Training Team

Dr. Mark Friedman

Dr. Mark Friedman teaches Disability Studies as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the City University of New York. He serves as a Subject Matter Expert in participant engagement to the National Center on Advancing Person Centered Practices and Systems. Dr. Friedman’s primary work has been helping people with disabilities gain a voice in their lives through self-advocacy and policy making and helping people move from large state institutions into community programs.

He is currently training online 3,500 Provider staff, families, Service Coordinators and people with disabilities on Person Centered Planning in Nebraska. He is the creator of Disability Zoom, an online support network of 1,500 professionals, staff and caregivers of people with developmental disabilities. Dr. Friedman’s work in Michigan has included statewide focus groups on Beyond Tokenism and a program evaluation of the Michigan Consumer Cooperative Program.

He conducted the national study of Developmental Disability Councils, Protection and Advocacy agencies and University programs to identify the best practices to enhance the participation of people with developmental disabilities serving on boards, committees and policy-making entities. The study was funded by the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council and resulted in six articles published in a special edition of AAIDD’s Journal of Inclusion.

Dr. Friedman served as the first National Advisor to Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, the national self-advocacy organization and the state coordinator of Speaking For Ourselves, the award winning self-advocacy organization in Pennsylvania.

He has provided training to Service Coordinators in three states and worked with ten state Self-Advocacy organizations. He is currently working with the Georgia Advocacy Office, Nebraska and Michigan DD Councils, the Administration on Community Living, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the National Museum on Disability Rights. Dr. Friedman received his doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the Union Institute and University. He has presented to audiences in 22 states, provided advocacy training in Ecuador and Kosovo, and authored thirteen publications. His work was recently highlighted in the New York Times at:

Dr. Ruthie-Marie Beckwith

Dr. Ruthie-Marie Beckwith is the former Executive Director of TASH, Inc. and a national consultant who helps people with disabilities develop and implement strategies for greater autonomy in their daily lives. She is the founder and principal partner of Blue Fire Consulting and provides consulting services across the United States in areas of self-determination, community organizing, leadership development, and self-employment. Committed to grassroots approaches to empowerment and resource mobilization, she has served as the founder and Executive Director of the two statewide non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people with disabilities; The Tennessee Association of Microboards and Cooperatives, Inc. (TAMC) and People First of Tennessee, Inc.  As the founder and director of TAMC, she conducted person centered planning sessions and trained PCP facilitators across the country. She teaches advocacy and disability history at CUNY as Adjunct Faculty and has served as Adjunct Faculty at Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Special Education from George Peabody College and her B.S. degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Ann Formeller

A​nn Formeller is a resident of Ecuador, where she currently teaches English as a second language. She has dual citizenship with the USA and Ecuador. She has worked in Sustainable and Community Tourism in the Galapagos Islands and with indigenous tribes of the Huaorani people in the Amazon rain forest. Ann has had the honor to help grow community tourism in Mindo cloud forest, just two hours outside of Quito. Ann serves as a Co-Host, moderating the Zoom Chat Box to ensure people’s voices are heard during the training sessions.

Pierce Meier

Pierce Meier is a disability advocate with experience working in technology.

Pierce is a member of the Pennsylvania Education for All Coalition (PEAC) Self Advocacy Network. Duties include live presentations
throughout the city, focusing on the challenges of learning disabilities and
functioning in everyday life.

Pierce works for Chaikin Analytics, LLC where he assists with general computer network installation and troubleshooting,
LAN cabling, PC setup, and other duties involved in setup and maintenance
of small business computer networks.

David Wetherow

David Wetherow is the former Executive Director of the Association for Community Living in Winnipeg.  He created the Star Raft circle-building method and now serves a US-based nonprofit whose mission to give people with disabilities and families the tools and supports they need to build their own circles ‘for free, forever’.

David and his wife Faye created the Microboard model – small, incorporated circles that facilitate direct funding that are now working for nearly 1,500 people worldwide. They developed the first inclusive housing cooperative and the first person- and family-directed service cooperative in North America. They are seasoned trainers in qualitative program evaluation and person-centered planning.  They shared their lives with a beloved adopted daughter who lived with significant health, mobility and communication challenges until her passing in 2004. David joins us from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Mary Angus

Mary Angus’ passion for civil and human rights for people with disabilities has driven her since the late 1990s. Her experience as a person with a disability has had a profound effect on her advocacy. She is proud to have served as part of Disability Rights Nebraska in their advisory council and board for over 20 years. Mary has been able to provide the first-hand perspective by volunteering for many organizations and agencies. After a start focusing on mental illness, she branched out to work in the areas of developmental disabilities, voting rights, and independent living. 

Mary earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in educational psychology. She found working with children came naturally to her. She became a therapist for abused children, worked to prevent substance use among students in east-central Nebraska, and provided social services. The prevention program she developed received a national award as a youth health program.

Mary has developed and supported disability rights, leadership training, and voting rights activities. She currently is the Self Advocate faculty for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities at Munroe-Meyer Institute. With the restrictions of the pandemic, Mary changed to working virtually and has developed skills using zoom and logistics.​

Mary lives in Omaha, Nebraska and was born in South Bend, Indiana. Most importantly, she is the mother of two daughters, grandmother of six, and has one great-grandchild. These are the lights in her life.

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