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2015-2016 Board of Directors

Executive Officers

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

Brenda Brueggemann

President and Chairperson

BPhoto of Brenda renda Brueggemann received her PhD in Rhetoric from the University of Louisville in 1992. After 22 years on the faculty at The Ohio State University, she recently returned to UofL to serve as the Director of Composition (and Professor of English). In addition to long-standing interests in rhetoric, creative non-fiction, and pedagogy, much of her work over the last decade has been focused in Disability Studies and Deaf Studies. She has single authored two books in Deaf/Disability Studies, co-authored a composition textbook, and edited or co-edited five other volumes; she has published over 60 essays and articles.

Her current projects involve a community engagement and oral history/documentary film around the "Art as Memory: Suffering, Redemption, and Liberation" project with the Council on Developmental Disabilities, an educational blog on the Nazi's Aktion T-4 program, and an epistolary biography of Mabel Hubbard Bell (Alexander Graham Bell's deaf wife). She was the program co-chair for the 2015 Society for Disability Studies annual conference (with Mel Chen) and currently serves as the President and Chairperson of the SDS Board of Directors.

Helen Meekosha


photo of HelenHelen Meekosha is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. Her work in Critical Disability Studies is widely acclaimed. She has broken new ground in setting disability in a context of neoliberalism and globalisation, and has argued the case for an examination of global North/ South relations that affects the incidence and production of disability. She is a currently working on an Australian Research Council Grant examining the nexus between Disability and Rurality.

Phil Smith


photo og Phil SmithPhil 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.

Samantha Schalk

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


Omolara Funmilola (Funmi) Akinpelu

Membership Committee; Nominations Committee

Funmi earned her Ph.D. in Guidance and Counseling and recently completed another graduate study in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling from Syracuse University. She was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria where she taught and supervised research projects at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Funmi currently works as a Program Coordinator at ARISE in Syracuse. Funmi worked as a Research Associate at Burton Blatt Institute (BBI), Syracuse University. Prior to joining the BBI, Funmi was a Visiting Research Scholar in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at York University, Canada. She also participated in the Advanced Research Rehabilitation Training (ARRT) at the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies, Syracuse University. Funmi has a strong background in Special Education in Nigeria. Her research interests are in special education, rehabilitative counseling, and disability studies. She is particularly interested in disability policies, human rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality, and empowerment of women with disabilities. Funmi has been a member of SDS since 2006 and been a board member since 2011. She was a recipient of the 2011 Syracuse University Martin Luther King (Jr.) Unsung Heroes Award.

Juliann Anesi

Awards Committee; Caucus Liaison (International/Global South)

Juliann Anesi is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department. Her educational and professional experiences are in the areas of Disability Studies, Inclusive Education, and Gender Studies. Juliann has worked with non-profit organizations and schools in American Sāmoa, California, Hawai´i, and New York. Her research interests include the study of inclusive education, indigeneity and disability, disability policy, and women organizing in the Pacific Islands.

Mel Chen

Fundraising & Publicity Committee; Research & Publications Committee

Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Director for Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Sexual Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. Chen also enjoys affiliation with Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society, and the Haas Disability Studies and LGBTQ Citizenship Research Clusters. Chen’s 2012 book, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke University Press, winner of Alan Bray Award from Modern Language Association’s GLQ Caucus), explores questions of racialization, queering, disability, and affective economies in animate and inanimate “life” through the extended concept of “animacy.” A second book project concerns the relationships among the conceptual territories of “toxicity” and “intoxication” and their involvement in histories of the shared interanimation of race and disability. Further writing on topics such as cognitive disability and method, animal gendering in film, the racialization of pollution, and queer intimacies can be found in the journals Women’s Studies Quarterly, GLQ, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Discourse, Women in Performance, Australian Feminist Studies, Amerasia, Worldviews, and Medical Humanities (forthcoming). A co-edited special issue (with Dana Luciano) of GLQ on “Queer Inhumanisms” appeared in early 2015. With Jasbir K. Puar, Chen coedits a book series entitled “Anima,” highlighting scholarship in critical race and disability post/in/humanisms at Duke University Press.

Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace

Research & Publications Committee; Caucus Liaison (Neurodiversity & Student)

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

Mallory Kay Nelson

Conference Program Committee (silent auction); Fundraising & Publicity Committee; Membership Committee

photo of MalloryA 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 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.

Joanne Woiak

Conference Program Committee; Nominations Committee

photo of JoanneJoanne 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 recently hired as the full-time lecturer and assistant director 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 diversity 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 regularly 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 Pacific and Western Disability Studies Symposium.

Frank Wyman

Fundraising & Publicity Committee

photo of FrankFranklin 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.
previous board rosters