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2019 Board Nominees

Dear SDS Members,

We are starting our annual election for the Society for Disability Studies Board of Directors. Terms begin in July 2019.

Members of the Board serve for three years, with the possibility of running for a second term. Names of nominees and candidate statements were due April 30, 2019. It is now time to vote.

We have 459 voting members. This gives us all faith that our organization is important to the field, to the community, and to you. Now is the time to think carefully as to who we want to step into a leadership role to contributing to shaping and sustaining SDS.

All voting Members will receive voting instructions in a personal email. This is a good time to renew for 2019 if you have not yet done so.

SDS is committed to diverse representation in its membership and Board composition, and candidates from all under-represented groups were encouraged to volunteer. We provide any requested access accommodations so that Board members can fully participate.

Board members can expect to:

  • Attend a monthly, 90-minute meeting via teleconference call or chat (note: CART is provided for all of our meetings).
  • Consider carefully and approve annual budgets and measures to ensure the sustainability of SDS.
  • Participate in Board discussions by offering expertise and opinions via e-mail and/or phone/chat.
  • Consider carefully and vote on motions.
  • Serve as an officer or as a committee Chair or Co-Chair.
  • Serve on 1-2 additional Board committees or initiatives.

Each candidate provided an up to 500-word (max) statement addressing their connection/familiarity with SDS and disability studies, specific background, experience, and contributions you would bring as a Board member, including knowledge of fundraising; and ideas about where you imagine SDS going.

Candidate statements follow this letter.

Election Deadline:

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about being on the Board, the nominations process, or the election. We very much look forward to hearing from you.


Ryan Parrey & Karen Nakamura
Nomination Committee,,

Joanne Woiak, President, Devva Kasnitz, Executive Director

2019 Society for Disability Studies Nominees

Bhoomika Bhagchandan

My familiarity with the Society for Disability Studies is relatively new given I just joined as a member. However, I have a strong background in disability studies. My master’s and current doctoral research focus on disability-related issues as they relate to everyday communication in a variety of contexts such as romantic relationships, education, and transportation. My master’s thesis focused on the relational communication and closeness of married heterosexual couples when one partner acquires a vision disability after marriage. I am currently working on my dissertation that focuses on the air travel experiences of individuals who are blind and vision impaired. In addition, I am working on an independent research study, funded by my department, to investigate the teaching experiences of college-level instructors who have visible physical disabilities in classroom environments.

My passion for disability research and advocacy draws from my personal experiences as an individual with a disability.  For instance, I have worked with the city of Tempe and the Disability Center at Arizona State University to make two bus stops on ASU campus accessible for white cane and wheelchair users. I also like to volunteer whenever I can. I am an active member of the National Federation of the Blind as well as the Colorado Cross Disability coalition. I have also briefly served on the Board for Ability360 – a non-profit based in Arizona that works for the empowerment of individuals with disabilities. I am a woman of color with a physical disability and I believe this will enhance my contributions as a board member. I will contribute by offering my perspectives from multiple standpoints as I belong to a number of groups and identities that are traditionally marginalized and underrepresented. I have limited fundraising experiences, but I am willing to learn, get involved, and offer my contributions.

I envision SDS expanding both in its outreach activities, as well as, in its breadth of disability topics/areas that it covers. For outreach, I envision SDS collaborating with several other disability training & research organizations across the globe. Several other universities also need to be reached out to for sponsorship and collaborations. I would also like to see SDS expanding in its publication outlets in addition to the Disability Studies Quarterly. For, breadth of disability topics, I envision SDS introducing new interest groups focusing on areas such as transportation, accessibility, assistive technologies, and “Interability Communication”. Considerations should also be made to introduce new caucuses including specific categories of disabilities such as visible and invisible disabilities, and/or physical and developmental disabilities etc. I would also like SDS to invite perspectives of individuals without disabilities or family members/friends of individuals with disabilities who support the cause of disability rights and empowerment through discussion groups, workshops, and seminars.

Vandana Chaudhry

It is with enthusiasm that I submit my name for nomination to the board of the Society for Disability Studies. I seek to help the Society for Disability Studies further its commitment to promoting education, expertise, and advocacy in disability studies. To further the goals of SDS, I propose implementing various forms of publicity for the field of disability studies, including re-establishing annual conferences. Scholarly meetings are crucial for weaving together intellectual threads within a discipline as well as helping new scholars become part of the academic field. As a member of the board, I will bring a transnational perspective, incorporating disability studies perspectives from the global South and broadening the representation of global South scholars.  My research is located at the intersection of transnational disability studies, critical social work, and performance ethnography, and examines the effects of neoliberal governance on disability and development policies in the context of post-colonial India. This multiplicity of frameworks and experiences provides an important ground for the cross-cultural and historical mission of SDS.

Carol Goldin

I earned my PhD as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, but my professional career has been far from the traditional boundaries of one discipline and far from life as a scholar/researcher. In my earliest attempts to combine my scholarly interest in anthropology with my commitment to equal rights I developed a research agenda focused on social justice issues. Specifically, I focused on the intersection of societal norms and the emergent norms as these were developing within groups of individuals redefining their personal and collective identities. Much of my work focused on how individuals chose to identify themselves and even more import to my work, how they used advocacy ideology and action to develop and support their own definitions of self.

I have spent most of my professional career as an administrator in higher education, primarily in academic program development and assessment. I am currently the senior associate dean for planning and assessment at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University. My expertise in developing organizational strengths has grown in tandem with my interest in complex organizations as vehicles for education, advocacy, and self-development.

Over the last three years I have served as treasurer of the Society for Disability Studies. I took on that position at a time when the organization was deeply in debt – _and I am very pleased to report that we have successfully eliminated that debt and have put the organization on a healthy budget – _one that enables us to build membership, provide excellent programming, and remain financially healthy.

I hope to have the opportunity to continue to serve SDS as treasurer for another term, and to continue to build the financial structure necessary to ensure that we remain solvent and able to develop and expand our support of scholarship and advocacy.

Louise Hickman

My name is Louise Hickman (lhickman [at] ucsd [dot] edu), and I would like to nominate myself to serve and support the ongoing work of the Society of Disability Studies Board of Directors. I currently serve as a lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego.  I first encountered disability studies at King’s College London, United Kingdom, during my undergraduate degree in American Studies. During a student exchange program that allowed me to study at UC Berkeley for a year, I became involved with the Disabled Students’ Union at Berkeley. It was here that I learned to weave together my scholarship with disability activism in response to issues around disability and austerity politics in the UK.
My current project focuses particularly on access produced by real-time stenographers and transcriptive technologies in educational settings. I use an interdisciplinary lens drawing on feminist theory, critical disability studies and science and technology studies (STS) to consider the historical conditions of access work, and the ways access is co-produced through human (and primarily female) labor, technological systems, and economic models and conditions. To this end, I draw on my position as a reader of captions to reflect on the type of labor we call on when enacting a dynamic model of access in classrooms and conference meetings. With access labor in mind, I advocate for access that benefits both disability studies scholars and access workers alike.  Later this summer, at the Microsoft Research Faculty Submit, I will be speaking on the value of access work provided by CART captioners in light of the recent shift towards automation of speech-to-text software.

If elected as a board member, I will support the current board of directors to facilitate the growth of the SDS community. I can contribute to their ongoing work by maintaining their commitment to an accessible, interdependent and collective space for scholars, activists, and workers. Building on previous experience as an international student, I am keen to develop affiliations with international associations to further the work of the SDS community beyond the US.

Karen Nakamura

Serving on the SDS board for the past three years, and as the SDS Secretary and Vice President for two has been a true honor, but it’s also been difficult personally and psychologically. The current extended period of neoliberalism in academia is hurting disabled scholars in ways never experienced before. But more than that, the core values of accessibility and inclusion that SDS holds are often being challenged in many different ways. Racism, sexism, colonialism, imperialism, and ableism are still rampant in our association in insidious ways. I feel honored to have been part of helping SDS through its dark financial times, but as we emerge a new association, I want to help ensure that we remain true to our mission. We need to be a society where all members not only feel included and welcomed, but also have ownership of our association and can thrive as the stellar disability studies scholars that they are. Our core focus needs to be on providing the space for all of our junior scholars to thrive and that is my goal for the next three years if I am elected on the board.

Claire Reinhardt

My connection with disability studies is rooted in my personal life.  I have mental health disability and my son has multiple impairments, including cerebral palsy and Deafness. I was introduced to disability studies essays by a disabled friend when I sought guidance in dealing with the multiple discriminations to which my then three-year-old was being exposed.

Once I began learning about disability models and the disabled experience, I realized how little I knew.  I applied to CUNY’s Master’s in Disability Studies program. After all, how was I going to raise this child to feel pride in his disability if I knew next to nothing about disability history and disability pride?  As I made my way through the program, one of the many epiphones I had was the observation that elementary, middle, and high school education needs some aspect of disability studies, even if it starts with disabled children and their families.

Considering, it would be rewarding to see the Society for Disability Studies impacting K-12 and as teacher education, particularly as it relates to teachers working directly with disabled children.  One of my personal passions is beginning to understand how to promote disability pride in our children. I suspect that much internalized stigma could be avoided if children learned about different disability models and their brothers and sisters who fought for their civil rights.

As far as experience, I am a skilled at editing and writing and am a dedicated and focused worker. I am a team player and incredibly committed to promoting disability studies and disability rights.  I have made presentations to a variety of groups, and been told that I am a compelling advocate. Mindfulness and compassionate communication trainings have taught me to hone my listening skills. Because my advocacy experience has been self-directed to date, it has not been related to fundraising —  an arena in which I would be interested in being involved. I would be interested in the Development and Nomination and Awards Committees if appropriate. However, I would be honored to serve in whatever capacity The Society for Disability Studies deems I might be useful — it would be inherently rewarding to contribute to the advancement of disability studies in any way possible.

Robin Roscigno

Please accept my self-nomination to serve on Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies. I am autistic graduate student studying Education Theory, Policy and Organization at Rutgers Graduate School of Education. My interest in serving stems from my research interests in Critical Disability Studies and my participation in CDS and Disability Studies in Education scholarly communities. My current academic work is a historical-sociological study of early behaviorism and the subsequent rise of behaviorism as a technology of social control, particularly as it relates to schooling for disabled children. My academic work is representative of my activist commitments and local advocacy against restraint and seclusion in schools. I facilitate statewide trainings in my home state of New Jersey through the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, on the topics of bodily autonomy for disabled youth in schools, in addition to conducting school trainings on alternatives to coercive practices like restraint and seclusion. I also lead workshops and trainings throughout my state on neurodiversity and disability justice for students, parents, educators and other professionals, bringing a disability justice framework to all of the organizing and educational work that I do. I believe it is crucial for DS scholars to be engaged in transformative community work, and to be connected to grassroots organizers as well as being willing to work strategically within institutions for social change and the material benefit of disabled people. I bring my experience as a teacher, researcher, parent, activist and autistic person to my work and would use this experience in a potential role on the board of directors.

My vision for SDS is to be on the forefront of activist and scholarly thought on disability, to engage in critical intersectional conversations about disability and to be a model of accessibility for the larger scholarly community. I also would like to work to forge generative alliances with larger, more resourced organizations in order to grow the financial health of SDS and to provide more opportunities and spaces to present DS work. I am currently the elected graduate student representative to the Executive Council of the American Educational Studies Association and have gained valuable experience from participating in the leadership of a large organization. Additionally, I served on the Policy and Publication Committee for SDS this year and helped to begin development on a series of SDS position statements. I have a strong arts background and have worked in non-profit galleries in a development role. I have ideas about how to fundraise using art and also curatorial experience that would help to continue the rich tradition in SDS of arts-based research and featuring visual and performing arts in annual conference. I would like to add my voice to the board and believe I can contribute in interesting and new ways.

Jason Ross

I have been a member of the Society for Disability Studies (SDS) since Spring 2015, but have known about SDS since 2007 when I started my blog and was on the Autism-Hub blogging group. I am graduating with my Master of Arts in Disability Studies from CUNY School of Professional Studies in May, 2019.  One of my professors, Devva Kasnitz who is the Executive Director now for SDS, always talked about her connections with this organization. She spoke passionately about how SDS is such an important National organization that can do so much for individuals as well as talking about the life cycle of people living in the community.

I remember Devva always stressing to me how it is such an important part of life to think as broadly as they can.  Support in the community is not from being independent, but from being interdependent. I feel the Society for Disability Studies will be able to apply the knowledge practically to each community if I can become a board member of SDS. My becoming a board member of SDS will only enhance the bridges that have been created within our communities and neurotribes so that SDS can grow even stronger than it has.

My intentions to help Society for Disability Studies move their mission forward is through the work I have been doing at BRIDGES in New York, the extensive network I have developed through the years, and how my experiences can intersect SDS with people with intellectual disabilities. I can use my network to help SDS raise funds and create fundraisers by thinking outside of the box. I feel my passion for using my connections in a positive way can influence more people to give to the Society for Disability Studies. I have not really fundraised much directly, but I have interacted and even influenced certain key figures in organizations in my communities, to think about ways of increasing their fundraising abilities.  Many times these leaders told me how much they learned from me.

I see Society for Disability Studies will continue to move in a positive direction with more influence of advocacy in the communities. This will increase their abilities to feel supported by their peers and families, work in competitive employment, and have the sense of self to embrace their vulnerabilities. I hope to be voted in to become a Board member for the Society for Disability Studies so I can serve my community.