Conference Program

Conference Program
for the 46th Annual Conference
Learning Disabilities Association of Arizona
April 8, 2017

Optima Camelview Village
7157 E. Rancho Vista Dr.
Scottsdale, Arizona

Keynote Session                 8:00 – 9:00 A.M.

Welcome and Introductions – Rob Crawford, LDA-AZ State President

Keynote Address: The Twice Exceptional Person | Jim Russell Ph.D., N.C.C., L.P.C.

This presentation will provide a description of the twice-exceptional (2e) person from childhood through adulthood. The main points covered during the presentation will be the cognitive and emotional difficulties experienced by the person, the identification process, how the “Average Person Standard” may affect eligibility for accommodations, and transitioning into college when a person has dyslexia. Dr. Russell has studied, lectured, and counseled (2e) people for more than twenty five years, he is a leading expert in this area, so don’t miss this informative workshop

Keynoter Bio:
Dr. Jim Russell (aka Dr. Jim) is a Licensed Counselor working in clinical practice with people who are very bright but who have learning differences. He works with a wide range of “human beings” from preschoolers to seniors. He is a Department of Elementary And Secondary Education (DESE) Certified School Psychological Examiner for the State of Missouri.

Dr. Jim instructed graduate students in both the departments of education and counseling. He is presently an Adjunct Instructor at Washington University, and he has been an instructor at Webster University, the University of Missouri, and at the St. Louis Community College.

He was a Co-President for the State of Missouri Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), and he was the Professional of the year in 2001 and given the Life Time Achievement award in 2006. He travels across the country doing workshops about how very bright “human beings” learn, emphasizing neurobiology and neuroscience. Most of the time, Dr. Jim is amazed at how wonderful people can be, especially when they really try.

Dr. Jim does comprehensive evaluations for children who have cancer and other medical conditions at the Mercy Cardinals Kids Cancer Center, via funding through the Friends Of Kids With Cancer. He is presently serving on the St. Louis Community College Access Office Advisory Committee, and the Miriam Learning Center Advisory Committee.

Session I:        9:00 – 10:00 A.M.

Autism and ADHD: Is there a connection? 

Presenter: Raun D. Melmed, M.D., FAAP, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician Theories that explain core symptoms of ADHD and ASD along with some of their neurobiological characteristics will be compared. Common problems including issues of co-morbidity and social challenges will be explored. Novel, screening as well as integrative treatment practices will be described.  This will support intervention practices based on each individual’s descriptive and biological profiles.

Speaker Bio:
Raun D. Melmed, MD, is director of the Melmed Center in Scottsdale, Arizona and co-founder and medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona and at Arizona State University.

He has set up nationally recognized physician training programs for the early identification of infants and toddlers with developmental and behavioral concerns and authored a program geared toward the early screening for autism spectrum disorders.

He is the co-author of Succeeding with Difficult Children, Autism: Early Intervention, and Autism and the Extended Family.  His latest book for children is Marvin’s Monster Diary – ADHD Attacks which addresses the issue of mindfulness in ADHD.  Dr. Melmed’s research interests include novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of autism and ADHD.

Break:        10:00 – 10:30 A.M.

Session II:        10:30 – 11:30 A.M.

Cultivating Personal Resilience: The Secrets of Trauma to Triumph

Presenter: Veronica Lieb Crawford, MA
This presentation will take participants through a motivational experience as well as a learning experience of how to see what it is like to become more resilient through the process of reframing ones thinking.

This dynamic and engaging presentation will demonstrate how even through some of the most extreme obstacles in life, we can find our way, if we are shown how to let go of being a victim and allowed to take control of our lives through rebuilding our strengths.

Specific examples and a step-by-step process will be provided to assist participants with some of the skills to get started for themselves or those they love. Guidance will be offered on finding professionals to help in working with them.

Speaker Bio:
Veronica’s work has been in helping young adults achieve their goals in life by working with them on addressing the major life domains in adult living. She specializes in helping those with bipolar, learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and co-morbid conditions that often co-occur with these disorders.

Veronica is the author of the book “Embracing the Monster: Overcoming the Challenges of Hidden Disabilities.”  She is currently working on three new books, including a children’s book co-authored with a student on the Spectrum who illustrated it called” My Majik Mind” to be released in 2017. Her goal is to bring about change in the lives of the people she works with so that they can experience success for themselves and find happiness and peace within.

Veronica is the Owner/President of the Life Development Institute holds a MA in Human Resources Development, and  BA in Psychology. She is a Board Certified Sr. Disability Analyst and MBTI certified, where she integrates her knowledge of the HR and disability fields to help her clients make sense of how to understand integrate into the adult world.

Veronica also has a private practice called PART “People Achieving Results Together” where she provides very specialized one-on-one services to young adults in helping them see their value and find their special gifts while keeping them focused on their individuals goals and not loosing their path in life through the art of reframing toward resilience.

She has also provided training to over 400 groups on the ADAAA and hidden disabilities in a variety of environments, consulting with both corporate and not-for-profit companies on issues related to training and accessibility.  Veronica has raised two successful children with hidden disabilities, and is a person with these conditions as well.

Lunch:              11:30 – 1:00 P.M.

Session III:       1:00 – 2:00 P.M.

Building Cultures of Empathy in Kids and Teens with LD/ADHD

Presenter: Nick Lowery, MPA
This motivational speech centers around kids and teens with LD & ADHD who have been bullied to discover and develop personal leadership, compassion and breaking through stereotypes which enables them to make a huge contribution to preventing a culture of bullying in their school, encouraging the fresh oxygen of compassion, social diversity and embracing character and difference as lessons for a lifetime.

Speaker Bio:
Nick Lowery transcends any simple category. Hall of Fame athlete, Ivy League scholar, Presidential aide, Author, Poet, Teacher, Philanthropist, he has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, World News Tonight, Nightline with Ted Koppel, HBO, David Letterman twice, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Nick is the only American to work for both President George HW Bush and President Bill Clinton in the White House Office of National Service, and became the first pro athlete with a Masters and Fellowship from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Nick was inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2009 as the most accurate and prolific field goal kicker in NFL History when he left the National Football League. Nick founded Champions for the Homeless 10 years ago, supporting St. Vincent De Paul’s with 30 special uplifting celebrity events. His All Pros against Bullying is about building cultures of Empathy, helping close to 100 schools across the country combat bullying.

Nick was NFL Man of the Year for both the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets. He is the winner of the NFL Player’s foremost humanitarian award, the Justice Byron Whizzer White award, the US Jaycees’ “Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award” (also won by Elvis and JFK), and the National Community Service Award from United Cerebral Palsy for his work with at risk and disabled youth.

Break:        2:00 – 2:30 P.M.

Session IV:      2:30 – 3:30 P.M.

The Ins and Outs of IEP/504 Advocacy

Presenter: Vanessa DiCarlo, M.Ed.,Special Education Consultant & Advocate, Susan Marks & Advocates, PLLC, Scottsdale, AZ
This presentation will cover the top advocacy skills for getting an appropriate IEP or 504 plan. The presentation will focus on pitfalls to avoid and strategies to use in order to get the most out of the IEP meeting. Templates, forms and tips will be provided that promote best practices and successful outcomes.

Speaker Bio:
Ms. Vanessa DiCarlo is a special education advocate and educational consultant. Ms. DiCarlo graduated from Northern Arizona University, where she received a master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in inclusive practices, positive behavioral supports, and autism.

Ms. DiCarlo worked in typical education settings, in addition to special education settings creating system wide change; and advocating for the inclusion of students with disabilities into typical classrooms by individualizing services such as curriculum modifications, behavior plans, and assistive technology.  Collaborating with various behavioral health  and statewide agencies, she advocated for coordinated services for students.

Ms. DiCarlo  has presented at national and statewide conferences on a variety of disability-related topics, while also consulting with the ADE Support Cadre, and NAU by supervising masters-level teachers in the internship phase of their program.

Session V:        3:30 – 4:30 P.M.

Coaching Students with ADHD & LD: How Coaching Improves Executive Functioning and More Success in School and Life.

Presenter: Neil Peterson, CEO, The Edge Foundation
This workshop will share a researched-based system of strategies, tools and techniques that train students with LD, ADHD and adverse childhood experiences in non-cognitive executive functioning skills. These executive functioning skills encompass the ability to plan, initiate, prioritize, stay on task, follow through and be on time- enabling middle school and high school students to persevere in their individual pursuits of personal passion and purpose.

Speaker Bio:
Neil Peterson is a successful public servant, businessman and leading advocate for the disabled in his role as the founder and Chairman of the not-for-profit Edge Foundation.

Neil has had a distinguished career in public service that has included being CEO of the public transportation agencies in the Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle metropolitan areas, as well as working for two U.S. congressmen, two governors and being a City Administrator. Neil currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (often called the Toll Roads) located in Orange County California.

Neil was the founding CEO of the highly acclaimed carsharing company Flexcar, now Zipcar (and very recently acquired by the Avis Group). Flexcar, described as “a time-share for automobiles,” operates in more than twenty cities in the USA, Canada and Western Europe. The company’s innovative business model helps Americans reduce their reliance upon foreign oil, fight global warming and make our cities more livable.

Neil has founded four other businesses including an international transportation consulting firm, a company providing interim executive management, a travel and tour company, and a private fishing club.  During his career he has served as CEO, COO or CFO of six other companies.

Neil has a passion for the disabled and has worked diligently to help those with disabilities, as the official responsible for the state’s mental health, developmental disabilities, juvenile rehabilitation and foster care services. Today, he is the Chairman of the Edge Foundation, which he founded to help children with executive functioning challenges, ADHD being the most severe.

He graduated from Williams College, and received his master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Neil is an accomplished dancer, focusing on ballroom, Latin, Argentine tango, and West Coast swing. He travels extensively and has visited over 50 countries on six of the seven continents.

Neil has four stepchildren, two children, and two step grandchildren.

Conference Information

Conference fees for non-members include annual membership dues for National LDA and LDA-AZ. Membership includes newsletters from National LDA and LDA-AZ, a special ID number enabling you to go on line to get the latest news regarding legislation (congressional), special projects, conferences and pertinent information from other sources such as government institutes.  The intent is to keep you updated on a daily basis.

Registration/Eventbrite Info:

Conference materials, badges and receipts if needed will be available starting at 7:30AM, at the Registration Desk.

Meal Service:

A continental breakfast and lunch is included in the registration fee. There are other cafés and restaurants available at the Optima for additional beverage or snack needs.  There is on-site seating available to eat lunch and visit.


Exhibits of educational materials, facilities, and programs in the field of learning disabilities will be on display in Yoga room outside of the conference auditorium at 7:30AM.  Opportunities will be provided throughout the conference for participants to visit the exhibits.  Exhibits will be open all day.


While LDA of Arizona is pleased to present this conference to enable speakers and exhibitors to present their views on the topic of learning disabilities, it is our policy not to recommend or endorse any one specific diagnostic or therapeutic regime, whether it is educational, psychological or medical.

Continuing Education Units:

Certificates for completion of training will be signed at the end of each workshop upon presented of a completed form.  Bring your own or pick up the required form and instructions in the registration area.  No university or college credit is available, however, most school districts and professional organizations consider the hours for professional development credit and certification.  Check with your district, agency or organization.

ADA Needs: 

For those individuals who have a disability accommodation request, please call Veronica Crawford at 623-773-2774 Ext: 209. Please note that all accommodation request must be submitted by no later than two weeks before the conference.

Conference Site:

Optima Camelview Village
7157 E. Rancho Vista Dr.
Scottsdale, Arizona

The Key Note address and workshops will be held in the Multipurpose Rooms. Please park in visitor sections. There is no parking fee.
A number of affordable hotels are located within three miles of the conference site:

Online Registration:

To print and mail in a registration form, please click here!

For exhibitor information and application, please click here!