Keynote Speakers

Dr. Chad Ruffin

Dr. Chad Ruffin is an ear surgeon, physician-scientist, and tech innovator building the next generation of hearing technology for the d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing. He is the first person born deaf to become a surgeon using cochlear implants. He has received research grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the American Academy of Otolaryngology, and the National Institutes of Health. He has been published in multiple journals and his advocacy efforts were recognized by Science. As an honored attendee at the American Academy of Achievement, he shared the challenges of hearing loss with multiple heads of state and other luminaries. He has also shared his insights at the Exponential Medicine Conference hosted by Singularity University. He currently resides and practices in Seattle, Washington. Follow him online at and on social media @chadruffinmd.

Keynote Speaker

Neera R. Jain, MS, CRC

Neera is a passionate advocate for inclusion in health science education based in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Social Work, where her dissertation explores how four U.S. medical schools enact inclusion for students with disabilities. She co-authored the recent report, Accessibility, inclusion, and action in medical education: Lived experiences of learners and physicians with disabilities (2018, AAMC). She co-edited and co-authored the text, The guide to assisting students with disabilities: Equal access in health science and professional education (2015, Springer Publishing Company). Prior to commencing doctoral study, she spent nearly 10 years leading disability services for health science students at U.S. universities: Columbia University in the City of New York and the University of California, San Francisco. In New Zealand, Neera managed a free legal service run by and for disabled people, Auckland Disability Law. Neera started her career in vocational rehabilitation at New England Rehabilitation Hospital and later at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Medical Center. She is currently a board member at large for the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education.

University of Auckland

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Plenary Speakers

Lisa Meeks, PhD

Lisa is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at The University of Michigan Medical School in the Department of Family Medicine and is an Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation (IHPI) Clinician Scholar. Her research interests include: Improving access to medical education for learners with disabilities, medical student and resident well-being, disability curriculum in medical education, reducing health care disparities in patients with disabilities, and the performance and trajectory of learners and physicians with disabilities. Lisa is the co-founder and current President of the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education, co-PI and lead author on the AAMC report Learners and Physicians with Disabilities Accessibility, Action, and Inclusion in Medical Education, co-developer of both the AAMC Disability Webinar Series and the UCSF Disability Training Series for Faculty and Administrators and co-editor and author of the seminal text on disability in health science The Guide to Assisting Students With Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education.

University of Michigan Medical School

Elisa Laird-Metke, JD

Elisa Laird-Metke, JD is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California. Elisa has an extensive background in law, disability, and public health. She has worked as a university sign language interpreter and deaf services coordinator, and later as a disability rights attorney and public health policy attorney, before subsequently returning to work in higher education. 

Elisa is a regular trainer for AHEAD (the Association on Higher Education and Disability) through their Management Institutes and Master Classes, and also provides customized consulting and training services to universities around the country. Her publications include a number of articles and chapters, including several in The Guide to Assisting Students with Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education. Elisa also serves as Legal Advisor for the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education. 

Samuel Merritt University

Joseph Murray, MD

Clinician Representative

Dr. Murray served as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Equal Opportunity Programs until 2016 and is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton, where he majored in Biology, English, and Philosophy. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1995 and completed an internship at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and a residency in Psychiatry at the Payne Whitney Clinic of the New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH).

Weill Cornell Medical College

Michael Natter, MD

Michael Natter is a second year internal medicine resident at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. He completed medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA. While medicine was always a passion of his, especially since his diagnosis with type 1 diabetes in his childhood, he decided to study studio art in undergrad but came to medicine later in life after realizing the overlaps between art and medicine. He plans to complete a fellowship in endocrinology and continue creating and using art for use in medical education.

NYU Langone Medical Center

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Workshops Speakers

Dr. Neil Rosenburg

Neal Rosenburg, Dean and Professor, College of Health Professions and McAuley School of Nursing, joined Detroit Mercy in Fall of 2017. During his career, he has served as Associate Dean for Program and Faculty Development in the School of Nursing at Linfield College in Portland, Oregon and most recently as the Dean of the College of Nursing at Nevada State College (NSC). At NSC, he successfully implemented a strategic plan tripling the size of the School of Nursing while maintaining an average NCLEX pass rate of >98 percent and generating strong revenue lines for the School of Nursing. He earned his PhD in Nursing Theory/Research from the University of Missouri, St. Louis in 2010. He also holds an Honor’s BA in French Language/Literature from Saint Louis University; BS in Nursing and MS in Nursing (Nurse Educator) from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Additionally, Dr. Rosenburg is a Post Doctorate Scholar in Nursing Theory from the Watson Caring Science Institute. Actively engaged in nursing scholarship, his research focuses on factors that contribute to safe, effective, and sustainable infant feeding practices among West African women living with HIV, to reduce maternal-child post-natal HIV infection. He is primary author of the following awarded and/or funded grants: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD): Supporting and Empowering Enfermeras/os for Diversity and Scholarship ($1.5 million); National Institute of Health (NIH): Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Supplemental Grant to funded R01): Men’s Club: Impact of Male Partner Involvement on Initiation and Sustainment of Exclusive Breastfeeding among HIV-Infected Postpartum Women ($517,135.00). Dr. Rosenburg has published and presented both nationally and internationally.

College of Health Professions and McAuley School of Nursing

Grace Clifford

Grace is the Associate Director for Disability Resources at Case Western Reserve University. In her role, Grace oversees the delivery of accommodations for students with disabilities within all undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs at the university, and for the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and her Masters of Arts in Education in Leadership In Higher Education from Baldwin Wallace University.

Before becoming a disability service provider, Grace was a qualified mental health and treatment specialist, working with at-risk children and teens. She is a co-author of two chapters in The Guide to Assisting Students with Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education (Springer Publishing).

Case Western Reserve University

Jan Serrantino, EdD

Dr. Jan Serrantino is the former Director of the Disability Services Center at the University of California, Irvine and worked specifically with students in the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Medicine. Currently, Jan works as a full-time consultant for health science programs drawing on her extensive experience. She is frequently called upon to consult with Disability Services providers on complex cases.


Jan is the President Elect for The Coalition for Access in Health Science and Medical Education, serves on Mental Health, Veteran and Electronic Accessibility committees and presents at professional conferences on disability related topics such as confidentiality, ally training, autism spectrum disorders, academic and clinical accommodations and challenges faced by students in higher education.  She is co-author of two chapters in The Guide to Assisting Students with Disabilities: Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education (Springer Publishing) and a contributor to the AAMC Webinar Series and the UCSF Disability Training Series

University of California, Irvine

Barbara Blacklock, MA, LISW

Barbara has worked in Disability Resources at the University of Minnesota for over 30 years and presents locally, nationally and internationally on disability issues. To proactively work with Academic Health Center programs, 15 years ago Barbara developed and implemented the “College Model” of service delivery at the University of Minnesota. She is currently the Disability Resource Center Program Coordinator to the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Programs.

Along with her role as a direct service provider, for the past 10 years Barbara has been the co-chair of the University of Minnesota Provost’s Committee on Student Mental Health and coordinated the development of the website She recently was the Project Director of the Marcus Foundation Faculty Education Grant: Taking it to the Next Level: Advancing Awareness and Equity of Medical Students with Invisible Disabilities. She is co-author of the monograph Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in Health Related Education Programs (2014), published by the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and is a on the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Disability Access in Graduate Health Science and Medical Education.

University of Minnesota

Joshua Hori

Joshua is the accessible technology analyst for the student disability center at the University of California, Davis campus. The past 10 years he has been involved with alternate media, web accessibility, and accessible technology implementations across the campus for students with disabilities, but believes they should be used by all students. He has also served as tech consultant for the UC Davis MIND institute in research on mobile apps and organization for students with learning disabilities.

University of California, Davis​

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Breakout Sessions

Dr. Kate Kemptin

Dr. Kate Kemplin is the Assistant Professor of Nursing Research and Statistics Faculty for the School of Nursing. She has a broad background in critical care, emergency nursing, and trauma medicine, including advanced training in prehospital resuscitation and critical care transport. Dr. Kemplin’s main area of scholarship is with Special Operations Forces (SOF) military clinicians, including their knowledge acquisition, cognition, and curricular design, extending to collaborative work on practice guidelines and SOF clinical initiatives. Currently, Dr. Kemplin is researching defibrillation impedance and remote critical care monitoring for battlefield use. Dr. Kemplin is a Jonas Foundation Veterans’ Healthcare Scholar, the Research Program Chair for the Special Operations Medical Association, and an expert faculty evaluator of military medical and clinical curricula. Dr. Kemplin is pursuing a second doctorate in Research Science at Rush University, with dissertation focus on neurocognitive biobehavioral profiles of SOF caregivers. Before entering academia, Dr. Kemplin held clinical and specialty positions at several military commands, including overseas, during which she was officially recognized for her achievements in trauma practice and for civilian and public service.

Dr. Kemplin has offered to be the academic advisor to military, veteran, and military-dependent nursing students should they wish to request an advisor familiar with military and veteran populations

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dr. Michelle Rigler

Michelle’s career in higher education has focused on creating equal access for students, faculty, staff, and visitors with disabilities. By remaining fluent in the language of the Americans with Disabilities Act-Amendments Act through all of its changes, she have been able to create and manage an effective Disability Resource Center at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As a result of Dr. Rigler’s leadership, UTC is among the Top 50 Disability Friendly campuses in the country. Dr. Rigler’s most recent goal is to work with campus partners to create a culture of access at UTC where accessibility is thought about in the beginning.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Marie Ferro-Lusk, MBA, MSW, LSW

Marie Lusk, MBA, MSW, LSW, Manager, Office of Student Disability Services at Rush University. Marie oversees all aspects of student accommodations for the University. Prior to joining Rush, Marie provided comprehensive academic, mental health and disability support to students in both the primary, secondary and post-secondary settings. She earned a master’s degree in business administration with a focus on health care administration from Saint Xavier University in Chicago and a master’s degree in clinical and school social work from Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.

Rush University Medical Center

Kristina H. Petersen, Ph.D.

Kristina H. Petersen is the Director of Academic Support at New York Medical College, where she has also served as the designee for students with disabilities; she holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cardiff University in the UK. Since arriving at NYMC in 2014, she won a 2015 NYMC SOM Student Senate Award for enhancement of student life, won mentoring and teaching awards in 2017 and 2018, and was elected to be inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha in 2018. She has pursued several IRB-approved Medical Education research projects while at NYMC, presented at several AAMC Conferences, and is working on completing manuscripts to submit for publication. Dr. Petersen has taught various undergraduate courses at NYU and Columbia, where she won teaching awards for her work in the classroom. She enjoys working with students to improve their study skills, create strategies for synthesizing large amounts of dense science material in short periods of time, and help them manage their time more effectively. Dr. Petersen feels particularly passionate about helping students who have been approved for exam accommodations within the institution to strengthen their USMLE applications for accommodations as well as working one-on-one with each student to develop a successful study plan. Dr. Petersen has given many lectures and workshops on transitioning from undergraduate to medical school curriculum, Step 1 preparation, transitioning from basic science curriculum to clinical rotations, and Shelf & Step 2CK preparation. She has been invited to speak at various events including: the SNMA Northeast Regional Conference 2013, Mentors in Medicine Conferences & workshops, and student and faculty development seminars at various medical and health sciences schools.

New York Medical College

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Student Panel

Jaime A.B. Wilson, Ph.D., LP, ABN

Dr. Wilson is a Board Certified Neuropsychologist in full-time private practice inside and outside of Washington State.  He has worked extensively with physicians, other healthcare providers, and forensic experts in the provision of neuropsychological evaluations.  The field of neuropsychology is dedicated to learning about and diagnosing conditions related to the brain and nervous system.

Wilson Clinical Services, PLLC. provides an array of neuro and psychological health care services to deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and blind individuals.  Born with a profound hearing loss, Dr. Wilson grew up wearing bilateral hearing aids and primarily communicated using spoken language, although he is also an American Sign Language user. 


Dr. Wilson received his Ph.D. from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT and completed a predoctoral internship at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA.  Dr. Wilson resides in Olympia, WA with his wife (a registered nurse who is also deaf) and three children.  He is the President of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL).

Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses (AMPHL) President 2017-2019

Erene Stergiopoulos

Erene Stergiopoulos is a fourth year medical student at the University of Toronto, and founder of the Medical Student Accessibility Network (U of T). She completed her MA in history and philosophy of science at the University of Toronto, and currently researches the experiences of medical students with disabilities, and effects of the hidden curriculum. She also works as a freelance health journalist, where she has written about her own experiences as a patient and medical student.

"Being on Both Sides": Canadian Medical Students' Experiences with Disability, the Hidden Curriculum, and Professional Identity Construction. (2018) ( link)

Medical Students are not blank slates: Positionality and curriculum interact to develop professional identity ( link)

Illness in doctors: a source of expertise, not a sign of weakness ( link).

University of Toronto

Elena Rabago

My name is Elena Rabago. I am a 4th year dental student at UCSF. I was diagnosis with moderate-severe hearing loss on both ears and currently wear hearing aids.

University of California, San Francisco

Raziel Rizzo

My name is Raziel Rizzo, I am 27 years old, and I was born and raised in San Francisco. I come from Nicaraguan heritage where Spanish was my first language, and I am immensely grateful that my parents embedded the importance of maintaining this part of my culture. At the age of 13, I underwent a spinal fusion for a fierce scoliotic curvature, and was faced with the traumatic reality that due to complications I was paralyzed from the waist-down.  Relearning to walk was a humbling and horrifying experience, and has revolutionized my appreciation for health care professionals on all levels. I have the privilege of being part of the ever-growing field of Physical Therapy at UCSF, where I am pursing my Doctorate. My goals as a future PT include being a change agent by advocating for communities lacking resources or exposure into the fundamental necessities of physical movement and helping improve their quality of life. 

University of California, San Francisco

Maher S. Budron

Maher S. Budron is currently enrolled in Temple University’s Pre-Medical Postbaccalaureate Program and is building his career towards becoming a physician-scientist. After earning a B.S. in Health Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago, he completed a two-year fellowship in translational neurology at the National Institutes of Health. Maher is committed to serving peoples with disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds. From mentoring inner-city youth to leading efforts to increase access for students with disabilities, Maher’s work fills him with satisfaction due to his own experiences as a low-income minority diagnosed with a disability.

Temple University

Michael Springer

Michael Springer is a second year medical student at Cooper Medical School with Rowan University (CMSRU) located in Camden NJ. He was born with Klippel-Feil syndrome that resulted in a congenital fusion of C2-C3 vertebrae and bilateral moderate hearing loss, for which he wears hearing aids. Michael is the current president for the Disability Awareness Association at Cooper (DAAC), a group that advocates for Disability rights within the medical school and local hospitals. He also completed the American Sign Language (ASL) certificate program at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was Vice-President of the campus ASL club for two years. During the summer of 2013, Michael was an intern at The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), where he advocated for Disability rights on Capitol Hill with his mentor Yoshiko Dart, wife of late Justin Dart who is known as the "Godfather of the ADA." 

Cooper Medical School with Rowan University

Sharon Lee

Sharon is a second year medical student at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. She sustained a spinal cord injury of the cervical spine during her undergraduate years at UCLA and has been a quadriplegic ever since. After her injury, she graduated from the University of La Verne, where she majored in Biology. 

Western University of Health Sciences

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