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Executive Director
Dr. Alice Farling

Dr. Alice Farling is the Executive Director of DISES and long time member of CEC. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Vanderbilt University and was a former Director of Special Education and Related Services in Illinois. Dr. Farling spent 20+ years as an Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, first in Illinois and subsequently in the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. She has taught courses at the University of Illinois, George Mason University, the University of Virginia. She has presented at the Virginia Aspiring Special Education Leadership Academy (ASELA) for the past 15 years.


Alice has consulted with Ministries of Education around the world and has presented workshops, keynotes, and /or consulted not only across the US, but also in Bulgaria, Bosnia, Canada, Cuba, England, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jamaica, Kuwait, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Palestine, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Uganda, South Africa (Cape Town & Johannesburg) and Tobago, West Indies (where she lived part time).


She is an advocate for quality inclusive educational environments, and she is passionate about supporting global educators who are committed to making a positive difference in in the lives of children.

Dr. Rebekka Jez

Dr. Rebekka J. Jez is an Assistant Professor at University of San Diego’s (USD) School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) in the Department of Learning and Teaching. She has contributed to the field of education through scholarship on culturally responsive and sustaining inclusive practices, trauma-informed approaches, healing practices, holistic assessment of learners, postsecondary transition for TK-12 learners, and collaboration for learners, families, educators, and communities both locally and globally. She has authored multiple journal articles and chapters on this work. Dr. Jez currently serves as the President of the Division for International Special Education and Services (DISES), a division of the Council for Exceptional Children. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Division of International Special Education and Services, Balang Foundation (South African Literacy Non-Profit Organisation), and Nativity Preparatory School. She serves as a co-editor of Teacher Education Quarterly. Dr. Jez represents USD as an invited member of the national Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR). Dr. Jez leads the grant funded USD’s Social Justice and Advocacy Series.

Past President
Dr. Nicole DeClouette

Dr. Nicole M. DeClouette serves as Interim Associate Dean, Interim Department Chair of Teacher Education, and Professor of Special Education at Georgia College & State University. She has developed and taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses including Inclusive & Collaborative Teaching for the Special Educator and Culture, Identity, and Diversity in Teaching. Her research interests include cross-cultural constructions of disability, international inclusive education, and whole-school inclusive reform.


Dr. DeClouette serves as Past President for the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES). She has presented at DISES conferences in Bulgaria, India, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Portugal, South Africa, and the United States. Her international work is further informed by the two study abroad programs that she leads, one to Tanzania and another to London.


In 2023, Dr. DeClouette and two colleagues founded GC THRIVE, an Inclusive Postsecondary Education Program for college students with intellectual disabilities. Dr. DeClouette also works closely with Baldwin County’s Life Enrichment Center (LEC), a creative-arts day program that serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This community-based partnership spans more than 10 years and includes collaboration with Dr. DeClouette’s Georgia College students, the delivery of national conference presentations with adults with disabilities, and the implementation of multiple co-written grants that provide person-centered, community-based programs and services. Dr. DeClouette also serves on the LEC Board of Directors.


Dr. DeClouette received her Ph.D. in Special Education from Syracuse University after completing her dissertation on whole-school inclusive reform. Her additional degrees include a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies from Syracuse University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Vice President
Elizabeth Colquitt

My experience in special education includes 10 years teaching in special education in the United States K-12 public school setting. I have taught self-contained Autism, inclusion elementary, and students who are deaf/hard of hearing. My current certifications include special education K-12, deaf education k-12, and regular education k-5. Currently I teach preservice-special education and regular education teachers at the post-secondary level.  I have served in leadership on the Executive Board of DISES as the student representative, secretary, president elect, and currently the vice president.

President Elect
Dr. Jennifer Ward

Jennifer Ward, EdD, is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. She received her EdD in 2021 from the University of San Francisco, where she explored and documented the lived experiences of disabled refugees through the lenses of human rights, Critical Refugees Studies, and disability justice. Prior to beginning her career in higher education, Jennifer was a special education teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in the Midwest and Southwest, including the Phoenix area and Southern California. She has also lived and taught internationally. 

Dr. Ritu Chopra
Dr. Rita

Dr. Chopra is the Executive Director of the Paraprofessional Resource and Research Center (The PAR2A Center) at the University of Colorado. Since 1996, serving as the Principal Investigator/Project Director on funded projects, Dr. Chopra has been responsible for administration, training, research, and fiscal management of grant projects (over $38 million) at the PAR2A Center on a variety of grant projects funded by the US Department of Education and State Agencies in Colorado.  Under her leadership the PAR²A Center is recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a premier source of information on paraeducators (aka paraprofessionals, teacher assistants). Her areas of expertise include, Paraeducator professional Development and Supervision, Paraeducator-to-teacher pathways, Quality preparation for degreed and non-degreed personnel who serve children/youth with disabilities, Teacher diversity, Collaborative practices among paraprofessionals, teachers, parents and Leadership in inclusive schools.


Prior to moving to the US in 1990, Dr. Chopra had worked for over 10 years in the capacity of a teacher, trainer, researcher and administrator in various educational institutions in her native country, India. As an active member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Dr. Chopra has served for several years on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Division of Special Education and Services as Treasurer and the Chair of the Paraeducator Special Interest Group of CEC’s Teacher Education Division (TED). She has authored a book, several articles, book chapters and instructional materials in the U.S including multiple paraeducator related resources recently published by the CEC. She is also the recipient of the prestigious 2012 Excellence in Teacher Educator Award of the TED -CEC.

Dr. Nicci Dowd

Dr. Nicci T. Dowd is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Marymount University. Through her work with the fully online Special Education Certificate program, she focuses on creating opportunities for teachers to advance their careers and knowledge about Special Education. Additionally, she supervises the research of doctoral students. She enjoys raising awareness about community resources for students with disabilities and their families. She is committed to exploring barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion in education and the community. Dr. Dowd is the Secretary of the Division for International Special Education and Services (DISES). Through her work as a Board member of DISES, she collaborates with stakeholders to support innovative educational programs and initiatives that positively impact students, teachers, and communities. She has worked with stakeholders in Uganda, Panama, Colombia, and Ghana to provide professional development to teachers of students with special needs. Additionally, she conducts research in Panama and Colombia to explore culturally responsive sustaining practices that promote inclusive learning environments. Dr. Dowd has served as a board member for the Autism Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) and co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee for the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.


In her spare time, Dr. Dowd enjoys spending time with her family, grilling and relaxing on her front porch with her dog (Chuck Norris)!


Membership Officer
Dr. Robai Werunga

Robai Werunga, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Her research focus is in early academic and behavioral interventions through multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). Werunga' s target population is students with or at-risk for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and/or Learning Disabilities with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners. In addition, Werunga does research on strategies that foster and promote meaningful family and school relations as well as family engagement. Werunga has a keen interest in cultural responsiveness in teaching and explores this topic within her teaching and scholarship. Currently, Werunga teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Education. Werunga has over 20 years' experience working with individuals with disabilities; sixteen of those years were spent working directly with students with disabilities within grade school. She has taught in both separate and inclusive settings and designed instruction for students in both settings. She is a member of the council for exceptional children (CEC) with active membership on several divisions, including Division of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners (DDEL), Division of International Special Education and Service (DISES), and the Teacher Education Division (TED). In addition, Dr. Werunga is a member of the Association for Positive Behavior Supports (APBS)

Member at Large - Event Support
Ms. Keri Mignano

Keri Mignano, MEd is a dedicated teacher and researcher. She received her graduate degree in teaching from Marymount University. She specializes in K-12 educational practices supporting students with disabilities in inclusive settings. Ms. Mignano is an active member of the Council for Exceptional Children and is on the board of DISES, the Division of International Special Education and Services. Her research activities include student and teacher professional development support in Panama. She currently teaches high school serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Member at Large - International Outreach
Dr. Mansur Choudry

Dr. Mansur Choudry is Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and the Director of Autism Clinic, at Special Care.


He is a member of NAEYC, DISES, Past President ECAO, CEC, ASA, SECA and APBA.


For his work in the field of special education and specifically autism, Mansur was recognized at the Oklahoma Autism Statewide Conference in 2011 and awarded “The Excellence in Autism Award” in the State of Oklahoma.


In 2016 the APPNA (Association of Physicians of North America) gave the “Award of Excellence” in recognition of service to special needs children all over the world.


Acknowledged by Council of Exceptional Children Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES-CEC), February 2021.


He conducts workshops all over the United State and other countries to make people aware of different disabilities, especially autism. Mansur has worked and traveled extensively abroad and is well aware of different cultures.

Member at Large - Communications
Dr. Sophia Mavropoulou

Dr Sofia Mavropoulou is an Associate Professor in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia. Sofia is Leader of the Inclusion/Exclusion Research Program at the Center for Inclusive Education (C4IE), Study Area Coordinator for Inclusive Education in the Master of Education and Vice Chair of the Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice Faculty Equity Committee. Sofia serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of International Special Needs Education, Convenor for the Inclusive Education Special Interest Group in the Australian Association for Research in Education and co-Chair of IASSIDD’s Inclusive Education Special Interest Research Group. Sofia has extensive teaching experience in teacher education courses across 5 universities in Europe and Australia. Her research focuses on evidence-based tiered educational supports for autistic learners in inclusive contexts. Sofia’s publications can be accessed here

Member at Large - Membership Support
Dr. Keitha Osborne
Keitha Osborne

Dr. Keitha Osborne has over 30 years of experience in teaching at the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels, of which she has taught for four years in the United States. She holds an undergraduate degree in Home Economics from the University of Technology, Jamaica; Masters in Educational Media, NSU, and completed her doctoral degree at NSU in Special Education.


She is currently a Senior Lecturer at The Mico University College (Jamaica) in the Special Education Department. She is passionate about her job as a teacher educator and is committed to her assignment as the Program Coordinator for the evening students. As an advocate for her students, she believes in promoting students' wellbeing and achievement.


She enjoys doing travelling, sharing her knowledge, and advocating for children with special needs. 

Student Representative
Ms. Saurym Quezada

Saurym Quezada is a doctoral student at Florida State University (FSU). She is a licensed teacher in K-6th Elementary Education and K-12th Exceptional Student Education with an Autism endorsement; certified in Advanced TEFL/TESOL and job development services through the Division of Blind Services. She has over 7 years of experience in both general and special education instructional practices across Pk-12th primary and secondary classrooms locally and internationally. She earned a bachelor's degree in Christian Ministry from Trinity International University and a master's degree in special education from Florida Atlantic University. She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Michael Tuttle, Ph.D. at FSU, and a member of Dr. Jenny Root’s Graduate Curriculum Access (GCA) Research Lab. Her research interests include transition across the lifespan, coexisting low-incidence disabilities (e.g., autism and blindness), faith & belonging, and international special education.


Dr. Clara Hauth

Dr. Mary V. Kealy

Dr. Jugnu Agrawal

Mr. Mark Francis

Dr. Vicky Spencer

Dr. Eileen Raymond

Dr. Susan O'Rourke

Dr. Humberto Rodriguez

Dr. Susan O’Rourke

Dr. Alice Farling

Dr. Tom Gumpel

Dr. Clayton Keller

Dr. Richard Zigler

Dr. Todd Fletcher

Dr. David Mitchell

Dr. John Visser

Dr. Judy Smith-Davis

Dr. Elizabeth Whitten

Dr. Janice Chavez

Dr. Louise Fulton

Dr. Richard Gargiulo

Dr. William Berdine

Dr. Virginia Dixon

Dr. Jerrie Ueberle

Dr. Carmen Iannaccone

Dr. Robert Henderson


Budget & Finance




Family Committee


Sip and Chat

Student Committee

Virtual Events

Click here to access the 2020 DISES Bylaws.

Last Updated:  24 April, 2024

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