CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Keynote Presenters

CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership is assembling dynamic and engaging keynote presenters for the 2019 CQL Conference: Dare To Dream, which takes place October 22-24, 2019 in Baltimore, MD. These nationally-recognized presenters will challenge preconceived notions about critical issues in human services, through non-traditional approaches, and lay the groundwork for what will be discovered during breakout sessions.

Additional keynote presenters and panelists will be added to this page in the coming weeks and months. Please keep in mind that all presenters and presentations are subject to change.


Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D.

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. - University of Kansas
Distinguished Professor of Special Education
Chair of the Department of Special Education
Director and Senior Scientist

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is the Ross and Mariana Beach Distinguished Professor of Special Education; Chair of the Department of Special Education; and Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability; all at the University of Kansas. His research and scholarly work has focused issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology and disability, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, conceptualizing intellectual disability, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities.



Julie P. Gentile, M.D.

Julie P. Gentile, M.D.
Professor and Chair at Wright State University Department of Psychiatry

Julie P. Gentile, M.D. is a Professor and Chair at Wright State University Department of Psychiatry and the Project Director for Ohio’s Coordinating Center of Excellence in Mental Illness/Intellectual Disability and for Ohio’s Telepsychiatry Project for Intellectual Disability, serving over 1,400 patients with intellectual disability from 78 counties utilizing telemedicine. Dr. Gentile has evaluated over 4,000 patients with IDD since 2000.

She is the recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Menolascino Award for Excellence in Psychiatric Services for Individuals with Intellectual Disability. She has been awarded more than $7 million in grants to fund her projects and she edited a Guide To Intellectual Disability: A Quick Reference Guide in 2019 by Springer Publishing. 



VJ Smith

V.J. Smith
Professional Speaker

V.J. Smith is a professional speaker and published author. He graduated from South Dakota State University in 1978 and spent the decade of the 1980s working for the Allied Signal Aerospace Company in Kansas City. He returned to his alma mater in 1990, working for six years in the SDSU Athletic Department. He was appointed Executive Director of the SDSU Alumni Association in 1996. In January 2007, he left that position to pursue a career in professional speaking. Smith travels the country and makes over 100 speaking appearances a year.

In March 2014, Meeting and Conventions Magazine named V.J. as one of the favorite speakers of meeting planners throughout America. He is the author of the best-selling book, “The Richest Man In Town,” which details Smith’s relationship with a man who ran a cash register at a local Walmart. “That guy changed my life,” Smith says. Smith is a two-time finalist in Toastmasters' International's “World's Championship of Public Speaking.” He is also the author of “Can You Hear What I See” and “Jackrabbit Tales." He currently serves as a member of the South Dakota State Senate.



Joseph Macbeth, NADSP

Joseph Macbeth
Executive Director
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)

Joseph Macbeth is the Executive Director of The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). He has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for 35 years - beginning as a Direct Support Professional. Macbeth co-authored the 2017 Report to the President: America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis for the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), he’s written a series of publications titled "Voices from the Frontlines," produced an award-winning Realistic Job Preview video titled "Working as a Direct Support Professional: We Get It Done," and has partnered with the State University of New York (SUNY) by assisting more than 500 direct support professionals advance their college education through the "Disability Studies Certificate".

He currently sits on the board of directors for CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices (TLCPCP) and the College of Direct Support's National Advisory Board. In 2016, Macbeth was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Member of the Advisory Council for the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. He is also involved with AIEJI, an international organization based in Denmark that promotes the work of social educators. He lives in Albany, NY.




Panel Presenters


Alison BarkoffAlison Barkoff
Director of Advocacy
Center for Public Representation

Alison Barkoff is the Director of Advocacy at the Center for Public Representation in Washington, D.C.  She works on policy and litigation related to community integration and inclusion of people with disabilities, including Olmstead enforcement, Medicaid policy, employment, education and housing. She serves as a co-chair of the Long Term Services and Supports Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities and is the policy advisor to the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination. She leads the HCBS Advocacy Coalition and the Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment. Ms. Barkoff also served as an appointed member of the federal Advisory Committee for Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities. From 2010 to 2014, she served as Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In that position, she led the Division’s efforts to enforce the right of individuals with disabilities to live, work and receive services in the community. During her time with the federal government, Ms. Barkoff also worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on finalizing rules governing Medicaid-funded community-based services and with the Department of Labor on implementation of new fair wage rules in Medicaid-funded disability service systems. She has previously worked at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and at a number of other public interest organizations on Olmstead enforcement, disability discrimination, Medicaid, employment, and special education cases. She has an adult brother with an intellectual disability and has been involved in disability advocacy most of her life. She speaks nationally and publishes articles on disability and civil rights issues.  


Julia BascomJulia Bascom
Executive Director
Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Julia Bascom serves as Executive Director at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Previously, she did state-level work in her home state of New Hampshire, where she served on the DD council and co-led an inter-agency team to revitalize self-advocacy within the state, in addition to her work with ASAN. Julia edited Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking, an anthology of writings by autistic people, and currently serves on the Disability Equality Index advisory board, the Centene National Disability Advisory Council, the advisory board of Felicity House, and the boards of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Allies For Independence, and the Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports.


Chester FinnChester Finn

Chester Finn is employed by NYS OPWDD (New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities). He is a nationally known Disability Rights Activists who served 3 terms as National President of SABE (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered) and is a past President of SANYS (Self Advocacy Association of NYS). He is currently an Advisor for SANYS. Chester was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on Disability. Chester will also is well known for singing the Songs of our Movement. In his free time, he enjoys playing instruments and attends sporting events like the New York Yankees and WWE wrestling. He has Alabama Roots and loves Alabama Football.


Tia NelisTia Nelis
Director of Policy & Advocacy

Tia Nelis is the Director of Policy & Advocacy for TASH. She comes to TASH after serving as Self-Advocacy Specialist at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center within the Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago. She also is one of the past chairperson of the National Organization of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered. She founded and successfully promoted People First of Illinois, where she served as president. Tia, a long-time member of TASH, has received the Burton Blatt Award, awarded by the Illinois TASH chapter, as well as the Elizabeth Boggs award from the President’s Committee.

Tia has drawn on experiences relating to her own disability in promoting and demonstrating the benefits of empowerment for people with disabilities. She has wide experience in conducting training and advocating for progressive polices with legislators and public officials.




Conference Registration

The cost to attend the 2019 CQL Conference is $475 per attendee. The registration rate will then increase to $499 for 'late registration' between 10/2/19 - 10/15/19. You can Register Online using the conference registration platform, ConstantContact, where you will enter in registration information for yourself and potential guests. After completing the registration form, you will be directed to the secure PayPal platform, where you can place your payment either using a credit card, or a PayPal account.

*For travel-planning purposes, the conference will begin with registration at 8:00am EDT on October 22nd, 2019, and conclude around 11:30am EDT on October 24th, 2019.


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