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2021-2022 Board Elections


Members of the SDS Board serve a 3-year term and if elected a second time, may serve no more than 2 consecutive terms. Members should be prepared to meet monthly and to chair or co-chair one or more committees.

All SDS Members in good standing should vote. The candidates' statements are below in alphabetical order. Please vote for no more than 4 candidates.

2021-2022 Nominees

  • Paulina Abustan
  • Kelly Deasy
  • Patrick Devlieger
  • Rodney Hume-Dawson
  • Emily Nusbaum
  • Toni Saia
  • Joseph Stromondo
  • Amanda Wroten


Ballots will be emailed to Members in July.

Paulina Abustan

This letter reflects my interest in joining SDS Executive Board as UW Disability Studies and WSU Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Affiliate Faculty.

As a gender fluid, queer, crip, Pilipinx, and first generation scholar-activist-educator, I support the work of the SDS as my 8+ years of critical and intersectional higher education teaching and research along with my 15+ years of diversity, equity, and inclusion community programming, activism, and leadership directly align with SDS’s mission to support our sick and disabled communities through teaching, research, and activism.

I am a local and national disabled leader as I served as a key panelist speaker for UWB Diversity Center’s Asian American Heritage Month event centering the disability justice work, joy, and rest of Queer, Crip, and Asian American activist-educators. Additionally, I served as a keynote conference speaker at the 2021 PMJ Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Symposium presenting my book chapter centering the collectively felt bodymind experiences of trans and queer of color student activists. I am the former 4th year co-founder and director of Pullman School District’s K-5 Tutoring Program predominantly supporting non-centered students. I led basic needs programming, multicultural student mentoring programming, academic and first generation student success services, and co-founded and advised a sick and disabled transgender and queer of color organization at WSU from 2013-2021 and at UW during this year.

I am an advocate for Disability Studies on a national level when I am an active member, leader, reviewer, and/or academic conference presenter at Society for Disability Studies, Review of Disability Studies, National Women’s Studies Association Queer and Transgender Caucus, American Education Research Association’s Queer SIG, American Education Studies Association Disability Studies SIG, and Asian American Studies Association’s Pilipinx Studies SIG. My 5+ peer reviewed publications center the dream worlds of sick, disabled, transgender, queer, and people of color activists within K-5 learning spaces and decolonial activist spaces. My scholar-activist-educator praxis was developed during my time at UCSB from 2006-2013 co-organizing numerous sick and disabled transgender and queer of color led programming and events advocating for the affordability and accessibility of our higher education spaces.

Thank you for considering me for SDS Executive Board. I seek to develop conference programming to become more critical and intersectional while strategically building our membership to center the issues and needs of sick, disabled, transgender, queer, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. I aim to advocate for conference funds, times, speakers, panelists, sessions, and more to prioritize the issues of systemic racism, cis-hetero-sexism, ableism, and more such as the lack of access to dignity, respect, housing, food, healthcare, education, and more our non-centered communities face through actively inviting members from the various academic and activist organizations I am a part of. I look forward to learning from you soon.

Kelly Deasy

I would like to be considered to serve on the board for the Society of Disability Studies Board. I have worked in Higher Education for over 20 years and bring experience in disability services currently at a comprehensive arts institution in Philadelphia, the University of the Arts, and previously at a small liberal arts women’s college in Decatur, Georgia. I have an MS in Counseling, and BA in English Literature, and am dedicated to the work of helping students overcome barriers while creating a culture of access and inclusion across the fabric of organizations/ universities.

My work focuses on student development and success, but given the leadership experiences I have gained in working with students, university policies and procedures, and academic programs, I have developed a wider interest in disability justice and disability studies through a social model lens. I am interested in working beyond accessibility and law and creating a culture of inclusive practices that benefits everyone.

I would like the opportunity to serve on the SDS Board and promote the intersection of disability and the arts. At University of the Arts, students with disabilities work with faculty in dance, design, visual arts, animation, illustration, vocal and instrumental performance, and theater to name a few. The profound connection between arts, activism, and intersections of race, disability, and gender are among my professional interests and I feel that a presence on the SDS board would create an avenue for looking at how disability is represented in the arts – and most often not represented.

With my experience, I feel a genuine desire to contribute to an organization that includes a variety of diverse professionals dedicated to expanding disability studies work, responding to the growing need, and evolving its mission.

My current focus is social model / social construction of disability, universal design in teaching, digital accessibility policies, and neurodiversity on campuses. At University of the Arts, these areas are a central focus, and design as a catalyst for change, is the conduit.

I recently spoke to our dance faculty about programming highlighting disability and dance; I am in the process of looking at an international film series on disability lives, and recently connected with game arts faculty about the topic of accessibility in gaming. Currently, I chair an ad-hoc Access working group of our University’s DEI Committee, as well as the Policies and Communication group. These leadership roles and experiences would be an asset to your team.

Across the board in the Arts, access and inclusion has become opportunities and challenges. A Museum studies graduate student spoke to me recently about museum accessibility spaces and his recent thesis on working with blind and deaf hard of hearing participants. We discussed how designing for this populations helps us stumble across ways that everyone can participate in new and inclusive ways, and how museums are poised to lead the way.

I believe my background working in human ecology, design, disability services, and various higher education institutions would serve the SDS Board well. I am interested in learning more about the committees and opportunities available based on my qualifications and background. I hope you will consider my nomination.

Patrick Devlieger

During the first term as a board member of SDS I had the opportunity to contribute to committees such as membership, program, and awards committee. I was happy to meet with committee members, mostly online but also on one occasion off-line. The COVID19 pandemic and the change of administration in the US have impacted on many dynamics but in all-in-all the Society for Disability Studies has grown and is currently quite a healthy organization, with a good and healthy focus on its business and presence in the world. The prospect is that it will continue this path during the next four years.

Having an international profile, namely coming from, and living currently in Belgium, having studied in the United States, and being active as an academic anthropologist in an international environment that includes many different parts of the world, but especially African countries, I wish to work on an international leadership profile for the SDS. That means a steady communication with other academic organization in the field of disability studies in many countries around the world, a recruitment of international members, and international leadership. Moreover, I think it is important that SDS exercises collaboration with other organizations in programming academic activities and support, as well as doing program activities on its own, for example in the form of webinar series or awards program. Finally, SDS, being a scholarly, advocacy, and activist organization could connect better with both non-governmental organizations and the US government. These would be points of focus around which I would like to concentrate my 2nd term involvement.

Rodney Hume-Dawson

I have been working tirelessly for people with disabilities since I was 18 years old. I was one of the moving forces behind the formation of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues. This organization is now the leading national organization representing people with disabilities in Sierra Leone.

I am a citizen of the United States who is committed to taking SDS to the next level. I plan to serve in the Development Committee and perhaps, in the Program Committee. I would like to move SDS beyond the walls of Academia so that those who are suffering can be helped. I also think that we need to do more awareness and sensitization meetings locally and globally. Overall, I would like to assist in moving SDS to a greater height. I hold a Ph.D. in Education with emphasis on Disability Studies, from Chapman University, and currently teach in the Liberal Studies Department at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. I recently wrote a proposal for a Minor in Disability Studies in my department at Cal Poly, Pomona.

I am a polio survivor. I have lived with a mobility/physical disability almost all of my life. I was diagnosed with polio at the age of eighteen months. I ambulate with crutches and braces.

Emily Nusbaum

I am submitting my nomination for the Society for Disability Studies Board of Directors. I have been an SDS member on/off for the last 15 years. My academic and community-based work is centered in interdisciplinary disability studies and in partnerships with disabled community scholars of color. I currently teach in teacher education, interdisciplinary DS, and qualitative research methods at a range of universities. I’ve taught undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level courses in DSE, and have collaboratively developed interdisciplinary certificates in disability studies at undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as creating a doctoral strand of courses focused on DSE and critical intersections. I have recently begun consultant positions with universities related to the development of intersectional disability studies and associated coursework. My current research focuses on the advancement of critical, qualitative research by centering the disabled bodymind and disabled researchers, the ideology of inclusive education, and collaborative, narrative explorations of epistemic violence, which becomes personal violence, in the academy. Many of my efforts have also focused on creating partnerships with community scholars such as Leroy F. Moore, Jr., Alice Wong, and the late Stacey Millbern Park (among others).

I have served in leadership positions in other academic organizations and, as such: have worked collaboratively with a range of individuals to accomplish the work of the organization/division; both mentored and learned from others in these positions; and also offered ideas to innovate the structures, processes, and policies/commitments of these organizations. Within an organization like SDS, I am particularly interested in development and membership, to broaden the reach of the organization and add important depth to the content of the annual conference and contributions to Disability Studies Quarterly. As indicated previously and as is evident on my CV, I have sustained relationships and partnerships with a range of disabled, multiply marginalized community scholars. I believe that purposefully increasing the presence of the knowledge and wisdom of community scholars into an organization that has a history of being more academically focused could serve SDS in significant and important future-minded ways. The most recent 2021 conference demonstrated a greater degree of this presence than I have experienced previously and serves as an important springboard to build membership and programming in this way. The increasing presence of disability justice (as a phrase, a descriptor, and a buzz word) in academic spaces is evidence that now is the time for centering (rather than co-opting) grassroots wisdom in an organization like SDS. Other intersectional movements, such as poverty scholarship, also present fruitful potential collaborations and ways to build intersectional programming and grow SDS membership. Based on my various partnerships with community scholars it is evident that many of these folks also need to understand why their presence and contributions to an organization like SDS would be beneficial to the on-the-ground movements that they have created and sustained.

I believe that I offer something important to the SDS Board of Directors in my non-traditional academic work and through my community-based partnerships/collaborations. Community and academic partnerships are fraught with tensions—and as such, present tremendous opportunities to (re)think and innovate the presence, work, and influence of an organization like the Society for Disability Studies.

Toni Saia

My desire to be on the Society of Disability Studies Board of Directors is linked to my experience as a disabled woman and my vision in life. My vision is of a just world ... where disabled people have equal opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life ... where communities are barrier-free, and access is universal ... where discrimination is unthinkable. I dedicate my efforts to this vision through teaching, collaborating, ongoing skill development, organizing communities to effect change, and leading by example.

During my 1-year term on the Board of Directors (2020-2021), I was heavily involved with the Program Committee to ensure a successful conference. I helped review proposals, create the program, and provided support for presenters and attendees each day of the conference. Additionally, I reviewed award nominations. I rarely turned down the opportunity to be involved and lend a helping hand. It has truly been a great experience and it feels like I am just getting started.

I want to continue as a Board member specifically on the membership committee to increase membership. I want to increase the communication with current members and engage in intentional outreach to potential members. I am eager to grow the student presence as well given that students are the future of SDS. Additionally, I want to make sure the members have an opportunity to share ideas and concerns to help SDS grow. I would like to bring back the Town Hall meeting at the annual conference as one way to engage members. Furthermore, I want to make sure SDS has a seat at the table for opportunities to collaborate and encourage understanding of disability across disciplines. There is power in numbers and the more people to further the mission of SDS the better.

Thank you for your consideration!

Joseph Stromondo

Beginning in the Fall 2021 semester, I will be an Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Diego State University (SDSU), where I have also served as the Associate Director of the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs. Prior to beginning my time at SDSU in 2016, I was an Assistant Teaching Professor with the Health Administration Department of Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. I have a PhD in Philosophy from Michigan State University and an MA in Public Policy Studies from Trinity College in Hartford.

I first discovered Disability Studies during my sophomore year as an undergraduate, when I read Robert Murphy’s self-ethnography The Body Silent for a medical anthropology course. For the first time, I understood my own experience as a disabled person through a social and political lens rather than a purely medical one. Simultaneously, I took my first course in biomedical ethics and found that, unlike anthropology, this area of scholarship largely insisted on medicalizing disability and ignoring its complex social, political, and cultural character. On my own, I sought out the work of disabled bioethicists at the margins of discipline like Adrienne Asch, Ron Amundson, and Anita Silvers. I wanted to model my life’s work on theirs and became committed to combating the ableism that pervades the field. To date, I have published over 20 scholarly articles and book chapters and am actively developing two book manuscripts.

While I am largely self-taught in disability studies, never receiving any sort of formal coursework, I attended nearly every SDS conference from 2009 to 2015, immersing myself in the community of disability studies scholars and finding many colleagues, friends, and mentors. For me, SDS conferences were transformative, both personally and professionally. Given the hostility disabled people experience in academia generally, but in bioethics in particular, it is not an exaggeration to say that I would not be in a position to serve SDS now if I had not had its support then.

My goal would be to help bring this support to other scholars at the margins, especially those that lack the kinds of privilege I have as a physically disabled, cis, straight, white, middle-class man. Consequently, I will make a good faith effort to approach this duty with a level of humility as I use the skills I have built in similar roles as a member of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Disabled People in the Profession, a Member at Large of the Board of Directors of the Society for Philosophy and Disability, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute.

As a member of the board, I would be particularly interested in contributing to the efforts being made to reinvigorate the conferences and support junior scholars as they find their place in the field. So, I would be most interested in serving on the Program, Nominations & Awards, and Policy and Publications committees.

Amanda Wroten

Thank you for considering my nomination to the Board of Directors for the Society for Disability Studies. For the past 13 years I have served as an adjunct at two state universities. During that time I noticed a large and growing gap in the content being offered in our communications courses. For all of our talk of intersectionality and marginalized groups, there was little if any information or dialogue related to disability studies. It was also during this time that one of my students nominated me to receive a diversity award, given by our university President. While I was truly honored, I was also deeply confused. I had little interaction with the student, as she was enrolled in an asynchronous course. I had met with her once outside of our online format. It was at that moment that I realized she nominated me because I am an ambulatory wheelchair user. When researching the award and our university I discovered that disability studies were excluded from the minor my school offers in diversity studies. I immediately reached out to our university president, who (to my surprise) agreed to meet with me. Following that meeting I began developing our first disability studies course and laying the foundation for what I hope becomes our own minor program.

I bring a diverse set of experience and skills to the Society for Disability Studies Board of Directors. In addition to my 13 years of experience teaching in this area, I am also a nonprofit executive director with 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, crisis communications and public relations. I believe that my unique blend of skills would offer the Board of Directors access to a seasoned nonprofit professional, at the board level. In short, I understand both the nonprofit world and the academic world.

I have a strong interest in growing the organization’s following through the utilization of social media. I believe the organization could gain more readers and support by providing small amounts of content in a more approachable setting. The utilization of podcasts, TikTok and other forms of social media allow organizations to stay current and in the thick of public discussions, which is important given the lengthy submission and approval process for journal articles. By increasing exposure of scholarly content, it increases the reach of the organization, provides free marketing, and increases the pop culture interest in disability studies research.

Thank you for your consideration. I wish all candidates the best of luck in their future endeavors.