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Executive Leadership 2022 Speakers

Ronnie Cohn

Ronnie began her career around the time that the first class action lawsuit was initiated on behalf of people with developmental disabilities who were living in a deplorable institutional setting.  Her first job was as a direct support person in a classroom setting with people who had moved out of the institution, the Willowbrook State School.  For the next ten years she worked with Willowbrook class members in numerous positions and it was that experience that set her professional path for the next thirty years.

Over the following five years Ronnie was the executive director of an advocacy agency in California and consultant to other states regarding developmental disabilities, special education and transition services.

When she returned to New York, Ronnie was hired as staff to the Special Master in the Willowbrook Case, the focus of which at that point had become closing that institution and developing capacity in the communities throughout NYS to meet the needs of those leaving Willowbrook.  When the Special Master’s office closed in 1993, following the signing of a Permanent Injunction in that case, she was named the Independent Evaluator for the Willowbrook Class. Ronnie still remains in that role, working cooperatively with the plaintiffs, defendants, families, class members, advocates, providers and others responsible for insuring that the members of the Willowbrook class receive and benefit by their court ordered entitlements. 

During this time Ronnie has also been consulting on eight other class action suits in six states: evaluating services in both institutional and community settings; assisting in transition planning; developing and implementing  protocols for compliance reviews;  training service coordinators; working with advocacy groups and quality assurance entities; developing systemic plans; and spending time with individuals who receive services to determine whether or not all of the efforts by consistently well-meaning professionals and others are actually benefiting those for whom we all work.

John Dickerson

John Dickerson has spent the last 48 years seeking change.  The first 42 years with The Arc – the last 32 as Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana. In 2016 he formed Quillo a new software platform designed to change the way we support people with disabilities, their families and staff that support them – with technology and positive psychology.  Change was always created by many not one person, and John is quick to credit those around him that shared a vision of what could be – not just what was.  When Indiana closed all of its large institutions, it moved to transition from long waiting lists to dramatically expanding services that supported people in the community;  moving from 12,000 people served to today over 45,000 Hoosiers. It was the act of many working together around a common goal: advocates, providers, people with disabilities and families.  John was recently named an Essential Change Agent by the National Historic Recognition Project: 2000-2020.  Even more important to him than any recognition are the young people today who have a completely different life ahead of them because of all of what you have done and will do tomorrow to create the next change – the life we want to live.

Doug Golub

Doug Golub serves as President of MediSked, LLC focusing his expertise and passion on delivering innovative technology solutions to the healthcare and human services industry. Prior to joining MediSked, Golub served as Platform Services Manager for Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group.  An original member of Microsoft’s healthcare venture, Golub is an expert in health care IT security, implementations, and customer needs assessments. Golub holds a Masters of Information Systems from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science from State University of New York College at Geneseo. 

Amy Hewitt

Amy Hewitt, PhD has an extensive background in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has worked in various positions over the past 40 years to improve community inclusion and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families. Her career began as a Direct Support Professional working for an Arc organization in IN and she currently employs DSPs to support her brother-in-law. She is the Director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration and conducts research, evaluation and demonstration projects about community services for children, youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the direct support workforce. She has authored numerous journal articles, curriculum, technical reports, including a book entitled, Staff Recruitment, Retention and Training.  Dr. Hewitt is associateeditor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities a journal  of the AAIDD. She is a Past President of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) and Past President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Dr. Hewitt is a long term Arc MN member and has served on boards of local and state Arc chapters in MN. 

Bethany Lilly

Bethany Lilly, JD, is the Senior Director of Income Policy at The Arc of the US where she specializes in public policy related to Medicaid, Home and Community-Based Services, health care, income supports, paid family and medical leave, and poverty. Bethany joined The Arc after six years at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where she worked on public policy impacting people with mental health disabilities. Prior to joining the Bazelon Center, Ms. Lilly was a law clerk with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; a legal fellow at the Center for Medicare Advocacy; and, while completing her J.D. at Duke University School of Law, worked at the Duke AIDS Legal Project.

Joseph Macbeth

Joseph M. Macbeth is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the first employee hired by the organization in 2011. He has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for nearly 40 years – beginning as a Direct Support Professional.  In addition to authoring and co-authoring several publications regarding workforce issues and sitting on many non-profit boards of directors, in 2016 Macbeth was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Member of the Advisory Council for the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Last year, he was appointed to the Editorial Board for Exceptional Parent Magazine and most recently he was added as an honoree for the 20th Anniversary Historic Recognition Project sponsored by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) recognizing distinguished leaders in the field. He lives in North Bennington, Vermont.

Todd Maisch

Since joining the Chamber in 1994, Todd Maisch has made engaging coalitions of employers the cornerstone of the Chamber’s reputation as the state’s leading business advocate. He puts in practice the Chamber’s vision that in helping build stronger businesses, we build a stronger Illinois. President and CEO of the Chamber since 2014, Maisch’s leadership of a team of policy experts, business advocates, and communicators impacts the legislative, regulatory and judicial branches of government. His influence has created a network of pro-business advocates both on a state and national level. Sound tax and fiscal policy, reducing the regulatory burden on employers, pro-active economic development, promoting innovation and greater investment in our critical infrastructure are all key priorities for Maisch and the Chamber. In addition, he has led the Chamber to become the voice of business at the ballot box, supporting pro-business candidates that share the same priorities. A native of Peoria, Maisch earned an MBA from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maisch serves on the Steering Committee of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, and is a member of the U.S. Chamber Committee of 100. Maisch and his wife, Kim, have two children and reside in Springfield.

Ralph Martire

Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (“CTBA”), a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and promote opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income class. He is also the Rubloff Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University. During his time at CTBA, Ralph has helped obtain numerous legislative successes (including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding in FY2018, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, creation of a bipartisan legislative task force to integrate workforce and economic development policies, passage of the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases, corporate accountability legislation that, among other things, requires public reporting of economic development benefits created through receipt of tax breaks and other subsidies, decoupling Illinois tax policy from both the federal bonus depreciation rules and the federal repeal of the estate tax).

In 2018, Ralph was appointed to serve on the legislatively established “Professional Review Panel,” charged with monitoring the implementation of Illinois’ new evidence-based school funding formula. He was also appointed to the Transition Team of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker.  In 2011-2013, Ralph served as a full voting commissioner on the Congressionally-established “Equity and Excellence in Education Commission,” which was housed in the Federal Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division. In addition to his professorship at Roosevelt University, he has taught fiscal policy seminars and education finance courses for various universities and the International Fulbright Scholar Program.

Ralph has received numerous awards for his work on education policy reform, including: being named River Forest’s Co-Villager of the Year by the Wednesday Journal for his work promoting equity in District 90, where he serves as school board president; the 2007 Champion of Freedom Award, presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, commitment to equal educational opportunities; and the Ben C. Hubbard Leadership Award given by Illinois State University to individuals who have greatly benefited education in Illinois. He also received the Adlai Stevenson Award for Public Service presented by the American Society for Public Administration to honor one individual with a connection to the Chicago area that has made outstanding contributions to government and public administration over an extended period of time. Ralph is also a regular columnist on education, fiscal and economic policy for the State Journal Register, the Daily Herald, and The News Gazette.

He received his B.A. in History with highest honors from Indiana University, and his J.D. from the University of Michigan.

Phil Milsk

Phil Milsk J.D is an attorney from New Lenox. He has worked tirelessly over the years on behalf of people living in poverty as well as people with disabilities. For many years, he worked for Land of Lincoln Legal Aid in Carbondale. Since 1990 he has been a champion in Springfield working with legislators to ensure that legislation for disenfranchised people is passed to help them better their lives. The many groups he has worked for includes: The Arc of Illinois, Illinois Association of Social Workers, School Social Workers, Gifted Education, the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, the Illinoi Assistive Technology Program, the March of Dimes, Community School’s (to mention just a few). HE was serviced on numerous committees and councils over the years including the Attorney General’s committee on special education and Employment First. He is a past Due process Hearing Officer and in the past has often represented families involved in due process.

Rahnee Patrick

Rahnee Patrick is Director of Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Rehabilitation Services. Her father is an Air Force Academy graduate who met her Thai mother during the Viet Nam Conflict. Rahnee was raised in North Liberty, Indiana, population over 900 people. She acquired her disabilities starting at the age of eight. Rahnee graduated from Indiana University, where she co-founded a group of disabled students. In 2005, she conceived the ADAPT Youth Summit and received the 2008 Paul Hearne Award of the American Association of People with Disabilities. Today she and her husband Mike Ervin live in downtown Chicago, where they try to make each other laugh every single day.

Allison Stark

Allison Stark is the Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities, DHS and has committed her entire career to serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Allison most recently served as the President and CEO of Orchard Village, a nonprofit in the North Chicagoland area providing an array of community based services to individuals with I/DD. Prior to her 12 years with Orchard Village, Allison was a Program Manager at Resources for Living in Evanston, and a Home & Community Based Services Waiver Case Manager for Adult Care Management in Lafayette, Colorado. Allison holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Barry Taylor

Barry Taylor is the Vice President for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation at Equip for Equality, where he has worked since 1996. At Equip for Equality, he has overseen many individual and systemic disability discrimination cases including successful federal ADA suits against the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Chicago Police Department, and the Chicago Transit Authority. He is currently co-counsel in seven class actions, including lead counsel in Ligas v. Norwood, providing community services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Prior to coming to Equip for Equality, Barry was the AIDS Project Attorney in the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal working to advance the civil rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. From 1988 – 1993, Barry was a litigation associate at the Chicago law firm of Peterson & Ross. He is a 1988 graduate of the University of Illinois College Law, where he also received his undergraduate degree in 1985. 

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