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Participants: 8th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities

February 15 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Finding Solutions, Building a Stronger Community

Opening and Welcome – 8:00 am – 8:50 am

Opening Session Speaker – Director Maria Cristina Fuentes

Maria Cristina Fuentes was appointed as Director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family (GOYFF) by Governor Doug Ducey in November 2017.

GOYFF serves vulnerable communities to help prevent and address five key areas: child safety, human trafficking, domestic and sexual violence, juvenile justice and substance abuse. Additionally, the office works to strengthen service and volunteerism through the AmeriCorps program and faith-based community engagement.

Previous to Ms. Fuentes’ appointment to GOYFF, she worked at Casey Family Programs, where she furthered the foundation’s mission to safely reduce the number of children in foster care and improve well-being outcomes of children and families.

Ms. Fuentes also served six years in the Administration of President George W. Bush in the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice. Ms. Fuentes served in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives working to help states across the country develop and establish their own faith-based initiatives.

Session 1 Workshops – 9:00 am – 10:15 am

1. The ABCs African Americans, Blindness and Culture

2. Future Planning: Creating a Roadmap of Your Future Your Wishes

3. Sharing is Healing

4. Serving a Diverse Arizona

5. The Effects of Trauma throughout the Life of African American Children

6. A Special Education Law Primer for Attorneys – CLE

Break 10:15 am – 10:30 am

Session 2 Workshops – 10:30 am – 11:45 am

1. African American with Disabilities perspective

2. Phoenix Police Department: Engagement and Outreach

3. Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy for Children in Our Community: What You Need To Know

4. Working Animals: The Law on Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals and Assistance Animals Applied to Daily Life – CLE

5. A Black Mother’s Forum

6. Legal Trends in Providing Effective Communications through Auxiliary Aids and Services for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired – CLE

Lunch & Keynote Address – 11:50 am – 1:00 pm

Keynote Speaker – Thomas Hicks, Chairman

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Thomas Hicks was nominated by President Barack H. Obama and confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on December 16, 2014 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

Prior to his appointment with EAC, Commissioner Hicks served as a Senior Elections Counsel and Minority Elections Counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, a position he held from 2003 to 2014. In this role Mr. Hicks was responsible for issues relating to campaign finance, election reform, contested elections and oversight of both the Election Assistance Commission and Federal Election Commission. His primary responsibility was advising and providing guidance to the committee members and caucus on election issues. Mr. Hicks has talked with Americans in every state about their voting experiences. In addition, he has worked with state and local election officials across America to address critical election concerns.

Prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Hicks served as a Senior Lobbyist and Policy Analyst from 2001 to 2003 for Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Mr. Hicks has enjoyed working with state and local election officials, civil rights organizations and all other stakeholders to improve the voting process.

Mr. Hicks served from 1993 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration as a Special Assistant and Legislative Assistant in the Office of Congressional Relations for the Office of Personnel Management. He served as agency liaison to the United State Congress and the President’s Administration on matters regarding Federal personnel policies and regulations.

Mr. Hicks received his J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and his B.A. in Government from Clark University (Worcester, MA). He also studied at the University of London (London, England) and law at the University of Adelaide (Adelaide, Australia).

Session 3 Workshops – 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm

1. The Hidden Disability in Society: A Pharmacist Prescription to the Truth

2. Organizing your Financial Future

3. The Essential 19″ Everything You Need to Help Students with Autism Succeed in

the STEM Workforce

4. Unlawful Discriminatory Treatment against Workers with Caregiving

Responsibilities – CLE

5. Child Advocacy and the African American Family

6. The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Powerful Tool for Justice-Involved Youth

with Disabilities-CLE

Break 2:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Session 4 Workshops – 2:45 pm – 4:00 pm

1. Mind over Matter

2. Social Security’s Definition of Disability: What Does Social Security Look at in

Determining Eligibility for Benefits?

3. Transition to Adulthood: Meeting the Needs of Foster Youth with Disabilities and

Special Health Care Needs

4. Health Disparities and Trauma: Implications for the African American Community

5. Parents: Preparing for the IEP and 504 process

6. Ethically Litigating ADA Access Cases – CLE

Closing Session – 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Shawn Aleong

Temple University

Civil Rights and Disability Advocate

Shawn is a really determined, influential, humble, Christian, young man who is trying to make this society a better place for all. In addition, he strongly believes in equal rights for all especially for individuals with disabilities and the African American community and other groups. He prides himself on advocating for civil rights, disability rights, and human rights for all.


Shawn Aleong graduated from Davidson Elwyn High School in 2009, where he was the Valedictorian of his class. Shawn enrolled in the Temple University Academy for Adult Learning in 2012. During his time in the Temple University AAL program, Shawn realized that he had a passion for law and the legal system. This revelation helped Shawn further pursue his education in the legal studies field. Before he finished the AAL program, Shawn received the opportunity to speak in front of Bob Casey, a Senator for Pennsylvania in regarding the Able Act. Shawn graduated from the Temple University Academy for Adult Learning on May 5, 2014 with a certificate of completion. After joining Temple University’s continuing studies program in January of 2015, Shawn enrolled as a full time undergraduate student in January of 2018, majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in entrepreneurship and real estate, with a 3.67 grade point average. Aside from taking classes, Shawn has many different roles on and off campus within various organizations. Shawn is a member for the PA State NAACP Youth & College Division, previously serving as the Juvenile Justice Ambassador for the Temple University Progressive NAACP during the 2013-2014 academic school year. Currently, he serves as the Deputy Director of Government Affairs for Temple Student Government (TSG). In addition, Shawn is on the Board of Directors for the Arc of Philadelphia and on the Police Advisory Commission for Philadelphia. Shawn also serves on the Consumer Advisory Committee for the institute on disabilities at Temple University. Most recently, during the 2017-2018 academic year Shawn work in Temple Student Government as the Deputy Director of Campus Safety. During the 2015 academic school year, Shawn served as the Assistant House Speaker of the General Assembly for TSG. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, he served as the Audit General for TSG. During the 2016-2017 academic year. Shawn was the Assistant Deputy Director for Campus Life and Diversity for TSG. In addition, to his roles in TSG, Shawn is also involved with other various organization groups.Shawn is passionate about being an advocate for people with and without disabilities. Furthermore, he fights for everyone so that everyone has the same equal rights. In the near future, Shawn plans to help the younger generation to understand and to stand up for the rights of those with and without disabilities.

Shawn has continuously overcome trials and tribulations and does not let anything stand in his way because he knows that he can do anything with GOD on his side.

Hosted By
Ability360, Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) and Arizona Center for African American Resources (AzCAAR)

For registration assistance contact

David Carey, Conference Co-Chair, Ability360


(602) 443-0723


February 15
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Desert Willow Conference Center
4340 E Cotton Center Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85040 United States
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