Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Mandy Harvey

Deaf American singer-songwriter and America's Got Talent Finalist

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Mandy Harvey

Deaf American singer-songwriter and America's Got Talent Finalist

Her message is universal….Hope, Dream, Believe, no matter what…

Mandy Harvey is a deaf American singer-songwriter. A Vocal Music Education major at Colorado State University, Mandy lost her residual hearing in 2006-2007 at age eighteen due to a connective tissue disorder, and left the program. She pursued several career options, including education, but returned to music in 2008. She quickly became a regular performer at Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins and then branched out to having regular concerts at Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver (Top 100 Jazz venues in the world).

Mandy’s music attracts the attention of those around the world, adding to her message of hope, dream and believe. As you have seen, Mandy has made a tremendous impact by way of America’s Got Talent having reach the finals and was Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer Winner, and in addition, CNN’s Great Big Story captured over 10 million hits on social media, Burt’s Bees signed her up for their “Remarkable Women” campaign, NBC Nightly News profiled her, and she has started performing at the world’s most prestigious clubs, concert stages and festivals.

Not content to rest on her burgeoning recording career, her live performances, and her inspirational speaking, Mandy just released her first book title; Sensing The Rhythm, Finding My Voice In a World Without Sound published by Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, with a message of helping others to realize their dreams and pursue their hopes. As an Ambassador for No Barriers USA, she travels the country to heighten awareness, break down blocks, challenge stereotypes, and lead the charge toward a brighter future for all.

While her dream of becoming a choir director has died, the music is still alive and well within her. Though her hearing loss is profound, her timing, pitch and passion are perfect. With support from friends, family and her faith, Mandy continues to find joy in the music.

Plenary Speakers

Abe Walters

Peer Specialist, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Health

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Abe Walters

Peer Specialist, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Health

Abe Walters is a Peer Specialist with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where he passionately shares his lived experience with others to promote hope, wellness and recovery.  During the last 10 years of active recovery from substance use and mental health experiences, meaningful employment has been an integral part of his recovery.  Abe is grateful for the natural supports, providers and employers that have helped him to achieve his hopes and dreams.

Kathy Petkauskos

Director, Work Without Limits

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Kathy Petkauskos

Director, Work Without Limits

Kathy Petkauskos is the Director of UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits initiative that aims to increase employment of people with disabilities. Work Without Limits sponsors Disability:IN Massachusetts , a network of employers committed to disability inclusion and the state affiliate of Disability:IN .  Work Without Limits is a recipient of UMMS’ Chancellor’s Award and NEHRA’s Diversity Champion Award.  Ms. Petkauskos is an inductee of the Susan M. Daniels National Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and has over twenty years of experience in vocational evaluation, supported employment, benefits planning, and job placement for people with disabilities. Prior to coming to UMMS, Ms. Petkauskos was President of Resource Partnership, a private non-profit organization that assisted individuals with disabilities to secure employment.

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PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO SENSITIVITIES TO PERFUMES/COLOGNES, WE ARE ASKING THAT PARTICIPANTS REFRAIN FROM USING ANY SCENTS WHILE AT THE CONFERENCE.