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2017-2018 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.

Phil Smith

photo of philPresident
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.

 Carol Goldin

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.

Joanne Woiak

photo of JoanneVice President
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 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.

Kate Caldwell

Secretary (2017 only)
Email Kate Caldwell - kate (at) disstudies (dot) orgPhoto of Kate Caldwell

Kate's connection with SDS began in 2008 when she attended her first conference. Since, her appreciation has grown for the role it plays in people’s lives and informing their work.

This is illustrated in the journal seminar she teaches on contemporary topics in disability studies, where students are encouraged to constructively review others’ work and learn about the process of writing for publication. Doing so not only supports students’ professional development, but also ensures they gain skills in reviewing manuscripts that will contribute to the field on a larger scale.

She has served as past President of the Disability Studies Student Council (DSSC), where she focused on building a sense of community among students who felt disconnected. The DSSC created an infrastructure to identify, implement, and sustain changes and revising policies to meet pressing student needs. Within SDS, she co-founded the interest group on Work, Employment & Society in response to discussion with other members about increasing the work being presented at the conference on employment issues and a desire to network and collaborate with members doing similar work. Further, as part of the Neurodiversity Caucus they formed a task force to explore the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities within SDS. Her participation is informed by her work on feminist disability studies research methodologies, and she is excited to see this initiative grow this coming year. Finally, collaboration between disciplines is a practice she is passionate about given her background in interdisciplinary social sciences and multi-disciplinary research.


Anita Ghai

Photo of Anita GhaiEmail 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.

Karen Nakamura

Photo of Karen NakamuraEmail Karen - 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.

Mallory Kay Nelson

photo of MalloryVice-President
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 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 (newly elected)

Frank Wyman

photo of FrankFundraising & Publicity Committee
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.

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.