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“Pushing Forward with Alycia” is podcast that gives disability a voice. Each week, we explore topics like confidence, ambition, resilience and success against all odds. We’re creating a community that believes that all things are possible for all people!
Inclusivity on the Runway: Mindy Scheier’s Fashion Revolution
Mindy Scheier is Leading the Charge in Adaptive Fashion
Before starting the Runway of Dreams Foundation in 2014, Mindy Scheier spent 20 years working in fashion on the design team for the INC collection and as a stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue. Mindy was inspired to start Runway of Dreams after her son Oliver, who has Muscular Dystrophy, dreamed of wearing jeans like everyone else. After using her design skills to adapt a pair that met his needs and … open the full bio increased his confidence, she went on to conduct extensive research to develop modifications that would meet the needs of the largest minority in our world- people with disabilities. Following its launch, Runway of Dreams partnered with Tommy Hilfiger on the first mainstream adaptive clothing line for kids and continues to work with many mainstream brands such as Kohl’s, Target, JCPenney and Zappos.com. Founded on the basis that clothing is a basic human need, Runway of Dreams develops, delivers and supports initiatives to broaden the reach of mainstream adaptive clothing and promote people with disabilities in the fashion industry.
Due to the overwhelming amount of requests Mindy received at Runway of Dreams from a multitude of brands and industries for connection to PWDs, in 2019, Mindy created Gamut Talent Management to represent people with disabilities and create a marketplace where businesses and industries can connect to this target audience. Gamut is rebranding the way PWDs are viewed, marketed to and represented in the mainstream world. The continued support of the mission of Runway of Dreams will always be a component of Gamut, as the company’s 501c3 partner.
Mindy has been featured in Newsweek’s “The Creative Class of 2019: Innovators,” People magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” and Pix 11’s “Changemaker: Making the Fashion Industry More Inclusive.” She has also been featured in USA Today, Parents, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue Business, WWD, NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Access, CNBC, Fox News Channel and more. An inspiring TED speaker, Mindy has received numerous awards including the Catalyst Award for “Marketing Influencer of the Year,” Citrin Cooperman’s “Women at the Wheel Leadership Excellence Award, the Association of Image Consultants International Bravo Award and Enable Inc.’s Michael Graves Award for Creativity and Persistence.
Mindy studied Fashion Design with a dual program at the University of Vermont and Fashion Institute of Technology.
Episode 24 – Inclusivity on the Runway: Mindy Scheier’s Fashion Revolution
In this podcast episode, Alycia Anderson interviews Mindy Scheier, founder of Runway of Dreams and Gamut Management, organizations dedicated to promoting adaptive fashion and disability representation in media and brands. Scheier shares how her son’s muscular dystrophy led her to create inclusive clothing and open doors for others with disabilities in the fashion industry. She discusses the growth of adaptive fashion, her partnerships with major brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria’s Secret, and the importance of disability representation at every step of the value chain[…]
Mike Box is the mind behind the magic at BOX Wheelchairs. Mike began building wheelchairs after his brother was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident at the age of 17. When his brother couldn’t get cooperation from the manufacturer of his tennis wheelchair regarding adjustments, they decided to do it themselves. In 1992 after being in the aerospace industry, he left his job and they formed … open the full bio their own wheelchair company.
Mike designed and built the chairs for that company until 2010 after the company had been sold. At that point the industry was going in a direction that was not in Mike’s heart. His philosophy is and always has been helping others and for him, there is no better way to make a comfortable, durable wheelchair that fits the individual, than one you build from scratch! At Box Wheelchairs, ALL chairs are custom made to order and fitted with only the best parts and components on the market today.
Mike’s heart and soul goes into each one… Success is defined with team work, love, and LISTENING to a person’s concerns and challenges, before overcoming them. Most of all what makes BOX Wheelchairs different from the rest, is the bespoke feel and custom touches exclusive to each and every chair… You don’t have to just “settle”, as there is no such thing as a standard BOX Wheelchair!
Episode 23 – Mike Box: Founder of Box Wheelchairs
Welcome Mike Box, the mastermind behind Box Wheelchairs. Mike’s innovative, personalized wheelchair design approach has significantly improved lives. He advocates for personal need solutions over standard custom ones, emphasizing listening to people’s requirements. Mike’s work, particularly with extreme wheelchair athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, indicates his dedication to change lives through design and innovation. Mike’s main goal is to share and live by his mantra of, people helping people.
From Medical Malpractice to Champion Athlete: Dez Del Barba Shares His Incredible Story
All He Needed Was a Penicillin Shot: Welcome Dez Del Barba
Dez Del Barba was a 21-year-old Sonoma State University college student when he took a leave of absence from his last semester of college in order to pursue and complete Basic Training for the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. After basic training Dez was going to complete his degree and attend the Officer Candidate School (OCS) for the Army. Unfortunately, while in week 6 of basic training, he … open the full bio developed Streptococcus A was seen by several military medical providers for several days, but was not treated properly. Due to this he contracted a rare flesh-eating disease, known as Necrotizing Fasciitis.
Dez was sent to the ICU at Piedmont Hospital in Columbus, Georgia on February 11th, 2019. The medical team began the first of many surgeries removing infected flesh, skin and muscle from his legs and body. On February 13th, Dez was flown out on an air ambulance to the University of Alabama (UAB) medical burn unit. There, Dez was under the care of surgeons from UAB and surgeons from the United States Military.
On February 14th, his sister’s birthday, a lifesaving surgery was performed and his left leg was amputated. Dez would go through yet another surgery the following day removing even more muscle and flesh. At this point Dez’s right leg was in danger of being amputated. However, the surgeons were confident that they could save his leg if he was moved to a different facility.
On February 16th, Dez was flown on an air ambulance to the Institute of Surgical Research (ISR), a state-of-the-art military Burn Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Here, Dez would spend 100 days in the ISR hospital ward and underwent weekly surgeries, skin grafts, reconstruction surgery, physical therapy, and wound care that was performed daily. A total of 43 surgeries were performed on Dez.
Once Dez recovered enough to be released from the ISR hospital ward, he was transferred to a Wounded Warrior Transition unit at Joint Base San Antonio/Ft. Sam Houston military base. During this time, he began intensive physical therapy, rehabilitation training, and learned to use his prosthetic leg and other devices at the Center for the Intrepid (CFI).
On March 15, 2020, Dez returned home to California where he continued his rehabilitation at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Dez remained in the Army and was medically retired on August 17, 2021. Today Dez is becoming stronger physically and emotionally every day. He is very active in weight training and works out every day. He continues to go to physical therapy weekly. Dez and his college sweetheart, Julia, live happily together. On December 15, 2021, Dez completed his Business degree from Sonoma State University and will be starting a new career with a large software company in January 2022.
Dez has endured a physical, emotional and spiritual battle since this tragedy started. However, Dez is a WARRIOR and his faith in God has shown what an amazing and inspirational and strong young man he is. The support of his family, friends and the medical professionals who helped save his life since February 11, 2019, were imperative to his recovery and survival.
Episode 22 – From Medical Malpractice to Champion Athlete: Dez Del Barba Shares His Incredible Story
In this episode, military veteran Dez Del Barba shares his story of surviving medical malpractice during basic training where he contracted streptococcus A that evolved into necrotizing fasciitis, leading to the amputation of his left leg. Despite enduring 43 surgeries and grueling therapy, Dez transformed his ordeal into a mission to advocate change in military healthcare and give back through his non-profit, Operation Dez Strong, aiding children facing amputations[…]
Empowering Wheelchair Users to Achieve Their Fitness Goals
Nikki Walsh was raised outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She went to Penn State University where she graduated with a bachelors in Kinesiology and exercise science. She is a NASM Personal Trainer and Nutrition coach, content creator, and a mentor for women with disabilities. She has been featured in Women’s Health magazine Online, and Love What Matters. She strives to show all wheelchair … open the full bio users that despite their disabilities, they can do anything they want to in life.
Episode 21 – Adaptive Fitness and Nutrition with Nikki Walsh
Alycia interviews personal trainer Nikki Walsh, a wheelchair user who promotes fitness and nutrition accessibility for everyone. Nikki underscores the importance of strength training for wheelchair users and dispels nutrition myths. Furthermore, she emphasizes the need for gym facilities to be adaptive and create an inclusive environment for the wheelchair community. Lastly, both highlight how a shift in perspective can spark significant change and help individuals achieve their fitness[…]
A Conversation 💬 on Disabilities, Mental Health and Workplace Well-being
Alycia Anderson and Brian McComak discuss DEI, belonging and human-centered leadership
Brian McComak is the CEO & Founder of Hummingbird Humanity. He is a consultant, speaker, author, and facilitator with over 25 years of experience in DEI, HR, culture, change management, internal communications, and employee experience. He is an openly gay man and a person with a disability who shares his lived experiences in service of fostering workplaces where humans thrive.
Episode 20 – A Conversation 💬 on Disabilities, Mental Health and Workplace Well-being
This week Brian McComak joins us to talk about disability in the workplace and finding a place of belonging in DEI. Brian is is an openly gay man with a disability sharing his experiences with mental health, depression, anxiety and the challenges of living with HIV, and how ultimately learning to live with these disabilities has enriched his ability to help corporations create workplace environments where all humans[…]
From Waitress to Workplace Warrior : Alycia’s NDEAM Story
Reflecting on NDEAM: Marty turns the tables and interviews Alycia
In honoring the contributions that people with disabilities have made to our workforce and celebrating National Disability Awareness Month (NDEAM), this weeks episode highlights the many layers of Alycia’s climb from waitress in a wheelchair to founder and CEO of her own business and how she went from serving margaritas and fajitas to propelling herself through college. We dive into how Alycia’s … open the full bio early experiences laid the foundation for her unwavering commitment to inclusion in the workforce, and how in spite of the challenges and discrimination she faced, how she found the courage to share her story as a testament to the power of self-advocacy and overcoming insecurities. Her transition from waitress to businesswoman is a small peek into to her adaptability and determination that has propelled her to her life’s dreams.
Episode 19 – From Waitress to Workplace Warrior : Alycia’s NDEAM Story
Alycia and Marty share some astounding numbers that look at the barriers faced by people with disabilities in the workplace, and they emphasize the transformative potential of disability inclusion in diversity and inclusion programs, urging companies to recognize the untapped potential of the 80% of unemployed disabled individuals. Alycia’s stories reveal the transformational power of embracing diversity, advocating for inclusion, and turning disability into corporate assets. In honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Alycia inspires change and pushes forward towards a more inclusive and accessible future.[…]
Discover the strength and love that transcend disabilities
Dani Izzie is a digital marketing professional uniquely positioned in the growing disability consumer marketplace. As the founder of Access Social, Dani’s mission is to help companies meet the 3rd largest market segment in the U.S. Living with a disability herself has also immersed her into the world of grassroots advocacy where she has worked with organizations on local and national levels. Most … open the full bio recently, she co-produced and starred in a documentary film and spearheaded an impact campaign amplifying issues faced by disabled parents. She is a multinational wheelchair-using mother to twins and resides outside of DC near Shenandoah National Park.
Episode 18 – A mother’s unbreakable bond: The Dani Izzie Story
Dani Izzie, a powerhouse woman who is also a quadriplegic, shares how she navigated the complexities of motherhood with unwavering determination, inspiring us all. Her remarkable journey, has been turned into a poignant documentary, Dani’s Twins, and it defies the misconceptions surrounding disability and parenthood. Dani champions inclusivity in the disability consumer marketplace through her pioneering venture, Access Social, a company that she has created to provide her digital marketing expertise to the world.[…]
“Airline passengers with disabilities deserve to travel safely and with dignity,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “DOT is proud to partner with the aviation industry and members of the disability community to ensure that all travelers with disabilities know their rights.” The Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, describes the fundamental rights of air travelers … open the full bio with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulation, 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 382.
The Bill of Rights consists of:
1. The Right to Be Treated with Dignity and Respect.
2. The Right to Receive Information About Services and Aircraft Capabilities and Limitations.
3. The Right to Receive Information in an Accessible Format.
4. The Right to Accessible Airport Facilities.
5. The Right to Assistance at Airports.
6. The Right to Assistance on the Aircraft.
7. The Right to Travel with an Assistive Device or Service Animal.
8. The Right to Receive Seating Accommodations.
9. The Right to Accessible Aircraft Features.
10. The Right to Resolution of a Disability-Related Issue.
In preparation for the busy holiday travel season, and in celebration of the 37th anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it has launched a campaign, #AccessibleAirTravel, to raise awareness about the right of air travelers with disabilities to safe, dignified, and accessible air travel. An estimated 5.5 million Americans use a wheelchair, and many encounter barriers when it comes to air travel.
The #AccessibleAirTravel campaign will promote DOT’s Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights through a quick and informative video that empowers individuals with disabilities to understand and assert their right to safe, dignified, and accessible air travel. DOT is partnering with airlines, airports, ticket agents, and disability organizations in this campaign and these partners are sharing the video on their respective websites and social media channels in October.
Last month, DOT announced that United Airlines will implement industry-leading actions that go above and beyond Federal requirements to improve the air travel experience for passengers who use wheelchairs. This action is part of an agreement with DOT that follows a lengthy investigation by the Department into a disability complaint filed against United by the late Engracia Figueroa.
DOT is committed to ensuring that air travel is safe and accessible and to improving the travel experience for individuals with disabilities. Air travelers who experience disability-related problems may file a complaint with the Department. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection investigates every disability complaint that it receives.
Episode 17 – Flight for Equality: Disabled Travelers Unite
Our community believes in the boundless potential within every individual. Today, Marty, Alycia’s also disabled husband and road warrior, joins the podcast to share what it means to travel the country as a disabled couple. Travel, for them, often requires sacrificing a piece of their independence. Specifically, airline travel means Alycia surrendering her wheelchair, placing trust in strangers, and enduring flights without[…]
The Power of Communication: Celebrating NDEAM with Dustin Giannelli
Dustin Giannelli: Championing DEI and Turning Disabilities into Superpowers
Dustin Giannelli is the CEO & Founder of HearsDustin LLC based in Boston, MA. As a DEIA public speaker who happens to be profoundly deaf, Dustin shares his lived experiences to help bring more awareness to the importance of DEI best practices, accessibility and communication.
Dustin was diagnosed with a profound bilateral hearing loss at the age of five. However, to this day, being deaf has … open the full bio never defined him. Instead, it has allowed him to consistently overcome life’s challenges and spread positivity in a powerful way.
HearsDustin was born to share stories, motivate others and collaborate with brands and organizations that are focused on providing accessible and inclusive experiences for all.
As one of 48 million Deaf and hard of hearing Americans and over 430 million Deaf and hard of hearing people globally, Dustin’s mission is to bring awareness to the solutions that give those with (and without) hearing loss the equitable access they need to succeed.
Episode 16 – The Power of Communication: Celebrating NDEAM with Dustin Giannelli
We kick off celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) by digging into the remarkable life of Dustin Giannelli. His story embodies the strength of the human spirit and illustrates how resilience, innovation, and an unwavering spirit can overcome any obstacle. At the age of five, Dustin received a profound hearing loss diagnosis. Without his hearing aids, the world became a silent place, devoid of the beeping alarms, chirping birds, and the[…]
The Strength of Sisterhood 💪 | Meet Corinna, the Younger Sister ❤️
Alycia and Corinna’s Story of Sisterhood
Corinna Busciglio Kamilli is a seasoned strategic communication leader and entrepreneur, boasting almost a decade of experience in the dynamic realm of technology.
A proud alumna of the University of Arizona, Corinna completed her undergraduate studies in 2009, graduating with a degree in Communication and Business. This formative period laid the foundation for her deep-rooted passion for … open the full bio effective communication and the limitless possibilities it holds within the business world.
In her pursuit of continuous self-improvement and professional advancement, Corinna is currently pursuing her Master of Arts degree in Communication at Arizona State University, further refining her skills and expanding her knowledge.
In her personal life, Corinna relishes her most important roles as wife, mother, daughter, and sister. These roles highlight her warm, vibrant, and nurturing personality, which complements her dynamic and strategic leadership in the professional sphere.
Episode 15 – The Strength of Sisterhood 💪 | Meet Corinna, the Younger Sister ❤️
Don’t miss the chance to dive into the unique world of sisterhood and the powerful impact of unconditional family support, and listen to how Alycia and her younger sister, Corinna’s upbringings fostered acceptance, understanding, and a shared passion for spreading a message of empowerment. Discover how these siblings bonds, support, and unique perspectives have shaped their lives, as they journey down memory lane. Listen and enjoy the younger sister’s memories of growing up with a disabled sister[…]
Amy Wang-Hiller’s Inspirational Journey through Music and Disability
Amy Wang-Hiller, a Shanghai-born virtuoso violinist, a violin educator, and a doctoral student at the University of North Texas in violin performance. She is the creator of the Thrive x Strive Musician Podcast which discusses mental health and inclusivity in the music industry. Despite her ongoing medical journey and progressive quadriparesis from the genetic disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, she … open the full bio keeps performing and teaching actively in the Dallas area and building her online presence by talking about her medical journey.
Starting violin at three, Amy’s talent grew through local competition and orchestras. She debuted at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center with Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with orchestra at the age of 18. Coming to the U.S., she won the third prize in the ENKOR International Violin Competition and was a finalist in the Lewisville Concerto competition among other competitions. Amy’s musical range spans Baroque to contemporary, collaborating with esteemed musicians and ensembles. She also currently maintains a private studio and offers virtual lessons.
Over the past two years, spine complications stemming from cervical instability to tethered cord syndrome challenged her motor functions and flared up many other comorbidities. Amy adapts her performances with her unique understanding of the body’s anatomy and function.
Beyond music, she advocates for her own illness and encourages others with disabilities to empower and raise awareness for rare diseases and spinal cord injuries.
Episode 14 – A Symphony of Resilience | Amy Wang-Hiller
Get ready for an uplifting episode with the extraordinary Amy Wang-Hiller, a violin virtuoso who has transcended the boundaries of music and disability. Amy’s resilience shines through as she shares how she is navigating the challenges of spinal cord complications, maintaining her musical prowess and inspiring others along the way. Discover how she empowers and inspires individuals to[…]
United by Disabilities, Strengthened by Friendship
Kerri A. Vanderbom, Ph.D., was born with Spina Bifida. For over 15 years, Kerri competed in water skiing at a regional, national, international, and collegiate level. She was on the 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2017 US Disabled Water Ski Teams. She has held the overall national champion title in the sit-ski category many times and in 2001 won the Overall World Champion title. She was on her … open the full bio collegiate team, the Chico State Wildcats, competing in the tricks event against her peers without disabilities at tournaments, including at All-Stars and Nationals.
Kerri graduated from Oregon State University with a Ph.D. in Exercise Sport Science and conducted research to improve inclusion and access to recreation and health promotion programs in schools and communities for youth and adults with disabilities. She was an NIH research scholar for the Programs to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research, Research in Implementation Science for Equity at UCSF. Kerri completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the School of Health Professions. She was the project coordinator of the Obesity Prevalence, Adaptations, and Knowledge Translation in Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities study. In 2015 she became faculty and continued her research trajectory, developed and adapted inclusive health promotion strategies and recommendations, and put them into practice in communities across the U.S. through a CDC-funded grant. The most life-changing accomplishment was getting to study at the University of Queensland in Australia as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
Currently, Kerri is a Program Manager of an Injury Prevention Program for Butte County Public Health. She and her team work hard to conduct truly inclusive education, events, and activities for communities.
Kerri’s favorite things in life are being with family, friends, and dog, spending time outdoors with her husband, traveling, kayaking, and eating good food.
Episode 13 – The Beauty of Friendship | Alycia and Kerri
In this heartfelt episode Alycia is joined by special guest, Kerri A. Vanderbom, Ph.D., for a touching exploration of the profound impact of friendship, advocacy, and inclusivity. Alycia and Kerri’s friendship has stood the test of time, beginning in their college days at California State University of Chico and continuing to thrive as they navigate life’s challenges together. What makes their friendship truly unique is[…]
Alycia and her able-bodied twin Regina reminisce about their childhood
Regina is a highly motivated business, leader, with Over 18 years experience in technology and construction. Currently working for Trip Hazard and focusing on accessibility in her day to day professionally. Accessibility has always been in Regina’s DNA due to growing up in an inclusive environment being raised alongside her twin sister, Alycia. Family means everything to Regina who currently has … open the full bio the staring role as her daughter Ella’s mom.
Episode 12 – Twin Sisters, Forever Advocates ❤️❤️
Join Alycia and Regina in this heartwarming episode as they reflect on their remarkable journey as twins, advocates, and best friends. Witness the enduring power of love, unity, and lifelong companionship. Dive deep into the stories of two sisters who grew up side by side, forever connected by the profound love of their forward-thinking parents. Regina shares[…]
The Essence of Empathy and Inclusivity with Michael Tennant
Michael is the Founder, and CEO of Curiosity Lab, a purpose-driven venture studio and consultancy that builds products and experiences that teach empathy, and the author of The Power of Empathy coming October 24th and available for pre-order now. In his role as CEO, Michael creates and incubates businesses to help values-aligned individuals and organizations use empathy to live happier and … open the full bio healthier lives and to nurture productive and inclusive environments. In 2022, Curiosity Lab received an investment from Pharrell and the Black Ambition Prize.
Michael Tennant is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author of The Power of Empathy coming October 24th and available for pre-order now, and the creator of Actually Curious™ the empathy conversation game, Values Exercise™, and the Five Phases of Empathy™. His work has been featured by the New York Times, Oprah and the TODAY Show for teaching empathy and fostering a thriving ecosystem of advocacy for diversity, mental health, and well-being through products, content, workshops, and technology. In 2022, Curiosity Lab received an investment from Pharrell and the Black Ambition Prize.
Episode 11 – The Essence of Empathy | Michael Tennant
Step into the realm of empathy and inclusivity with another thought-provoking edition. In Episode 11, we delve into the world of empathy, advocacy, and inclusivity alongside the dynamic Michael Tennant, a visionary entrepreneur, author, and creator of Curiosity Lab. Michael has been featured in[…]
Brad Parks | Paralympian & Founder of Wheelchair Tennis
Brad Parks | Founder of Wheelchair Tennis, International Tennis Hall of Famer & Gold-Medal Paralympian
Brad Parks is the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis. During an amateur freestyle skiing competition, he suffered a disabling injury when he was 18. He began experimenting with tennis as a method of therapy, and in 1976, wheelchair tennis was born. The first wheelchair tennis tournaments were held in 1977 and were a major success. This success motivated Parks to found the National Foundation … open the full bio of Wheelchair Tennis (NFWT) as the organizing body for the sport. The purpose of the NFWT was to promote physical and psychological well being among the disabled regardless of age, sex, creed, or disability extent. This was accomplished through the presentation of instructional clinics, exhibitions and competitive tournaments and sports camps. As more athletes became involved, the Wheelchair Tennis Players Association (WTPA) was formed, giving players more of a say in the governance of tournaments, clinics and expansion of the game.
Parks started the first international wheelchair tennis event, the US Open, held in Irvine, California. He was the Tournament Chairman for 18 years, setting the standard for others to follow. Today the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour is comprised of 157 tournaments in 41 countries, exceeding a total of $1,500,000 in prize money. In 1985, as a result
of increased international presence at the US Open, the World Team Cup was started. Today this prestigious Fed Cup/Davis Cup-style team event has been contested by 52 different nations in its 25- year history, and boasts men, women, quads and junior competitions.
As a player from 1980 – 1989, Parks was ranked number one in singles in the world in the sport. He is a three time U.S. Open Singles Champion (1980, 1985, 1987) and a ten time U.S. Open Doubles Champion. Parks retired from competitive play in 1995. His competitive accomplishments include a gold medal in tennis doubles at the 1992
Paralympics in Barcelona, gold medals in Singles and Doubles at the 1987 Olympic Sports Festival, and he won two gold medals and one silver medal in wheelchair track at the 1980 Paralympics. He has also won over twelve National Wheelchair Tennis Singles titles.
Parks is also credited with spreading the sport internationally by holding clinics throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific. In 1988, the International Wheelchair Tennis Federation (IWTF) was formed to govern this growing international sport with Parks as the inaugural president. He served on the Management Committee for many years and was the driving force behind international wheelchair tennis. In 1998, the IWTF was fully integrated into the International Tennis Federation, making it the first disabled sport to achieve such a union on the international level.
Today almost 100 countries offer wheelchair tennis programs, and the sport is played at all four Grand Slams.
Episode 10 – Brad Parks | Paralympian & Founder of Wheelchair Tennis
In episode 10 of Pushing Forward with Alycia, we delve into the life and accomplishments of Paralympian Brad Parks, a name synonymous with resilience, innovation, and empowerment. Brad’s story unfolds in 1980 when he founded the National Foundation of[…]
Elevating Spaces Through Barrier-Free Design: A Conversation with Maegan Blau
In 2009 my life changed in the blink of an eye when I incurred a spinal cord injury. I quickly learned that if I could even find a home that would fit my physical needs, it was not in line with my personal style. With so much change in my life, I was holding on to the idea that my home could reflect who I am outside of my disability. Combining my perspective of disability with my life-long passion … open the full bio for interior design fueled me to advocate for others in their accessible home journey. In 2018 I founded Blue Copper Design with the mission to combine barrier free designs with beautiful interiors and the vision to create a world where everybody can participate.
Episode 9 – Barrier-Free Design | Maegan Blau
The visionary founder behind Blue Copper Design, an Arizona-based full-service interior design studio, specializing in Barrier-Free Design. Maegan Blau’s design philosophy is a combination of accessibility and aesthetic finesse, while embedding a barrier[…]
Embracing Inclusivity | Adaptive Yoga + A.P.E. with Carli Ross
Discover the transformative power of adaptive yoga and inclusive Physical Education
Carli Ross is a dynamic leader and educator in the field of Kinesiology and Adapted Physical Education, International APE project coordinator, founder of Carli B Yoga, and certified Yoga Instructor. She leads the Adapted Physical Education service learning programs at California State University, Chico as well as running her own successful small business. Carli’s methodology focuses on helping … open the full bio connect mind with body. She incorporates a variety of traditional practices in movement, breath, and meditation to help each of her students practice their own unique form. Carli’s greatest passion is introducing people to the world of adaptive physical activity. She has shared her passion globally through connecting her students with communities around the world.
Episode 8 – Embracing Inclusivity | Adaptive Yoga + A.P.E. with Carli Ross
Carli Ross’s dedication to inclusivity and education is always evolving. As an educator and international coordinator in adaptive physical education, she has been a leader in breaking barriers and where everyone can thrive. Carli’s passion for creating personalized plans for students with disabilities shows her[…]
Christina Rodriguez on Intersectionality, Higher Education, and Empowerment
Christina V. Rodriguez is a first-generation Latina, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her family is from Nicaragua and is proud to represent her Nicaraguan culture and heritage in spaces where there is lack of Central American representation. She is an wife, mother of 2, dogmom, edu-creator, inspirational speaker, podcaster, advocate, entrepreneur, storyteller and scholar who … open the full bio embraces a multi-cultural and equity mindset with a strong commitment in creating equitable opportunities for Women of Color in Business, Housing & Academia.
Rodriguez received her Bachelor’s degree in Latino/a Studies from San Francisco State University and went on to receive her Master’s degree (MBA) with an emphasis in Marketing at Notre Dame de Namur University. She is currently pursing her doctorate in Education from Mills College and provides 15+ years of marketing and housing experience in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Episode 7 – Intersectionality | Christina Rodriguez
Our guest today is the dynamic Christina Rodriguez, founder of Latinas with Masters, an empowering network advancing the conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Christina talks about intersectionality, women empowerment, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. As a woman of color and a[…]
Championing Inclusion and Resilience with Joze Piranian: An Episode of Transformation
Joze Piranian is a lifelong stutterer turned Forbes and TED featured Keynote Speaker and Stand-up Comedian in 3 continents and 4 languages. He has delivered keynotes about disability inclusion and conquering fears at the United Nations, Boeing, Google, Meta, TikTok, Starbucks, Pinterest, Tesla, IBM,Dell, BCG, Deloitte, as well as at major conferences and educational institutions worldwide.
Joze is … open the full bio a lifelong stutterer turned International Motivational Speaker helping people who hold back turn fear into action so that they overcome their “inner stutter” and unlock their true potential in life. By empowering others to own their uniqueness and conquer their obstacles, Joze delivers transformational experiences allowing his keynote audience members and coaching clients to access the hidden powers of fear and become champions of inclusion.
After avoiding speaking almost entirely for more than 25 years due to a debilitating stutter, Joze uncovered groundbreaking insights for personal transformation that turned his obstacle into triumphant public speaking and stand-up comedy performances in 3 continents and 3 languages. Joze is now on a mission to change people’s relationships with fear and discomfort so that they start taking action and unleash their inner greatness at work, school and in life.
Winner of the Inspirational Speaker of the Year award in 2017, Joze has shared the stage with Drake music video producer Director X, Disney’s CIO, Brendon Bouchard, Jim Kwik, Dragon Den’s Arlene Dickinson and comedians Hannibel Buress & Whitney Cummings.
Joze holds a Bachelors of Commerce and Psychology from McGill University, a Master of International Business from Queen’s University and a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. He has delivered his keynotes on Inclusion and Resilience at organizations such as Tesla, Dell, Diageo and Amgen as well as conferences such as the HR Leaders Summit and the Hollywood Innovation & Technology Summit.
With more than 3 000 000 views on his Goalcast featured speech about overcoming adversity and a growing social media following of 30 000, Joze has also been featured on TEDx, Forbes, NowThis (about Joe Biden’s stutter), CBC and Global News Canada.
Episode 6 – Invisible Disability | Joze Piranian
We wind down Disability Pride Month by featuring inspirational Joze Piranian – a global speaker, trainer, and coach, and personal friend of Alycia’s. Joze champions inclusion and resilience, overcoming personal obstacles to become an acclaimed public speaker. With his captivating story and valuable insights on[…]
Disability, Inclusion & Healthcare | Nurse and Social Media Influencer, Ryann Mason
Ryann Mason shares her unique perspective on navigating disability in the healthcare industry
Ryann “Ry” Mason, BS RN (she/they) is a 31 year old disability advocate, multi-specialty registered nurse, proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, keynote speaker, model, adaptive athlete, sexuality educator, and self-proclaimed loudmouth southern belle. Ryann was born with a genetic collagen disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which caused them to begin utilizing a wheelchair for the … open the full bio majority of their mobility needs at the age of 26. Instead of allowing their disability to get them down, they decided to turn towards what they knew best, helping others. Ryann created an Instagram account called Chronically Ry, where they post photos, videos, and write ups showing her life and experiences living and working as a registered nurse with a chronic illness and degenerative disability. Over the past few years they have accomplished quite a bit including:wearing the crown for Ms. Wheelchair Virginia through both 2020 and 2021, having their story featured in numerous platforms including Woman’s Day, Scrubs , Frisson, Teen Vogue, and Forbes magazines, expanding their online presence to include Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn, as well as amassing a following of over 19,000 people on their original Instagram page. Along with her disability advocacy work, Ryann has continued practicing as a registered nurse in the hospital setting throughout her disability journey and hopes to increase disability visibility and employment in the field of healthcare.
Ry could have let everything they’ve been through bring their life to a screeching halt, but instead they continue to share their story, educate, advocate, and inform others about the needs, rights, and experiences of the disability community.
Episode 5 – Disability, Inclusion & Healthcare | Nurse and Social Media Influencer, Ryann Mason
From her late ADHD diagnosis and early introduction to healthcare to her evolving career in the face of becoming more reliant on mobility aids. Listen as Ry shares her unique perspective on navigating disability in the healthcare industry and how her personal journey has fostered empathy and understanding, making her[…]
DEI+Disability | Redefining Disability with Etsy’s Beth Wiesendanger
Gain valuable insights from Beth Wiesendanger, a dynamic advocate for DEI and disability rights.
26% of Americans identify with having some kind of disability – and as a double-amputee, I am one of them. I’m a lot of other things, too; I’m a woman. I’m progressive. I’m a community builder and organizer and activist. But, for the world at large, my disability is my defining characteristic.
When you’re disabled (much like when you’re a woman, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, LGBTQ+, or … open the full bio anything that isn’t a straight, cisgender white male) advocacy is not a choice. Our very existence is political. When the entire world has been constructed in ways that actively harm you – just being visible is an act of rebellion. Be it age, gender, ethnicity, orientation, religion or ability – we have to work harder to prove we can exist in spaces that never intended to include us.
I want to change that. My mission is to ensure more of us are seen and heard and advocated for. To leverage the resources I have access to and create access for those who don’t. To create opportunities, tear down the cultural and systemic barriers, and foster community, knowledge, and success.
Most importantly, I’m here to listen, learn, and grow.
Join us as we explore Beth’s personal journey as a double amputee and delve into the importance of creating inclusive spaces that uplift disabled voices. Discover the significance of disability inclusion in the broader context of intersectional identities and gain insights on fostering access and representation for[…]
Challenging ableism and redefining Disability Pride and empowerment
Since 1990, Disability Pride Month has celebrated people with disabilities, their identities and culture, and their contributions to society. It also seeks to change the way people think about and define disability, to end the stigma of disability, and to promote the belief that disability is a natural part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can celebrate and take pride. … open the full bio People with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population and are the largest and most diverse minority in the United States making up approximately 26% of the population representing all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.
The concept of Disability Pride was born out of the Disability Rights movement and based on intersectional identity politics and social justice. The core concept of Disability Pride is based on a tenet of reworking the negative narratives and biases that frequently surround the concept of disability. Disability Pride is a response and counteraction against ableism and social stigma. The concept has roots in the same social theory that backs LGBT Pride and Black Pride. Disability Pride is a movement intended to celebrate the history of the Disability Rights movement and people with disabilities as positive contributors to society. It marks a break from traditional concepts of disabilities as shameful conditions, which were often hidden from public spaces and mainstream awareness. Disability Pride is built upon the social model of disability and is described as moving away from the medical model of disability.
Episode 3 – Disability Pride Month | Embracing Identity
We kick off Disability Pride Month by discussing the significance of celebrating the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Join Alycia and special guest, business partner and husband, Marty, as they explore the empowering aspects of disability, the challenges faced by the disabled community, and the importance of[…]
Awakened from her sleep in 2018 with an idea, Alycia’s journey to combat ableism became clear
In May 2021, one of Alycia’s longtime dreams came true when she was invited to speak at TEDx in South Lake Tahoe. Her talk, “Disabling Ableism: The Modern Pathway to Inclusion,” is a love letter to herself, others with disabilities, and society at large that brings light to the empowerment of having a disability. It’s also a call to action to examine — and dismantle — the ways that ableist … open the full bio thinking exists in our day-to-day lives.
Ableism is everywhere you turn. It’s ingrained in society so much so, it’s overlooked or goes unnoticed, but without recognizing ableism and its effects we will never fully understand what inclusion really means. I share the perspective that is missing from American TV, politics and generally any conversation, what does it look like when you put yourselves in another’s wheels not shoes. This talk focuses on shifting perceptions of what is perceived possible by disabling ableism, a social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. I explore the topic through my own personal journey over my lifetime, its cause and effects, and how we are taught from the time we are born to favor one over the other and because of this we don’t see the beauty of difference, no matter what shape it comes in. When we disable ableism we truly begin to value our differences bringing a broader outlook to our world, expanding possibilities for all!
Ableism has been present Alycia’s entire life. Ableism came from the moment she was born, along with her twin sister. Doctors recommended she be institutionalized and put into hospitals and not given the surgeries that she needed when she was born. Alycia describes ableism as[…]
Alycia Anderson is a TEDx motivational speaker, corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility consultant, advocate, and the founder & CEO of The Alycia Anderson Company, LLC. She studied Adapted Physical Education at California State University, Chico earning a bachelors degree and continued on to receive her Master’s Degree from KU Leuven, Belgium in Adapted Physical Activity … open the full bio emphasizing the benefits, practices, and principles of inclusion. Alycia’s authenticity and charisma draws others to her and she naturally connects them to inspire, mentor, champion and support.
Alycia Anderson started speaking because she is a bridge for all to see how to care about, practice and learn to be inclusive and this is her biggest life work. Alycia hopes to share with people that don’t know and are curious about how it is to live a lifetime with a disability. She naturally spans the gap from how to overcome, adapt and believe in what we think to be impossible… to be possible. She believes it’s all about the past, present and future and all of the collective progress along the way.
Alycia Anderson is a tennis player, cyclist, identical twin and a wheelchair user since birth. Alycia shares her journey globally to help communities and companies understand the true benefits inherent to building a diverse, inclusive and accessible workplace and society. She shines light on how our diversities are core to the qualities that make each of us uniquely qualified and able in life. Alycia right sizes everyday obstacles to open your mind to a world of possibility, and that’s how she rolls!
Episode 1 – Meet Alycia Anderson | Disability Advocate
In today’s episode, meet Alycia Anderson, a fierce disability advocate and TedX speaker who is on a mission to empower change by disabling ableism. Prepare to be inspired as Alycia shares her personal story of resilience and overcoming the countless obstacles she has faced due to ableism. From doctors recommending[…]
Pushing Forward with Alycia (Official Podcast Trailer)
Immerse yourself in my transformative journey of disability advocacy and finding my way from TEDx speaker to the podcast host of Pushing Forward with Alycia. My inspiring podcast series gives disability a voice, challenges stereotypes, and promotes inclusivity. Disability is not a[..]