2019 Speakers

We are currently in touch with all speakers and presenters who provided content to their presentations to see if they are willing to share with us. This page will be updated as permissions to use their content become available. If you have a specific presentation you'd like to be provided with we can connect you with that presenter. 

Alex Bartolic

Alex Bartolic | Welcome Message

Director for Disability Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

When I was growing up, our neighbors had to make the difficult decision to place their daughter, who was my friend, at the Cambridge Regional Treatment Center because there were not supports for her and her family. That started my passion to make a difference in supporting people and their families.

I began my career as a special education teacher for the first public school classroom in a 9-district special education cooperative for students with significant disabilities, ages 4 – 21, and provided early intervention with infants and toddlers. I left teaching as the DD waiver first started in Minnesota to develop community services to support families and assist people in regional treatment centers to move with community services. I have extensive county and state experience with home and community-based services for people with developmental disabilities and have received recognition as an innovator. I am currently the Director for Disability Services at the Department of Human Services.

Amy Hewitt

Amy Hewitt | Welcome Message

Director of the Insitute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota

Amy Hewitt, PhD has an extensive background and work history in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities and has worked in various positions over the past 30+ years to improve community inclusion and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families. At the University of Minnesota she is the Director of the Institute on Community Integration and a Professor in Organizational Leadership and Policy Development. She directs several federal and state research, evaluation and demonstration projects in the area of community long term services and supports for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. She currently has research projects that focus on community living, autism, outcome measurement, direct support workforce development, person centered planning/thinking and positive behavior support. She has authored and co-authored numerous journal articles, curriculum, technical reports, and she co-authored a book entitled, Staff Recruitment, Retention and Training and a recently published book called, Community for All: Community Living and Participation for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Hewitt is on the editorial board of Inclusion and an associate editor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities both journals of the AAIDD. She is a Past President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and the current President of the Board of Directors for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Dr. Hewitt earned a BS in political science and psychology at Indiana University; a Masters degree in social work at Indiana University; and a PhD in social work at the University of Minnesota.

Michael Smull

Michael Smull | Keynote Day 1

Senior partner in Support Development Associates

Michael Smull has been working with people who use long term supports and services since 1972. He is the senior partner in Support Development Associates (http://www.sdaus.com) and the founder and Chair of The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices (http://www.learningcommnity.us).  He is the co-developer of a person centered thinking curricula and of essential lifestyle planning.  Mr. Smull has provided training and consultation in 48 states and 7 countries. He been the executive director of 2 community agencies and was a Clinical Assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He has assisted agencies, states, regions, and counties to make the changes needed support person centered practices.  Mr. Smull has written extensively on person centered thinking and planning, the challenge of changing to a person centered system, and issues relating to supporting people with challenging behaviors.  He continues to work with states and agencies in their efforts to have an effective person centered approach to services and support. Mr. Smull is the recipient of the 2015 Compass Award from the National Association of Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services and the 2006 American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities service award.

Michael is the 2019 MN Gathering Opening and Closing speaker. He will also be presenting on the following relevant topics throughout the two-day period. 

  1. It takes more than training 
  2. From Exposure to Habit to Embedding 
  3. Choice and Capacity
  4. Understanding Frameworks
  5. Celebrate success but never declare victory - Minnesota has a lot to celebrate but still so far to go.


Nancy Fitzsimons

Nancy M. Fitzsimons | Keynote Day 2

Professor at Minnesota State University Mankato

Nancy Fitzsimons is a Professor of Social Work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She teaches courses on social welfare policy and services, policy practice, community work, and empowering practices with people with disabilities. Nancy has spent more than 30 years working in and connected to people with disabilities, disability services, and disability advocacy. Nancy currently serves as the Chair of the Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) and as a Board member at The Arc Minnesota. She co-Chaired the Olmstead Specialty Committee that developed the State’s Comprehensive Plan to Prevent Abuse and Neglect of People with Disabilities. Her publications include the book Combating Violence and Abuse of People with Disabilities: A Call to Action. She is currently working on a second book about the intersection of disability and violence tentatively titled The Danger of the Single Story of Disability, Vulnerability, and Protection.