Institute Presenters

Lydia BrownLydia X. Z. Brown (Autistic Hoya) is a gender/queer and transracially/transnationally adopted east asian autistic activist, writer, and speaker whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They have worked to advance transformative change through organizing in the streets, writing legislation, conducting anti-ableism workshops, testifying at regulatory and policy hearings, and disrupting institutional complacency everywhere from the academy to state agencies and the nonprofit-industrial complex. At present, Lydia is co-president of TASH New England, chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, and an executive board member of the Autism Women's Network. In collaboration with Elesia Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, a forthcoming anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color.Previously, Lydia worked for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s national public policy team. Lydia has been honored by the White House, the Washington Peace Center, Pacific Standard, and Mic. Lydia’s work has been featured in various anthologies, including Criptiques, Torture in Healthcare Settings, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, and periodicals including Tikkun, Disability Intersections, Black Girl Dangerous, hardboiled magazine, POOR Magazine, and the Washington Post.

Julie CaustonJulie Causton, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Inclusive and Special Education Program in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University. Her teaching, research and consulting are guided by a passion for inclusive education. Julie’s particular areas of expertise are school reform, inclusive teacher training, collaboration, humanistic behavioral supports, lesson planning, and providing invisible adult supports. Julie has also provided independent educational evaluations in due process hearings across the nation. Her published works have appeared in over 30 academic journals including: Remedial And Special Education, Teaching Exceptional Children, Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, Theory into Practice issue on Inclusive Leadership and Social Justice, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, The School Administrator , Equity and Excellence in Education , Studies in Art Education, Journal of Special Education Leadership, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Behavioral Disorders, Educational Leadership, Science Scope and Exceptional Children.
She has written 5 books for school professionals that are widely read by school teams and teacher education programs across the country. Her new book on Co-teaching entitled “30 Days to the Co-taught Classroom: How to create an amazing, nearly miraculous, and frankly earth shattering partnership in one month or less” will be published sometime this fall.

Dan HabibDan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories, and many other short films on disability-related topics. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. While working at the Institute on Disability, Habib has screened his films hundreds of times at universities, national conferences, and independent theaters across the country and internationally, leading discussions about the challenges and benefits of inclusive education and related topics. Including Samuel was broadcast nationally on public television stations in the fall of 2009, and was nominated for an Emmy in 2010. Including Samuel has also been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Good Morning America,” as well as in the Washington Post and Exceptional Parent magazine. The film has been translated into 17 languages and is used as a teaching tool worldwide.
Before joining UNH in April of 2008, Habib was the photography editor of the Concord Monitor(NH). In 2006 and 2008, he was named the national Photography Editor of the Year and has been a judge of the Pulitzer Prizes and the Best of Photojournalism. He is a six-time New Hampshire photographer of the year and his freelance work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. In 2012, Habib received the Champion of Human and Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and in 2013 he received the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In November 2013, Habib delivered a TEDx talk titled “Disabling Segregation” on the benefits of inclusion to students without disabilities.In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities—a committee that promotes policies and initiatives that support independence and lifelong inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
Habib and his wife, Betsy, live in Concord, New Hampshire with their sons Isaiah, 18, and Samuel, 15.

LeDerick HorneLabeled as neurologically impaired in third grade, LeDerick R. Horne defies any and all labels. He’s a dynamic spoken-word poet. A tireless advocate for all people with disabilities. An inspiring motivational speaker. A bridge-builder between learners and leaders across the U.S. and around the word. An African-American husband and father who serves as a role model for all races, genders, and generations.
The grandson of one of New Jersey’s most prominent civil rights leaders, LeDerick uses his gift for spoken-word poetry as the gateway to larger discussions on equal opportunity, pride, self-determination and hope for people with disabilities. He regularly addresses an array of academic, government, social, and business groups, including appearances at the White House, the United Nations, Harvard University, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and the Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Alabama State Departments of Education. His work addresses the challenges of all disabilities, uniting the efforts of diverse groups in order to achieve substantive, systemic change.
From 2003-2012, LeDerick served as the Founding Board Chair of Eye to Eye, the only national nonprofit mentoring program for students labeled with LD/ADHD, and continues to serve on the board today. He is also a Steering Committee Member of the IRIS Center for Training Enhancements at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and Senior Consultant for The Center for School Climate and Learning.
He has released two spoken-word poetry albums (Rhyme Reason and Song in 2005 and Black and Blue in 2011) and co-created New Street Poets, a spoken-word play about the effect of gentrification on urban culture. The play received considerable acclaim including accolades at the New York City International Fringe Festival and toured extensively throughout the U.S. He also co-authored Hidden Disabilities, Hidden Potential—the definitive compendium on LD / ADHD and other hidden disabilities with Margo Vreeburg Izzo, PhD, Ohio State. LeDerick has earned a BA in mathematics with a Fine Arts minor from New Jersey City University and also studied mathematics at Middlesex County College. His poetry is available on iTunes and YouTube, and you can learn more about him at

Lisa KnowlesLisa Knowles is currently the Director for Pupil Personnel Services in the Guilderland Central School District, a suburban school district located near Albany, NY. She began her career as a school psychologist in a city school district. For the last 13 years, she served as a special education administrator in rural and suburban school districts.

Beth MyersBeth Myers, Ed.D. is the Interim Director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. She is also a Research Assistant Professor in the Teaching and Leadership Department of the School of Education at Syracuse University and an education consultant. Professor Myers taught in the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania and helped to create a best-practice inclusive autism support program there. She opened a regional center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 2006 and served as Executive Director before joining the center’s consultation team in 2011. Professor Myers has created dozens of programs with individuals and families, including the Advancement Square group for adults, The Teen Project for adolescents with ASD, the Awesome Summer Days program for school-age children, and the SAIL Supported Adult Independent Living program. Beth holds a dual appointment with the Kelberman Center for Autism Services as Director of Special Projects. She has provided school consultations and staff development to over 60 school districts.

I Am NormI Am Norm is a national inclusion campaign. For the past 5 years, the focus of the Liverpool High School group, comprised of over 100 students, teachers and community members, is to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. They work to encourage the acceptance, respect, and authentic inclusion of all youth, including those with disabilities, in schools and communities. They believe that people should not have to fit a mold in order to fit into a classroom or a community. REAL inclusion can only happen by bringing together diverse groups of people and ensuring that everyone is supported, understood, and respected.

Marcia RanieriMarcia Ranieri is an Instructional Administrator for World Languages and English as a New Language for the Guilderland Central School District. Prior to coming to Guilderland Ranieri was an Assistant Principal and Spanish teacher for West Genesee High School. Ranieri earned her administrative certificate through Syracuse University.

Damien SingletonDemian Singleton, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience in public education. He currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the Guilderland Central School District where he has also as an Instructional Administrator for Mathematics and Science and as a middle-level science teacher. Throughout his years in Guilderland, Demian has worked as an educational leader, teacher, instructional technologist, presenter, professional developer, consultant, and innovator. Demian earned his Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the Sage Graduate School where he studied the impacts of Value Added Assessment models on teacher practice and development. Throughout his education and professional career, he has also maintained passion for a variety of educational topics ranging from educational technology integration and information literacy to professional development and change management.

George TheroharisGeorge Theoharis, Ph.D., is Department Chair for the Teaching and Leadership Department, and Professor in Educational Leadership and Inclusive Elementary Education at Syracuse University. He has extensive field experience in public education as a principal and teacher. He previously served as Associate Dean for Urban Education Partnerships and as the Director of Field Relations. George teaches classes in educational leadership and elementary/early childhood teacher education. His interests, research, and work with K-12 schools focuses on issues of equity, justice, diversity, inclusion, leadership, and school reform. His books titled The School Leaders Our Children Deserve (2009), Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools (2015), What Every Principal Needs to Know to Create Excellent and Equitable Schools (2012), and The Principal’s Handbook for Leading Inclusive Schools (2014) focus on issues of leadership and creating more equitable schools. George’s work bridges the worlds of K-12 schools and higher education.As such, he writes for public audiences in outlets such as: The School Administrator, Educational Leadership (online), The Principal, The Washington Post, and The Syracuse Post-Standard, as well as writing for academic journals such asTeachers College Record, Educational Administration Quarterly, Urban Education, the Journal of School Leadership, Theory into Practice, the Journal of Cases of Educational Leadership, Remedial and Special Education, Journal of Special Education Leadership, The International Journal of Inclusive Education, andEquity & Excellence in Education. He consults with leaders, schools, and districts around issues of leadership, equity, diversity and inclusive reform around the United States and Canada. His Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Richard VillaRichard A. Villa, Ph.D., has worked with thousands of teachers and administrators throughout North America and the world, to develop and implement organizational and instructional support systems for educating all students within general education settings. Rich has been a middle and high school classroom teacher, special educator, special education coordinator, pupil personnel services director, and director of instructional services. In addition to working with schools, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and advocacy organizations, Rich has authored over a hundred articles and book chapters regarding inclusive education, differentiated instruction, collaborative planning and teaching, and school restructuring. Dr. Villa has co-edited fifteen books and developed three multi-media kits for teachers, administrators, and parents. Possessing the conceptual, technical, and interpersonal skills required to work effectively with others and facilitate change and progress in education, he has presented at numerous national and international conferences, and is known for his enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and humorous style of presenting.

Julia WhiteJulia M. White, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Program at Syracuse University. Dr. White was Principal Investigator for a 5 year, $1.25M OSEP Low-Incidence Personnel Preparation grant (Project PRESS). Her research is on international, national, and state special education policy and the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education contexts. She has authored numerous book chapters, a monograph, and her publications have appeared in Inclusion, Disability Studies Quarterly, The English Journal, and the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. Dr. White is a former high school teacher (English and special education).