Keynote & Featured Speakers
Non-speaking Autistic Advocate & Founder of Communication 4 ALL
Elizabeth Bonker, BA, is affected by autism and cannot speak. She learned to type when she was six years old and was mainstreamed in first grade public school. Her Valedictorian Commencement Address from Rollins College went viral with 4 billion impressions worldwide propelling her mission: Communication 4 ALL. Google, Microsoft, Rotary International, and other organizations are now working with her to help the estimated 40% of those with autism who are minimal, unreliable, or non-speakers. Mentored by International Disability Rights Advocate Judy Heumann, Elizabeth seeks to change the way the world sees people like her: non-speaking does not equal non-thinking. She is the Executive Director of the nonprofit Communication 4 ALL and a member of Autism Society of America’s Council of Autistic Advisors. Elizabeth will use text-to-speech software to tell you about her journey, her album, and her plans to enable access to communication for ALL non-speakers.
Typers United: What Non-Speakers with Autism Are Desperate to Tell You
C-01: Emotional Regulation: Challenges and Possibilities
"Elizabeth's keynote was revolutionary. It has seriously altered my outlook."
"Elizabeth Bonker is brilliant and inspirational."
LaChan V. Hannon, PhD
Director of Teacher Preparation and Innovation,
Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University-Newark
LaChan V. Hannon, PhD, is the Director of Teacher Preparation and Innovation in the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University-Newark. She is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Greater Expectations Teaching and Advocacy Center. LaChan received her PhD in teacher education and teacher development with a focus on parent engagement and culturally-responsive school practices. Her work investigates the intersectionality of race, disability, and parent involvement as they relate to the professional development for school leaders and educators. She has published articles and chapters in several academic texts, and her TEDx Talk, "Young, Gifted & Black with Autism," was released in 2016. Currently, LaChan presents at both local and national conferences on topics of parent engagement in schools, culturally-responsive school practices, and educational leadership. She is an advocate for equitable access to quality education.
Situating Welcomeness: Culturally Responsive Engagement with Families of Color
Kelly Mahler, OTD, OTR/L
Mahler Occupational Therapy
Kelly Mahler, OTD, OTR/L, earned a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Misericordia University in Dallas, PA. She has been an Occupational Therapist for 21 years, serving school-aged children and adults. Kelly is the winner of multiple awards, including the 2020 American Occupational Therapy Association Emerging and Innovative Practice Award, and a Mom’s Choice Gold Medal. She is an adjunct faculty member at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA, as well as at Misericordia University. Kelly is a co-principal investigator in several research projects pertaining to topics such as interoception, self-regulation, trauma, and autism. Kelly is an international speaker and presents frequently on topics related to the resources she has authored, including "The Interoception Curriculum: A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Mindful Self-Regulation."
Interoception, the 8th Sense: The Science of How We Uniquely Feel