Mon - Thurs: 9:00am - 5:00pm | Fri: 9:00am - 4:00pm

Living with Autism 2020 Conference – Speakers

Jed Baker, Ph.D.

Jed Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, a private organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. He is an award winning author of five books, including Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome and Social Communication ProblemsPreparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers SyndromeThe Social Skills Picture BookThe Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond; and No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel. 

Director 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.

Stephen Shore, Ed.D.

Stephen Shore, Ed.D Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education. A current board member of Autism Speaks, president emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, The US Autism and Asperger Association, the Scientific Counsel of OAR, and other autism related organizations. 

Breakout Session Presenters

Leanne Mull

Leanne has been supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to achieve their dreams since 1999 when, after her works as a corporate trainer, she hired someone with a job coach to work in a store she managed. She spent the next 15 years at a traditional agency in a variety of roles including Director of Employment and Advocacy, and QIDP. Leanne believes that the key to meaningful lives for people who receive services is to encourage, empower and enlighten the staff who work for them. As co-director of Blue Tower Solutions, Leanne fulfills that dream as a national speaker and consultant improving organizations and systems supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Shirley Perez

Shirley A. Perez is the Program Director of the Arc Family Support Network and Ligas Family Advocate Program. Ms. Perez has spent many years advocating and working with individuals and their families with disabilities. She is a business graduate of Metropolitan Business College and Kaplan University. She operated her own business, worked at an ISC Agency where she advocated for and assisted families in locating services by navigating the State system. She has navigated the state system as both a professional and a parent, caring for an adult child with a developmental disability. In conjunction with the City of Chicago, Federal Home Loan Bank and The Illinois Housing Development Authority, she implemented a home-buying program for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. She has worked as a Special Project Advocate with the Illinois Life Span Project; met with families/guardians to explain the transition process and listen to their concerns as their family members’ transition into the community from State Operated Developmental Centers.  She self-directs her daughter’s long-term Medicaid waiver services, and has over 40 years of hands-on experience.

Linda Sandman

Linda Sandman has over 30 years of clinical experience working with adults with disabilities, including mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). Currently, Linda is a Co-Director of Blue Tower Solutions, Inc., an organization dedicated to empowering individual, organizations and systems to create cultures of respect, inclusion, dignity and equality for people with disabilities. She is an experienced trainer and consultant to agencies and organizations working with people with disabilities. While a Clinical Assistant Professor at the  University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Disability and Human Development, Linda served as Director of Clinical Services for the Developmental Disabilities Family Clinics, which provided direct service annually to over 1,000 individuals with disabilities and their families. In addition, Linda worked for 16 years on a research-oriented adult inpatient psychiatric unit at the UIC Psychiatric Institute. Linda is passionate about promoting inclusion and full participation in community life for people with disabilities. She is bilingual (Spanish/English) and bicultural and is also deeply committed to promoting diversity and empowerment for all. 

Lora Slutsky, MS, CRC, LCPC

Lora Slutsky, MS, CRC, LCPC, is the Workforce Development Supervisor at Have Dreams, a non-profit serving individuals with autism, where she supports young adults in preparing for, securing, and maintaining employment. Lora’s experience spans 10+ years in work-readiness, educational, and therapeutic settings, supporting individuals with disabilities in building the skills for independence in the workplace and community. Lora received her BA from Brandeis University in Psychology and Education and received a graduate certificate from The George Washington University in Job Development and Placement. Lora received her MS in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

Living with Autism 2020 Main Menu