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2021-2022 Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is a group of members of SDS elected to serve three-year terms; an election is held each year to replace vacated seats as terms end. All members of SDS are eligible to vote and to be nominated to run for a seat on the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors includes an Executive Committee of several officers who take a leadership role on the board. Officers are elected by and from within the members of the Board each academic year.

The 2021-2022 Officers on the SDS Executive Committee are:

  • Karen Nakamura, Co-President
  • Joseph Stramondo, Co-President
  • Toni Saia, Vice-President
  • David Hernández-Saca, Secretary
  • Carol Goldin, Treasurer

The other elected members of the Board of Directors for 2021-2022 are:

  • Paulina Abustan
  • Vandana Chaudry
  • Cassandra Hartblay
  • Emily Nusbaum

Student members of the Society for Disability Studies elect two Student Representatives, who are invited to attend the meetings of the Board of Directors. The inaugural 2021-2022 Student Representatives are:

  • Shariese Katrell Abdullah
  • Preethi Srinivasan

Learn more about the members of the Board of Directors below.

Executive Officers

Karen Nakamura

Photo of Karen Nakamura, wearing a teal jacket and holding a beagle puppy.
Photo of Karen Nakamura, wearing a teal jacket and holding a beagle puppy.

2021-2022 SDS Co-President;

Development Committee Co-Chair
Email Karen - karen (at) disstudies (dot) org

Karen identifies on the neuroqueer spectrum and as a mad scholar. She does work on disabilities in Japan – her first project was on Deaf politics and sign language movements, then did a book and two films about living in a community of people with psychosocial disabilities.

Joseph Stramondo

2021-2022  SDS Co-President; Communications Committee Co-Chair; Program Committee Co-Chair

Email Joseph - joseph (at) disstudies (dot) org

I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University (SDSU). 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 (2015) and an MA in Public Policy Studies from Trinity College in Hartford (2007).

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 25 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 as co-President is 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 am 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 am serving on the Program and Communications Committees.

Toni Saia

A picture of Toni who is sitting outside in her chair. Long brown wavy hair with black round rims. She is wearing a black top and long black cardigan and grey pants. She is smiling into the camera.SDS 2021-2022 Vice President

Email Toni - toni (at) disstudies (dot) com

Toni identifies as a disabled woman with a deep commitment to social justice, inclusion, and equity for all. Her professional work history has involved advocating for a progressive understanding of disability. Toni is currently the Project Leader, Foundations of Inclusion and Accessibility: Building Organizational Capacity in Cultural Institutions with the Museums, Arts, and Cultural Access institutions across NYC. Additionally, she serves as Adjunct Faculty at both the University of Arizona, San Diego State, and Hofstra University teaching both disability studies and counseling courses. In 2019, she graduated from the University of Arizona with her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Her dissertation focused on the role of disability cultural centers in higher education, one of the only studies on this topic.

Carol Goldin

Photo of Carol Goldin

SDS  2018-2021 Treasurer;

2018-2021 Finance & Operations Committee Chair 

2020-2021 Policy and Publications Co-Chair
Email Carol - carol (at) disstudies (dot) org

Carol Goldin has spent most of her professional career as an administrator in higher education, primarily in academic program development. She is currently associate dean for assessment at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University. In addition, she  actively supports a range of advocacy organizations in the community. Her  expertise in developing organizational strengths has grown in tandem with her interest in complex organizations as vehicles for education, for advocacy, and for self-development. In addition, she is deeply involved in interprofessional education and understand the
diverse (and sometimes conflicting) needs/interests of different disciplines, as well as the imperative to communicate across boundaries.

Carol earned her PhD as a cultural anthropologist at U Penn, but her professional career has been far from the traditional boundaries of one discipline. In her earliest attempts to combine scholarly love of anthropology with commitment to equal rights and opportunities, She developed a research agenda focused on what today would be called social justice. Specifically, she focused on the intersection of societal norms and the emergent norms that those on the “outside” were developing for themselves. Today even the names of these identities are contested (“gay people,” “the blind,” “the mentally ill,” “the criminally insane”). Much of her own work focused on how individuals chose to identify themselves, and even more importantly to her work, how they formed advocacy groups and lived within organizations to support their own definitions of self.

Carol has been a member of SDS for many years; during those years the conversations have become clearer and more forceful – and the whole field of disability studies has flowered. The tension between advocacy and scholarship continues – but today there are far more ways to express the complexity of these relationships and work through the possibilities.

David Hernández-Saca

Image of David Hernandez Saca - Headshot of an individual with short cut and wearing black frame glasses. The individual is smiling at the cameraSDS 2020-2021 Secretary;

Nominations and Awards Co-Chair

Email David - David (at) disstudies (dot) org

I am a dis/abled Latino Disability Studies in Education (DSE) scholar and teacher educator. During my undergraduate education, I came across DSE, which saved my mental, spiritual, bodily, heart, and spirit, from the hegemonic master narratives of learning disabilities and special education. The first course I took on Disability Studies was at the University of California, Berkeley, with Professor Devva Kasnitz. I am currently working on a co-edited book in which I am chronicling the history of DSE and special education, which has also made me realize that I needed to look into the history of the Society of Disability Studies (SDS). I am more familiar with DSE than SDS, so when the opportunity to apply to the SDS Board of Directors came up, I was excited for the opportunity to learn more about it. While I was immigrating to the U.S. in 1984 with my family, as refugees, I developed a high fever that gave me seizures and convulsions during my early childhood, that introduced me to the world of disability but, unfortunately within the U.S. context, through the epistemological, ontological, axiological and etiology of special education: positivism, behaviorism, whiteness, and ableism. I never asked for this. I would have preferred the paradigm of DSE and SDS, which is more life-giving for me. Today, I am an Assistant Professor of DSE within the Department of Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). I am a former multi-subject teacher, and my teaching responsibilities at UNI include undergraduate teacher preparation courses in the areas of special education law, assistive technology, and advocacy and post-school transition programming. My overall research agenda is to problematize the common-sense assumptions of learning disabilities (LD) as it relates to intersectionality and emotionality through historically multiply marginalized student voices. The following are my lines of inquiry:

  1. The role of emotion and affect in teacher learning about social justice issues,
  2. Transition programming for historically marginalized youth and their families, and
  3. Examining violence within the academy against historically multiply marginalized and non-hegemonic scholars for their well-being and healing.

I hope to be a critical friend and colleague if given this opportunity to serve. I bring a spirit of democratic learning and accompaniment to be an asset and advocate for SDS's principles and values. I look forward to learning about the specific committees to assess how, why, and what I might be able to bring. My hopes and aspirations for SDS are for it to remain a critical and independent society of the critical study of dis/ability at the intersections of power and identities for new epistemological, ontological, axiological and etiological paradigms for transformative freedom, hope, liberation and radical love for dis/abled people and students and communities in our globalized society. I envision this critical revolutionary praxis can be activated at the personal, interpersonal, structural, and political levels of society and institutions such as education for systemic change.

Board Members-at-Large

Paulina Abustan

This is an image of Dr. Paul/Leena/Paulina Abustan (gender fluid, any pronoun). Light brown skinned diasporic mestiza Pilipinx with straight black hair to my shoulder, dark brown eyes, and smiling. Wearing tan blazer with dark green collar shirt. Dark green pothos plants in the background.

2021-2022 Awards & Nominations Committee Co-Chair
Email Paulina - paulina (at) disstudies (dot) org

Dr. Paul/Leena/Paulina Abustan (any pronoun, gender fluid) centers the alternative worldmaking of intersectional disability justice and queer critical race feminists found within elementary school, youth popular culture animated storytelling, and decolonial Pilipinx and BIPOC coalitional activist spaces. Their critical intersectional feminist ethnography dissertation highlighted the ways in which elementary school members participate in alternative worldmaking everyday through building an interdependent community, prioritizing rest, and honoring differences. Their previous research publications showcased the collective alternative worldmaking of transgender and queer students of color activists in higher education along with transgender and queer Indigenous and diasporic Pilipinx community leaders, activists, and educators. Their current and future research gathers stories from sick, disabled, transgender, and queer educators and youth of color of what their dream learning spaces feel like and how dream worlds are imagined within youth popular culture animated storytelling and coalitional Pilipinx and BIPOC activist spaces. Dr. Abustan is a 9th year higher education instructor and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Western Washington University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and an Affiliate Assistant Professor of University of Washington, Bothell’s Educational Studies, University of Washington’s Disability Studies, and Highline College’s Ethnic and Gender Studies.

Keywords: Queer Critical Race Feminist Disability Studies; Decolonial Pilipinx Praxis; Youth Popular Culture Animated Storytelling; Coalitional BIPOC Activisms; Alternative Worldmaking in Teaching and Learning

Vandana Chaudhry

Vandana Chaudhry 2021- 2022 Nominations & Awards Committee Co-Chair

Email Vandana - vandana (dot) chaudhry (at) csi (dot) cuny (dot) edu

Vandana Chaudhry is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at the City University of New York – College of Staten Island. She came to CSI in 2012 after completing her doctoral studies in Social Work and Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on disability in the Global South, neoliberal governance, culturally and structurally competent practices, and disability justice. Her multi-year ethnographic work explores disability at the nexus of development, globalization and the politics of subject-formation in rural South India, through the examination of microfinance, community based approaches and disability pensions. She theorizes rural disability within the framework of capacity and debility produced through transnational processes of collective precarity, rural underdevelopment, and structural violence, along the intersecting lines of caste, class, gender, location, and the state. In doing so, her work moves away from dominant liberal Euro-American disability and social work paradigms and towards decolonizing disability epistemologies, methodologies and practices from the perspective of the Global South. Dr. Chaudhry has published widely across the disciplines of disability studies, social work, and interdisciplinary social sciences, with her work appearing in Disability and Society, International Social Work, and Qualitative Inquiry, among others.

Her article “Living at the Edge: Disability, Gender, and Neoliberal Debtscapes of Microfinance in India” received the 2016 Affilia Award for Distinguished Feminist Scholarship and Praxis in Social Work. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation and CUNY, among others. She is currently working on a book project that examines contradictions of neoliberal governmentality for people with disabilities in the context of disability microfinance projects of the World Bank in rural areas of south India. She is also working on a second interconnected project that examines politics of disability assessment, certification and state pensions in light of digital governance and techno-mediated surveillance in India. As a scholar of and with disability, Dr. Chaudhry’s research is oriented towards building knowledge that embraces disability as intrinsic to human diversity, and to promote policies that enable self-determination and full participation for all.

Cassandra Hartblay

Photo of Cassandra. Cassandra is a white person with short brown hair wearing hoop earrings and a grey wool coat. She is looking out at the horizon on a snowy beach.

2021-2022 SDS Communications Committee Co-Chair, Development Committee Co-Chair
Email Cassandra - cassandra (at) disstudies (dot) com

I first encountered disability studies as an undergraduate campus disability activist: Cindy Wu and Joan Ostrove introduced me to the academic field, giving me words for the ideas I had been fighting for. As a graduate student at my first SDS in San Jose, I met scholar-activists who continue to be my collaborators to this day. I attend the conference most years, recently, bringing graduate students and introducing them to the SDS community.

I am assistant professor of Health Humanities and Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where we are launching a new Research Centre for Global Disability Studies, tied to a proposed Disability Cultural Centre. I received my PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2015 and have held postdoctoral appointments at UC San Diego and Yale University. I am a contributor to the interinstitutional Critical Design Lab and Contra* podcast. My research on disability in contemporary Russia considers how disability rights, disability justice, and accessible design concepts circulate globally. My published scholarship explores: histories of socialist ableism, contemporary activism about the urban built environment, and online sociality in the former Soviet Union. My forthcoming book (University of Toronto Press 2020) is an ethnographic play script based on interviews with adults with mobility and speech impairments in one Russian city.

I am a proponent of what Max Liboiron calls “administrative activism,” which works from the premise that the institutions that we cultivate shape our world. As a white settler mostly-abled colleague, I approach this work from a position of solidarity. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha writes that sometimes caring for oneself and one’s community means letting nondisabled allies carry some of the load; I understand administrative labor as this kind of care work. I am guided by anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-ableist feminist praxis. My work is not perfect, and I continue to learn.

I have served as a steering committee member of the Disability Research Interest Group (DRIG) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). During my term, we developed the first DRIG accessible presentation guidelines (based on principles already in place at SDS), which were subsequently adopted by the AAA as a whole. I then served on the DRIG conference access committee, which successfully advocated for AAA to hire a permanent staff member with disability advocacy knowledge and accessibility in their job description. I serve on the Diversity & Decolonization Committee in my graduate department and served as diversity co-chair for the graduate student organization at UNC-Chapel Hill.

As a board member for SDS, I will work to develop the reach of the organization and its long term sustainability. I have ideas for expanding the membership through outreach to graduate students and internationally and for new initiatives to honor non-academic activists whose disability justice work impacts scholarship in the field. I would work to continue SDS’s role as an essential resource for students & faculty with disabilities, and as a bridge between activism and academia. I offer skills in website development and design; outreach and publicity strategy; and administrative activism toward a more just future.

Emily Nusbaum

2021 SDS Program Commmittee Co-Chair

Email Emily - emily (at) sds (dot) org

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.

Student Representatives to the Board of Directors

Shariese Katrell Abdullah

Student Representative

Email Shariese - shariese (at) sds (dot) org

I am a Black female graduate student that lives with multiple hidden dis/Abilities that attends Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. As an intersectional leader who is also a part of the L.G.B.T.Q. Community, advocating for ableism, cultural acceptance, and traditional systematic reform is my mission. In 2017, at Rowan, I founded the Hidden Disabilities Alliance for students with hidden disabilities to help students build relationships with their counterparts. Mentorship is essential, and I assist students in Mercer County College’s D.R.E.A.M. program in N.J. I encourage my students and even donate funding to help them academically. Educating individuals about social identity politics and systematic oppression as a lead BlackLivesMatter organizer in Princeton, NJ is crucial to me. I am running to be a student representative or to obtain an undesignated general seat on SDS’s board because I want to ensure equity, accessibility, and a sense of belonging for all students with dis/Abilities in postsecondary institutions. Many times, students have to self-advocate. As a transformative leader in education that believes in social justice, If I am elected, I would want to create a strategic plan to help students proactively. I want to work with administrators and faculty to create transformational change, so historical minorities and individuals that live with dis/Abilities are not segregated from their counterparts. As a SDS board member, I would create a student rights team for our current and potential student members, to help inform students and faculty about their dis/Ability rights that need to be addressed or that are being violated. Providing internal and external resources for students and leaders, who live with dis/Abilities in higher education who experience intimidation, biases, limited opportunities, and racism would be one of my goals.

Additionally, as future leaders, I understand that our scholarly research and literature are significant to the growth and development of higher education. However, student success for diverse student populations is vital. As a future academic professional, encouraging members and potential members to look beyond our professional obligations and come together proactively as grassroots leaders to sustain and maintain collaborative, organizational change will be essential for future students in higher education. Actively learning how our organization can become the voice for students and administrators that live with disabilities, who are silenced is my vision and goal as a leader. We need activism and active advocacy for individuals who live with physical and hidden dis/Abilities, who face polarization within higher education environments. Identifying unethical, biased, discriminatory tenured, and untenured educational leaders is my vision to reform institutional injustice. I am currently obtaining literature on visual qualitative autoethnographies, reflecting academia and historically marginalized graduate students. As a musician and poet, I utilize my creative skills to inform individuals about the struggles students in postsecondary education face. Additionally, my research interests reflect first-generation undergraduate students of dis/Abled parents, social vs. medical models of dis/Ability, challenges for students with hidden disabilities, the impacts of a social pandemic, educational leadership accountability, and the awareness of intersectionality.

Preethi Srinivasan

Photo of Preethi wearing a brightly colored tunic and seated in a wheelchair. Preethi smiling as she sits peacefully in a garden of fresh Equatorial plants and flowers.Student Representative

Email Preethi - preetistan (at) disstudies (dot) org

Pain has the potential to spark passion and ignite people to work for change. After experiencing wrathful stigma for being a wheelchair user, I felt the need to formally educate myself in Disability Studies and attempt to change the system from a place of knowledge and strength.

I have had good fortune of growing up all over the world and gain exposure to the cultural and socio-political realities of several countries as an inhabitant, not a visitor. My family kept moving almost every year and consequently, the 12 years of school, I went to 9 different schools in three different continents. I was an accomplished swimmer and cricketer. However, as an active 18-year-old, when an inexplicable accident left me quadriplegic, my sense of identity was shattered in the span of a split second because I began to feel invisible, began to be treated as a non-entity.

While I had always been excellent in academics, I was rejected from joining a long-distance learning program in a reputed Indian University because I was wheelchair user. I was told, “why do people like you even bother? There are no lifts (elevators), no ramps and 15 days of practical classes to attend, so don’t join!” I was heartbroken and lost. However, when I started hearing horror stories of paraplegic women being forced to commit suicide by their own families, I could not keep quiet. I started an NGO by the name “Soulfree” ( and started fighting the system.

After some hard-fought battles, I have become perhaps the first woman with quadriplegia to ever gain admission into the PhD program of one of India’s most reputed educational institutions, in its illustrious history.

In the Global South, disability is considered a shame and burden, if not a curse. Women with significant impairments are discarded from mainstream society and forced into a life of subjugation. I feel passionately that the uncensored and explicit truth of their lived experience must be highlighted globally through raw narratives, so that they may raise awareness and enrich the study of disability and humanities as a whole.

My vision for SDS is that it succeeds in reaching deeper into embodied experiences and struggles of the most marginalised and invisible segments of the disabled community, with a special focus on the Global South, as there is a dearth of Raw and Real Narratives from the Global South that reach the international arena.

What I would like to do during my term in the SDS is work as much as possible at the grassroots level to ensure that more and more voices emerge out of the Global South. This means, every child with disability, especially a girl child’s story, becomes valuable and visible in the socio-political prism both national and internationally. Fundamental political and policy level changes can be brought about only through international pressure and by raising awareness in a way that causes a fundamental shift towards the creation of a more empathetic and inclusive society.