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AUCD - Plenary A: From Concept to Reality - Inclusion for All

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Monday, November 12, 2018 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Location: Grand North/Central

Session Description

This dynamic panel will explore inclusion and what it means from diverse perspectives and in diverse cultural contexts. The panel also will explore exclusion and how it manifests within the social fabric of our communities and the nation. Join an authentic dialogue about how we as a network conceptualize and practice inclusion and hear from people with disabilities and their families about their lived experiences.


Debbi Harris, parent, Minnesota

Kate Olson, self-advocate, Virginia

Andy Arias, Advocate/ADA SME


Tawara Goode, Georgetown University UCEDD and National Center for Cultural Competence


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Watch archived video of this plenary

orange badge with letters CEU1.5 CEUs hours (social work) are available for this session through the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Learn more, including how to get your certificate (in-person only).


About our Speakers

Andy Arias

Andy Arias has been an advocacy professional for over seven years. He is member of many boards and commissions related to creating greater visibility and advancement for diverse communities, especially the disability community. He has received several awards for his presentations on LGBTQ diversity and disability equality.

Andy's experience and leadership gave him skills to develop and implement a youth program that served over 150 young adults in Southern California helping them reach their dreams for independence. Andy excels in teaching students that nothing can get in the way of their dreams, as long as they use their disabilities as an asset.

Andy advocates in the entertainment industry by creating visible pathways as an actor and stand-up comedian; he has worked with Tom Hanks, Mark Ruffalo, and Hilary Swank. He is often asked to consult with producers and directors in create greater media visibility of people with disabilities. He has also produced several small projects that have brought attention to persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ to community.

Andy's expertise extends to Federal government and corporate levels. His goal is to marry his policy work with his work in the entertainment industry to create a systemic lasting change.

Tawara Goode

Tawara Goode is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She has been on the faculty of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD), for over 30 years and has served in many capacities. She has degrees in early childhood education, and education and human development. Professor Goode has extensive experience as a principal investigator for federal and private sector grants and contracts. She is the director of the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) at GUCCHD. She is the  Director of the GUCCHD's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and focuses on national level efforts to advance and sustain cultural and linguistic competence in this field.

Debbi Harris

Photo of Debbi Harris, dark skinned older woman, smilingDebbi Harris is the mother and advocate for Joshua Harris who was born eight weeks early, which with advances in neonatal medicine, is no longer considered seriously premature. But Josh had a Grade IV brain hemorrhage at birth and was for a time the sickest baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. Thus began a journey that the family scarcely could have imagined. It has raised questions about how practitioners value (or do not value) disability; the judgments that are often made about how capable certain families might be to care for a child with complex needs, especially when ethnicity or socioeconomic status come into play; and who should have access to limited health care and community resources. Theirs is a story about how tribulation builds courage and changes the lives of those touched by adversity. Mostly, however, it is a story about embracing a new normal-one that includes Josh in every aspect of life, valuing his unique contributions to the world.

Other than caring for Josh, helping her elderly father, and managing her family, Debbi serves on the board of The Arc Minnesota, volunteers with Family Voices of Minnesota, participates as a family leader on a three-year project for the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Advance Care for Children with Medical Complexity (CMC), and is a panelist for the BEEP study with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Debbi is a public policy advocate as well, promoting inclusion, community integration, and human rights for persons with disabilities by testifying at hearings, holding home visits for local legislators, and meeting with Congress members in Washington, D.C.


Katherine Olson

Photo of Kate OlsonKatherine Olson is a self-advocacy coordinator at The Arc of Virginia and has been with The Arc for ten years. Katherine is the middle child of eight kids, born and raised in Richmond area. She enjoys the company of her many friends, family, cats, and of course her boyfriend. Katherine is very passionate about her job advocating for disability rights. She helps with The Arc of Virginia's advocacy campaigns and sits on many state advisory committees, including serving as the co-chair for Commissioner Ferguson's adult developmental services transformation team. In addition, Katherine is a member of Voices of Virginia, a coalition of seven local self-advocacy organizations run by and for Virginians with ID/ DD. Katherine really loves her job a lot, the people she works with, and fighting for a life like yours.