Workshop Speakers

Get to know our amazing workshop speakers. View the workshop schedule for information about workshops and their times.

Thea Kurdi

Vice President of DesignABLE Environments Inc. is an RAIC Affiliate member, and registered accessibility specialist with Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES). Thea has been an accessibility specialist for the built environment for the last 18 years. She is known as a dynamic speaker known for her enthusiasm for teaching. She has presented workshops, keynote addresses, a TEDx takk, and lectures at local and international events for design professionals, building owners, and policymakers. From the human rights code to evidence-based design and increased marketability, Kurdi shares her passion for how accessibility is fundamental to successful architecture.

See Thea Kurdi Friday, April 5th, during the Why Universal Design in Canada workshop.

Kate Chung

Retired social service worker, Kate Chung, has served as vice-president of a housing co-op, is a member of the Older Women’s Network Housing Committee, and member of the Green Sanctuary Group at First Unitarian Congregation. She has organized “scrupling” events (including a scrupled all candidates meeting), founded two women’s festivals, and was an organizer of Jane’s Alternative New Environments, which presented the Co-housing Marketplace and the Environmentally Responsible Olympics conference. She sings with the Raging Grannies – and takes great joy in her 5 grandchildren. As an active promoter of OWN’s Living in Place campaign, she is committed to changing the National and Ontario Building Codes to make universal design mandatory in all new multi-unit residential developments.

See Kate Chung Friday, April 5th, during the Why Universal Design in Canada workshop.

Michelle Haney

Michelle is a licensed Physical Therapist specializing in pediatrics and has been the Director of Euro-Pēds National Center for Intensive Physical Therapy since 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and a Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University. Euro-Pēds is a specialized therapy center treating a nationwide base of patients who have neuromuscular disorders. Euro-Pēds opened in 1999 as the first intensive pediatric PT program outside of Europe and has recently expanded to offer an adult intensive program as well. In 2013, Michelle founded the Euro-Peds Foundation which raises funds and awards grants to help children with special needs access life-changing treatment at Euro-Peds. Haney’s sister, who has severe mental & physical disabilities as a result of spinal meningitis as an infant, was her initial inspiration to foster a better way of teaching children with gross motor disorders new skills for greater independence.

See Michelle Haney Friday, April 5th, during the Intensive Physical Therapy Approach Workshop.

Sarah Sweenie

Sarah works as a Junior Program Advisor for the Canada Disability Savings Program within the Office for Disability Issues, Employment and Social Development Canada. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Carleton University and has held various positions within the federal public service since 2016. Over the past year, Sarah has played a key role in promoting the Registered Disability Savings Plan and, the Canada Disability Savings Grant and Bond at conferences and events across Canada, and in providing information sessions to provincial and territorial social services front-line workers who work with people with disabilities and their families.

See Sarah Sweenie Friday, April 5th, during the Registered Disability Savings Plan Workshop

Jack Lamon

Jack Lamon is a long-time Come As You Are Co-operative member and has been an employee and president of the co-op since 2001. With a background in philosophy, sexual ethics, and small battery-powered electronics, Jack brings a both unique understanding and lived experience of marginalized sexualities, gender identities, and sexual orientations to his work at Come As You Are. With a keen interest in making people happy, nothing makes Jack happier than finding good homes for all of those sex toys.

See Jack Lamon Friday, April 5th, during the Paths to Pleasure Workshop

Noah Kloeze

Noah Kloeze tumbled into Come As You Are Co-operative in 2011, and, hasn’t been the same since! While he eschews the premise of ‘expert culture’, he wholeheartedly believes that we are all experts: of our own bodies, histories, desires, and dreams. Diagnosed with MS, Noah extends this same opinion to dis/ability: we are all experts of our own experiences, and, certainly not of anyone else’s: we are beautiful and expansive and deeply individualistic in our personal manifestations of body and soul.

See Noah Kloeze Friday, April 5th, during the Paths to Pleasure Workshop.

Archie Allison

Currently, Archie’s portfolio includes: Outreach and education programs offering participation possibilities to more than 10,000 students annually, Rehabilitation to Community transition series, Adult Day Programs, Fitness Friends School Program – Durham, Courtice, Peterborough, Peel and Toronto, Cooperative Education, Course Instructor at University of Toronto and Centennial College, Variety Village Athletic Club Teams and Volunteers.

See Archie Allison Saturday, April 6th, during the Inclusive Participation in your Community Workshop

Kevin Rempel

Kevin Rempel is a 2013 World Champion and 2014 Sochi Paralympic bronze medalist in sledge hockey who has an incredible story of overcoming a tremendous amount of adversity.

Paralyzed after a motocross crash in 2006, Kevin had to face unsurmountable odds while learning to walk again at the age of 23. Adding to this, Kevin had to deal with his father, Gerry, who also was living in a wheelchair. While deer hunting, Gerry fell from a tree leaving him a complete paraplegic one year from retirement. Unfortunately Gerry couldn’t deal with living with his circumstances and took his own life in July 2007.

That following year, “Remps” as he likes to be called by his friends, found sledge hockey and set his sights on making Team Canada and playing in the Paralympics. Since then he has travelled the world, inspired thousands of people, and has published his autobiography titled “Still Standing – When You Have Every Reason To Give Up, Keep Going”

Kevin’s story has been featured around the world on TSN, BBC Sport, CBC and CTV. To this day Kevin still loves to ride his motorcycle and is focused on helping grow the sport of sledge hockey through his newest venture, the Sledge Hockey Experience.

See Keven Rempel Saturday, April 6th, during the Mental Health Matters Workshop

Kevin Ng

Kevin Ng is the Certification Adjudicator for the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program. He has extensive knowledge of local and international accessible design standards and universal design principles, having worked as an accessibility consultant in both private and non-profit organizations. Kevin also had the opportunity to work with people with disabilities and advocacy groups in Taiwan, where he learned about cultural differences and perspectives on accessibility.

See Kevin Ng Saturday, April 6th, during the Rick Hansen Accessibility Certification Program Workshop

Mary Daniel

Having started out with a Bachelor of Arts in Therapeutic Recreation from Concordia University and a Diploma in Community Recreational Leadership Training from Dawson College, Mary worked for over 20 years as an Employment/Training Specialist, with extensive experience in counselling and case management for people with disabilities. She recently achieved certification in Community Mental Health Case Management. As a Little Person, Mary is a strong advocate in the community, serving as a member of the Region of Peel Accessibility Advisory Committee, Little People of Ontario and Trillium Toastmasters.

See Mary Daniel Sunday, April 7th, during the Building Confidence in Your Job Search Workshop

Gabriella Carafa

Gabriella Carafa is a clinical social worker who identifies as having a disability. She has several years experience working with children, youth and adults with disabilities and their families. Her current experience includes working as a perinatal social worker.

See Gabriella Carafa Sunday, April 7th, during the Self-Care Workshop

Jean Hammond

Jean is a Family Partnership Specialist with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. She is also a Family Leader and a Caregiver to her 13 year old daughter with a disability.

See Jean Hammond Sunday, April 7th, during the Self-Care Workshop

Keith Rashid

Keith Rashid is National Manager at March of Dimes Canada – Recreation, Assistive Travel and Transportation. Upon completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Rights and Equity, his focus has been on researching, planning and delivering various programs and services which help individuals living with disabilities overcome barriers to community re-engagement through recreational activities, assistive travel programs and accessible transportation services.

See Keith Rashid Sunday, April 7th, during the Travel Workshop