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Friday Keynote Speaker: LeDerick Horne

Artist of the spoken word, Advocate for people with disabilities, and Ambassador to all.

Diagnosed with a learning disability in the third grade, LeDerick Horne defies any and all labels. He’s a dynamic spoken-word poet. A tireless advocate for all people with disabilities. An inspiring motivational speaker. A bridge-builder between learners and leaders across the U.S. and around the world. An African-American husband and father who serves as a role model for all races, genders, and generations.

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, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Alabama State Departments of Education. His work addresses the challenges of all disabilities, uniting the efforts of diverse groups in order to achieve substantive, systemic change.

From 2003 to 2012, LeDerick served as the Founding Board Chair of Eye to Eye (eyetoeyenational.org), the only national nonprofit mentoring program for students labeled with LD / ADHD, and continues to serve on the board today. He is on the advisory board for The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center (www.raisecenter.org), and he is a Senior Consultant for The Center for School Climate and Learning.

In 2016, he 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.

He has released two spoken-word poetry albums (Rhyme Reason and Song in 2005 and Black and Blue in 2011) and co-created New Street Poets, a spoken-word play about the effect of gentrification on urban culture. The play received considerable acclaim including accolades at the New York City International Fringe Festival and toured extensively throughout the U.S.

LeDerick has earned a BA in Mathematics with a Fine Arts minor from New Jersey City University and also studied Mathematics at Middlesex County College. His poetry is available on iTunes and YouTube, and you can learn more about him at lederick.com. To book LeDerick for your group, organization, school, or event, please contact Keena Lundy at keenalundy@lederick.com.

“LeDerick isn’t just a popular speaker on disabilities in the country today—his experiences have been transformed into a very touching message of how labels and low expectations can hurt children, but also about how the care and concern of one adult can make all the difference. Whether he’s encouraging others with stories from his own personal journey, helping to inform policy discussions, providing hope for those who have lost hope, or fostering a better understanding of the potential within all people with disabilities, LeDerick is an invaluable source of inspiration and leadership.”

 –Melody Musgrove, Former Director, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education


Saturday Keynote Session: “Art Ability: Creative Process & Personal Narrative”

Moderator: Jean Kozicki (first on left)

Artists: Meg Quinlisk, Sal Panasci and Carol Spiker (from second image left to right)

This artist panel discussion highlights the work of three artists from the Philadelphia region. Join us as moderator Jean Kowzicki facilitates the dialogue of how contemporary and historical art, personal experiences, and creative processes have shaped and influenced the work of local artists Meg Quinlisk, Sal Panasci and Carol Spiker.

Moderator: Jean Kozicki

Jean has been involved with Art Ability for fifteen years and has served on the Art Ability Committee for ten years. She has a passion for art and thoroughly enjoys supporting Art Ability and the artists who show their work.

Jean grew up in Wayne, PA and graduated from Bucknell University, where she took numerous art history classes. She has worked in Human Resources for over forty years and recently retired from Main Line Health where she was the System Director of Recruitment for thirteen years.  Jean also worked in Human Resources for SMS/Siemens and Fisher and Porter Company.    

In addition to supporting Art Ability, Jean also serves on the Board of Directors of Surrey Services for Seniors and served on the Human Resources Committee of Episcopal Community Services and as a Board Member of Metropolitan Career Center. 

Meg Quinlisk - Panelist

Quinlisk uses hand-cut pieces of glass to create a mosaic, which is adhered to an acrylic painting using a heavy gloss medium. Quinlisk says her work can look very different throughout the day depending on how the light hits the glass. There are times when Quinlisk is in the throes of painting, and the pain of arthritis suddenly interrupts, and for a time the potential and promise of a new artwork falls prey to her disease. “My arthritis may limit the duration of time I paint, but it does not compromise the beauty and joy of what I create.”

Sal Panasci - Panelist

In 1995, Panasci was injured in an accident as a passenger in a taxi. It resulted in him being diagnosed with a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) and blindness in one eye. Panasci spent 16 months in rehabilitation and continues receiving treatment today. During his initial rehabilitation, he was encouraged to try painting in watercolor. “I become emotionally attached to the color palette, the texture of the paint, and the composition. Through this, the painting takes on a character of its own, allowing the viewer to recognize a familiar subject in a new fashion.”

Carol Spiker - Panelist

Long-distance running brought Spiker clarity, and in the late 1980s she returned to school to study painting. Working in oils, her subjects come from memory. She is particularly inspired by 1950’s Bay Area figurative painting, expressionistic and anonymous. In 1998, Spiker was thrown into a creek, when her car was hit on I-95. She realized immediately that she was paralyzed. “Thank God, I have my hands.” Art had become a driving force in her life before her accident. The accident sharpened this focus and through her painting, she found courage.

Art Ability is dedicated to creating community awareness of people with disabilities, and encouraging people with disabilities to reach beyond their limitations and find fulfillment and inspiration through art.