Monday, October 16th, 9:00 AM
Paul Aronsohn is currently serving as New Jersey’s statewide Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families – a position to which he was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy in April 2018. As such, he serves as the administration’s lead advocate and ally for New Jersey residents in need of critical services and supports ranging from early childhood through adulthood.
Paul was also appointed last year by President Biden to serve on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which serves as a federal advisor to the President and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Paul currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Bergen County Branch of the NAACP as well as on the Bergen County Disability Services Advisory Board. He has also recently been actively involved in a range of volunteer activities focused on food security, social justice, and disability rights.
Previously, Paul held several positions in both the public and private sectors.
With respect to the former, prior to his current positon, Paul served as a member of the Human and Children Services Committee for Governor-Elect Murphy’s Transition Team, which involved working with families and advocates of individuals with disabilities to cultivate recommendations for the incoming administration.
Previously, Paul served as Mayor of Ridgewood and as a Councilmember in his northern New Jersey town. In 2002, he served as the Communications Director and Spokesperson for then-New Jersey Governor James McGreevey. He was also the 2006 Democratic candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 5th District.
Earlier in his career, Paul spent several years working at the U.S. Department of State, where his focus was largely on international security matters, such as nonproliferation, arms control and peacekeeping. He also had the opportunity to serve three U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations – Madeleine Albright, Bill Richardson, and Richard Holbrooke.
With respect to the private sector, Paul worked for several years in the healthcare industry, including most recently as CEO Speechwriter and Director of Executive Communications at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
In 2022, Paul received awards from two disability organizations, Plan NJ and Inroads to Opportunities. In 2019, he received the President’s Award from the Bergen County Council of Churches. In 2016, he received the Community Service Award from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee of Ridgewood and Glen Rock. That year, he also received the "Heroes" award from the Metropolitan AME Zion Church. In 2009, he received the "Salute to Champions" award from the Bergen County Executive for his work on disability issues. While at the U.S. Department of State, Paul received a Meritorious Honor Award as well as Certificate of Appreciation from the Joint Staff (U.S. Military).
Paul was graduated from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Communication and a Master of Arts in Political Science.
Paul has written many op-eds/essays on a range of topics. They can be found on his LinkedIn site.
On a lighter note, Paul considers his ability to survive an appearance on “The Colbert Report” (September 21, 2006) among his greatest achievements.
Paul can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (609) 984-7764
Tuesday, October 22nd, 9:00 AM
Diagnosed with a learning disability in the third grade, LeDerick Horne is a dynamic spoken-word poet, an inspiring motivational speaker, and a determined advocate for all People with Disabilities. The grandson of one of New Jersey’s most prominent civil rights leaders, LeDerick uses his gift for spoken-word poetry as the gateway to larger discussions on equal opportunity, pride, self-determination and hope for People with Disabilities. His workshops, keynote speeches, and performances reach thousands of students, teachers, legislators, policy makers, business leaders, and service providers each year.
He regularly addresses an array of academic, government, social, and business groups, including appearances at the White House, the United Nations, Harvard University, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and the State Departments of Education across the US.
His work addresses the challenges of all disabilities, uniting the efforts of diverse groups to achieve substantive, systemic change.
In 2016, LeDerick and co-author Margo Vreeburg Izzo, PhD, The Ohio State University, released the book Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities: A Path to Pride and Success — the definitive compendium on transition support for students with LD / ADHD and other hidden disabilities — published by Brookes Publishing Co.
You can learn more about him and his work at www.lederick.com.
Wednesday, October 18th, 9:00 AM
Jonathan Seifried is the Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Mr. Seifried was asked to take on the role in September 2017 and was officially confirmed by the Commissioner in the following year. His decades-long career has been centered on serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Since joining the Division, he has held leadership roles in many critical areas, including large-scale institutional-to-community transitions, significant progress on waiting list placement, and, as Director of Housing, establishment of portable housing subsidies.
Prior to joining the Division in 2001, he worked as a I/DD case manager for a non-profit provider. Mr. Seifried received both his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in instructional technology from Stockton University.
Wednesday, October 18th, 9:00 AM
Mollie Greene is the Assistant Commissioner for the Children’s System of Care (CSOC) in the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
CSOC is New Jersey’s comprehensive public behavioral health system for children and adolescents with mental health and substance use treatment needs, and children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Ms. Greene has over 30 years of executive experience working in behavioral health systems administration and management within state government and as an agency director.
Thursday, October 19th, 9:00 AM
Mercedes became Executive Director of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) in July of 2018. Under her leadership at the NJCDD, she focuses on efforts that enable individuals with I/DD and their families to have a voice in access and delivery of their supports and services.
These efforts include forums, coalitions and ‘think tanks’ to support the NJCDD’s work on employment, housing, transportation and a host of many other critical topics for individuals with I/DD. Mercedes also led the creation of the NJ Developmental Disabilities Advocacy Network (DDAN), bringing together stakeholders to establish and implement a collective advocacy agenda and the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus, the bipartisan gathering of New Jersey’s legislators focused on disability matters.
Prior to becoming Executive Director at NJCDD, she championed multiple statewide family advocacy efforts. She was a driving force in establishing the New Jersey Family Advisory Council to the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and the Children’s System of Care Collaboration Committee within the Children’s System of Care. These family advocacy efforts continue today and provide state officials with valuable input.
Equity, citizenship, choice and control for people with disabilities are at the core of her values and beliefs that extends beyond her professional life and includes what she strives for as her adult daughter with disabilities leads her own life.