Reno Presenters

Diana Rovetti
Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED)
Partners in Policymaking Project Coordinator


Diana Rovetti is an energetic mother of five, active in volunteerism, church, and a leader in educating the community on disabilities issues.  She is a graduate of the University of Nevada Reno in Secondary Education and a Certified Personal Outcomes Interviewer with The Council on Quality and Leadership in Supports for People With Disabilities.  Previously, Diana served as Self-Advocacy Project Supervisor and People First of Nevada Statewide Advisor, and was appointed by the governor to serve on the Nevada Early Intervention Interagency Coordinating Council, ICC.   Rovetti is now the Director of Information Dissemination and Project Coordinator for Partners in Policymaking at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Nevada Reno.  She has worked at the University of Nevada Reno for the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities for the past thirteen years.  Diana is the President of the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada and a graduate of Nevada Partners in Policymaking.  Her son Jack has Down syndrome.

Travis Mills
Nevada Center For Excellence in Disabilities (NCED)
University of Nevada Employee, CO Trainer of Partners in Policy Making
I took Partners in Policy Making in 2010 is because to designed to help improve self-advocacy and self-determination skills, which enabled me to become a better advocate for others and myself in the community. Learned about federal legislation, inclusive communities, history of disability, independent, parent & self-advocacy movement and people first language, state resources, negotiating skills, State legislation and how the media field works.

Chapter Advisor on People First of Nevada my duties is too run the 2 chapters Reno, Carson, Chapters.  My duties is to provide any assistance to People with any help to prepare the monthly meetings and attend the monthly conference calls, Report to my supervisor with notes and information regarding the monthly meetings.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service To America). I worked on a project called People First of Nevada, which is a statewide self-advocacy group run by and for individuals with disabilities. My duties included maintaining the People First of Nevada web site, helping to set up fundraising events, organizing the Reno chapter monthly meetings that included preparing all initial paperwork, obtaining guest speakers, maintaining the treasurer accounts, collecting, filing and entering all data from the meetings. I also participated in grant writing. I created the People First Facebook page, and designed business cards for all statewide chapters. Part of my duties also included presenting information to local high school students to help them be more self-determined.

Mary Bryant
Nevada Center For Excellence in Disabilities (NCED)
Path to Independence Project Director
Mary Bryant has been administrative faculty at the NCED since 2002. She assisted the self-advocates in the state start People First of Nevada, a self-advocacy group for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) by writing a grant that paid people with IDD to be VISTA (Volunteers in Service To America) members.  This grew into a ten year Youth Transition Project, which had 15 VISTA members (6 with developmental disabilities) at its height.  This project ended in 2012, but People First continues.  Bryant now directs a new collaborative VISTA project with the NCED, the Down Syndrome Network of Northern Nevada and Best Buddies of Nevada.  Bryant is also the Project Director of the Path to Independence (P2I) project at the NCED.  P2I is a statewide project to increase college opportunities for students with IDD in Nevada. P2I welcomed its first student at UNR this fall.  Bryant is the former Chairperson of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.  She is currently the vice-chair of the Nevada Commission on Services for People with Disabilities and serves on Nevada’s Special Education Advisory Committee and the Employment First ad hoc committee of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.  She is mom to two daughters, Kailin and Eilish.  Kailin is 19 years old and has Down syndrome.  Bryant assists Kailin in operating her microenterprise, Kelderman Klassy Glass.

Mr. Andy Imparato
Executive Director
Association of University Centers on Disabilities


Mr. Imparato assumed the position of Executive Director of AUCD in September of 2012.  He came to AUCD from the position of Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. In the last two and a half years, Mr. Imparato has been the lead staffer for Chairman Harkin’s effort to reauthorize the Rehabilitation Act as part of the Workforce Investment Act; to expand the number of people with disabilities working in integrated, competitive employment; to improve accessibility of taxicabs, movie theaters, airplanes, and electronic and information technology; and to improve transition outcomes for the generation of young people with disabilities who have come of age since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Previous positions include President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the largest cross-disability membership organization in the U.S. Prior to joining AAPD, Mr. Imparato was General Counsel and Director of Policy for the National Council on Disability, an attorney advisor with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, and a staff attorney with the Disability Law Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr. Imparato’s perspective and passion is informed not only through his professional career but also through his own experience with bipolar disorder. He has been widely recognized for his leadership and advocacy. In 2005, he was named one of “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). His work has been recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Transportation, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Association of the Deaf, and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. In 2012, AUCD awarded him the Gold Star Award, presented to a Capitol Hill staffer who exemplifies a true partnership in crafting strong public policy in collaboration with AUCD and the greater disability community.
Imparato graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School and is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College. He and his wife Betsy Nix live in Baltimore and have two sons, ages 19 and 14. 
Samantha King
Nevada PEP
Transition Specialist

Samantha is the Transition specialist at Nevada PEP.  She has two children with learning disabilities.  She works with middle and high school students getting ready to transition into postsecondary education, employment, and independent living.  She believes that life after graduation can be overwhelming and wants to do the best she can to provide for families and young adults with the self advocacy they need.

Kelli Walker
Nevada PEP
Information and Training Specialist


I am the mother of 4, my youngest daughter has autism.  I am a 2010 graduate from Partners in Policymaking.  I now work for Nevada PEP as the Information and Training Specialist.  I love working with families and I feel privileged to be able to help them be empowered, educated and encouraged to be the best advocate for their child as they can be.  It is challenging being a parent with a child with a disability but with it comes knowledge and understanding I could not get anywhere else.  Being a mother will always be my thing I’m most proud of.

Bob Fulkerson
State Director
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada


Bob Fulkerson is the State Director and co-founder of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN).  He worked as Executive Director of Citizen Alert, a statewide grassroots environmental organization, from 1984 to 1994.  He has also served as adjunct faculty at the UNR School of Social Work, teaching classes on oppression and privilege. A fifth-generation Nevadan, Bob was on the staff of Senator Paul Laxalt while attending George Washington University. Bob serves on the board of High Country News and the advisory board of The Note Ables, a performing arts group for people with disabilities. He is a 2006-7 fellow in the Rockwood Leadership Program’s yearlong national fellowship for transformative leadership in the nonprofit sector, and a recipient of the “Leadership for A Changing World” Award from the Ford Foundation. Bob received the Arcus Social Justice Leadership Fellowship at Kalamazoo College in 2011. In addition to his work, Bob’s premier loves are his life partner and family, teaching yoga, folk music and all aspects of nature in the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada.

Tracie Douglas
AmeriCorps / VISTA
Path to Independence
Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED)
Tracie Douglas is an Americorps/VISTA member working for the Path to Independence Program. She has over 35 years experience in governmental public affairs, with 24 of those as Public Information Officer for the Washoe County Health District. Tracie has both a BA and an MA in Journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Tracy Smith
Sierra Regional Center
Tracy’s life long passion to support people with developmental disabilities started at a very young age. Her older brother had severe learning disabilities and her family moved frequently to find him the best supports possible. Watching her brother’s journey taught her to never accept “no” or limitations placed on you by others. Her parents were told her older brother would never be able to live or work independently. They did not accept that answer and today he is married with three children, works as a biochemical warfare specialist for the United States Air Force and is pursuing his master’s degree in theology!Tracy’s career in the field of developmental disabilities began in 1989 when she volunteered at a recreation program for the Rockford Park District. By the time she was 18, Tracy was hired to direct the district’s recreation programs for individuals with disabilities. Throughout the years she has supported people with disabilities in recreation programs, special education settings, residential homes and vocational programs. She has an extensive background in Positive Behavior Supports. Tracy earned a master’s degree in counseling and educational psychology.  She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in developmental disabilities and has completed a two-year certification program in Deaf studies/interpreting. Her dream is to someday run her own faith based residential provider agency and provide counseling to individuals with disabilities and their families. She currently works as a service coordinator at Sierra Regional Center.Tracy has a 10 year old son who has ASD and 47yxx. He is very smart, funny and the best thing that ever happened to her.  She has no doubt that with the right supports, he will do just as well as his Uncle has done!

Vanessa Spinazola

Vanessa Spinazola

Vanessa Spinazola is the Legislative and Advocacy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada, where she lobbies state and local governments and collaborates with community partners to advance rights and freedoms for all Nevadans. Originally from Massachusetts, she attended Whitman College in Washington State. After college, Vanessa worked in various social service organizations in Seattle, served as the president of her AFSCME local, and co-founded Centro para la Liberacion de la Mujer to educate Spanish-speaking survivors of intimate partner abuse. She attended Loyola University New Orleans law school. When Hurricane Katrina struck, she organized thousands of law students from around the country to volunteer in the Gulf Coast to help legal services organizations recover. She has clerked with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, coordinated with the NAACP on election protection programs, and served as president of Loyola’s National Lawyers Guild. After passing the Louisiana bar, Vanessa remained in New Orleans and represented low-wage and immigrant workers in wage claims, including litigation in support of community organizing and advocating for proactive worker rights’ legislation.

Ashley E. Greenwald
Administrative / Clinical Director
Positive Behavior Support of Nevada
University of Nevada, Reno
Ashley Greenwald, M.A., BCBA has been conducting research in the field of autism and developmental disabilities for the past 10 years.  Ashley began her studies in behavior analysis as an undergraduate at the University of Florida and has been refining her interests as a doctorate student at the University of Nevada, Reno.  In 2009, Ashley earned her masters degree and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  Ashley has worked in a variety of clinical positions including early intervention in autism, a day treatment program for adults, and has spent many years as a behavioral consultant for the State of Nevada. Ashley is currently the Director of Positive Behavior Support of Nevada and serves on numerous statewide and nationwide committees addressing in-home positive behavior supports and school climate change.  Ashley has conducted a number of empirically based, peer-reviewed studies in disabilities.  Her most recently publication is an article on autism treatment and contextual fit published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.  Ashley’s extended research interests include parent training and behavioral medicine.
Kathryn Roose
Case Manager
Behavioral Assessment and Intervention Services for Children (BASIC)
Training and Consultation Specialist
Positive Behavior Support – Nevada
Master’s Student
Behavior Analysis Program
University of Nevada, Reno
Kathryn Roose earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego.  She is currently enrolled in the behavior analysis master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Ms. Roose has experience in one-on-one behavior interventions with adults and children with and without disabilities, and consulting with caregivers and school personnel on behavioral strategies for reduction of problem behavior and acquisition of new skills.

George Mckinlay
Project Director of Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities
University of Nevada, Reno


George McKinlay is the Data Systems Manager for the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities and also a Project Director for the Nevada Assistive Technology Resource Center.  George has an extensive background in Data Management, Web Development and Accessibility, Universal Design and Assistive Technology for people with disabilities.  He also teaches a Disabilities Issues class in Community Health Sciences at UNR and engages his students in several projects regarding assistive technology and community accessibility each semester.

Scott W. Youngs
Project Director
Nevada Assistive Technology Resource Center/ADA Nevada
Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities
University of Nevada, Reno
Scott Youngs has been a trainer, educator, and advocate for individuals with disabilities for over 25 years. He is the Project Director for ADA Nevada and the Nevada Assistive Technology Resource Center, with the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Nevada, Reno. He provides statewide training, technical assistance, assessments, and other services to individuals with disabilities, service providers and businesses in the public and private sector regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and Assistive Technology. He volunteers his time on several boards and committees statewide and is a strong promoter of improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and our communities.
Christina Hansen
Program Director
Family TIES of Nevada
Currently the Program Director for Family TIES of Nevada, Christina implements and supervises the activities for Family TIES programs including Information and Referral Service, Training, Community Outreach, Youth Transition, and Parent to Parent Peer Mentor Support. As the Family to Family Health Information Center (F2F) for the state of Nevada, Family TIES provides Training, Information & Emotional Support to families of children with special healthcare needs throughout the state.

Christina has 10 years experience working in the school system, community services and early intervention services helping families with children with special needs. Christina is from Nevada and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Families Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno. She brings the family-to-family perspective, having a brother diagnosed with a developmental disability.

Christina is dedicated to serving as a child and family advocate, empowering children and families toward reaching their ultimate potential.

Junene Bratzler
Resource Coordinator
Family TIES of Nevada


Junene Bratzler has been marketing in the health and human services industry since 2006.  She has worked in the mental health industry, the senior industry, and worked for the State of Nevada for 14 years.

Her passion to truly help people led her into the non-profit sector when she accepted a position at Family TIES of Nevada as the Resource Coordinator in September of 2013.

Junene has two daughters, ages 12 and 15.  Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at age nine, and the father of her children has Tourette’s Syndrome.  Her personal interests are reading, writing, music, art, and traveling and camping with her husband and kids.

Melanie Kauffman, GPC
Executive Director
Family TIES of Nevada

As Executive Director of Family TIES of Nevada since 2010, Melanie directs the statewide Non-Profit, NV Family-to-Family Health Information Center and Family Voices State Affiliate – overseeing the delivery of services related to support, information, referrals and assistance for individuals with disabilities and families with children with special health care needs.

Melanie has served on numerous boards, coalitions and commissions, and currently serves on the steering committee of the Nevada Statewide Maternal and Child Health Coalition, and is an appointed member of the Nevada 2-1-1 Partnership.  Melanie received her Bachelors degree in Psychology from California State University Northridge, and the Grant Professional Certification from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute.  Melanie has worked at the executive level for county government and non-profit organizations in health and human services for 17 years, and has secured over $3 million in grant revenue for campaigns and projects. She has been recognized for her exemplary leadership by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, Nevada County Board of Supervisors, and Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence.

Melanie has lived in the Reno/Tahoe area for 23 years, and is the mother of two adult children, including a son with special health care needs.

Paul Mitchell
University of Nevada Reno
Professor Reynolds School of Journalism
Recruiting and Retention Coordinator


Paul Mitchell is the recruitment & retention coordinator and also teaches in the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada Reno. Mitchell received the University’s Nevada Semenza Christian Award of Excellence in Teaching in 2008.

Mitchell has taught several news writing courses in addition to sports writing and news editing. He also teaches the program’s Freshman Year Experience class. He is a graduate of the Maynard Editing Program (where he started work on his master’s in journalism) and also served as director of the Maynard Program at the University of Arizona, The University of California, Berkeley and the University of Nevada.

Originally from Philadelphia, Mitchell was a reporter and editor for the Philadelphia Tribune (the nation’s oldest continually-published African American newspaper). He was a news editor for the Asbury Park Press newspaper in Asbury Park, NJ. Mitchell was an editor for The National Sports Daily, the first daily all sports newspaper. He taught at the University of Missouri Journalism School while also working on his master’s degree.

Mitchell completed his doctorate in educational leadership (higher education emphasis) at the University of Nevada and earned his bachelor’s in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.

Alex Cherup
Alex first became involved in disability advocacy during his time as an undergraduate student at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where he met his close friend Micah Fialka-Feldman, a fellow student and advocate and speaker. Micah successfully challenged the university housing policy that prohibited him from moving into the dorms; and was able to live on campus for his final semester.

Alex and Micah have spoke together at numerous disability advocacy conferences around the country about the importance of post-secondary opportunities. In May of 2014, Micah was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.Alex is originally from Troy, Michigan, and currently lives in Las Vegas. He began his work in Nevada in 2008 as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working with the Youth Transition Project with the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities and with Family TIES of Nevada. As a VISTA, Alex worked to support and educate youth with disabilities about self-determination, self-advocacy and their transition out of high school into employment or college. After his term as a VISTA, he supervised the VISTA projects in Las Vegas for two more years. During his tenure, he supported the People First chapters, organized transition summer camps at UNLV, in Reno and Elko for youth with disabilities and assisted in the development of competitive and integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.In May of 2014, Alex graduated from Northeastern University School of Law with  a Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. While in law school, he focused his studies on civil rights and disability rights law, completing research on the law and advocacy surronding competitive and integrated employment for workers with disablities as well as comparative legal work with respect to Title II of the ADA and accessible transportation and Chinese disability law. He has completed legal internships at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in Ireland, the Labour Arbitration Council, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and in Las Vegas at the NAACP Las Vegas and the ACLU of Nevada.

Scott Harrington, Ph.D.
Youth Transition Director
Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities


Dr. Scott W. Harrington is the Director of the Youth Transition Project at the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED) at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has been working with people with disabilities since 1990, when he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at CSU Long Beach. He earned his Master’s degree in Psychology (Behavior Analysis) at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, and his Doctorate, also in Psychology (Behavior Analysis), at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). He is currently the Director for the Customized Employment Project, an externally funded project to help individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) secure integrated employment.

Dr. Harrington has written and directed multiple federally funded projects that help persons with disabilities transition to community-based competitive employment and attend post secondary institutions. As a Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI in the last seven years, Dr. Harrington has generated over $8.6 million in external funding for the NCED to help individuals with disabilities live more independent lives. He is a founder of the first elementary charter school in Nevada, Sierra Nevada Academy, and a former middle school mathematics teacher. He has presented over 40 papers on data-based interventions to assist persons with disabilities, has several publications across multiple areas, and currently teaches at UNR. His research interests include inclusion, integrated employment, transition, intrinsic motivation, attitudes about disabilities, and interagency collaboration. Dr. Harrington is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA), and on serves several advisory boards. Hobbies include anything outdoors.

Cheryl M. Dinnell
Lifeplanning Consultant, Budget Counselor & Employment Specialist
Cheryl D
Cheryl Dinnell is the parent of a son with multiple disabilities, a disability advocate, and a specialist in microboards, respite, and future planning. She has degrees in business management, finance and economics, and has held several licenses in financial services and life and health insurance. She continues her work with clients as a budget counselor and employment specialist.

Cheryl began her work as a disability advocate at UNR, writing grants as the Director of Family & Consumer Programs, and developed and directed programs such as the Nevada Parent Network, Family Voices of Nevada, Nevada Respite Coalition, and Nevada Partners In Policymaking. In 2000, she hosted the International Parent-to-Parent Conference.She is a founder of Family TIES, and served as Executive Director and President of the Board for several years. She has taught college classes, given training to professionals, and spoken to many audiences. She has also written many articles for disability publications. She also produces a newsletter for DeBarsy Syndrome International.

Cheryl has received awards and recognition for her work in the disability field, including the Polly Arango National Family Leadership Award from Family Voices, and the Family Advocate Award from Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center.

Over the years, Cheryl has been a member on many boards and advisory groups, including the Nevada Special Education Advisory Committee, the National Microboard Association, the Nevada Governor’s Commission on Services for People with Disabilities, and the Nevada Interagency Transition Advisory Board. She also worked as the Nevada Lifespan Respite Care Coordinator.

Currently, she works as a Lifeplanning Consultant, a Budget Counselor, an Employment Specialist, and as Service Coordinator for DeBarsy Syndrome International.

Dave Rovetti, DC


I was born in Reno, Nevada, attended Sparks High School, University of Nevada, and BYU. I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic – West in 1985 and began private practice soon thereafter. I currently own and practice at Northwest Reno Chiropractic where I specialize in acute and short-term chiropractic treatment for musculoskeletal pain. I keep busy with my lovely wife and our five children: one teaching school, two away at college, and two at home in high school. I enjoy water sports, camping in our motor home, watching my kids play sports, spending time with my family, and riding bikes. My 16-year-old son Jack has Down syndrome which, among other things, has required me to be educated on disability issues and to be an active disability advocate.

Many years ago, I came to the realization that both Diana and I knew a lot about disability issues, we had a good idea of what was best for our children, and we knew what we wanted. We were missing the integral part of how best to get it. Through trial-and-error and researching negotiation strategies, I learned techniques that, along with our knowledge of disability issues, worked well to get the things that help our son.

Nora Behrens
Nora Behrens is a mother of three and an advocate for people with disabilities. Her eldest child, 9-year-old Bryan, has multiple disabilities and is fully included in his school and community. Nora graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 2007 and credits the program with jumpstarting her confidence in supporting Bryan, as well as her advocacy journey. Since Partners, Nora has started a parent support and networking group called the CP Parent Network for families of kids with physical disabilities. She has also participated on several committees including being the parent co-chair of the Interagency Coordinating Council from 2007-2010. She has attended numerous trainings and also regularly presents a parent perspective to groups of professionals working with children with disabilities. She is currently the Board President of Family TIES of Nevada and continues to support other parents through the CP Parent Network.

Stephanie Schoen


Stephanie is a forest ranger turned occupational therapist, currently seeking a master’s degree in political science, and a 1998 graduate of Nevada Partners in Policymaking. She has served on several government and non-government committees (starting at age 16) and spent seven years on the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. In her OT practice, she enjoys seating and positioning, sensory processing, feeding and functional skills attainment for community living. However, she pays the bills by working in productive aging. In her spare time, she cares for her 27-year-old daughter who has Rett Syndrome, skis, does visual arts and participates in the life of her church

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