Gabrielle Bohan

As statewide Vice-Chair of the New Jersey Regional Family Support Planning Councils, Gabrielle is actively involved in advocating the interests of persons with intellectual developmental disabilities. Gabrielle is also a certified Charting the LifeCourse(tm) (CtLC) Ambassador. She graduated from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1987 and Seton Hall School of Law in 1992.

Thomas Brinker

He graduated cum laude from Saint Joseph’s University in Accountancy, and holds master’s degrees in Taxation and Accounting from Widener University. In addition to earning his J.D., Professor Brinker earned an LL.M. in International Taxation from Regent University School of Law, where he received the distinction of “Outstanding Graduate” in his class. Mr. Brinker is also a member of the American, Florida, and Pennsylvania Institutes of Certified Public Accountants and the International Bar Association. In addition to presenting nationally and internationally on various tax topics, he has published dozens of articles in numerous journals, including The Journal of Accountancy, The Journal of International Taxation, The Tax Adviser, The CPA Journal, The Journal of Practical Estate Planning, and The Journal of Financial Services Professionals.

In addition to lecturing in the graduate and professional programs of several Philadelphia Universities, Professor Brinker is a Tax Consultant to the financial services industry and local CPA and law firms. He has received awards for teaching excellence, including the PICPA’s Educator of the Year Award and the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. At the undergraduate level, Tom lectures primarily in tax accounting, individual taxation, and taxation for closely held businesses. He also lectures and writes extensively on the financial and tax planning implications encountered by families with individuals having special needs. Prior to joining the faculty of Arcadia University and the American College of Financial Services, Mr. Brinker was founding partner in a local CPA firm and member of both the audit and tax departments of Coopers & Lybrand and Arthur Young & Company.

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A partner at the firm for over a decade, his practice focuses on litigation and settlement planning; the development, implementation and administration of special needs trusts and other types of trusts; estate planning; guardianship; benefits advocacy; benefits litigation; and probate.

With a strong commitment to the disability and senior communities, Brothers actively serves as a leader and advocate for numerous community organizations. He current serves on the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington and on the CLE Committee for the Washington State Association for Justice. He has previously held voluntary positions as the president of the Board of Directors for the Arc of King County as the CLE Co-Chair for the King County Bar Association Guardianship and Elder Law Section and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Arc of Washington State, the Professional Advisory Board for the Autism Society of Washington, and the Tyee Sports Council.

Mr. Brothers, named as a Super Lawyer for 2019. He was also named as a Rising Star by Washington Law & Politics for 2009 and 2010. He is a frequent presenter at continuing legal education seminars, parent group meetings and other conferences, and symposiums on issues related to his areas of practice. He was admitted to practice in the State of Washington in 2004, the United States Federal District Court in 2004, and the State of Oregon in 2017. Brothers received his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego in 2004 and his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington in 2000. Brothers is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, King County Bar Association, the Academy of Special Needs Planners, the Washington State and American Associations for Justice, the Arc of Washington State and King County, and the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington.

Alexandria Dunn

Alex is the sister and future guardian of James, her brother with Down Syndrome, and she applies her deep understanding of the roles and responsibilities that will be filled one day to her advisory practice.  She is the Chairperson, State Advisory Council, MA Department of Developmental Services, on the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Guardianship Association and a member of the Boston Estate Planning Council. 

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Ms. Every acts both as a trustee to family and special needs trusts, as well as trust counsel. She advises families, guardians, trustees, and non-profit organizations, who are committed to maximizing public benefits with private resources for individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Ms. Every is the President-Elect of the Norfolk Plymouth Estate Planning Council, and she is a member of the Women’s Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, and Academy of Special Needs Planners. Further, she serves as the Dever Class Action Representative in the landmark Ricci v. Okin federal class action. Attorney Every is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She lives in Braintree with her husband and three children.

Ray Falcon

He is active in his community, serving on numerous boards of charitable organizations that provide services and education to persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental illness. He also provides counsel to closely-held business and their owners. Ray is a frequent lecturer locally and nationally on special needs planning, estate planning and business law. He is a graduate of Columbia College (NYC), ’75, and Yale Law School (New Haven CT), ’78.

Travis Finchum

Mr. Finchum specializes in Medicaid qualification for aged and disabled individuals as well as Special Needs Trust drafting and administration.  His practice also consists of estate planning, probate, trust administration and guardianship, with a special emphasis on helping families plan for a member with special needs.  He also helps families plan for incapacity through alternatives to guardianship.

He is a past Chair of the Special Needs Trust Committee of the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section and previously served on and Chaired the Elder Law Board Certification Committee of the Florida Bar.  Mr. Finchum serves on the Board of Directors for the Arc Tampa Bay, the Advisory Board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Pinellas County Chapter and on the Guardian Trust Foundation, Inc. He is also a liaison between the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section and the Elder Law Section and sits on both of their Executive Councils.

Mr. Finchum founded the Guardian Trusts in 2002, and serves as a Co-Trustee of their trusts which assist individuals with disabilities in protecting their assets for use during their lifetimes without disqualifying them for much needed public benefits. More information can be found at www.GuardianTrusts.org.  Mr. Finchum is a double-graduate from the University of Florida

Joshua Fishkind

Josh is responsible for recruiting, finances, board communication, and managing the development of our revolutionary technology. He has built and now manages an incredible Team of software developers, health care professions, and financial services experts, all dedicated to delivering a holistic solution to a market that is so in need of being embraced. By creating a flat hierarchy, he has cultivated an environment where all team members contribute to the growth and delivery of our technology platform and personalized services. As a JD/MBA, Josh has brought his education, love of technology, and passion for helping challenged individuals lead better lives to this rapidly growing Company.

Michele-FullerUrbatsch

Michele was recently appointed Special Assistant Attorney General to assist in settlement planning for the Flint Water cases. She is the former Chair of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section (ELDRS) of the State Bar of Michigan and has leadership positions in several national organizations: Advisory Board Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP) and Michigan Chapter of NAELA Board of Directors. She is also active in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the Michigan Association for Justice, and a regular contributor for the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE).

Michele and her award-winning special needs attorney and spouse, Kevin Urbatsch, frequently write together. Their publications include: Administering the Michigan Special Needs Trust; the 2nd and 3rd editions of Administering the California Special Needs Trust; and Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child’s Financial Future, 6th and 7th Editions, NOLO Press. She is also the author of Saving Grace, an elder law client’s experience, and Finding Peace: a guide for caregivers, to be published in 2020.

Michele and Kevin have also co-authored several nationally published articles, including Traps for the Unwary During Special Needs Trust Administration, in Estates and Trusts Magazine, the Future of Planning for Persons with Disabilities which was published in the Fall 2013 edition of the NAELA Journal, and Pooled Trusts: An Approach to Special Needs Planning for Families of Modest Means, published in the May-June 2013 edition of BiFocal, a Journal of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. Michele has also contributed to Michigan Bar Journal, Planning for a Person with Disabilities, Considerations when Settling a Lawsuit for an Individual Lacking Capacity or a Minor, and Divorce and Disability: Identifying and Resolving the Unique Issues of a Spouse with Disabilities. In addition to the Michigan State Bar Journal, Michele has contributed to the MAJ Journal, Elder Law Answers, NAELA news, and other publications.

Michele is a frequent presenter for various national and statewide organizations such as ElderCounsel, MassMutual, the American Bar Association, American Association for Justice, Michigan Association for Justice, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Michigan Brain Injury Association of Michigan and the Michigan Guardianship Association, among others. She is of council for several non-profit organizations, national and statewide, which administers pooled special needs trusts.

Michele graduated with Honors as a member of the James Madison College at Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Michele then attended American University International Law Master’s program and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Cynthia Haddad

As a financial professional and sister and advocate for her brother Ron, who has developmental disabilities, Cindy has dedicated her career to serving families like her own. She is a nationally sought-after speaker on planning for families of individuals with disabilities and co-author of the groundbreaking book, The Special Needs Planning Guide (Haddad/Nadworny) now in its 2nd edition. 

Pearl Hartley

A native of Pennsylvania, Pearl has spoken across the country at various conferences, forums, and panels dealing with issues and planning for the special needs community.  She has been actively involved with The Brain Foundation, a non-profit that provides housing to mentally ill adults. Pearl served on the board as treasurer from 2010 to 2014 and managed one of their nine houses. She also enjoys spending time with her family, the beach and traveling. Pearl holds life, health, long term care, series 6 and series 63 licenses.

Richard Hardwood

In addition, he also concentrate in the area of Special Needs Planning. This planning is unique and requires extensive training and knowledge outside the general planning process. Through his advocacy, Rich helps provide financial security for special needs families, both now and in the future.  Rich is a Board Member & Director for the Arc of Northern Bristol County, Attleboro; a recipient of the 2007 Person of the Year from the Attleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, a recipient of The Arc of Massachusetts Distinguished Citizen’s Award in 1998; a national speaker on the subject of estate and financial strategies for families with special needs individuals; and a Rotary International member and recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow recognition award. Rich graduated from Bridgewater State College with a degree in Health and Physical Education and a minor in Adaptive Physical Education 

Ann Koerner

National Care Advisors provides care and quality of life planning services for those families faced with physical disability, mental illness, developmental disability, or eldercare issues. Services include planning and case management applicable to Special Needs Trusts and government benefits preservation. National Care Advisors also specializes in post-litigation resolution consulting services specific to lien negotiation, Medicare Set Aside projections and administration. Prior to the inception of National Care Advisors in 2008, Ann’s nursing practice has been dedicated to developing effective disability management solutions for injured and ill workers. As a result of her work with many national corporations, Ann possesses extensive business knowledge of case management, utilization review, third party payers, workers’ compensation, private insurance companies and government resources. Ann received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1981 from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. She began her nursing practice as a Public Health Nurse in New York and then continued that practice with the City of Columbus Health Department. In 1992, Ann became a case manager with the national case management company, Concentra, focusing on the management of complex catastrophic workers’ compensation and disability claims throughout the United States. Her duties were expanded to include marketing and management of case management services in Ohio for this company. In 1996, Ann was selected to become the Director of Medical Operations and Self-Insured Marketing for CareWorks, the largest workers’ compensation managed care organization in Ohio. National Care Advisors now serves clients in over 30 states and is known for client-centered 

David Lillesand

The firm represents disabled children, adults and their families in Social Security/SSI disability claims, Medicaid, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship and Estate Planning matters. David graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Behavior, and the University of Wisconsin Law School and began representing individuals with SSI disability claims in 1974. David has been Chair of the Special Needs Trust Committee of the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section. Since beginning private practice in 1979, he has been a frequent lecturer on Social Security disability, SSI, special needs trusts, Medicaid, guardianship, and legal and financial planning for disabled children and adults, before organizations such as the American Bar Association, the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives, the national Society of Settlement Planners, the New Jersey Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and numerous Bar association continuing legal education programs. He received the ARC Plotkin Outstanding Legal Service Award for service to persons with intellectual disabilities, is a three-time recipient of the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award from the South-Miami Kendall Bar Association and received the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. He has been President of his two local bar associations, chairman of the South Florida Council on Divorce Mediation, and President of Guardianship and Case Management Services, Inc. and is Chair of the Florida Bar Elder Law Section Committee on Social Security/SSI. 

Frederick Misilo

A former Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, Mr. Misilo has spent his career as an advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. In addition to his legal work, he is also involved in numerous advocacy organizations.

In November 2018, Mr. Misilo was elected to a two-year term as president of The Arc of the United States, the nation’s largest and oldest community-based civil rights organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It has more than 650 chapters, more than 100,000 employees and serves more than 1,000,000 individuals across the country.

Mr. Misilo earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and his master’s degree in education from Harvard University. He graduated from Suffolk University Law School. Mr. Misilo holds Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) certification from Institute of Certified Bankers of the American Bankers Association.

He began his career helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and worked his way up to serve as the Executive Director of Harbor Area Community Services, Inc. in Boston. In 1991, Mr. Misilo was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. Since he returned to practicing law in 1994, Mr. Misilo has become a leading voice and frequent lecturer on estate planning, special needs planning and elder law. He has also taken on leadership roles in many regional and national advocacy organizations.

Mr. Misilo has been deeply involved with a number of advocacy organizations. In November 2018, he was elected to a two-year term as president of The Arc of the United States. He has taken a number of positions with the organization, serving on the board of directors, its Legal Advocacy Committee and as chair of The Arc’s Public Policy and Positions Committee. In 2016, Mr. Misilo was elected vice president of The Arc of the United States. He was the former president of The Arc of Massachusetts, Inc.

Mr. Misilo is a member of the national and Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and of the Academy of Special Needs Planners. He has also been involved with local organizations. Mr. Misilo is a former chairperson of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Holden Board of Selectmen.

 

Mary Rubenis

Mary Rubenis is passionate about sharing the benefits of ABLE accounts to drive education and awareness. Previously, Mary worked at MEFA coordinating outreach and partnership building for the Massachusetts ABLE Savings Program and provided comprehensive guidance in the college planning/financing process as part of the college planning team. She is deeply passionate about employer wellness benefits and helping individuals with disabilities find the resources they need. Mary has a degree in Communication Studies from Emerson College with concentrated coursework in Marketing Communications and Public Relations. She is also a member of USA 500 Clubs Special Needs Collaborative. 

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In May 2011, Kevin was presented the NAELA’s Presidential Recognition Award for his work in special needs planning. From 2006 to 2009, Kevin was an Attorney-Editor for CEB (the Continuing Education of the Bar) in its estate planning group. He was responsible for the quality of California’s legal reference guides to other California estate planning attorneys. Special Needs Planners, a national organization of special needs planning professionals. 

Theresa Varnet

She has served as Social Services Director in a residential school for children with profound developmental delays, Coordinator for a Special Education Cooperative and as a Citizen Advocacy/Disability Rights Coordinator. While living in the Sultanate of Oman, she assisted the Omani Ministry of Social Affairs in developing the first preschool program for children with handicapping conditions. Terri is an active volunteer in the National, State and local chapters of The Arc, Alliance for the Mentally Ill, The Autism Society, past member of the Developmental Disabilities Council in MA and KY, and past member of the Governor’s Advisory Panel on Special Education in KY. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. Her experience includes extensive work in the area of in-service training with families, special educators, social workers and other professionals. She is a frequent speaker for volunteer and professional groups and has presented nationally at the National Conferences of TASH, AAIDD, The Arc, NAELA, and NADS among others. She is also the co-author, with Richard Spain, of “Home Control through Estate and Financial Planning.” Ms. Varnet has been quoted on numerous occasions in national journals and publications, including Newsweek, Kiplinger Retirement Report, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, the AARP Bulletin, and Exceptional Parent magazine. She has also been interviewed on NPR’s “All Things Considered” radio program. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (co-chairperson of Special Needs Law Section of NAELA) and the Academy of Special Needs Planners. Ms. Varnet is licensed in both Massachusetts and Illinois and divides her time between the Chicago law firm of Spain, Spain & Varnet P.C. and the Massachusetts office of Fletcher Tilton, P.C.

Nancy Welber

She also practices in the area of probate and trust administration.

Nancy is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and has been named by peer review in The Best Lawyers in America®, in Michigan Super Lawyers, and in DBusiness magazine’s Five-Star Wealth Managers and Top Attorneys in Michigan. She is a member of the ACTEC employee benefits committee. Nancy was named Best Lawyers’ 2014 Detroit Trusts and Estates “Lawyer of the Year,”Best Lawyers’ 2016 Troy, Michigan area Trusts and Estates “Lawyer of the Year,” and one of the Michigan Top 50 Women lawyers in Super Lawyers for 2014.

Nancy is the author of a chapter in the Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) Estate Planning Handbook concerning estate planning with retirement benefits. Nancy is the author of a January, 2013 article published in the Michigan Bar Journal concerning distributions from retirement plans, and the co-author of two prior Michigan Bar Journal articles on the same topic. She is also co-author of two 2009 articles in the American Bar Association Probate and Property Journal, and was the winner with her co-author of the 2009 ABA Real Property & Probate Excellence in Writing Award for the best practical use article in Trust and Estate law. Nancy was a co-presenter in the ACTEC/ALI-CLE national webinar, “Estate Planning with Retirement Benefits and IRAs,” in September, 2015.

Nancy is a frequent lecturer to legal, accounting, business, university and investor groups on the topic of estate planning with retirement benefits and the need for estate planning, in general, including ICLE, the Tax and Elder Law Sections of the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the Financial Planning Association of Michigan. She was also a speaker at the 2009 University of Miami Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning.

Vincent Russo

Vincent is a founding member and Past Chair of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the NYSBA.

He is also a Founding Member, Fellow and Fifth President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). He is also a member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of NAELA. Vincent was the founding chair of the NAELA Foundation and is currently a board member.

On behalf of NAELA, he has testified before Congress and was a representative at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Vincent is a Co-Founder of the Academy of Special Needs Planners and ElderCounsel, LLC.

He is the president of the Nassau Cerebral Palsy Association’s Guardianship Corporation on Long Island.

He is also a Co-Founder of the Theresa Alessandra Russo Foundation and the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts for Children with Special Needs which were established in memory of his daughter, Theresa. The Theresa Foundation has helped thousands of seniors and people with disabilities thru the Theresa Pooled Trust.

Vincent is the creator and co-host of the three-time Telly Award TV Show – Family Comes First.

Mr. Russo is a nationally recognized speaker and noted authority on Elder Law, Special Needs and Estate Planning. He is the Co-Author of New York Elder law and Special Needs Practice.

His distinction in Elder Law, Special Needs and Estate Planning has made him one of the most prominent attorneys in the country.

Matt Stagner

Matt frequently conducts advisor and client consultations and builds comprehensive special needs plans for families — including individuals with disabilities and special needs.

Matt brings more than 17 years of experience as a financial planner, manager and wholesaler. He is passionate about delivering an interactive, client-centric, holistic planning experience that truly helps to improve the lives of all clients. His broad expertise includes:

• Special needs planning including Special Needs Trusts and ABLE accounts

• Navigating Social Security, Medicare and other government benefits

• IRA rules, ERISA plan and fiduciary rules

• Investment and insurance products

• Retirement and estate planning

Matt holds an MBA from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in personal financial planning from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Additionally, he holds FINRA Series 7, 63 and 24 registrations; Iowa Life, Accident and Health Insurance license; and maintains Certified Financial Planner® (CFP), Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC); Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC); Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor® (CPFA); and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) designations.

Jerry Hulick

Mr. Hulick is a pioneer and advocate for the special needs community, having spoken across the country at various conferences, forums, radio programs, and panels dealing with issues and planning for the special needs community. He has been active in the financial services industry for over 40 years and was among the first to whom The American College of Financial Services conferred the new Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation.

Mr. Hulick graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, Virginia Tech National Campaign Chairman for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Dean’s Roundtable Executive Committee for the College of Science. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, charter member and past president of the Fair Oaks Rotary Club, and was an Elder with Faith Presbyterian Church of Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Hulick is also very active with many local special needs non-profits such as ArtStream and The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia’s Special Needs Department. His activism in the special needs community is also inspired by special needs individuals in his own family.

Robert Johnston

The first hospital recommended amputation, so I asked to be transferred for a second opinion. Following the accident, both of my legs were in full-leg casts for the first two months, with my right leg in traction for a total of three months. My right leg remained in a full-leg cast for fourteen months, followed by an additional six months in a full-leg brace. Eventually, I traded my wheelchair for a bicycle and, with my right leg still in a full- leg cast, I started rehabbing my left knee by riding my bike. It was at that time, before the Americans with Disabilities Act, while a student at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, that I developed an interest in advocacy and better accessibility for disabled students.

Over a time-span of 43 years, I have had 22 surgeries to include bone-grafts from both hips, my right tibia and right fibula re-built twice, four knee replacements (left knee 3x) and right ankle replaced, and the tops of four toes on my right foot amputated. Eventually, with thanks for the support from a dedicated group of surgeons, family and friends, I accomplished my goals of skiing the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and the French-speaking Alps in France and Switzerland. Today, I ride my Trek for therapy and enjoy walks with my son, Harley. He was born on February 8, 2003. Two years later, in 2005, he was diagnosed with autism, 30 years after my accident.

With an understanding for the challenges faced by those with physical disabilities, and then my experience as a parent of a child with autism, I became more deeply committed to advocacy. I am a past president of the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin and a member of the Governor’s Council on Autism. I am actively involved in supporting many non-profit organizations that focus a variety of diagnoses. Additionally, my wife and I invented, patented, trademarked and licensed a “buoyant assistive device” for the learn-to-swim market, given our son’s attraction to water and possible danger of drowning. Paddler ® is licensed to Kiefer Aquatics, the internationally recognized innovator of the aquatics industry. Paddler ® is available through Kiefer, Amazon, The Lifeguard Store, All American Swim, and Swim Shops of the Southwest.

Facing challenges has become familiar territory. I am committed to helping families face the challenges of tomorrow by helping them build a financial strategy designed to help meet their needs. I believe that overcoming challenges is best accomplished with a team that shares a common goal and knows what steps are suitable and appropriate to find the right solution. Together, we can find solutions for you and your family.