Keynote Speaker – Rep. DAN Miller
As the eldest child of immigrant parents, Dan was the first member of his family born in America. Raised by a single mom from an early age, finances were often challenging. Even so, his family instilled in him a strong appreciation and recognition of the special opportunities America offers. As a result, Dan has made public service an important part of his life.
He enlisted in the Army National Guard after high school. While his military service was cut short due to injury, he found another way to engage in service. As a Team Leader in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corp, he led a team of young people working on community projects across the Mid-Atlantic. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in education and history and became a certified secondary educator. He later graduated with a law degree from Catholic University, where he also ran their public interest auction, was given a community service award, and served as executive editor of their communications journal. Upon passing the bar Dan decided to serve the community again as a public defender focusing on juveniles and later as a county solicitor where he worked to make sure kids were safe in their homes and received a proper education.
Dan and his wife Kim moved to Mt. Lebanon where he joined the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. In 2011, he was awarded the Medal of Merit for his attempt to save the life of a three-year-old child from a devastating house fire. He went on to be elected as a municipal commissioner, and has served the community on boards of such local institutions as Outreach Teen and Family Center, the Center for Theater Arts, and the Hollywood Theater in Dormont.
Dan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2013 and currently serves on the Education Committee as the Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Special Education, on the Judiciary Committee as Secretary, and as a member of the Human Services, and Children & Youth, and Labor committees. Dan also works as Co-Chair of the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Caucus, and on the Early Childhood Education, Government Reform, LGBT Equality, Steel, HOPE, and Fire/EMS caucuses.
As state representative, Dan has received awards for his advocacy for people with disabilities from Achieva, The Peal Center, Pittsburgh Local task Force on the Right to Education, and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, and he has been awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA.
Dr. Josie Badger – Employment
Dr. Josie Badger received her Bachelor’s degree from Geneva College in Disability Law and Advocacy, a Master’s from the University of Pittsburgh in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a Doctorate from Duquesne University in Healthcare Ethics. In 2014 Josie founded J Badger Consulting Inc. where she provides consulting services for organizations, including the PEAL Center, on transition and leadership development. She is the Co-Director of the national RSA Parent Training and Information Center (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center. She is also the Campaign Manager of the #IWantToWork Campaign, to improve the employment of people with disabilities.
She serves as a board member of the United Way of Southwestern PA and FISA. In 2012 Dr. Badger was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America. Previously, she was an author for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for the book Launching into Adulthood, and she served as president of the National Youth Leadership Network and the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN).
Alyssa Cypher – Mental Health
Alyssa Cypher is a mental health advocate, public speaker, and self-appointed “professional crazy person.” Her life goal is to work towards combining the (often separate) worlds of professional mental health and lived experience, in order to change the way people living with mental illness are perceived and treated in society. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Public Administration Degree in Policy Research and Analysis from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Alyssa runs an organization called Inside Our Minds, which works to build community narratives on mental illness through storytelling. She also works at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Keystone Pennsylvania and serves as a project assistant for Stand Together, an anti-stigma initiative in Pittsburgh-area schools. You can follow her on Instagram at @lyss_cypher.
Janet Evans – Community Organizing
Janet Evans is a long-time resident of the Bernice Washington Crawley High Rise, located in Glen Hazel. She has been an active member of the community’s tenant leadership and an advocate for the rights of both low-income individuals and persons with disabilities. Janet currently serves on the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh Board of Commissioners as the Vice Chair, as well as host of committees and boards based in the City of Pittsburgh, including Community Living and Support Services (CLASS) and the City County Task Force for People with Disabilities.
In addition to her many volunteer activities, Janet participates with Fishes and Loaves Buying Club. She previously operated her own small business, H & J Laundry Services, for over 20 years. Janet earned her Associate’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences at CCAC North Side. She is widowed and says that she is blessed to have her friends and neighbors from the Glen Hazel High Rise as her family.
Cori Frazer – Invisible Disabilities
Cori Frazer is an Autistic and queer/nonbinary activist and director of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, an Autistic-run advocacy and justice organization. Cori is currently pursuing their master’s degree in social work at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. They serve on the Mayor’s LGBTQIA+ Council and the City/County Taskforce on Disability. Currently, they are a Summer Organizing Fellow at Fight Back Pittsburgh, where they are continuing to develop their community organizing skills. Recently honored by the Incline as a young leader in Education, Cori has done work with Education Rights Network and families in Pittsburgh Public Schools to address the disparities faced by students with disabilities and students of color, as well as individual work advocating for families with transgender children in the public school system.
A passionate organizer, Cori has been doing justice work since they were a teen, mobilizing their classmates toward LGBT acceptance at their rural high school a decade ago. Cori writes in their spare time, with work in publications by Autonomous Press, End the Silence Campaign, a few zines, and more than a few letter to the editor sections.
Mary Anderson Hartley – Parenting a Child with a Disability
Mary Anderson Hartley is a disability systems change consultant working with multiple organizations. For the past 10 years she has engaged advocates and organizations to target the precise fix for broken policy and practice effectively solving issues through legislation, advocacy, and identifying and developing unique programs that work.
While with the United Way of Allegheny County’s 21 and Able Initiative, she has helped to ‘bridge the divide’ between youth and adult systems so that students with disabilities can transition more successfully to adulthood in employment, housing, and services. Most notably, she developed and directed the passage of transition age employment legislation through the self-advocate managed, social media #IWantToWork Campaign; helped to create a new model of business employment collaboration through the development of the Career Transition Project; launched Pennsylvania’s statewide Planning For the Future Checklist (look for the app soon!); and has generated numerous state and local policies, strategies, and solutions.
Additionally, Mary developed and organized ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative, a multi-pronged stakeholder effort in Pennsylvania to increase access to health care for individuals with disabilities. Mary is a parent advocate who got her start volunteering with the Local Task Force on the Right to Education. She serves on the Board of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, The PEAL Center, and is the Chair of UPMC’s Disability Resource Center. She lives with her husband and two children in Pittsburgh. Her son Jack is advocating on his own behalf through transition.
Milt Henderson – Intersection of Race and Disability
Milt Henderson is a long-time Allegheny County resident and disability advocate. He maintains a government-appointed seat on the City-County Taskforce on Disabilities, which advises the City and County on issues that affect people with disabilities in the region.
Milt is a proud Veteran and member of the Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder – Healthcare
The Reverend Sally Jo Snyder is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church having been ordained 25 years. For the first ten years of her ministry, Sally Jo was pastor to congregations and communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania, New Castle, and Erie. For the past fifteen years, Reverend Snyder has worked in justice ministry settings as a community organizer on local, state and national levels. Of particular concern to Rev. Snyder are issues which impact marginalized populations, children, the impoverished, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.
Since March of 2007, Snyder has been on staff of the Consumer Health Coalition where she is the Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement. She created and leads the very successful “I AM YOUR NEIGHBOR” program which advocates for rights, resources, room, and respect for persons with all types of disabilities (physical, mental, sensory, and developmental, cross). Snyder leads advocacy trainings and education events for diverse populations and seeks to empower and involve individuals in both self and systemic advocacy.
Snyder oversees the distribution of the “How to BE a Proactive Patient” guidebook and the Academy of Empowered Consumers which educates persons to ensure the integration of persons’ physical health care and mental health care and teaches persons to be involved and engaged in every medical appointment. She wants to empower consumers to be the “Most Valuable Players” on their health care teams. Rev. Snyder was appointed to and serves as the Vice-Chairperson for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and is chairperson of the Health Workgroup.
A gifted and talented communicator of the spoken and written word, Sally Jo is a published author and impassioned speaker and has done work in announcing and radio. Sally Jo enjoys movies, reading, and hiking. She is a proud Pittsburgh Pirates fan, a life-long member of “Steelers Nation,” thinks Dr. Seuss is one of the great theologians of the 20th Century and that Mister Rogers should be nominated for sainthood. Sally Jo believes that community is all of us.