2013-2014 Board of Directors

Executive Board

Members of the sds Executive Board are elected annually in the spring by sds membership and serve three-year terms.

Michael Rembis


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Michael Rembis portraitDr. Mike Rembis is the Director of the Center for Disability Studies, a UB Civic Engagement Research Fellow, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of History. He came to Buffalo from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a visiting scholar in the Department of American Studies and the Department of History. His work, which has appeared in many journals and edited collections, has won several awards, including the 2008 Irving K. Zola Award, awarded annually by the Society for Disability Studies to emerging scholars. His first book, Defining Deviance: Sex, Science, and Delinquent Girls, 1890-1960, is available from University of Illinois Press. He is currently working on a disability history anthology co-edited with Susan Burch, forthcoming from University of Illinois Press. In fall 2012, Rembis and co-editor Kim Nielsen launched the Disability Histories book series also with University of Illinois Press. Since completing the PhD in history, Rembis has served as co-founder and member of the Disability Studies Initiative at the University of Arizona, where he helped to create an undergraduate curriculum in Disability Studies. He also spent two-years working with faculty and administrators at the University of Notre Dame, building their Disability Studies Forum. Most recently, Rembis has been fortunate to benefit from a close collaboration with David Gerber (Distinguished Professor of History) at the University at Buffalo, where they have worked to establish the Center for Disability Studies and create a formal master’s level (MA) degree concentration in Disability Studies. He serves on the American Historical Association’s Task Force on Disability.

Brenda Brueggemann

Program Co-chair for Atlanta 2015 with Mel Chen

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Phil Smith


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Phil Smith portraitDr. Phil Smith describes himself as being post-everything and after boundaries. He teaches at Eastern Michigan University – there, he slips disability studies stuff and the occasional cranky rant into courses he teaches, and hopes the bureaucrats and curricula police won’t notice. Phil received the Emerging Scholar Award in Disability Studies in Education in 2009, has been a member of the Society for Disability Studies for several years, and has had papers published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Taboo, Qualitative Inquiry, Review of Educational Research, and Health and Place, among other journals, as well as a variety of book chapters. Phil has published a book in the Peter Lang Disability Studies in Education series, Whatever Happened to Inclusion? The Place of Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Education. He is a published poet, playwright, novelist, and visual artist, and works as a critical scholar, teacher educator, and autoethnographer. For more than 20 years, in a variety of contexts and roles, he has worked as a disability rights activist, and served on the boards of directors of a number of regional, state and local organizations. He identifies as a person with a disability, and as the parent of someone with a disability. He rides his bicycle to work most days, and tries to remember to wear his socks. A transplanted Yankee, he now spends most of his time beside Lake Superior, where loons, wolves, moose, and bald eagles peek in the windows of his cabin.

Samantha Schalk


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Sami Schalk portraitSami Schalk is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University in Gender Studies. Her research focuses on the representation of (dis)ability in black women’s fiction. Her academic work has been published in theDisability Studies Quarterly and the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology. Sami Schalk is also poet and received her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to being an SDS board member, Sami is a Cave Canem fellow and program coordinator for Young Women Writing for (a) Change of Bloomington.

Board of Directors

Omolara Funmilola (Funmi) Akinpelu

Membership Committee, Chair of nominations

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Funmi Akinpelu portraitDr. Omolara Funmilola (Funmi) Akinpelu earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Special Education from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She received her Ph.D. in Guidance and Counseling at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. She was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ilorin where she taught and supervised research projects at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Funmi currently works as Project EMERGE Advocate at ARISE in Syracuse. The project is in collaboration with VERA HOUSE also in Syracuse. The aim of this project is to identify specific gaps in service, barriers to safety and accessible support, and system inadequacies for women with disabilities and deaf women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Funmi worked as a Research Project Coordinator with Burton Blatt Institute (BBI), Syracuse University. Prior to joining the BBI, Funmi was a Visiting Research Scholar in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at York University, Canada. She also participated in the Advanced Research Rehabilitation Training (ARRT) at the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies, Syracuse University. Funmi has a strong background in Special Education in Nigeria. Her research interests are in special education, rehabilitative counseling, and disability studies. She is particularly interested in disability policies, human rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality, and empowerment of women with disabilities. Funmi has presented conference papers in Nigeria, Canada, and United States. Funmi is also a member of International Association of Special Education (IASE), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), American Psychological Association (APA), Counseling Association of Nigeria (CASSON), and Nigerian Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET). She is also a recipient of the 2011 Syracuse University Martin Luther King (Jr.) Unsung Heroes Award

Juliann Anesi

Co-Chair of Awards

Juliann Anesi is a doctoral candidate in the Special Education and Disability Studies Department at Syracuse University, New York. Her educational and professional experiences are in the areas of Disability Studies, Speech Language Pathology, Special Education for grades K-12, and Women and Gender Studies. As a community activist and educator, Juliann has also worked with non-profit organizations and schools in American Sāmoa, California, Hawai‘i, and New York. Her research interests include the study of inclusive education, indigenous peoples with disabilities, institutional policy, and women with disabilities. Juliann is presently conducting ethnographic fieldwork on the organizing efforts of women who founded schools in Samoa for students with disabilities in the 1970-1980s.

Tammy Berberi

site coordinator Atlanta 2015, Coordinating Council for ADA Legacy Project

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Tammy Berberi portraitDr. Tammy Berberi is Associate Professor of French and Director of the Honors program at the University of Minnesota, Morris, a public liberal arts college. As a graduate student, Tammy served the MLA Committee on Disability Issues and as the moderator for DS-HUM, a listserv for disability studies scholars in the humanities; she also served two terms on the University of Minnesota’s Senate Subcommittee on Disability Issues and has twice served the steering committee of the Minnesota Symposium in Disability Studies. Along with Elizabeth Hamilton and Ian Sutherland, Tammy is the co-editor of a collection of essays, Worlds Apart? Disability and Foreign Language Learning (Yale UP, 2008) and has published a number of articles, particularly related to the representation of disability in the poetry of Tristan Corbière, in JLCDS. Her current project is related to Corbière’s contributions to the aesthetics of France’s Second Empire. More generally, her research focuses on representations of physical difference in 19th-century French art and literature. She is serving a second term on the SDS Board of Directors, was Program co-chair for SDS’11 in San Jose and site co-coordinator for SDS Minneapolis in summer 2014!

Mel Chen

Program Co-chair with Brenda Brueggemann for Atlanta 2015

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Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace

Co-Chair of Awards

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Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace, Assistant Professor of Education at National Louis University, runs the Tiny Grace Notes blog and is an editor on i.e.: inquiry in education and NeuroQueer. Her inquiries now are focused on performance, culture, and activism, and her writing can be found among other places in the books Loud Hands, Both Sides of the Table: Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability, and Criptiques. Ibby currently serves on the boards for Society for Disability Studies and Autism National Committee, and is working on an edited anthology with Amy Sequenzia called Typed Words, Loud Voices.

Joan Ostrove

ex-officio member
Chair of access committee for Atlanta 2015

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Joan Ostrove portraitDr. Joan M. Ostrove is a professor of psychology at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota. She received her BA in Psychology from Williams College and her PhD in Psychology and a Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. In 2012, she completed the American Sign Language-English interpreter preparation program at Ohlone College. Her research concerns the connections between individual psychology and social structure. She is particularly interested in the ways in which our positions in the social structure (specifically with respect to gender, social class, and disability) shape our individual psychological experiences. Her primary areas of work focus on the ways in which social class background shapes people’s experiences in higher education and on alliances between people of color and white people, disabled and non-disabled people, and Deaf and hearing people. She has been on the Board of the Society for Disability Studies since 2008.

Katheryne Staeger-Wilson

Liaison to AHEAD Board of Directors

Katheryne Staeger-Wilson portraitKatheryne Staeger-Wilson is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at Missouri State University and serves as a department head within the University's Division for Diversity and Inclusion. She is currently serving a second term on the Association on Higher Education and Disability's (AHEAD) Board of Directors. She is also serving a second term on the Missouri Statewide Independent Living Council overseeing 22 independent living centers. Her interests include human rights and inclusive housing/architecture. She has proposed statewide legislation regarding universal design and affordable housing and worked to get similar concepts approved for Springfield's strategic plan during her term on the Mayor's Commission on Human Rights. Her work on Universal design and recreation has been published twice. Staeger-Wilson is the recipient of the following awards: The AHEAD Professional Recognition Award, The Governor’s Council on Disability Educator of the Year, and MSU’s Staff Excellence Awards in Community Service and University Service.

Gregor Wolbring

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Gregor Wolbring portraitDr. Gregor Wolbring is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Community Health Sciences, Stream Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. He is also a Part-Time Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada; Founding Member and Distinguished Scholar, Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, USA; Adjunct Faculty in Critical Disability Studies at York University Toronto and Fellow: Institute for Science, Policy and Society, University of Ottawa,. His research interests are manifold: ability and ableism ethics and governance, history of thalidomide and thalidomiders, disability studies, social, ethical, legal, economic, environmental, cultural and governance issues of new, emerging and converging sciences and technologies (S&T) such as nanoscale S&T, molecular manufacturing, aging, longevity and immortality research, cognitive sciences, neuromorphic engineering, genetics, synthetic biology, governance of bodily enhancement S&T, in vitro meat, artificial intelligence and robotics; impact of S&T on marginalized populations, especially disabled people; sports; human security, human rights, personhood, sentient rights; concept of disability impairment, ableism and transhumanism; models and determinants of health; global health, tele-health, health- (technology assessment, law, care and policies); medical anthropology; foresight studies, climate, water and energy issues, history, bioethics issues, biochemistry.
Read more about him and his students.

Executive Officer

Michael Rembis

Previous Board Rosters