2020 Virtual Summer Internship Program

UCEDD webinar series: Bridging Your Knowledge in Disability Careers

Each of these webinars included conversations with medical professionals' who have careers in the disability field. The panelists discussed why they chose their profession, the required schooling, what work looks like day to day and provided examples of a road map to their career.

This webinar series was brought to you by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

Presenter bios

Webinar 1

Jana Peterson-Besse, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Jana Peterson-Besse

Dr. Peterson-Besse is Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of the Disability Studies program at Pacific University. Prior to Pacific University, Dr. Peterson-Besse completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Disability and Health at the Oregon Health & Science University and held appointments at the University Centers of Excellence on Disabilities at Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Missouri –Kansas City. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Genetics from Iowa State University (1999), and a Master of Public Health (2002) and a Ph.D. in Community & Behavioral Health (2007) from The University of Iowa College of Public Health, where she was also a trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. Her scholarship interests include the relationships of social, cultural, and physical environments to health and behavior among people with disabilities. She explores relations between social support and health, with a special interest in sibling relationships between adults with developmental disabilities and their siblings without disabilities. She is also active in the development of best practices in undergraduate education at the intersection of public health and disability studies.

Kiersi Coleman
Kiersi Coleman

Kiersi Coleman is a local disability advocate, self-advocate, and communication consultant. Kiersi consults and shares her expertise on subjects such as transitioning from pediatric to adult health care and sexual health education for young people with I/DD. She leads efforts across communities within and outside of OHSU to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Kiersi speaks from the lived experience of having a disability.

Nicholas Kaasa
Nick Kaasa

Nicholas Kaasa has called Oregon home his entire life, graduating in 2011 from Sheldon High School. He has worked in the field of Developmental Disability Services for more than 6 years, receiving many awards for his advocacy work in and around his community: Self Determination award 2012, and the OVASNP Outstanding Student of the year 2015. Nick has worked for organizations including The Arc of Lane County and Full Access brokerage. He currently works as a consultant for the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities, sharing the importance of the Life Course Framework statewide.

Webinar 2

Bethany Slone, P.T., D.P.T., PCS
Bethany Sloane

Bethany received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Wheeling Jesuit University in 2009 and completed a pediatric residency program at Oregon Health & Science University in 2014. She continues to work at OHSU as an assistant professor and co-director of the pediatric residency program. She obtained a Pediatric Clinical Specialist Certification from the American Physical Therapy Association in 2018. Her clinical focus is in the care of children with craniofacial disorders, neuromotor diagnoses, orthopedic needs, serial casting, and gait analysis. Her research interests include early access to assistive technology, effects of early mobility, and studying best practice techniques for children with a diagnosis of craniofacial disorders and cerebral palsy. Locally, she is the co-director of Go Baby Go Oregon.

Janvi Patel, OTD, OTR/L
Janvi Patel

Janvi is a first generation American and college graduate originally from New Jersey, who curiously pursued a career in occupational therapy to meet her interest in understanding why humans experience and do the everyday things that they do, while also engaging in meaningful, hands-on work as a career. She graduated from an accelerated 5-year, combined Bachelor of Science / Master of Science Degree Program for Occupational Therapy from Boston University in 2017. Then, Janvi went on to complete a Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree also from Boston University by 2019. She has been practicing as an occupational therapist for 3 years (first in New Jersey and now Oregon) with a special interest in pediatrics. Her clinical experiences include working with children and their families in sensory clinics, charter schools, and now outpatient specialty care. She is passionate about improving access to care and maintaining strong quality of life for her pediatric clients and their families. Janvi also loves promoting the value of occupational therapy as a career, and hopes to spark more interest and diversity in the field!

Laura Ridler, CTRS
Laura Ridler

Laura Ridler is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist/ Recreation Therapist at Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, Legacy Good Samaritan and Inpatient Pediatric Rehab and Development at Randall Children’s Hospital-Legacy Emanuel. With close to 30 years working in the field of Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy, Laura believes in promoting overall fitness, well-being, quality of life, and working towards improving, maintaining or restoring physical strength, cognition, mobility, social connections, and independence though wellness, health, recreation and sport. Laura has been involved in coaching, promoting or coordinating adaptive sports for close to 30 years with 23 years coordinating the Wheelchair Division of the Honolulu Marathon, and nine years as the Head Coach of the Jr/Prep Wheel Blazers. She also serves on the board for Adaptive Sports Northwest (ASNW) in Portland, Oregon. Laura believes that participating in leisure activities that one enjoys, helps define us, and motivates us to be the best that we can be. In her free time, Laura can be found walking her dogs, spending time with friends and family and returning to hiking and biking and new adventures.

Webinar 3

Maureen DeLongis, M.S.W., L.C.S.W
Maureen DeLongis

Maureen is an Assistant Professor, and Director of Social Work for the OHSU Institute on Development and Disability. Maureen has been in the field of developmental disabilities for over 20 years. She has experience in early intervention, infant and early childhood mental health, Autism Spectrum Disorder, early childhood mental health consultation, neurodevelopmental disability and mental health disorders. Maureen is passionate about serving families with children experiencing both developmental disability and mental health disorders.

Sage Saxton, PsyD, PMH-C
Sage Saxton

Saxton is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at OHSU. She serves on the National Perinatal Association’s (NPA) Board and is Co-Chair of the National Network of NICU Psychologists (NNNP). She has been involved in NICU work for the last 13 years and directs the NICU Follow Up Program. Saxton is passionate about training and has practicum students, pre-doctoral interns, and post-doctoral fellows rotate within the NICU Follow Up program, as well as serves as LEND Training Director. Her research interests include improving the patient and family experience within the NICU, executive functioning and early intervention in preschool populations, and assessment and treatment of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

Hilary Mahon, M.S. Ed., BCBA
Hilary Mahon

Hilary is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and Special Education Training Coordinator in the LEND program at OHSU. As part of an interdisciplinary team, Hilary provides academic assessment and family support related to learning and special education services. She has the privilege of collaborating with teachers and specialists throughout Oregon to support patients and families in their local school communities. In addition, Hilary provides education to families and OHSU students on topics such as special education law and dyslexia. Prior to working in a clinical setting, Hilary coordinated early childhood special education programs in public schools. During that time, she participated in the LEND program as a trainee and became passionate about guiding families as they navigate complex medical and educational systems. Hilary received a Master's in Special Education and Autism at the University of Kansas in 2006. She is a licensed teacher and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Webinar 4

Anika Morkowski, B.S. Public Health
Anika Morkowski

Anika Morkowski (she/her pronouns) is a recent Pacific University graduate with a bachelor's degree in Public Health. She has a passion for making outdoor recreation accessible and has spent the last four summers working for Adventures Without Limits, an inclusive outdoor non-profit. She currently spends her time going on hikes and reading in a hammock when she isn't selling bread at a local bakery.

Barton Robison, M.P.A.
Barton Robison

Barton Robison knows firsthand the healing powers of nature and is passionate about removing access barriers so that all Oregonians can know the benefits of time in green space. He leads Willamette Partnership’s work on the Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative, and his strengths include facilitation, strategy development, and communications. In addition to his work with the Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative, Barton volunteers with groups like Camp ELSO and Brown People Camping. He received his Master of Public Administration degree with a focus in natural resource management from Portland State University.

Jennifer Wilde, M.S.W.
Jen Wilde

With a BA in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina and an MSW from Portland State University, Jennifer combines her passion for the outdoors with a lens for equity and the importance of physical activity for all populations. As the Director of Outreach and Development for Adventures Without Limits, Jennifer seeks to build meaningful partnerships to increase access to the outdoors, and invite more diverse participation and representation to the natural spaces where we love to recreate in Oregon. Prior to this role, Jennifer spent years in the nonprofit sector advocating for the accessibility of parks and playgrounds while developing adaptive sports programs, including the PDX Summer Handcycling Series.

Ashley Schahfer
Ashley Schahfer

Ashley Schahfer is a Disability Advocate, consultant and designer focused on changing perceptions and moving beyond ADA for more inclusive and welcoming environments.

Webinar 5

Melanie Fried-Oken, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Melanie Fried-Oken

Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken is a Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology at Oregon Health & Science University, where she has worked since 1991. She directs the REKNEW Projects research laboratory that is devoted to finding assistive technology and treatment solutions for people with complex communication needs, mostly resulting from neurodegenerative or chronic disease. She also co-directs the OHSU University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Dr. Fried-Oken is a practicing speech-language pathologist. She evaluates and treats adults who need augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies and tools to participate in daily communication activities.

Hannah Sanford-Keller, M.S., CCC-SLP
Hannah Sanford-Keller

Hannah is a pediatric speech language pathologist specializing in autism spectrum disorder, parent coaching models, cleft palate/craniofacial disorders, and language disorders in early childhood.  She is also interested in global healthcare programming and decreasing barriers to healthcare for families. Her interest in community outreach has resulted in collaborations across the state of Oregon and internationally in Ukraine and Peru. Hannah supervises students and clinical fellows completing clinical rotations and is the Training Coordinator for the Speech Pathology Fellowship program at the Institute on Development and Disability.

Betts Peters, M.A., CCC-SLP
Betts Peters

Betts is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist specializing in augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology. She has been a Research Associate with REKNEW (Reclaiming Expressive KNowledge in Elders With communication impairments) Projects since 2012, working with Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken on research aiming to improve communication for individuals with severe speech and physical impairments. Her primary research focus is on the development and refinement of a brain-computer interface system that can be used for communication by people with locked-in syndrome. Before joining the REKNEW team, Betts worked as an assistive technology specialist for people with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Kristy Knight, M.S., CCC-A/FAAA
Kristy Knight

Kristy is a pediatric audiologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. She has been at OHSU for 21 years and her clinical work involves identifying hearing loss in infants and children and giving families information about hearing technology, communication and educational options. She directs the clinical teaching program for audiology doctoral students at OHSU and she researches hearing loss caused by chemotherapy medications.

Webinar 6

West Livaudais, M.P.H.
West Livaudais

West Livaudais (he/his/him) is a program coordinator with the Oregon Office on Disability and Health. He serves as a disability & health researcher and public health educator to state, county and local organizations that provide health and wellness interventions for people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. He works with local health and wellness organizations to conduct organizational and built-environment assessments for inclusion of and accessibility for people with disabilities. West serves on the Health Equity Policy Committee that supports the Oregon Health Policy Board, as well as Health Share's community advisory council. West graduated from the OHSU/PSU School of Public Health in 2018.

Angela Weaver, M.Ed.
Angela Weaver

Angela is the (past) program manager for the Oregon Office on Disability and Health, a partner and shared office with the UCEDD. Weaver has worked for the past 20 years on policy, system and environmental changes through local partnerships, and education efforts to support access and inclusion of people with disabilities.

Chandra Char, M.P.H.
Chandra Char

Chandra Char (she/her) has a Master’s in Public Health in Community Health and is a PhD Candidate at Oregon State University. Chandra’s research focuses on disabilities health equity and health services access for people with disabilities. Her dissertation investigates health care experiences of the deaf and hard of hearing community prior to and during the time of COVID-19.