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Access and Mobility for All Summit

Featured Panelists

Michael Akinyele, Acting VA Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the VA Innovation Center, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  

Mr. Michael Akinyele is responsible for leading, transforming and scaling enterprise innovation as the Acting VA Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the VA Innovation Center, in the Office of Enterprise Integration. He joined the VA in 2017 as a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management (DUSHOM), the Senior Executive responsible for providing management oversight for the VA’s 18 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN’s) and ~1,300 sites of care. At the direction of VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health, Mr. Akinyele introduced the Veterans Health Administration’s Healthcare Improvement Center (HIC) to VA stakeholders on September 6, 2017. He was responsible for leading and transforming operations of the center.

Mr. Akinyele started his career managing physician practices in the Washington, D.C. metro area. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Howard University. 

Michele Boomhower, Director of Policy, Planning, and Intermodal Development, Vermont Agency on Transportation

Michele Boomhower is the Director of Policy, Planning, and Intermodal Development for the Vermont Agency on Transportation (VTrans). In this capacity, she oversees programming for Policy, Planning, Permitting, Research, Mapping, Aviation, Rail, Public Transit, and Public Outreach; she also oversees Vermont’s FTA-funded Mobility on Demand Sandbox project focused on improving mobility for rural and disabled Americans. Prior to joining VTrans, Michele served six years as Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and 15 years as Executive Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Kelly Buckland, Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living

Kelly Buckland is Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). He served for over twenty years as the Executive Director of the Boise Center for Independent Living, Living Independence Network Corp. and the Idaho State Independent Living Council. He has served on the Idaho Developmental Disabilities Council, the State Employment and Training Council, and the State Help America Vote Act Steering Committee. He has worked on issues affecting people with disabilities, including passage of the Personal Assistance Services Act and the Fathers and Mothers Independently Living with their Youth (FAMILY) Child Custody Laws. In 1978, Kelly graduated from Boise State University with a B.A. in Social Work and in 1988 Summa Cum Laude from Drake University with a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. In recent years, Kelly has been honored with numerous state and national awards, including the University of Idaho President’s Medallion, the United Vision for Idaho Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hewlett-Packard Distinguished Achievement in Human Rights Award, and induction into the National Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.

David Capozzi, Executive Director, U.S. Access Board

David Capozzi is the Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board. The Access Board is the only federal agency whose primary mission is accessibility for people with disabilities. David is responsible for over $8 million in program expenditures and manages a staff of 28 professionals and support staff who develop accessibility guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act, Architectural Barriers Act, Communications Act, and accessibility standards for information and communication technology and medical diagnostic equipment under the Rehabilitation Act. He is also responsible for implementing the Board’s Architectural Barriers Act enforcement program, along with the Board’s training, technical assistance, and research programs.

David was previously Director of Project ACTION and Vice President of Advocacy for Easter Seals and was the National Advocacy Director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo School of Law and was an honors graduate and Phi Beta Kappa recipient at SUNY at Buffalo with an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Andrei Greenawalt, Vice President for Public Policy, Via

Andrei Greenawalt is the Head of Public Policy at Via, the world’s leader in providing public mobility solutions. Via partners with cities and transit agencies across the world to provide on-demand shuttles and buses, improve paratransit services, and optimize school bus systems. Andrei previously worked on regulatory and policy issues at the White House (2009-14), including as Policy Advisor in the Office of the Chief of Staff and as Associate Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He has also served as a law clerk to two Federal judges and worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School.

Mary Lazare, Principal Deputy Administrator for the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Mary Lazare was sworn into office as the Principal Deputy Administrator for the Administration for Community Living (ACL) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on June 19, 2017. Ms. Lazare comes to ACL from St. Louis, Missouri, where she served from 2004 to 2006 as Vice President for Home and Community-Based Services for Lutheran Senior Services. As Vice-President, Ms. Lazare reorganized and developed a structure to streamline the operations of home health, hospice, and private duty services.

Ms. Lazare has served as Vice President of Senior Care Facilities and Community Health Ministries at Ascension Health, the nation’s largest health system; Vice-President of Senior Services and Home Care Services at BJC Health Care; and Executive Director for the Jewish Center for the Aged. Ms. Lazare received her undergraduate degree in therapeutic recreation and recreation therapy from the University of Missouri in Columbia.  She later received Master’s Degrees in Gerontology from Lindenwood University and in Business Administration and Management from Maryville University of Saint Louis.

Anne Marie Lewis, Director of Safety and Technology Policy, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Dr. Anne Marie Lewis is currently the Director of Safety and Technology Policy at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in Washington, DC. Her portfolio includes automated vehicle policy at the federal, state and international level. Prior to the Alliance, she worked at Booz Allen Hamilton as a technical advisor to the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) at the US Department of Energy (DOE). During this time, she supported over 15 projects across 5 energy technology funding programs. Prior to this, she was a AAAS Science and Technology Congressional Fellow in the Office of Senator Heitkamp (D-ND) where she worked on a variety of energy policy issues.

Dr. Lewis obtained her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, Masters from the University of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering, and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering and Natural Resources and Environment.

Dr. Jordana Maisel, Director of Inclusive Design and Environmental Access Center at the University at Buffalo

Dr. Jordana Maisel is the Director of Research at the University at Buffalo Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) and Co-Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Accessible Public Transportation from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). She is currently the principal or co-principal investigator on several RERC projects, including Universal Design and the Built Environment, a NIDILRR Field-Initiated Research Project on Independent Wheelchair Securement, and a Social Innovation grant from Toyota to study ride-hailing. Dr. Maisel co-authored the Goals of Universal Design and Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments (2012), the first textbook on the subject. Dr. Maisel also co-edited Accessible Public Transportation: Designing Service for Riders with Disabilities (2017) and Inclusive Design (2017).

Dr. Maisel holds a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Master’s in Urban Planning and Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University at Buffalo.

Miriam Manary, Biosciences Lead Engineer, University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute

Miriam is a Lead Research Engineer at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.    Ms. Manary has led several studies focused on child occupant protection and on wheelchair transportation safety. She is involved in sled impact evaluation of child restraints, crashworthy wheelchairs, and related equipment. Ms. Manary is the chair of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Committee on Wheelchairs and Transportation and a U.S. expert to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) working group on wheelchair transportation safety. 

Neil Romano, Chairperson of the National Council on Disability

Neil Romano was named chair of the NCD by President Donald Trump on February 21, 2018.  Before being designated as Chairman, Mr. Romano was appointed to NCD in February of 2015 and then reappointed for a second term of three years by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on February 15, 2018.

He worked as executive director of the Republican Party in Monmouth County, as well as the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, where he served as director of communications from 1985 to 1988.  Romano also served as Assistant Secretary of Labor and director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy from 2008 to 2009 and as a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (2006-2008), the Prison Jail Ministries Foundation, the Taylor Hooton Foundation, and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. He co-founded the America's Strength Foundation, and has advised the Association for People in Supported Employment, the U.S. Business Leadership Network, GettingHired.com, Major League Baseball, and Wal-Mart regarding disability issues.

Neil Romano earned a B.A. in History and Political Science at New York University, and an M.A. in Political Science at Brown University.

Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor

Jennifer Sheehy is the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor. Prior to her current position, Jennifer spent ten years at the U.S. Department of Education in many roles, including acting Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, acting Deputy Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Jennifer came to the Department of Education from the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities where she was Senior Policy Advisor and served a detail as Associate Director in the White House Domestic Policy Council. Before she joined the task force staff, Jennifer was Vice President of the National Organization on Disability and Director of its CEO Council.

Jennifer earned a B.A. from Cornell University and graduated with honors from Georgetown University, where she received her M.B.A.

Maria Town, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Association of People with Disabilities

Maria Town is the President and CEO of AAPD. Prior to this she served as the Director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. She is also the former Senior Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement where she managed the White House’s engagement with the disability community and older Americans. She also managed the place-based portfolio and coordinated engagement across Federal agencies. Prior to this, Town was a policy advisor at the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). While at ODEP, Town led and coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. In addition to her disability policy work, Town is the creator of the popular CP Shoes blog where she writes about fashion, design, and disability. She was recently named to the Susan Daniel’s Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and to the inaugural class of Emory University’s 40 Under 40.

Vincent Valdes, Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation, Federal Transit Administration

As the Associate Administrator for FTA’s Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation since 2008, Vincent Valdes leads a group of program managers, transportation specialists and engineers who work on FTA’s critical transit research program. The program provides a forum for transit research at the national level and facilitates the development of innovative transit practices and technologies to support national public transportation. Throughout his career in the public and private sectors, Mr. Valdes has led work in various fields including engineering, transportation research, urban and regional planning, neighborhood economic development, environmental protection, and international development. Mr. Valdes graduated with a degree in Engineering from Boston University and received an M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2019
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