Speaker Bios

Angela Sulfaro-Menconi, PhD- January


WEBINAR: This webinar will introduce Angela’s Vlog series and will also review the basics of scientific principles, and tips and tricks we can use when we are looking at scientific articles. 

BIO: Angela is a trained Cultural Anthropologist with interests including Poverty and Homelessness, Gender and Sexuality, and Chicana Feminism. She spends her time helping her autistic son understand and learn adaptive skills for life in a neurotypical world. She strongly supports autistic self-advocacy and seeks to learn all she can from autistic adults.

Lori Conroy- February


WEBINAR: This webinar focus on the ins and outs of the IEP process. During Lori’s 29 years as a teacher she has written hundreds of IEPs and in her role as a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) she helped mediate challenging IEP meetings.

BIO: Lori Conroy, MEd has been teaching for 29 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from Northern Arizona University and her master’s in early childhood education, also from NAU. She taught general education for several years at the beginning of her career but for most of her career Lori has served as a special education resource teacher and a teacher in an integrated preschool program. She spent four years out of the class room as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) in the Kyrene Exceptional Student Services Department. In that role she supported the integrated preschool program and the special education programs at several elementary and middle schools. During her career Lori has written hundreds of IEPs and in her role as TOSA she helped facilitate challenging IEP meetings. Lori has great expertise in the entire IEP process- from working with staff to help them develop effective IEPs for their students to meeting with parents to help guide them through the IEP process. Her true passion is working with her preschool students and families helping support her students’ academic and social growth and working with the student’s parents to help them understand the IEP process and have a positive first experience in the public school setting.

Melanie Issacs- March


WEBINAR:  This webinar will introduce members to Pal Experiences. Pal is on a mission to help families impacted by autism and related “non-visible” disabilities have more frequent and more successful away-from-home experiences by customizing tools commonly used in behavioral therapy for sports teams, museums, restaurants, healthcare and more. By building a network of Pal Places TM  we strive to reduce the 70% isolation rate that families currently experience when living with someone with autism (National Autistic Society). Our communities are for everyone and by partnering with forward thinking business we are creating a place where everyone gets to go. I would love to share with you how we came into this journey, how we help our current partners and where we plan to take Pal.

BIO: Melanie studied Zoology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and Marine Biology at Western Illinois University. After working in the zoo and aquaria industry she saw the opportunity venues had to be more inclusive for guests with autism and related disabilities. Melanie founded Pal Experiences to achieve this next level of accessibility, partnering with venues to build communities where everyone gets to go.

Erika Villanueva- April

WEBINAR: Erika Villanueva has 20 plus years of experience as a travel consultant, is a Certified Autism Travel Professional thru IBCCES and also a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate thru SNG. She specializes in helping families with special needs children to travel. This webinar will focus on traveling with your special needs kids.

BIO: Erika Villanueva has 20 plus years of experience as a travel consultant. After her son was diagnosed with autism she shifted the focus of her business to cater to families with special needs children. Since then she has been helping many families to plan their vacations. HOW DO YOU DO THIS (Minimize the stress by catering to each family’s own needs and wants and using lots of written communication so there are no misunderstandings and so that there is clear, informative direction).

If you need a travel agent please contact her at Viajes To Go Vacations (www.viajestogo.com) or email her at Erika@viajestogo.com