2024 Spring Conference

When: April 10 – 12, 2024

Where: Green River College: 12401 SE 320th Street Auburn, WA 98092

Registration Page for Spring 2024 Conference


Spotlight Speakers

Dr. Victoria Verlezza

Dr. Verlezza will provide a keynote on Wednesday, April 10. The title is to be determined, but will focus on Ableism and Disability in 2024. Victoria is also going to facilitate a 90-minute workshop on Thursday, April 11, Creating Neuroaffirming Learning Spaces on Campus.

Dr Lisa Meeks

Dr. Meeks will provide the noon-time keynote on Thursday, April 11th. Presentation Title — The need for specialization in Health Professions and Allied Health Programs: A review of the current and future landscape.

Conference Hotel

Please use this direct booking link or call 253-804-4444 and identify yourself as part of the group WAPED / Washington Association on Post-secondary Education and Disability.

This link is valid checking in on April 8 and departing April 12.  If you want to change these dates, you can do so by clicking on the edit button next to the dates:

Reserve Your Room at Muckleshoot Casino

WAPEDers: WAPED events begin Wednesday, you’ll want to edit your dates to remove Monday, April 8 if you are not arriving early for DSSC.

The cut-off date to make reservations at the discounted room rate ($169/night) is April 05, 2024. Reservations after this date will not receive the discounted rate, but please identify yourself as part of our group, they can still count toward our group’s contract with the hotel.

Conference Schedule

Please note that there may be minor updates between now and the conference start.

Tuesday, April 09


Check-in at hotel


Conference planning committee and board meet in hotel lobby to organize and prepare supplies.

Wednesday, April 10

8:00 am – 8:45 am: Registration and Check-in

Green River College

9:00 am – 10:15 am: Hybrid Spotlight Presentation

Ableism and Disability in 2024 with Dr. Victoria Verlezza

Dr. Verlezza is the head of the Office of Employee Experience at Fuss and O’Neill. She serves as a steward of the firm’s inclusion, diversity, equity, and access efforts (IDEA). She has a PhD in Human Development from Fielding Graduate University and holds Masters degrees in Social Justice Education, Higher Education Administration, and Human Development. She is passionate about holding space for others’ learning journeys, while also challenging the status quo. She has been doing in the area of DEI for 20 years and has joined Fuss and O’Neill to support employees foster inclusion and belonging. She is also a adjunct faculty member at California State University, Monterey Bay and a consultant.

10:30 am – 11:30 am: Hybrid Spotlight Presentation

Finally!  A Better Mousetrap with Dr. Jane Jarrow

After a decade of fighting a losing battle, trying to ward off the letters-for-hire offered up in support of ESAs on campus, there is finally an alternative.  Download the packet of information regarding this newly proposed protocol, then join in on this session to learn how to make it work for you!

Jane E Jarrow, Ph.D., is the founder and President of Disability Access Information and Support (DAIS). Through her consulting company, Jane provides technical assistance and professional development activities to various segments of the higher education community surrounding issues of accommodation and support for students with disabilities. A recognized authority in this area for more than 40 years, Jane has made hundreds of presentations on college campuses and for higher ed groups, and provided professional development training for hundreds of postsecondary personnel through her online courses. Jane has been a contributing member to our WAPED listserv, from afar, for more than 20 years!  Most recently, Jane has become a primary resource for service providers in sorting out issues of service animals and emotional support animals on campus.

11:45 am – 1:00 pm: Lunch

Catered lunch at Green River College with conference highlights and announcements.

1:15 pm – 2:45 pm: Workshop

Transition from High School to College

The WAPED PR & Outreach Committee has been working for nearly three years, developing resources to help post-secondary DS educators make clear to Washington State’s K-12 partners and families what students need to know and be able to do when they transition from high school to college, making the shift to being adult learners. This workshop serves to provide opportunity for WAPED membership to form consensus regarding the articulated gaps in student preparedness for college. WAPED members will familiarize themselves with the PR & Outreach-developed transitional resources available for DS professionals to use with their regional K-12 partners. They will begin to break down and identify higher education regional partners with whom to plan dissemination of the resources and information developed by the PR & Outreach Committee to our K-12 partners, DVR colleagues, and other stakeholders. Time permitting, we will continue conversation with four-year DS colleagues regarding the transition and expectations for students with disabilities as they move from two-year colleges to four-year colleges/universities.

Presenter names and affiliations:

  • Mary Gerard, Bellingham Technical College
  • Kerri Holferty, Whatcom Community College
  • Wendy Holden, Central Washington University
  • Kim Thompson, Seattle University

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Meet & Greet

Meet your board and committee representatives.

4:15 pm – 5:30 pm: Awards and Past-President Reception

On-site. Appetizers will be provided. There will be a beer and wine cash bar as well.

Thursday, April 11

8:00 am – 8:45 am: Registration and Check-in

Green River College

9:00 am – 10:30 pm: Workshop

Creating Neuroaffirming Learning Spaces on Campus facilitated by Dr. Victoria Verlezza

This interactive workshop will focus on both the individual socialization of participants and systems. Dr. Verlezza will use social justice education frameworks to set the stage to discuss ableism, disability, neurodiversity, and neurodivergence within a higher education system and provide strategies to counteract.

10:40 am – 11:40 am

LEAN: Not a 4-letter Word

Contrary to common misconceptions, LEAN is not an acronym for Less Employees Are Needed! In fact, it’s not an acronym at all, but rather an approach to program and operational assessment aimed at uncovering redundancies, ineffective outcomes, and other inefficiencies that get in the way of maximizing an organization’s human resources. While some organizations have used Lean to reduce staff, proper application does not begin with any predetermined goal or outcome other than to identify and assess high impact areas for process improvement. Many disability support offices are stretched beyond capacity, struggling to persuade decision-makers to invest in their programs and staff, and Lean process can be a powerful tool to analyze workflows and resources in order to “work smarter, not harder,” and even demonstrate a need for greater investment, rather than reductions.

UW Bothell Disability Resources for Students recently collaborated with a Lean specialist to dig into the nuts-and-bolts of our entire operation. Our findings were successfully translated into a proposal for additional resources that won institutional approval for additional permanent staff. As a result, our “small but mighty” team of 1.5 people will double to 3 full-time, permanent positions within a year of the proposal’s acceptance. This session will describe the work we did to achieve this outcome, and offer practical tools informed by Lean principles that participants can apply in their own work.

  • Mark McKenzie, Senior Lean Coach, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Rosa Liu, Director, Veteran & Military Resources & Disability Resources for Students, University of Washington, Bothell

11:45 am – 1:15 pm: Hybrid Spotlight Presentation & Lunch

The Need for Specialization in Health Professions and Allied Health Programs: A Review of the Current and Future Landscape with Lisa M Meeks, PhD

Dr. Meeks is an Associate Professor of Learning Health Sciences and Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and executive director of the DocsWithDisabilities Initiative. She began her career as a disability resource professional, shifting to research after seeing a critical need for disability inclusion in clinical programs.

Her work on disability inclusion and anti-ableism in health professions education helps inform international policy and best practice. Dr. Meeks is dedicated to creating safe and accessible health professions training environments for students with disabilities. Her books and best practice resources are considered the leading guidance on the topic.

Dr. Meeks is the co-developer of both the AAMC Disability Webinar Series, and edited and authored the leading books on disability inclusion in health professions education. She regularly collaborates with health professions associations and is the lead author of the AAMC Special Report: Accessibility,Inclusion, and Action in Medical Education: Lived Experiences of Learners and Physicians with Disabilities, serves on the DEI advisory committee for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical

Education (ACGME), and is an ACGME Equity Matters contributor.

Her research has been published in leading medical journals and featured widely in media including NPR and TIME magazine, while her initiatives including the social media campaign #DocsWithDisabilities, the Docs with Disabilities Podcast, and Access in Medicine have been immeasurably impactful in pushing for disability access in health professions training.

On-site lunch service begins at 11:45 am. Presentation begins at 12:00 pm.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Building Bridges in Health Professions Education: Developing Productive Relationships with Faculty with Dr. Rica Amity

It is essential for Disability Resource Professionals (DRPs)to build productive relationships with academic and clinical faculty in health sciences programs. How DRPs perceive their own role and the faculty member’s role in working with students with disabilities can ease or hinder the professional relationship. Faculty development may be needed to enhance awareness of disabilities, understanding of their responsibilities in implementing accommodations, and knowledge of today’s best practices around accommodations. Training for a DPR not familiar with clinical settings may be warranted. Identifying allies and champions is vital. Concrete steps can be taken to cultivate positive, fruitful connections that will lead to better student access to educational opportunities, thereby diversifying the health care professions, and ultimately leading to better patient experiences.

2:45 pm – 4:00 pm: Medical Panel Q & A

Disability Resource Professionals work with Health Science, Allied Health, and Medical Education programs, Colleagues from all institution types (Community Colleges, 4-Year Universities, Online Learning, etc.) are welcome to join this interactive panel discussion on disability access in health sciences education. Moderated by Eric Trekell.


  • Rica Amity, Dean of Students, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences
  • Mary Gerard, Bellingham Technical College
  • Kim Thompson, Seattle University

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Off-site, no-host dinner. Location to be determined.

Friday, April 12

9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Hybrid

Business meeting and committee breakouts. Open to all membership.

WAPED 2023-224 Conference Planning Committee

Gretchen Hormel (WSU Tri-Cities) g.hormel@wsu.edu

Eric Trekell (UW Do-It) ericwt@uw.edu

Alice LeFlore (UW Bothell) leflore7@uw.edu

Kyle Gonzalez (S Puget Sound CC) jgonzalez21@spscc.edu

Kaitlyn Vallance (Cornish College of the Arts) kvallance@cornish.edu

Natalie Barbero-Menchaca (Green River) nbarbero-menchaca@greenriver.edu

Katie Guernsey (Tacoma CC) kguernsey@tacomacc.edu

Grace Vivanco (Skagit Valley) grace.vivanco@skagit.edu

Karla Ealy-Morraquin (WSU Spokane) ealy@wsu.edu

Kim Thompson (Seattle U) thompsok@seattleu.edu

Justin Smock (Skagit Valley) justin.smock@skagit.edu

Bryan Fauth (Cascadia) bfauth@cascadia.edu