Director of the RAISE Center
Dr. Josie Badger received her Bachelor’s degree from Geneva College in Disability Law and Advocacy, a Master’s from the University of Pittsburgh in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a Doctorate from Duquesne University in Healthcare Ethics. In 2014 Josie founded J Badger Consulting Inc. where she provides youth development and disability consulting services for organizations, on transition and leadership development. She is the Director of the national RSA-Parent Training and Information Center technical assistance center (RAISE). She is the Campaign Manager of the United Way if Southwestern PA’s #IWantToWork Campaign, to improve the employment of people with disabilities, is a Field Organizer for the Family Care Act that supports paid family leave, and is the developer of TRAIL, a statewide advocacy and lobbying training program. She serves as a board member of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, The Woodlands Foundation, the Mary Grace Hospice Foundation, and FISA. In 2012, Dr. Badger was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America.
Myriam V. Alizo
Assistant Project Director
Myriam Alizo has over 20 years of experience helping parents navigate the special education system. She worked for NJ Parent to Parent and for Parent to Parent of Miami (FL) before moving to NJ, where she now works for SPAN, the Parent Training and Information Center of New Jersey, helping to start and run parent groups and conducting bilingual special education trainings. At SPAN, she also works for the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), the national organization that provides information and products to the network of Parent Centers. Myriam also works as a bilingual Family Centered Services Technical Assistance Specialist for NEPACT (PTAC Region A). Myriam is currently a member of the advisory board for the National Center for Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE); she was a member of the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) Parent Leader Team. Myriam coordinated the English-Spanish Glossary for OSEP. Myriam has a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela. Myriam is the proud mother of two young adults with amazing talents. Myriam enjoys cooking, practicing yoga and working out. Myriam lives in New Jersey with her two daughters and her husband.
Product Development Coordinator
Lauren’s experience in education and transition includes appointment by the Governor to the State Interagency Coordinating Council and Board of Education to the State Special Education Advisory Council simultaneously. She served as the co-leader of her district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Group for ten years. More recently, Lauren developed the curriculum for the Special Education Volunteer Advocates project. She also developed webinars on inclusion for the START project. Lauren has participated in all the SRP (SPAN Resource Parent) and SEVA trainings. She serves on the Board/Executive Board of her local CIL, the Progressive Center for Independent Living as well as the Board of the Mercer NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and SERV Behavioral Health. Lauren has written blogs and articles nationally and in NJ, including publications in 2 academic journals. Nationally, she serves on the National Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities transplant subcommittee and is a reviewer for the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials. Lauren is the parent of a young adult with medical complexity.
Virtual Training Coordinator
Johan Mora Valverde is an undergraduate student at Union County College majoring in Communications. He will transfer to Rutgers Newark in Fall 2021 for a bachelor’s in Public and Nonprofit Administration to understand the role of a public servant Johan started in May 2020 as the Youth Coordinator for SPAN. In this role, he developed and coordinates the SPAN weekly Youth Chat which brings together youth from the community to discuss topics such as self-advocacy, self-care, and independence. Johan also supervises a weekly Youth SPAN Blog distributed throughout the SPAN network. He works with self-advocacy organizations to bring presentations and workshops to youth with disabilities. Johan is a sibling, nephew, and uncle to individuals with disabilities, and an immigrant to the United States. Civic engagement and the common good are personal motivators for him.