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2018-2019 Board of Directors

Executive Officers

Members of the SDS Executive Board are elected annually in the spring by the SDS board members.

Joanne Woiak

photo of JoannePresident, Development Committee Co-Chair
Email Joanne - joanne (at) disstudies (dot) org

Joanne Woiak received her PhD from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto. After many years as a part-time lecturer teaching history of science and disability studies, she was hired as the first full-time lecturer of the Disability Studies Program at the University of Washington. Her research is concerned with a range of questions about disability and the biomedical sciences in American and British history, society, and literature. She has written on the history of sterilization and constructions of mental disability in Washington, representations of eugenics and disability in science fiction, alcoholism and eugenics in British medical discourse and public policy, the politics of the eugenics apology movement, the public history of disability, and disability pedagogy. She teaches Introduction to Disability Studies as well as courses that explore disability in connection to eugenics and bioethics, citizenship, gender and sexuality, history of biology, and popular culture. She serves as faculty mentor for UW’s student-run D Center (Disability and Deaf Cultural Center), and she has organized major events at UW such as the 2009 Eugenics and Disability Symposium and the 2015 and 2016 Pacific & Western Disability Studies Symposia.

Karen Nakamura

Photo of Karen NakamuraVice President, Nominations and Awards Committee Co-Chair
Email Karen - karen (at) disstudies (dot) org  or
karen (dot) nakamura (at) berkeley (dot) edu

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.

Holly Pearson

Photo of Holly PearsonSecretary, Membership Committee Co-Chair
Email Holly - holly (at) disstudies (dot) org

Holly Pearson received her PhD in Education with an emphasis in Disability Studies from Chapman University in Orange, California. She also received a M.S. in sociology from Iowa State University and a B.A. in sociology with a minor in Asian Studies from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her graduate work explored the socio-spatial intersectional experiences of racial and ethnic minorities with disabilities in higher education from an arts and visual methodological lens.

Presently, she is: exploring the history of higher education, particularly in the dynamic between higher education architecture and diversity. She is also examining disability disclosure, hidden labor, and hidden curriculum among scholars with disabilities. She has published research on impact of disability studies curriculum, disability and diversity, disability and spaces, intersectionality, and arts-based and visual methodologies.

Areas of specialization: Disability Studies, Critical Spatial Studies, Architectural Theory, Intersectionality, Identities, and Arts-Based and Visual Methodologies

 Carol Goldin

Photo of Carol Goldin

Treasurer, Finance & Operations Committee 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.

Phil Smith

photo of philPresident, Emeritus
Email Phil - psmith16 (at) emich (dot) edu

Phil Smith is, in a nutshell, post-everything—he is SO after that. He’s a big deal perfesser guy at Eastern Michigan University, where he slips disability studies stuff and the occasional cranky rant into courses he teaches, and hopes the bureaucraps and curricula police won’t notice. He’s also the director of the Brehm Center for Special Education Scholarship and Research. Phil received the Emerging Scholar Award in Disability Studies in Education in 2009, has had papers published in a buncha different journals, as well as a lotta book chapters, and has been on several journal review boards. He’s published two books in the Peter Lang Disability Studies in Education series, Whatever Happened to Inclusion? The Place of Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Education and Both Sides of the Table: Autoethnographies of Educators Learning and Teaching With/In [Dis]ability, and edited a textbook entitled, Disability and Diversity: An Introduction. He’s a published poet, playwright, novelist, and visual and performance artist, and izza critical scholar and a whatever-comes-after-qualitative researcher. For more than 25 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, including the Society for Disability Studies, where he is currently the treasurer. He’s mad (but not, mostly, angry) as hell, a walkie, and identifies as disabled. He rides his bicycle a lot, and tries to remember to wear his socks. A transplanted Yankee, he makes maple syrup at the Flamingo Farm, and spends as much time as he can beside Lake Superior, where loons, wolves, moose, and bald eagles peek in the windows of his cabin.


Anita Ghai

Photo of Anita GhaiPolicy and Publications Committee Co-Chair
Email Anita - anita (at) disstudies (dot) org

Anita's  association with SDS began in 1996, when she attended its Chicago and Winnipeg meetings. It was the first time that she could meet a community of scholars who were keen to understand and theorize the meanings of disability. In SDS, she could share the lived experiences of disability in a culture that is heterogeneous. SDS enabled her to rethink the epistemology of Disability Studies.

Her academic training has been in Psychology but unsurprisingly given her existential reality, even her doctoral research has been in the field of disability. The normative culture both in India and the world over, carries existential and aesthetic anxieties about difference of any kind be it caste, class, sexual orientation, gender or disability. This leads to the creation of realities of acute marginalization, discrimination and stigmatization. Anita's research and publishing of my books Dis Embodied Form and Rethinking Disability in India have woven in the scholars that I admire in SDS.

Mallory Kay Nelson

photo of MalloryDevelopment Committee Co-Chair
Email Mallory - malloryk (at) gmail (dot) com

A whimsical visionary and relentless advocate, Mallory Kay Nelson makes space for disabled people to thrive. Self-educated in the field of disabilities studies, she dedicates herself to spreading its Gospel.

Mallory holds an MFA in Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon University, and she designed costumes for the PHAMALY Theatre Company for six seasons (including a  Henry and Ovation Award nominations for her designer work on both Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and The Wiz); her design work represented the USA at the Purag Quadrennial and showcased in NYC, LA, DC, and Moscow. She enjoys crashing scholarly conferences and appearing in places you wouldn’t expect.

Mallory worked as a Vocational ln Specialist for Easter Seals, performed ethnography for Smart Revenue, assisted with community relations for Diverse City Entertainment, consulted on marketing for Push Girls, guest lectured at various universities, and assisted with AHEAD. An SDS version of a pinball game, Mallory bounces off bumpers, kickers, and slingshots at every turn, sometimes hitting the target and other times falling off the playfield. In all these ventures and in a honey badger-esque manner, Mallory’s commitment to solidarity with her fellow crips has never wavered; she is honored to serve SDS, whether hocking handmade items in the auction, encouraging new participants and making friends, or serving on its board.

Ryan Parrey

Photo of Ryan ParreyNominations Committee Co-Chair

Frank Wyman

photo of FrankAppointed to Board as Advisor to the President
Email Frank - Frank (at) disstudies (dot) org

Franklin K. Wyman holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University, a J.D. from George Washington University, an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University, and his M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D., all in History, from Drew University. He has published five articles in The Encyclopedia of American Disability History and has other publications pending in various stages of development, including an intellectual history of blindness discussing both Enlightenment and present day thought on that topic.

Dr. Wyman has taught the University level since 2000. He joined the City University of New York faculty in the fall of 2009 as an Adjunct Professor of Disability and is also an Adjunct Professor of Disability Studies and Fellow of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Dr. Wyman began his career as an attorney in private practice in New York and New Jersey, first with large firms and later in solo practice. His solo practice includes substantial work, both in court and as an advisor, on behalf of persons with disabilities and their families. He also maintains a general practice of law.

Dr. Wyman has served as a trustee of the Community Health Law Project, a New Jersey statewide legal services organization, since 1995. He served as a Director of the Society for Disability Studies for several years beginning in 2008, and he has just been reappointed to the Board. He served as Treasurer of SDS for two years and served as Vice-President of that organization for one year.


Sara M. Acevedo

Photo of Sara Maria AcevedoPolicy and Publications Committee Co-Chair
Email Sara - sara (at) disstudies (dot) org

Sara (Neurowitch) is an autistic mestiza, educator, and disability justice advocate born and raised in Colombia. Her background is in linguistics, disability studies, and activist anthropology. Sara was recently appointed as Human Development and ASN faculty at Bellevue College, in Washington. She received her PhD in Anthropology and Social Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and her Masters in Liberal Arts and Disability Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia. She is the recipient of three fellowships : The Integral Teaching Fellowship, The Diversity and Disability Advocacy Fellowship, and the Center for Writing and Scholarship Fellowship, also from CIIS. Her dissertation work co-documents the experiences of autistic grassroots leaders, educators and public intellectuals based in Berkeley, California. The work of these leaders is unprecedented in disability service provision, since they themselves design, implement and oversee two community-based transition programs serving autistic and otherwise neurodivergent youth in the Bay Area. They do so by following a model of education that they have themselves created and applied in practice, the principles of liberatory education, multiple voices in the neurodiversity movement as well as a set of other disability justice strategies. With their work, they are bringing a whole new set of possibilities for intellectually and developmentally disabled youth to safely engage in their own communities of choice.

Sara received an honorable mention for the 2017 Irving k. Zola Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Disability Studies for her paper: Neuroqueering Composition: Sensual Reflections on the Inclusive Life of Thoughts.

Sara has recently collaborated with U.S. grassroots leaders in the Mental Health movement, The Mad Pride Movement, and the Neurodiversity Movement in order to potentialize cross- movement solidarity and coalition building. This collaboration emphasizes shared political and educational aims while honoring the multiplicity of lived experiences that each bring to the table.

Sara is co-founder of the Spanish blog "Autismo, Liberación y Orgullo" (, alongside co-author Mónica Vidal Gutiérrez, another autistic Colombian woman and mother to an autistic son. The blog is a political, educational, and informational response to the lack of literature, resources, grassroots materials and activist narratives authored by Spanish-speaking autistics and otherwise neurodivergent people in Spanish speaking countries, where the primacy of the medical and the charity models of disability is still strong.

Patrick Devlieger

Photo of Patrick DevliegerMembership Committee Co-Chair
Email Patrick - patrick (at) disstudies (dot) org

Patrick Devlieger first worked as a researcher-volunteer anthropologist in the DR Congo and later discovered other anthropologists who are working in the field of disability while he was working for UNESCO and ILO in Eastern and Southern Africa and attended the Society for Applied Anthropology. After he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his PhD, he then discovered disability studies and later joined one of the first master and PhD programs in disability and human development, at the University of Illinois in Chicago. His research has concentrated on disability and culture interchanges, as expressed in worldviews and discourse, later in the context of the cultural life course, and in the context of inner-city life and violence in Chicago. He returned with his family to Belgium and joined the anthropology department at the University of Leuven, where he teaches and supervises master and PhD research on disability anthropology. He engaged in the 2003 European Year of Disabled Persons with a project on disability, use of the senses, and European heritage. He joined and co-founded the ALTER European Society for Disability Research and organized its annual meeting in 2013, and well as co-organizes yearly a doctoral school. He also re-engaged in disability research in African countries, mostly DR Congo and South Africa, and joined AFRINEAD. He co-founded the Disability Film Festival at Leuven. During a sabbatical in 2015, his attention was devoted to the cultural heritage of leprosy in countries around the world, and with a lot of attention to the settlement of Kalaupapa (Molokai, Hawaii). Patrick is currently teaching ‘posthuman anthropology’ in which he re-situates disability at the nexus of changing relations and landscapes, and the quest for what the human means.

Holly Pearson

Secretary, Membership Committee Co-Chair
Email Holly - holly (at) disstudies (dot) org

Kathy McMahon-Klosterman

Photo of Kathy McMahon Klosterman

Program Committee Co-Chair
Email Kathy - kathy (at) disstudies (dot) org

After teaching in public schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Kathy began teaching at Miami University in 1976 in the department of Educational Psychology. She received her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, her Masters from Boston College and her undergraduate degree from Salve Regina University (Newport, R.I.) Her focus has been on Special Education teacher preparation (with a Disability Studies perspective before it was named as such) and Women’s Studies.

Kathy served as the Associate Director of Miami University’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equity. She was the first Eminent Faculty Scholar for Service-Learning and Community Engagement at Miami University and institutionalized Service-Learning. Kathy established the Miami University academic minor in Disability Studies and wrote and taught many of the courses.

Kathy is Past President of the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities.  As a trained Conflict Mediator, Kathy facilitates workshops for educators. As a longtime member of the Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice, Kathy has committed her energies to working for peaceful solutions to complex problems.

As a feminist, she was a founder of the Oxford chapter of the National Organization for Women and on the board of the first Ohio shelter for battered women. She hosted and produced a radio program on WMUB titled, Women About Women. Archives are available on the web: Multi-media, NOW

Scrapbooks of NOW Oxford chapter

Pop Culture, Feminist

She is a political activist and ally with persons marginalized by identities. She has been a longtime member of SDS.

Suzanne Stolz

Image of Suzanne StolzProgram Committee Co-Chair
Email Suzanne - suzanne (at) disstudies (dot) org

Suzanne Stolz fell in love with Disability Studies when she participated in an NEH Institute for K12 teachers, led by David Mitchell, Sharon Snyder, and Linda Ware in 2003. She met scholars, activists, and artists whose work would help her, as a disabled high school English teacher, to develop ways to engage high school students in conversations about disability. As she joined SDS and continued to explore this in graduate school, she began work with a mentoring program for disabled teens in San Diego. She recruited disabled adult mentors and built a network of folks who have continued to support each other long after funding ended.

After completing an Ed.D. at the University of California-San Diego, Suzanne worked as curriculum developer and trainer for a local nonprofit focused on improving the skills and attitudes of childcare professionals in serving disabled children. She then began work at the University of San Diego to develop an M.Ed. specialization in Universal Design for Learning for its new online program. After serving as an instructor and administrator for the online program for 4 years, she transitioned last fall to a tenure-track faculty position in Special Education, the very thing she’s wanted to disassociate from since she was a child. Regardless, she loves working with future educators and in challenging them to question what they’ve come to know about disability. On her campus, she’s been able to lead UDL and disability studies workshops for faculty. Through collaboration with colleagues at other local institutions, she has helped organize events, including the Disability, Intersectionality, and State Violence Symposium at UCSD.

Executive Director

Devva Kasnitz

Photo of Devva Kasnitz
Email Devva Kasnitz

Trained as a cultural geographer at Clark University and then as an anthropologist at The University of Michigan, Devva Kasnitz did postdoctoral work at Northwestern and at the University of California, San Francisco in urban and medical anthropology. She has worked in the area of disability studies for the last 35 years while still maintaining an interest in ethnicity and immigration. She was on the founding board of the Society for Disability Studies, the Anthropology and Disability Research Interest Group, and has mentored a generation of disability studies scholars in the US, Australia, and Guatemala. She currently teaches for the City University of New York in their Disability Studies Program and is our SDS  Interim Executive Director. . She lives in Northern California surrounded by her family and by spinning wheels and baskets full of yarn and wool waiting to become yarn.

Susan Fitzmaurice

Photo of Susan Fitzmaurice
Assistant to Executive Director
Email Susan Fitzmaurice

Susan is a lifelong disability advocate beginning when she was 14 and volunteered in a state run institution including multiply-disabled children, she later testified to help close down.

She attended Bank St. in NYC and majored in Curative Education, the precursor of Special Education. She taught in New York city schools in preschool and elementary special education.  As a parent she fought for her son's placement as the first kindergartener in inclusive education in Michigan. She founded the Curious Child, a bookstore geared to proactively influence how parents, teachers, and children think of disability.

Susan's degrees from Syracuse University are in both Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Studies. She has published multiple articles related to sexuality, parenting, and intellectual disability. Susan was an ADA Coordinator for Dearborn, Michigan for nearly a decade. She was recognized as the advocate of the year in 2006 by the World Institute on Disability for her creation of a resource for people with disabilities impacted by the Katrina hurricane. She has had multiple positions with VSA Michigan - the state arts organization on disability in Michigan.

She now specializes in disability access for all through her consultancy practice - DisabilitySavvy. Her current passion is renovating her condo to address the accessibility needs of her low vision, deafness, & physical disability, and her son's intellectual disability and mental Illness. She hopes it will change the way homes are built to foster lifelong living in the community.

Susan has been monitoring the SDS listserv as a volunteer since 2002. In 2015 she became Devva's assistant primarily involved with membership and maintaining the website.