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Speakers

Achyut Subedi

Achyut Subedi

Mr. Subedi is a young emerging disability rights leader from Nepal. He is the Chair of Disability Human Rights Promotion Society (DHRPS) and is the Nepal representative to the DPI Global Youth Network. He also volunteers with the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (DPI-Nepal). Mr. Subedi works actively on inclusion at the community level and was part of the Action 2015 youth team. He has conducted several trainings for youth with disabilities on disability rights. Mr. Subedi is a student of journalism and mass communication, and regularly contributes to the monthly magazine "Disability Voice". He was awarded the Student Journalism Award 2012 by the Communication Study Center Kathmandu of Madan Bhandari Memorial College. His aim is to leverage media towards securing and promoting the rights of youth with disabilities in Nepal.

Aradhana Lal

Aradhana Lal

Ms. Lal leads Sustainability at Lemon Tree Hotels. Committed to building an inclusive employee base, the company has been employing persons with disabilities and those from socially and marginalized sections of society. Ms. Lal co-leads these recruitments and leads new initiatives in the disability space. She has, over the last 4 years, worked towards recruitment of people with Down Syndrome and Autism as well as visual impairment. This is in addition to people with speech/hearing and orthopaedic disabilities that form the core employee strength of Lemon Tree Hotels. While 54 percent of employees are trained in Indian Sign Language (ISL), Ms. Lal and a few of her colleagues have signed up for an advanced ISL learning programme and certification. Ms. Lal is an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has 22 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Corporate Communications and Sustainability. Before joining Lemon Tree Hotels, she has held key positions at Hindustan Lever Network, the multi-level marketing business of Hindustan Unilever and the Taj Group of Hotels.

Axel Leblois

Axel Leblois

Mr. Leblois is the Founder and President of G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies. G3ict is an advocacy initiative that promotes ICT accessibility provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by engaging with industry, governments, disability advocacy organizations and United Nations agencies.Over the past ten years, G3ict has established itself as the leading international source of references and good practices in implementing digital accessibility among States Parties to the CRPD. Prior to creating G3ict, Mr. Leblois spent over 20 years at the helm of information technology companies in the United States including as CEO of Computerworld Communications, CEO of IDC – International Data Corporation, President & CEO of Bull HN Worldwide Information Systems – formerly Honeywell Information Systems, among others. Mr. Leblois was appointed as a Senior Fellow of UNITAR in 2004 and is a founding trustee of its North American affiliate CIFAL Atlanta. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris.

Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo

Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo

Ms. McClain-Nhlapo is the Global Disability Advisor in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience (GPSURR) Global Practice of the World Bank Group. In this role, she supports operational teams across the institution to ensure that Bank policies, programs and projects take persons with disabilities into consideration. Ms. McClain-Nhlapo’s responsibilities include leading the production of analytical products; analyzing and articulating Bank policy on disability and development, and the role that the Bank should play; and establishing criteria and an operational results framework for monitoring the outcomes of the Bank’s disability work. Ms. McClain-Nhlapo had earlier served as the coordinator for disability and inclusive development at USAID – a position that she was appointed to in 2011 by President Barak Obama. Earlier in her career, she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela as a Commissioner to the South African Human Rights Commission focusing on social and economic rights, disability rights and child rights. Ms. McClain-Nhlapo holds law degrees in international law and administration from the University of Warsaw, Poland and Cornell Law School.

Danielle Tow Yin WONG NG, C.S.K

Danielle Tow Yin WONG NG, C.S.K

Mrs. Wong is the Chairperson of Disabled People’s International (DPI) Mauritius and an advocate of connecting businesses, employment and disability. She is a member of the National Productivity & Competitiveness Council (NPCC) of Mauritius, and Chairperson and Board director of the Employers’ Welfare Fund. She was earlier the Chairperson of the National Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. As Chairperson of the Training and Employment for Disabled Persons Board (TEPB), she organized the Disability Business Forum Conference cum Exhibition and Disability Excellence Awards in 2014. Mrs. Wong has also been associated with several business platforms. She has been Chairperson and Board Director of World EPZ Association, Development Bank of Mauritius, Stock Exchange of Mauritius, and the University of Mauritius, among others. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Mauritian Institute of Management. Mrs. Wong was elevated to the rank of “Commander of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean” (CSK) for her contribution to the industrial sector by the Government of Mauritius in 2012.

Dorodi Sharma

Dorodi Sharma

Ms. Sharma has over eight years of experience in development and communication starting her career with India’s leading television news network, NDTV. She is currently Advisor to Global Chair, Disabled People’s International (DPI), where she led the organization’s work towards inclusion of people with disabilities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She has also worked on campaigns to enable national DPOs to work on Universal Periodic Review; preparing alternative reports on the implementation of CRPD; among others. Prior to this, she was Programme Manager at National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), India’s leading cross-disability advocacy organization. In this capacity, she coordinated several significant campaigns such as enumeration of people with disabilities in the Population Census of 2011; and inclusion of disability in the 12th Five Year Plan. Ms. Sharma has written on disability and development in leading publications. She holds a master in mass communication and journalism from Tezpur University, and a master in public policy from the University of Maryland College Park.

Ekaete Umoh

Ekaete Umoh

Ms. Ekaete Umoh is an international disability rights advocate, a social inclusion expert, particularly on gender, disability and development issues. She has served as disability and social development consultant to a few international development agencies, helping them include issues of people with disabilities in their programmes and projects. Currently, Ms. Umoh is on the Board of African Disability Forum representing interest of women with disabilities; Member UN Women CSO Advisory Group, Nigeria; Board Member of Women Trust Fund Nigeria; National President of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD); Founder and Executive Director, Family Centered Initiative for Challenged Persons (FACIP); among others. Her passion is to see increased visibility, improved access and holistic approach to promoting inclusive development for people with disabilities in Africa and around the world. Ms. Umoh is a Microbiologist and holds a postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and masters degree in Social Work (MSW).

Ganesh Singh

Ganesh Singh

Mr. Singh is a passionate disability rights advocate from Guyana, working towards promoting the rights of persons with disabilities both in his country and internationally. He has been involved actively in the disability movement in Guyana since 2006 and is a serving member of a number of local and regional organizations in leadership positions. He is on the board of commissioners of the National Commission on Disability in Guyana; and is Secretary of Disabled People’s International North America and the Caribbean Inc. Mr. Singh is also an active blind cricketer and has represented the Guyana and the West Indies blind cricket teams. He is the Director of Guyana Blind Cricket Association and Public Relations Officer for West Indies Cricket Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Along with his voluntary work, Mr. Singh is also a radio broadcaster. He produces and presents two disability related radio shows.

Gloria Goffe

Gloria Goffe

Ms. Goffe is the Executive Director of Combined Disabilities Association (CDA), Jamaica. She is also part of various government appointed committees/groups, including the National Advisory Board on Disability, the Legislative Committee of the Disability Bill, Vision 2030 Task Force on Disability, among others. In the past, she has held various posts both locally and regionally, including being the Chairperson of Disabled People’s International North America & Caribbean. Her work has assisted in a number of landmark achievements for the disability community. Chief among these are a draft Charter of Minimum Standards and Codes of Best Practice; a National Policy on Disability; a National Disability Act; the Kingston Accord promoting disability rights – an understanding among five Caribbean countries; and the amendment of the Road Traffic Act to allow deaf people and those with physical impairments to obtain driver’s licence. Ms. Goffe is a Certified Professional Secretary and holds a certificate in Public Administration, a bachelor degree with a major in Psychology, and a master degree in Human Resource Development – all from the University of the West Indies.

James Thurston

James Thurston

Mr. Thurston is an international technology and policy leader. As G3ict’s Vice-President for Global Strategy and Development, he leads the design and implementation of new worldwide advocacy strategies and programmes to scale up G3ict’s global impact. He has broad policy and management experience in both the privateand public sectors and at the federal, state, and international levels ofgovernment. Prior to joining G3ict, Mr. Thurston was Director ofInternational Accessibility Policy at Microsoft, where he developed andexecuted a worldwide strategy to expand the company's outreach on disabilityand technology issues to governments and NGOs around the world. He has alsoserved as a standards leader for an international technology industryassociation, an economic and technology advisor to a U.S. senator and vicepresidential candidate, and a senior manager for a national technology andeconomic development initiative of the U.S. government. Mr. Thurston holdsboth a Master of Public Administration and an M.A. in East European Studiesfrom the University of Washington, as well as a B.A. in InternationalAffairs from the University of Maine.

Jana Husseini

Jana Husseini

Ms. Husseini is the Communication Officer of the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (AFRPD), which is the regional representative of Disabled People’s International (DPI) in the Arab Region, where she is in charge of coordinating many of the Forum’s activities at the regional and international levels. She started her career as a young disability advocate in the year 2006, when she joined the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU). Since then, Ms. Husseini has shown a significant enthusiasm for promoting rights of persons with disabilities in her country Lebanon. Ms. Husseini held several positions in many of the organization’s main projects and programmes, and is currently on the Board of LPHU. She has led many of LPHU’s youth activities mobilizing young women and men with disabilities in her country to get their voices heard, and thus advocate for inclusion. She is also continuing her graduate studies at the Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada in Organizational Development.

Lasanthi Daskon Attanayake

Lasanthi Daskon Attanayake

Ms. Attanayake is an Attorney-at-Law by profession and a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya. She is also a member of the Consultative Committee on the Draft Disability Rights Bill set up by the Ministry of Social Services, Sri Lanka. She is a co-founder and director of Wheels In Motion (WIM), a non –profit specialising in disability advocacy, rights promotion and support for persons with disabilities. She is also a researcher and a columnist on disability and human rights.

Luis Gallegos

Ambassador Luis Gallegos

Ambassador Gallegos has a long and distinguished career as a diplomat that began in 1966 when he joined the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has twice been the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations both in New York and Geneva. He was the Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities from 2002-05 that led to the CRPD;and Vice-President of the Commission of Human Rights, Geneva 1998 among others. Ambassador Gallegos is a Special Advisor to the Nippon Foundation; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of G3ict; Honorary Chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission; and member of the Board of Special Olympics. He is a “Harvard Fellow” of the Disability Project of the Harvard Law School. At present he is a Fellow of UNITAR, the United Nations Institute of Training and Research.Ambassador Gallegos holds a Law Degree and a Juris Doctor Degree from Central University of Ecuador and a Master of Arts Degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Dr. Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills

Dr. Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills

Dr. Medjeral-Mills is the Executive Director of Disabled People’s Association (DPA), which is a Singapore based non-profit advocacy organisation. DPA’s mission is to be the voice of persons with disabilities, working with them to achieve full participation and equal status in the society through independent living. As part of her work at the DPA, Dr. Medjeral-Mills has been involved in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Enabling Masterplans (the national policy to implement the CRPD). She regularly meets with Government agencies and other disability organisations to give feedback on the policies designed to realise the goals of CRPD. Through DPA, she has also initiated workshops designed to help companies, schools and higher education institutions and other non-profit organisations to be more inclusive in their programmes, services and human resource policies.

Masayoshi Nakamura

Masayoshi Nakamura

Mr. Nakamura is the Founder and CEO of JINRIKI - the world’s first emergency evacuation system for wheelchairs. This innovation was motivated by his experiences during the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Mr. Nakamura has a brother who is a wheelchair user and has seen first hand the obstacles that non-wheelchair friendly surfaces such as unpaved paths and walkways, grass, snow, sand,can create. JINRIKI is a wheelchair towing system that can manoeuvre over steep, rough, and uneven terrain at low effort. This device aims to expand the inclusive range of activities that wheelchair users can experience while serving as an emergency preparedness device.

Dr. Meenu Bhambhani

Dr. Meenu Bhambhani

Dr. Bhambhani is the Vice President and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Mphasis Ltd. She has over 19 years of experience in the area of disability and social policy. She has worked with the World Bank and NCPEDP in the past. Dr. Bhambhani is also a scholar of disability studies. In her current role she leads Corporate Social Responsibility for Mphasis Ltd., with a focus on impact funding, technology driven community development, and opportunities for the disadvantaged. Under Dr. Bhambhani’s leadership, Mphasis has launched several innovative community programmes and also won recognition at several forums.

Mohammed Loutfy

Mohammed Loutfy

Mr. Loutfy is the executive director of the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (AFRPD) - the regional representative of Disabled People’s International (DPI). He is also the policy advisor of the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU). Mr. Loutfy has been involved with the disability movement in his country since the age of 19, later moving on to regional and international platforms. He has most recently held leadership positions for the Global Campaign of the World Bank Safeguards. Between the years 2001-04, Mr. Loutfy was Chairperson of the Youth Committee at the World Blind Union (WBU). He also worked with the World Bank Disability and Development Unit from 2004-06 under the leadership of Mrs. Judith Heumann. In 2007, he was chosen as a Fulbright scholar through which he finished his graduate studies in international development at the American University in Washington D.C. He is currently finishing his PhD degree in anthropology from there.

Mukhtar Mohammed Al-Shibani

Mukhtar Mohammed Al-Shibani

Mr. Al-Shibani is one of the founders of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), a leading organization dedicated to the promotion of accessibility of the built and virtual environments. He is currently in his second term as President at GAATES. Under his leadership, GAATES has established a network of country representatives in more than 40 countries; and created the Global Accessibility News Service, a weekly news gazette with around 20,000 subscribers worldwide. Mr. Al-Shibani has authored the first accessibility standard for persons with disabilities in the Arab World. He is also the president and founder of Al-Modon Engineering Consultancy, which is the first consulting office in the Arab World specializing in Universal Design. Mr. Al-Shibani is an active member of the International Union of Architects and a member of the ISO TC59/SC16 Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment Standard Committee. He holds a master degree in Architecture from the King Saud University where his main topic of study was ‘Design Criteria for the Disabled in the Saudi Built Environment’.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi Goyal

Ms. Goyal is a disabled feminist from India working on the intersections of disability, gender and sexual rights. Her work spans research, writing, training, campaigning, advocacy and art. She works with various women's rights groups like Mumbai Based Point of View, and New Delhi-New York based CREA on mainstreaming issues faced by women with disabilities. She is on the board of 'Standing Tall' – an Indian affiliate of Handicap International, and is on the International Planning Committee of Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). She has researched and co-authored a pioneering online initiative www.sexualityanddisability.org - a resource on disability, gender, sexuality and violence. Besides designing and conducting accessible sexuality and disability trainings across India, she is a regular faculty at the various gender and rights institutes run by CREA for disabled and non-disabled activists. Ms. Goyal has trained existing disability rights activists from across South East Asia on gender and sexuality intersections, has authored publications in journals on women with disabilities, and speaks at national and international spaces on these issues.

Nishant Pandey

Nishant Pandey

Mr. Pandey is the Country Director of the American India Foundation (AIF), based in New Delhi. In this capacity, Mr. Pandey provides strategic leadership to AIF's India operations across 23 states and 6 signature programs. As a British Chevening scholar, Mr. Pandey completed his Master's degree in International Development & Finance from the University of Leicester, UK. He also holds M.A. in Economics and B.A. in Anthropology and Economics. Mr. Pandey has worked on livelihoods programmes in 12 countries including Russia, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Albania, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordon, the UK and India over the last 18 years. He has advocated with several governments, the UN and other multi-lateral organisations on issues of regional trade agreements, small-holder agriculture, inclusive business and others, based on this experience of working at the grassroots level with rural communities in multiple countries. Prior to joining AIF, he was the Country Director for Israel & the Occupied Palestinian territory at Oxfam, a global charity operating in 80 countries worldwide. Based out of Jerusalem, Mr Pandey led Oxfam's social development and humanitarian operations in Gaza, West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel and Oxfam's global influencing work on the Israel - Palestinian conflict.

Dr. P.K. Gopal

Dr. P.K. Gopal

Dr. Gopal is the President of IDEA India, which he founded in 1994. IDEA works for the improvement of the quality of life of people affected by leprosy. Dr. Gopal has been working in this area for 43 years and is an internationally recognized expert. He has been associated with Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation since 2003 and was involved in the passage of the Human Rights Council resolution to end stigma and discrimination towards people affected by leprosy. His work also includes identifying around 778 leprosy colonies and homes in India, conducting surveys and research, among others. He had also worked at a leprosy hospital for 25 years during which he provided rehabilitation services to around 5000 people affected by leprosy. He was elected as a member of the Medico-Social Council of ILEP, London in 1996. He is currently a Council Member of International Leprosy Association. Dr. Gopal is also the recipient of the Padma Shri in 2012, one of the highest civilian awards in India.

Pooja Parvati

Pooja Parvati

Ms. Parvati has been working in the area of development for 14 years and currently manages Research at Oxfam India. Her responsibilities include developing policy briefs, practice notes, commissioning and conceptualizing research outputs for policy influencing. Her key areas of interest include examining facets of inequality, social norms that influence gender violence, and India’s role as a donor and development partner in Global South countries. She was earlier with Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) working on government budgets and implementation bottlenecks in social sector programmes. She was also lead campaigner for a national civil society network, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan on influencing the post-2015 development agenda from a Southern, rights-based perspective. Ms. Parvati has studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Delhi School of Economics.

Rana Kapoor

Rana Kapoor

Mr. Kapoor is the Managing Director & CEO of YES BANK and Chairman of YES Institute. Since 2003, as a professional entrepreneur, he has been progressively establishing a high quality, state-of-the-art private Indian Bank with a vision of “Building the Best Quality Bank of the World in India” by 2020. Mr. Kapoor received an Honorary Fellowship from All India Management Association (AIMA); and a Doctorate in Science (Honoris Causa) from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology for his contribution to the Food & Agribusiness sector in India. He holds an MBA degree from Rutgers University; and a Bachelor degree in Economics (Honours) from the University of Delhi. He is a recipient of the prestigious President’s Medal from Rutgers University. Mr. Kapoor was recently felicitated by IIT, Mumbai for his exemplary contribution to fostering entrepreneurship in India; and by IIM, Kozhikode for his exemplary contribution to financial services. He was also felicitated with the first ever ‘C. Rangarajan Award for Excellence in Banking’ at the 38th SKOCH Summit; and honoured for his contribution towards promoting India-Canada bilateral relations by The High Commission of Canada & The Indo-Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC).

Reshma Valliappan

Reshma Valliappan

Ms. Valliappan is Founder & Director of The Red Door, which works towards breaking barriers between normalcy and madness using creativity and empathy while advocating for the rights of persons with mental illness. She is an Ashoka Fellow 2014, Ink Fellow 2014, CAMH Fellow 2011, and the protagonist of the award winning documentary ‘A Drop of Sunshine’ based on her recovery from schizophrenia without medications. She is also the author of the book ‘Fallen, Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist’. Currently Ms. Valliappan is working closely with an Ashoka Changemaker School to address issues of bullying and mental health, using concepts from martial arts, yoga, and shamanism.

Sachin Singh

Sachin Singh

Mr. Singh is a passionate advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and one of the most sought after deaf educators in India. Being born deaf, he has first hand experience of deaf issues particularly in countries of the Global South. Mr. Singh is actively involved in the cross-disability movement in South Asia and is a regular speaker on disability and deaf issues. He holds a BA (Honors) in Sign Language from University of Central Lancashire U.K. and currently teaches at Dr. Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation University.

Seinep Dyikanbaeva

Seinep Dyikanbaeva

Ms. Dyikanbaeva is from Kyrgyzstan where she works with a parents association for children with disabilities - 'ARDI'. As a person with cerebral palsy, she started as a disability rights advocate quite early in life, when as a five year old she motivated her mother to start an organisation to help children with disabilities. Ms. Dyikanbaeva has worked at the local, national, and government level to promote rights and interests of people with disabilities. As a lawyer, she has also advocated towards making legislations inclusive of disability. She is a member of the Board of Human Rights Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic and is a member of a coordinating board on social protection. Ms. Dyikanbaeva is a graduate of the American University in Central Asia.

Senarath Attanayake

Senarath Attanayake

Mr. Attanayake is an elected member of the Uva Provincial Council, one of the nine Provincial Legislative Bodies in Sri Lanka. He is the first and longest serving member with a disability in Sri Lanka and and has been actively engaged in politics for over 20 years. He served as the Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Forestry in Uva (1994-2004); and was the Acting Chief Minister of the Uva Province in 2004. Mr. Attanayake is recognized as a consultant to the Department of Ageing and Life Course of the World Health Organization (WHO). He conceptualised Sri Lanka’s First Disabled and Age Friendly District Project which is being implemented in his electorate. The city of Wellwaya in Moneragala joined the Global Age-Friendly Cities Network of WHO in 2012. Mr. Attanayake is an Attorney-at-Law by profession, the first wheelchair user in Sri Lanka to be called to the Bar as an Attorney.

Shilpi Kapoor

Shilpi Kapoor

Ms. Kapoor is an accessibility evangelist and the founder of BarrierBreak. She believes passionately that technology can be the game changer for inclusion and has successfully built a sustainable business model in disability products and services. She is motivated to ensuring that this model is called up to impact the life of people with disabilities globally. She is committed to the cause and interested in thinking out of the box to address this challenge. Ms. Kapoor is an Ashoka Fellow and a recipient of the ‘NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Award 2008’.

Sylvanna Lakkis

Sylvanna Lakkis

Ms. Lakkis is the Chair of the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (AFRPD), and the President of Disabled People's International (DPI) Arab Region. She is also the President and CEO of the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union (LPHU). Ms. Lakkis has led a series of campaigns for promoting rights of persons with disabilities in Lebanon, particularly for the enforcement of the Lebanese Disability Law; the ratification of CRPD; and promoting disability inclusion mainly in the areas of environmental accessibility, employment, inclusive education, political participation, and access to information. Between the years 2008 to 2012, she was appointed as a disability advisor for the Minister of Social Affairs in Lebanon. Ms. Lakkis is also recognized as a disability rights expert internationally by several agencies such as the International Labour Organization, The Employers Forum on Disability, The Zero Project Initiative, Civicus, The World Congress on Inclusive Tourism, and many others. She has spoken at major regional and international events and has also authored many articles and book chapters on issues of disability inclusion.

Trevor Carroll

Trevor Carroll

Mr. Carroll is the Chairperson and President of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), the peak body representing people with disabilities in Australia. He is also the Executive Officer of Disability Justice Advocacy and leads a team of nine disability advocates funded by the Federal Department of Social Services. Mr. Caroll is also a trustee of a government regulated superannuation fund and is a member of the Police Disability Portfolio Reference Group. He has served four years as the Co-chair of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Disability Reference Group. He is passionate about protecting and enhancing the human rights of people with disabilities having had first hand experience of discrimination in Australia. He was the recipient of a Harvard Scholarship in 2012, was nominated for Australian of the Year in 2016, and has won numerous awards for his work. He is also a member of Independence Australia, Meniere’s Australia, and is a mentor with the Australian Quadriplegics Association. He has a B Ed (Music) and an M Ed in Disability.

Venus M. Ilagan

Venus M. Ilagan

Ms. Ilagan is currently the Secretary General of Rehabilitation International (RI) – the first person with a disability from a developing country to serve in this position. She also holds the distinction of being the first woman Global Chair of Disabled People’s International. Prior to joining RI, Ms. Ilagan was the project manager of a national rehabilitation programme that provided services to over 14,000 children and youth with disabilities in the Philippines. She was an active civil society participant during the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). She has contributed to the WHO CBR Guidelines; and was a member of the editorial committee for the World Report on Disability – a WHO and World Bank initiative. She was instrumental in the successful organisation of RI’s 22nd World Congress in November 2012 that saw participation of over 1700 RI members, with UN Secretary General and First Lady of Korea as special guests and speakers. Ms. Ilagan combines her international work with her involvement with the disability movement in Philippines that she started more than two decades ago.

Yuri Afanasiev

Yuri Afanasiev

Mr. Afanasiev is the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India. Prior to this, he served as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia & Herzegovina and in Croatia for ten years. He was also Deputy Resident Representative at UNDP in Bosnia & Herzegovina after the conflict (1997-2001). He has served at the UN headquarters in New York as Senior Advisor at the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS covering 24 countries in the region including Central Asia. Mr. Afanasiev has also acted as Portfolio Management Officer at the UN Office for Project Services in Latin America, serving Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay from 1992-96. He has spent over 14 years in various disaster and conflict duty stations. As a standing member of the crisis response team, Mr. Afanasiev was fielded as UNDP Coordinator for the Response to the Asian Tsunami; and as the Typhoon Yolanda Response Coordinator in the Philippines; among others. He holds an MA in International Economics and Finance from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.