We are pleased to be able to provide a wide array of topics thanks to our speakers who are lending their time and expertise to our event.

More speaker information to come. Stay tuned!

Keynote Speakers

NC Council on Developmental Disabilities and Alliance Behavioral Health

Chris Egan

Executive Director, NC Council on Developmental Disabilities

Jeff Payne

Director of I/DD Care Coordination, Alliance BHC

Walter Linney

Asst Director of I/DD Care Coordination, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare

General Session Speaker

NC ABLE Accounts

Mary Buonfiglio

Deputy Director of the North Carolina Supplemental Retirement Plans and North Carolina ABLE Program.

This popular session will provide detail information and updates about the NC ABLE Account, including ways to “Achieving a Better Life Experience” through use of the NC ABLE Account. There will also be time allotted to answer specific questions on this exciting new opportunity for individuals to build financial assets without losing needed healthcare benefits.

Breakout Session Speakers

Lynne Deese

Assistive Technology: making Life Easier at Home, School, Work, & community

This session provides an overview of Assistive Technology - what it is and how it is used to improve your life in your daily living and community… added bonus is to check out all the GREAT assistive technology on site!

Linda Kendall-Fields M. Ed.

Jordan Institute for Families, UNC Chapel Hill
Rethinking Guardianship

Come hear about the latest news and developments about guardianship options and alternatives in NC. This includes information on current efforts to reshape current guardianship system to encourage less restrictive alternatives.

JaLisha Richmond

Loan Officer with Thread Capital
Fueling your Business

This session is designed to help small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs understand how to access credit and capital for their businesses. It will review the six basic principles many lenders use to make credit decisions and provide an overview of the resources available in

Dr. Peggy Terhune

Chief Executive Officer, Monarch NC
Intentional Communities and Supported Living

Come to this session to learn about Supported Living and hear from families about how the service can be effective.  Also learn about intentional communities, what they are, and what efforts are happening in NC to make this type of residential option a reality.

Betsy MacMichael

Executive Director, First in Families of NC

Betsy MacMichael, Executor Director of First In Families of NC, has worked in the field of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in NC for 18 years, dedicating her efforts to promoting self-determination, inclusion, and positive community awareness of families and individuals, whether in a service or policy context. First In Families complements the formal service system to meet the needs of over 2,400 families or individuals each year, particularly those not receiving services or those whose critical needs do not fit the normal service array. As a parent, Betsy has promoted and created inclusive options for and/or with her daughter Janie since Janie was 2. Most recently, Janie has been living in the North Street Neighborhood of Durham, a very inclusive, non-programmed intentional community in downtown Durham.

Jane Desmond


Jane Desmond, a graduate of UNCG, is an aunt to two little ones, a volunteer at the animal shelter, a spiritual person, a job seeker, a dancer, a weight trainer, a swimmer and a girlfriend. Janie lives a rich, full life in Durham, NC, sharing since 2016 an apartment with her roommate Suvya in the North Street neighborhood of downtown Durham. Friendly, helpful and creative neighbors share in this community, and every member both gives and receives help as needed. Janie’s waiver services complement the many natural supports in her life. Eight years ago, Janie chose with her parents to be her own guardian when she turned 18, and has been learning since then and before, how to make key decisions for herself, with support from advisers. Living in this natural setting has given her lots of practice. Janie is currently seeking paid or volunteer positions in the greater Durham area.