Virtual 2022 START National Training Institute

2022 SNTI Presenter Profiles

Keynote & Plenary Presenters

In order of appearance:


Nirbhay Singh

Nirbhay Singh, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Nirbhay N. Singh, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, USA. His research interests include mindfulness, mental health, and assistive technology for supporting individuals across the lifespan. He is the Editor-in-Chief of two journals: Mindfulness and Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and the Encyclopedia of Mindfulness, Buddhism, and Other Contemplative Practices.

He has over 760 publications, including 30 books and 120 book chapters. His most recent co-edited books include Handbook of Assessment in Mindfulness Research (2022) and Mindfulness-based Interventions with children and adolescents: Research and practice (2021), and co-authored book, Mindfulness in the classroom: An evidence-based program to reduce disruptive behavior and increase academic engagement (2020).

 

 

 


 

Dan Tomasulo, PhD, MFA, MAPP

Dr. Tomasulo is the Academic Director and core faculty at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute (SMBI), Teachers College, Columbia University, and is on the teaching staff at the University of Pennsylvania where he works with Martin Seligman. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology, MFA in writing, and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a Review Editor for Frontiers in Psychology special section Positive Psychology, Dr. Tomasulo was also recently honored by Teachers College, Columbia University with their 2021 Teaching Award.

Sharecare honors Dr. Tomasulo as one of the top ten online influencers on the issue of depression. His award-winning memoir, American Snake Pit (2018) tells of the first experimental group home releasing inmates from America’s most notorious asylum, Willowbrook. His most recent book, Learned Hopefulness, The Power of Positivity To Overcome Depression, is hailed as: “…the perfect recipe for fulfillment, joy, peace, and expansion of awareness.”  by Deepak Chopra, MD: Author of Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. Martin Seligman, Ph.D., author of Flourish, adds: “This is the best go-to book on how to use hope to relieve your depression.” Medical News Today selected, Learned Hopefulness, as the 2021 best book on positivity for coping with depression.


Melanie HeckerMelanie Hecker, MPA

Melanie Hecker is a person with lived experience who is a lifelong disability advocate both personally and professionally. She is a Budge Analyst at the New York State Office of Mental Health and previously worked as a Research and Training Associate for the National Center for START Services.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University at Albany with a concentration in Policy Analytic Methods, a BA in Public Policy and Management from the University at Albany, an AS in Human Services from Hudson Valley Community College. Previously, Melanie has served as the Systems Advocate at Youth Power of Families Together in New York State, Graduate Policy Intern at the New York State Council on Children and Families, Policy Intern at Disability Rights New York, and Intern at Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley awarded Melanie their Beacon Leadership Award in 2019. Melanie is a lifelong resident of Albany, NY.


Andrea SzucsAndrea Szucs, LMSW, RDT-BCT

Andrea Szucs, LMSW, RDT-BCT, SIFI, holds an MSW from Fordham University GSS, licensed by the State of NY, registered by the North American Drama Therapy Association. She holds a certificate in Applied Positive Psychology, certificates in Field Instruction and Interactive-Behavioral Therapy (Positive Group Psychotherapy for people with ID/DD). She is the author of peer-reviewed journal publications and the co-creator of The ACTing Cure Group model for people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities. Ms. Szucs has presented in national and international conferences on using strengths-based positive interventions in action with special populations, and the use of role-play in social work practice. Andrea is Adjunct Faculty at his alma mater FORDHAM GSS and serves as a Lecturer / Field Instructor for Columbia University School of Social Work. She is a clinician, consultant drama therapist, and field supervisor at AHRC NYC. She works with individuals with cognitive and psychiatric disabilities, building on Positive Interactive Behavioral Therapy, using tools of Drama Therapy, Positive Psychology, and Improvisational Theater. She has a degree in professional performance as a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Her passion is to inspire hope and to help others maximize their potential to thrive and flourish. Andrea is also in private practice in Manhattan working with couples and individuals and known as a professional actor (as Andrea Sooch)


 

Other Speaker Profiles (alphabetical order)

Emaya Anbalagan, MD, is the Medical Director of the CA START teams in San Andreas and East Bay. She received her medical degree from the University of California-Davis and completed a residency in psychiatry at the University of Missouri. In addition to working with the CA START programs, she works as a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with EMQ Families First in Campbell, CA. She has published in Psychiatric Quarterly and presented at annual meetings of the American Psychological Association.

Dan Baker, PhD, is a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional. His clinical focus is on positive behavior support, models of community and educational support, transition services, and employment for persons who experience disabilities. Dr. Baker earned his PhD in Educational Psychology in 1992 and a Teaching License in 1990 from the University of Minnesota. He has worked with people who experience a range of disabilities; his applied work includes efforts in schools, residential support for people with disabilities, recreational programs, and employment supports. Dr. Baker is well published in both edited books and literary journals. Most of his published work addresses strategies for teaching direct care staff to work with persons who present challenges.

Joan B.  Beasley, PhD, Dr. Joan B. Beasley is a Research Professor at the University of New Hampshire, Director of the National Center for START Services, PI of the National Research Consortium on MH-IDD and a licensed mental health counselor. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and a Master’s degree in Community Mental Health Counseling from Northeastern University. Dr. Beasley has over 30 years of experience developing and implementing community-based services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with mental health needs. Prior to establishing the National Center for START Services at UNH, Dr. Beasley spent 15 years providing expert clinical consultation and training to state governments and private health care providers across the country. As Director of the National Center for START Services, she founded the START Research Committee to advance research efforts that seek to improve the lives of people with IDD and behavioral health needs and their families. In 2019, Dr. Beasley established the National Research Consortium on Mental Health in IDD to further accelerate the development of evidence-based mental health diagnostic, treatment and support practices for people with IDD.

Roberto Blanco< MD, is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine where he specializes in the care of underserved populations including individuals with dual diagnosis (ID/DD and psychiatric illness).  He is currently the Medical Director for NC START Central in Durham, North Carolina and provides consultative work locally and nationally at START programs, developmental centers, and with the United States Department of Justice.  He advises medical students at UNC as one of the advisors in the Larry Keith Advisory Colleges and is the Office of International Activities Liaison for the Department of Psychiatry.  Dr. Blanco has worked in rural communities, with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, and with Spanish-speaking Latino Immigrants. 

Andrea Caoili, MSW, is the Director of Research and Quality Assurance for the National Center for START Services, Adjunct Professor at the University of New Hampshire, and a licensed clinical social worker with more than 14 years of experience in the field of social work. Ms. Caoili specializes in serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions. She has experience in practicing and training other clinicians in crisis prevention and intervention, systems theory and systemic consultation, the use of positive psychology approaches and effective treatment of mental health issues for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ms. Caoili has worked with the START program since its inception in North Carolina in 2009. She has held positions within the program including START Coordinator, START Clinical Team Lead as well as NC START Clinical Director.

Michael Cummings, MD - As one of the leading practitioners in the child and adolescent psychiatry space, Dr. Cummings has impacted many roles and institutions in his 15+ year career. In that time, he has developed a keen focus and dedication to those affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities, solving incredible challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum, and their families. He is passionate about developing and integrating systems of care, especially for individuals who are at high risk of avoidable hospitalization or incarceration. Dr. Michael Cummings holds multiple roles in the mental health industry locally and across the state with institutions such as University at Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), OLV Human Services, and NYSTART.

Ingrid Dombrower, MD, received her undergraduate education at Harvard, earned her MD at USC, and completed psychiatry training at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai. Dr. Dombrower serves as Co-Medical Director for START-San Diego. A deep believer in transformation, her superpower is seeing divine nuggets of potential for healing a person’s soul and building their invisible strengths. Her professional work is focused on mental health crisis intervention and championing neurodiversity.  When not working, she is likely singing.

Tawara D. Goode, MA, 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 holds degrees education and human development. She is the Director of the GUCCHD’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (GUCEDD) and is responsible for short-term and ongoing programs for individuals at-risk for and with developmental and other disabilities and their families. Within the GUCEDD, Professor Goode’s primary area of focus is national level efforts to advance and sustain cultural and linguistic competence within an array of settings including but not limited to institutions of higher education, health, mental health, and other human service systems. Professor Goode is also the director of the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) at GUCCHD. She is recognized as a thought leader in the field of cultural and linguistic competence and for building the NCCC into a nationally and internationally recognized and award-winning program. Professor Goode conducts research on cultural and linguistic competence and its role in addressing health and mental health care disparities ⎯ including a multi-site project to examine health disparities for populations at the intersection of race, ethnicity, and disability. Professor Goode’s publications include peer reviewed articles, book chapters, policy papers, guides, and instruments that support cultural and linguistic competence in a variety of human service and academic settings.

Beth Grosso, MSW, joined the Institute on Disability in 2015 as the Training Coordinator for the National Center for START Services having previously served as a NH START Clinical Team Leader at a local developmental services Area Agency. Beth has experience in service coordination, outpatient mental health therapy, training development and delivery, program evaluation, and leadership. In her current role as the Director of Training & Professional Development, Beth oversees the NCSS training and professional development department, ensuring the quality and rigor of training and professional development offerings by the National Center for START Services.

Melanie Hecker, MPA, is a person with lived experience who is a lifelong disability advocate both personally and professionally and works as the Research and Training Associate for the National Center for START Services. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University at Albany with a concentration in Policy Analytic Methods, a BA in Public Policy and Management from the University at Albany, an AS in Human Services from Hudson Valley Community College. Previously, Melanie has served as the Systems Advocate at Youth Power of Families Together in New York State, Graduate Policy Intern at the New York State Council on Children and Families, Policy Intern at Disability Rights New York, and Intern at Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley awarded Melanie their Beacon Leadership Award in 2019. Melanie is a lifelong resident of Albany, NY.

Jill Hinton, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with people with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and mental illness. Her experience with The Arc of NC, Autism Society of NC, EastersealsUCP and the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities includes direct clinical work, organizational leadership, clinical consultation, and policy work. As the Clinical Director of The National Center for START Services, Dr. Hinton provides consultation and training to START teams across the country and facilitates a monthly practice group for START Clinical Directors. She currently serves as Project Manager for New York START and California START where she supports development and implementation.  Through the Clinical Director Practice Group, she leads discussion on emerging and best practices and how they relate to the START model. She is co-chair of the AUCD MHIDD SIG which seeks to enhance understanding of mental health in IDD and promote best practice. Areas of particular interest include Autism Spectrum Disorder and trauma in IDD.

Luke Kalb, PhD, received his doctorate from the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Today, he is Director of Informatics at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He also holds the title of Assistant Professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Kalb serves as core faculty in the Wendy Klag Center for Autism at Johns Hopkins and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Kennedy Krieger. Dr. Kalb’s substantive area of research focuses on improving the measurement and treatment of mental health problems among individuals with MHIDD. Methodologically, his expertise includes latent, longitudinal and causal inference methods. Dr. Kalb’s work is highly interdisciplinary, where he collaborates on research initiatives that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and the communities that care for them. His work with START over the last several years, including his role as chair of the National Consortium on Mental Health Research in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, reflects this dedication.

Ann Klein, MA, joined the National Center for START Services in 2013 after working as the Director of Outcomes and Evaluations for a System of Care network in Cincinnati, OH. Ann has over 12 years of experience in the mental health and developmental disabilities service systems in both Ohio and New Jersey, including work on a government advisory council on disability issues and work on a New Jersey Governor’s Initiative program to help prevent the institutionalization of children with multiple disabilities. Her experience is mainly in the area of program outcomes and evaluation, but also includes work in program development, licensure compliance and quality assurance activities.

Jessica Kramer, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida. Dr. Kramer’s research draws upon theoretical concepts and methodologies from occupational therapy, disability studies, education and rehabilitation to: 1. Partner with youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the development and evaluation of rehabilitation products, 2. Develop community-based interventions that equip youth with I/DD and their families with the skills to identify and resolve environmental barriers to participation, and 3. Design high quality patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) using contemporary measurement approaches. Dr. Kramer uses quantitative, qualitative, and participatory approaches to design projects that harness the optimal method needed to answer complex research questions and meet the needs of multiple stakeholders, including youth and young adults with disabilities, their families, and rehabilitation professionals. Dr. Kramer has been awarded over 1.5 million dollars in external funding (including NIH, NIDILRR, and PCORI), and her collaborators include researchers from: Colorado State University, Temple University, Boston University, Brandeis University, The National Center for START Services, and Georgetown University; and advocacy groups including Self Advocates Becoming Empowered and The Arc of the United States. Dr. Kramer’s occupational therapy practice experience is with enabling children and youth ages 3 to 20 with multiple, severe disabilities to participate and learn in a public school setting.

Anne LaForce, MA, is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience working with adults, adolescents and children with developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health disorders.  As a Project Manager and Director of Therapeutic Coaching for the National Center for START Services, Anne provides consultation and training to START teams across the country and facilitates monthly practice groups for Therapeutic Team Leaders and Clinical Directors.  Anne has experience in practicing and training other clinicians in crisis prevention and intervention, implementation of positive psychology approaches, assessment of biopsychosocial factors and trauma informed care practices.

Lewis-Walker, Jenee, PsyD - A native of Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Jenee Lewis-Walker received a bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University with a double major in Special Education and Psychology.  She began her career as a special education teacher in Hampton Roads, VA.  She later earned a master’s degree in Community and Clinical Psychology from Norfolk State University, an additional master’s degree from Regent University in Clinical Psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Children and Adolescents. Dr. Walker’s clinical experience includes working with children, adolescents, and adults from a variety of ethnic, gender, age, and socioeconomic backgrounds, providing services such as psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and research design.  She has worked in a variety of clinical settings such as mental health clinics, residential treatment facilities, detention centers, and outpatient private practice.  Dr. Walker has also worked closely and consulted with local and other state agencies on improving the quality of care of mental health services as well as providing trainings on a variety of subject matters such as behavioral management, trauma-informed care in the juvenile justice system, and systemic consultation with children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  With a cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approach, Dr. Walker has practiced in the private setting for the past eight years as a clinical psychologist in Hanover, VA.  She specializes in children, families, and adults, and children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Jennifer McLaren, MD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatric and The Dartmouth Institute at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed a residency in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  Dr. McLaren is the Chief Medical Advisor for the National Center for START Services.  Dr. McLaren is the medical director for New Hampshire Bureau of Developmental Services.  Dr. McLaren’s clinical practice focuses on caring for children, adolescents and adults with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities.  She is the director of the Autism Program and the director of the Developmental Disabilities Clinics at Dartmouth.  She provides educational opportunities for medical students, residents, and continuing medical education focused on caring for people with developmental disabilities.   Dr. McLaren has received a teaching excellence award and a clinical excellence award for her work.  She has also served on two work groups in helping to develop the DMID-2.  Dr. McLaren has several grants focused on enhancing and expanding services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Hampshire. 

I. Leslie Rubin, MD, has been involved in health care for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1977. In 1989, he and Allen Crocker MD published the first textbook on medical care for children and adults with developmental disabilities, Developmental Disabilities: Delivery of Medical Care for Children and Adults; in 2006 they published the 2nd edition, Medical Care for Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities; Sadly, Allen Crocker passed away in 2011, but with other partners Dr. Rubin published the 3rd edition in 2016: Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Across the Lifespan. Dr. Rubin currently directs interdisciplinary clinical programs for children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disabilities and consults to other programs on children and adults with developmental disabilities. He has been involved with the START Program since its inception. He directs an international program that addresses children’s environmental health disparities which has resulted in a multiple publication. He is on several regional and national Boards and councils and has received a number of awards.

Janell Van Cleve, MS, is the Clinical Director of the University run APIC Program, where she supports the Medical Director in providing care to developmentally disabled individuals with a specialty in the autistic spectrum. Through APIC she has helped to create an innovative and unique model of mobile care to treat a vulnerable and highly overlooked population and has provided direct clinical care to 1,500+ patients across New York State. She supports further impact in the industry through national consultation and training of mental health professionals, delivering clinical oversight to multiple staff and interns, and has helped acquire sustainable funding for APIC.