Meet Our Board of Directors
If you have any questions or concerns, contact our Board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anita Shafer Aaron is a disability justice advocate with forty years of experience managing and directing disability rights organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aaron served as Deputy Director of TheCIL in the early 1980s, followed by twenty years as CEO of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, San Francisco, and a decade with the World Institute on Disability, Berkeley.
Aaron works with individuals, families, and communities focused on managing disability and aging concerns and excels at being a doting grandmother.
Caleb van Docto
Caleb van Docto is an expert in workforce and education policy with particular experience in integrated career pathways. He has become something of a purveyor of clever practices and contextualized innovations that make for a more inclusive world throughout his career. Professionally, he has an affinity for helping national-, regional-, and local-level experts get better at what they do through knowledge-sharing, capacity building, and people-centered design. Additionally, he’s tinkered extensively with accessibility and universal design principles for both physical and learning environments. His current portfolio includes multi-year research and technical assistance projects with USDOL’s Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy. Since the onset of COVID, Caleb can regularly be found on Zoom, bouncing an infant in his lap and fumbling with the mute button.
Josh Halstead is an epistemic activist working at the intersection of critical disability studies, design pedagogy, and community organizing. A recognized contributor to disability design discourse, they seek to unsettle and rupture normative systems of thought by centering marginalized perspectives. Halstead has been an invited lecturer in academic and industry settings—from Stanford to Google—and is co-author of the forthcoming book Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Designers. Their current project, Cripjoy, is a transnational, majority-BIPOC community of practice focused on reworlding mental health through an intersectional, anti-ableist, and anti-sanist lens.
Kanwar Singh returned to LifeLong Medical Care as the CFO in 2014. He has worked in finance and accounting in the health care industry for more than 20 years.
Mr. Singh was the Chief Financial Officer at LifeLong for eight years (1994-2002). He pursued his career for another seven years at the City and County of San Francisco, where he managed a budget of approximately $490 million.
Mr. Singh also has worked as CFO at Seneca Centers, a $55 million Behavioral Health organization, at Thunder Road (Sutter Health affiliate) in Oakland; and at Axis Community Health in Pleasanton. Mr. Singh brings expertise in primary care, behavioral health, and social services.
Dr. Michelle Hernandez
Michelle Hernandez, PhD., received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in 2011. She received her Master’s degree from John F. Kennedy University in 2002. As a scholar and an activist, Dr. Hernandez focuses on positive disability representation within a multi-dimensional, inclusive, equitable, and transparent paradigm. As a Latina with a physical disability and a first-generation college graduate, Michelle brings a witty and charming style to discussing real-life topics such as culture, prejudice, employment, overcoming adversity in a discriminating society, and the intersectionality therein. Her presence and open-mindedness accentuate a genuine liveliness to her speaking engagements.
Dr. Hernandez’ is the business owner of Inclusive Psychological Services located in Walnut Creek, California. Her specialty areas include disability (physical, developmental, psychiatric, and learning), PTSD, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. She has trained at the National Center for Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder through the United States Veterans Administration. She is active in the legislative process for new initiatives and laws regarding the empowered aging population and the disability community worldwide. Her training regarding the various aspects of disability and educational seminars spans a spectrum of diverse audiences from students (elementary, secondary, and post-secondary), doctors, law firms, corporations, non-profit agencies, governmental entities, and medical institutions and facilities. Dr. Hernandez brings a thoroughly unique perspective to all of her audiences. She combines her academic knowledge and research in disability justice while adding her very own personal life experiences. She is passionate about disability advocacy and is an inspirational public speaker.
She is an Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and served for six years on the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities in Oakland, California. Most recently, she became a Board of Directors member for the John Muir Community Health Fund. Also, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appointed her as a council member, where she serves on the Public Policy Advisory Council in San Francisco. Her dream is to have accessible shelters for disabled abused individuals with and without children to get to in a crisis. For her legacy, she has committed to having a “Lavender Blue” house in each county.
Owen Kent is an entrepreneur working in assistive technology and media. He is passionate about empowering people with disabilities through nuanced portrayals in film and television and economic empowerment through education and technology.
Peter Y. Sussman
Peter Y. Sussman is a retired journalist and author. He was an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle for 30 years. His first book was Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog (W.W. Norton), co-authored with prison writer Dannie M. Martin. He subsequently edited Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford (Knopf). He has won numerous local and national journalism awards, most of them for his First Amendment and journalism ethics advocacy.
In retirement, Sussman has worked with several nonprofit organizations in addition to TheCIL. He serves as the journalism advisor for Street Spirit, the local homeless newspaper, and is on the Human Rights Defense Center board. He has become a passionate photographer in recent years and is active in several community groups. TheCIL is the first disability organization with which he has become involved since he became disabled late in life.
Sussman has lived in Berkeley for more than 55 years and is married to retired community healthcare executive and consultant Patrica Carson Sussman. He is the father of three grown daughters and the proud grandfather of seven wunderkinder.
A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of San Francisco School of Law, Sherri Rita, JD, ADAC, CPACC, began her legal career in the disability civil rights field with Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and continued at Disability Rights California. She eventually stepped away from litigation in favor of working directly with organizations and policymakers towards improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Before joining Kaiser Permanente as their NCAL Regional ADA and Civil Rights Coordinator, Sherri served as a vocational rehabilitation policy analyst, American Bar Association Disability Rights Commission program specialist, independent trainer and consultant with the Region 10 Disability and Business Technical Assistance and Training Center (Northwest ADA Center), and as an ADA Coordinator for the City of Oakland.
In addition to her Juris Doctorate, Sherri holds ADA Coordinator Certification (ADAC) through the University of Missouri and is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) with the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).