism. His professional interests include transition, authentic person-centered planning, employment supports, positive supports, and inclusive education. Dr. Kurtz' interest in ASD is personal as well as professional. In addition to having a brother with ASD, he has a close friend on the spectrum who he spends time with each week.

Scott Michael Robertson , Ph.D., is a policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). He advises on accessible workplace technology policy and employment and transportation policy, including autonomous vehicles. Dr. Robertson also serves as ODEP's subject matter expert on autism and neurodiversity in the workplace. Since arriving at ODEP in 2015, he has advised on national youth policy issues, including school-to-work transition, work-based learning, apprenticeship, and youth leadership and development. In 2017, Dr. Robertson co-developed the first federal interagency Report to Congress on autistic young adults and youth transitioning to adult life.

Paul Wehman , Ph.D. is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. Dr. Wehman holds his primary position as a Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Virginia Commonwealth University with joint position in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling and the Department of Special Education. Dr. Wehman serves as Director of the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment and Director of the VCU Autism Center for Excellence (ACE). He has researched, written, instructed and presented extensively on issues related to transition from school to adulthood and special education as it relates for young adulthood. He has published more than 220 articles, 131 book chapters, and authored or edited 43 books.

Finn Gardiner is a community educator, researcher, advocate, and designer. Mr. Gardiner is a Master of Public Policy student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Finn currently works with the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. At Lurie and ASAN, Finn combines disability advocacy, policy analysis, and visual and written communication to help advance the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Finn turns academic research on disability into accessible policy briefs and infographics for laypeople and policy makers. Mr. Gardiner also create original reports for professionals who want to approach their work in a more humane, disability-friendly way. You can read more about Finn and his work on his website: http://expectedly.org/new/welcome/ .

Stacey Ramirez is the Executive Director of the Arc in Georgia. Ms. Ramirez is a proud supporter of People First, chair of the local AAIDD chapter, an advisory board member for the Crisis Intervention Team training to educate first responders in interactions with people with MH and I/DD, and a member of the Autism Advisory Council to the Department on Developmental Disabilities for the development of supports and services for adults in services on the autism spectrum.

Before joining The Arc, Ms. Ramirez was the Director of Individual and Family Supports at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University. There, she increased knowledge and skills in community inclusion, person-centered planning, and culturally competent family supports with a particular focus in furthering the civil and human rights of people with intellectual disabilities.

Stacey is also a proud mom of three sons, including a son with Autism who is a strong advocate for community inclusion.

Jennifer Sulewski, Ph.D is a senior research associate at the ICI. She has based her research career in large part on investigating community life engagement (CLE) for people with developmental disabilities. From 2014-2017 she was PI of a NIDILRR-funded Field Initiated Project to study how to improve supports for CLE. She conducted her doctoral research on non-work day supports and has authored numerous publications and conference presentations on CLE. She received her Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University in 2006, with a dissertation titled In Search of Meaningful Daytimes: Community-Based Nonwork Supports for Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

Lauren Weaver works as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Pediatrics and Coordinator of Community Engagement for Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) in Nashville, Tennessee. She has earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and an M.S. degree in Applied Behavior Analysis in Developmental Disabilities from Auburn University.

Lauren strives to provide quality behavior analytic services and build the capacity of other individuals and systems to increase quality of life for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related disorders. Lauren coordinates TRIAD’s Community Engagement Program including the Inclusion Network of Nashville (INN), innovative partnerships to create a community network of arts, education, athletic, and entertainment organizations that works to promote full inclusion of children and adults with IDD autism and other developmental disabilities and their families. The program has been awarded the 2014 Autism Tennessee Coston Education Award and the 2017 American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) Community Inclusion Award.

Lauren also works throughout the state of Tennessee under grant contracts funded by the Tennessee Department of Education to provide integrated and topical professional development opportunities for education professionals and caregivers and is coordinating pilot services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to embed applied behavior analysis therapy in general pediatric settings.