Ari Ne’eman, President
Ari Ne’eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. He is an Autistic adult and a leading advocate in the neurodiversity and self-advocacy movements. In 2009, President Obama nominated Ari to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues. He was confirmed by the Senate in July 2010 and currently chairs the Council’s Entitlements Committee. Between 2010 and 2012, Ari chaired NCD’s Policy & Program Evaluation Committee. Ari worked to shut down the New York University Child Study Center’s “Ransom Notes” campaign and also led other successful disability community responses to offensive advertisements, including the response to the Autism Speaks “I am Autism” fundraising video. In his policy work, Ari has worked on a wide variety of disability rights related legislation relating to education, transition, employment, rights protection and other areas. Since 2012, he has served as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Aging, Disability and Independence. From 2010 to 2012, he served as a public member to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning autism. Appointed by Governor Jon Corzine, Ari served as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represented autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. In 2008, he received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award, and in 2009, he received the Expanding Horizons Award from United Cerebral Palsy. He is also a board member of TASH, an advocacy organization focusing on advancing social justice for people with significant disabilities. In addition, he was named by the New York Jewish Week as one of their “36 by 36″ in 2010. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where he studied political science in the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program.
Julia Bascom, Director of Programs
Julia Bascom serves as Director of Programs at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. As Director of Programs, Julia’s work focuses on technical assistance for self-advocates and state-level policy advocacy efforts, with an emphasis on leadership development, rights-based models of education, services, and supports, and bridging the gap between theory vs. praxis. In addition, Julia develops projects which look at standards for cognitive accessibility, the creation of independent living supports and the potential of natural supports, and ensuring meaningful, authentic, and respectful representation of the Autistic and disability communities throughout our society. Julia served on the New Hampshire DD council as well on as her state’s team for revitalizing state-wide self-advocacy, and is the founder of The Loud Hands Project. She writes about autistic identity, community, and language; disability rights; theory vs. praxis; and autism acceptance on her website, Just Stimming…
Samantha Crane, Director of Public Policy
Samantha Crane is Director of Public Policy at ASAN’s national office. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Samantha previously served as staff attorney at the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, focusing on enforcing the right to community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., and as an associate at the litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart, & Sullivan, L.L.P., where she focused on patent and securities litigation. From 2009 to 2010, Samantha served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge William H. Yohn at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Natalia Rivera Morales, Leadership Programs Coordinator
Natalia is originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico and has resided in the U.S. mainland since the age of seven. She is a proud self-advocate who is committed to ameliorating the representation of women and minorities within the cross-disability community. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2011 from Loyola University Maryland, where she pursued majors in Global Studies and Spanish and a minor in History. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2013 with a master’s degree in Latin American Studies. Her interests comprise contemporary feminist theory, critical disability theory, Latin American cultural and intellectual history, social philosophy, and Cuban gastronomy.
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, Social Media Coordinator
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone is an Autistic adult with multiple disabilities. She started out doing children’s mental health advocacy in Pennsylvania at the age of 12, and has since been involved at both state and national levels in multiple advocacy areas including class, rural, and ID/DD advocacy. In addition to this work she writes multiple places, including her personal advocacy blog Cracked Mirror in Shalott. She lives in rural PA with her dog, and enjoys doing social media work for disability non-profits. Her non-advocacy interests include Anthropology, Victorian romanticism, and history of oppression, including the history of the ID/DD institution systems in the US.
Ianthe Belisle Dempsey, Communications Coordinator
Ianthe is a multiply disabled Autistic self-advocate living in Chicago. She has been an outspoken anti-oppression activist for the past decade and has a degree in theatre/film studies and history from Illinois State University. Her current independent research projects include the theory and development of a unique body of Autistic theatre performance, among other topics. Ianthe has had pink hair for the past 5 or 6 years and has no intentions of changing that anytime soon.
Lydia Brown works as a policy analyst for ASAN. In this capacity, Lydia assists with research and writing on various public policy projects on healthcare, criminal justice, and service delivery that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Previously, Lydia was a project assistant for ASAN, and supported ASAN’s community engagement activities and other grant projects on employment services and healthcare access. Outside of ASAN, Lydia is president and co-founder of the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective, co-president of TASH New England, and a board member of the Autism Women’s Network. Lydia is also a member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. Additionally, Lydia is serving a second term as Undersecretary for Disability Affairs with the Georgetown University Students Association. Lydia was the 2012 Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and an alumni of the American Association of People with Disabilities internship program. In 2013, Lydia was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for disability rights. Lydia’s work has been published in the Criptiques anthology, human rights compilation Torture in Healthcare Settings, Tikkun, Black Girl Dangerous, and the Washington Post. Lydia blogs at Autistic Hoya.