Meet the Governing Board


amy smiling camera.

Amy Doherty graduated from Mount Holyoke College. She works as a research assistant at Schepens Eye Research Institute. It’s located in Boston, MA. She creates and tests devices to help people with vision impairments. Amy loves supporting people with disabilities. One way she shows this is by being a Reap What You Sow trainer for NYLN. Amy served on the Youth Advisory Committee for the National Council on Disability. She was elected as the chairperson in 2008. In her spare time Amy enjoys traveling and knitting. She also likes to spend time with friends and family.


andrew looking directly at the camera

Andrew Collins is from Rhode Island. He plans on studying Sociology and Philosophy in college. He is also involved with helping to develop a chapter of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network in RI, and has written policy for special education. In the future, he would like to work in
Education Reform, though he is not sure what position this will lead him to. He is passionate about advocating for people with
disabilities, especially in education.In his free time, he likes to write books and obsessively drink tea.


kathleen smiling

Kathleen Downes is twenty years old. She has cerebral palsy. She goes to school at the University of Illinois and studies Community Health. She likes to read, write, and watch movies. She also enjoys volunteering and teaching other people about disabilities.
laura smiling at the camera.

Laura Spoerl has done extensive youth advocacy work in the past. She was a founding member of WI’s Youth Leadership Council, has been heavily and actively involved in WI’s Youth Leadership Forum for many years, and is a board member for WI’s Youth Leadership Forum. She is also a returning Governing Board member for the National Youth Leadership Network. Laura graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a B.A. in Psychology. She currently lives in Appleton, Wisconsin. Her next goal is to become a counselor and a health coach. She would also like to work with a non-profit group interacting with and serving youth of all kinds. In her free time she likes to cook, run, listen to music, and support local arts and community groups.


Roberto in a blue button down shirt standing in front of a body of water.

Roberto Cabrera is from California. Roberto was born Deaf and raised by Deaf parents. Growing up, he witnessed a diversity of cultures on both the East and West coasts. The life experience impacts him as an individual. He is more mindful of how cultural identity can impact others, as well. The experience, also, promotes him to provide workshops on social and cultural diversity. Roberto is providing mental health workshops, as well. In these workshops, he shares his life experiences, including living life as a Deaf person.
In the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, there are a really low number of mental health counseling services. Roberto is working with agencies to develop counseling service outreaches for the community. He spreads mental health awareness throughout the community, also.
Leslie with seeing eye dog Gwen.

Leslie Weilbacher graduated from the University of Oregon and will be earning her Masters in Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado. Leslie is works with her service dog Gwen from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York State. Leslie lived and studied in Germany with her first service dog Cammy. She works as a disability and service dog advocate for the last 8 years. She co-founded the Willamette Valley Assistance Dog Club. And she serves on the Wesley Center’s Board of Directors. She speaks out in her area about the rights of people with disabilities and their service dogs. She wants to change the way the community thinks about people with disabilities.


Kylie smiling wearing a white and lime green shirt.

Kylie Moore is 24 years old and lives in Roswell, Georgia. Kylie has a degree in psychology from Reinhardt University. She loves to help people with disabilities. Her main skill is in teaching people how to advocate for themselves. She took a class about being an advocacy trainer in 2012, which made her more of an expert in this area. The course was held at Georgia State University. She serves on the advisory board for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. She enjoys playing wheelchair sports in her free time.
kevin smiling wearing glasses..

Kevin Fritz has an extensive background in advocacy and disability empowerment. In 2008, Kevin worked on Capitol Hill for then-Senator Barack Obama. There he gained a newfound interest in how policies and procedures impact society. Kevin decided to take his passion for helping others to the next level and learn how to apply his interests to the law. Kevin is currently a third-year law student at Washington University in St. Louis. There he continues to be a leader and work with his community. Kevin serves as Primary Editor of the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, is a Research Assistant, serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for his schools’ Public Service Advisory Board, and is the Executive Director of Advocacy for the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities. During his first summer of law school, Kevin had a rare opportunity to work for Commissioner Chai Feldblum of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. His experience with the Commissioner helped to solidify his practice niche. After graduation, Kevin will begin working at a large law firm in Chicago practicing labor and employment defense. You can learn more about Kevin at


Jessica smiling at the camera.

Jessica Finkel is from Indianapolis, IN. Jessica graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. At Xavier, she studied psychology. She was also on the Student Activities Council. She planned events on campus. Jessica worked hard to make sure her events were accessible. Jessica lives in Gaithersburg, MD. She works at the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Foundation. She is the Development Associate. OI is a disorder that causes bones to break easily. The OI Foundation supports people with OI. Jessica has OI. She loves promoting disability rights. In her free time, Jessica loves to cook and spend times with her friends and family. She also enjoys exploring DC. Jessica is excited to be part of the NYLN board.


Deanna smiling at the camera.

Deanna J. Rodriquez is a youth from New York and a proud new member of the National Youth Leadership Network Governing Board. Previously she was a part of YOUTH POWER! It gave her the privilege to act as a team of peers to collaborate ideas and artistic views. Youth leadership is a platform she takes seriously, so she is a strong advocate for the youth. She is hoping that her creative ideas and strong views are heard and shared with the network, to provide advocacy and bonding among the community of youth.


Daria smiling at the camera wearing a red shirt.

Daria Bannerman is a senior at the University of North Carolina, at Pembroke. She is majoring in English. She has a minor in creative-writing. She has been a part of cross-disability organizations since 2008. (This was her freshman year of college). The first cross-disability organization she joined was Delta Sigma Omicron (DSO). This organization spreads awareness about disability on a college campus through getting people involved. She also volunteered [working without getting paid]. She has learned so much from this organization. She has learned about inclusion, communication, and accountability [owning up to one’s successes or failures]. She hopes to carry these skills over to NYLN.


Don smiling at the camera.

Donald Washington lives in Hyde Park, MA. He has been involved in the disability movement for quite some time now. As an autistic individual, he knows what it is like to live with a disability and that is why he is passionate about the work that he does. Don has been working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as an Image Service Representative in the Department of Radiology for a decade now. When not working, he serves on the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council as a member. He was appointed in September of 2011. Along that time, He also participated in the Self-Advocacy Leadership Series, a nine-week program that taught a select group of individuals on topics such as self-advocacy, disability rights, and multiple acts and laws. Don is also a member of the Asperger’s Association of New England, the Citizen Advisory Board, and the Central Office Diversity Committee. In the summer of 2012, he had the opportunity to be one of 15 individuals in the state of Massachusetts chosen to be peer leaders at the Easter Seals Youth Leadership Forum, in which he had the opportunity to learn about disability awareness from other professionals. It was during this same time that Don joined the Future Boston Alliance, a nonprofit group advocating for cultural growth and civic engagement to make Boston a better city. He is currently working on Missing Pieces, a photography project geared towards autism awareness and building community, making its debut in April 2013 for Autism Awareness Month. For more information, please contact or visit


Shakeya smiling at the camera.

Shakeya Britton is from Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Nyack College with a Bachelors of Science in Social Work. Her passion is advocating and becoming a positive role model for young people with disabilities. Shakeya is always looking for ways to live out her passion. She represented the United States in Mobility International USA (MIUSA), 2011 U.S./Spain: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Disability Rights Leadership Exchange Program. This life-changing experience allowed her to participate in workshops and discussions focused on disability rights laws, education, employment, media and strategies for disability rights leadership. She was able to use the information gained from the exchange program to facilitate a workshop to inform the Brooklyn residents about Spain’s disability policies and encourage people to become advocates in their own communities. She is also the 2012 Harris Wofford Global Service Fellowship Recipient, which offers individuals with disabilities the unique opportunity to participate in an international volunteer program. She will be volunteering in Cape Town, South Africa in the summer of 2013. Shakeya looks forward to serving on the 2013 NYLN governing board.


Emily smiling at the camera.

Emily Hilliard is 16 years old and lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina. She is currently a Junior at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. She is a member of the Key Club and the National Honors Society. Emily has Cerebral Palsy, which has led her to passion in disability advocacy. She first became involved in disability advocacy and rights in 2012 when she attended the Youth Leadership Forum for her state. She had so much fun there; she couldn’t wait to look for more ways to further extend her passion for disability advocacy. Though research, Emily found the National Youth Leadership Network. In her free time she enjoys keeping up with camp friends, spending time outdoors and with family, and watching movies. Emily is excited to become a part of the NYLN and hopes to learn even more about disability history and advocacy.


Desiree smiling at the camera.

Desiree Moore is a community leader who aspires to empower people with psychological and social issues, and encourage them to break free of labels and live life to the fullest. In 2010, Desiree was named Advocate of the Year by Families Together of New York State. She is currently employed by YOUTH POWER! as the Long Island Regional Youth Partner, making sure young peoples’ perspectives are valued and heard. During her leisure time, she a student aspiring to become a social worker. She enjoys working on volunteer projects in her community and loves to spend time with her family and friends.