2016 DO-IT Trailblazers

The DO‑IT Trailblazer award highlights DO‑IT community members who forge new pathways that will benefit others. Through their work and accomplishments they have changed the way the world views people with disabilities and have increased the potential of people with disabilities to succeed in college, careers, and community life. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Rick Ells has worked for many years as a senior webmaster for the University of Washington Information Technology unit. He is a web designer, graphic artist, instructor, technical writer, and long-time champion of accessible information technology. In 2003, Rick started the Accessibleweb@u special interest group, which meets regularly to discuss and demonstrate principles of accessible web design and electronic content. His leadership in this group reminds us that campus-based technology should be accessible for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities, and that improving digital accessibility is a long-term process involving many stakeholders. Rick is particularly adept at recruiting new accessibility champions and helping create incredible tools for others, such as the Accessible Technology at the UW website. He has included accessibility in his training for nearly 20 years.

Cynthia Bennett is active in AccessEngineering, AccessComputing, and AccessSTEM. She is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. She has conducted research in accessibility, a subarea of human-computer interaction (HCI). Much of her work focuses on improving the accessibility of the technology design process itself. Cynthia is an active mentor for younger students and shares her knowledge through panel presentations, published work, and informal teaching moments with faculty and staff. She was co-author on the Best Student Paper at the 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2014). She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2015.

Michael Reese, Associate Director of Experiential Learning at Bellevue College’s Center for Career Connections, has engaged with DO-IT in many activities as a collaborator in the AccessSTEM project. He consistently goes above and beyond the typical scope of work to work with, recruit, and prepare students with disabilities for the Workforce Recruitment Program. He developed a class to prepare students with disabilities for the workforce and has been a campus coordinator for community events that support students with disabilities, such as the Washington State Business Leadership Network Job Fair. He takes time out of his personal schedule to attend and bring students to events such as the Microsoft Ability Summit.

Jesse Shaver, a DO-IT Ambassador and ‘03 Scholar, as well as an AccessSTEM and AccessComputing team member, has excelled as a mentor since he graduated from college in 2009. He consistently makes time to engage in mentoring, student mock interview sessions, and other activities to help students prepare for technical job interviews. He believes that people with disabilities bring a unique skill set to programming. Jesse has a unique blend of solid technical skills with incredible communication skills. He is a good listener and cares about the experiences of others. Through his efforts, student mentees build confidence and ultimately enter job-seeking activities with purpose and strategy.

Previous DO‑IT Trailblazer award winners:


Anna Ewing, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘09 Scholar, for her work educating others about the experience of living with an unpredictable disability and for her advocacy efforts regarding the education of individuals with disabilities. Anna helped develop Seattle Central College’s disability studies course, the first of its kind in the Seattle College District.

Kavita Krishnaswamy, a graduate student in computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and an AccessComputing team member, for her accomplishments in the application of robotics to increase the independence of people with disabilities. In the past year, Kavita has pioneered the use of robots to participate in multiple conferences across the country without needing to travel.

Katie Sullivan, DO-IT Mentor, for mentoring DO-IT participants at Microsoft and engaging in DO-IT’s collaborative Summer Academy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computer Science.

Brandon Muller, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘01 Scholar, for leadership and dedication to programs that promote the success and full inclusion of youth with disabilities in education and employment. Brandon is a member of the Washington State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, where he acts as a vice chair on the Youth Leadership Forum Planning Committee.

Dr. Daniela Marghitu, a professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University, for her contributions to multiple projects that DO-IT directs or co-directs, including AccessComputing, AccessCSForAll, and AccessEngineering. She is the founding director of the Auburn University Educational and Assistive Technology Laboratory and the Co-PI and Technology Coordinator of the Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM.

Dr. Jonathan Lazar, professor of computer and information sciences and director of the Undergraduate Program in Information Systems at Towson University, for enthusiastic engagement within multiple DO-IT projects that include AccessSTEM, AccessComputing, and AccessEngineering and for encouraging others to engage in these projects and contribute their expertise.


Dr. Norm Coombs, chief executive officer of Equal Access to Software and Information, for providing opportunities for others to have access to assistive technology. He pioneered Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT’s) distance learning program, received Zenith’s Master of Innovation award for his uses of distance learning to mainstream students with disabilities, and has co-presented with DO-IT at multiple conferences and workshops.

Myrna Muto, coordinator of Seattle Public Schools counselors, for being an active advocate for high school students with disabilities preparing for college and careers. She has worked with DO-IT to develop and disseminate newsletters, host events, and facilitate trainings and workshops for Seattle Schools educators and staff.

Vincent Martin, AccessComputing team member, for being an active member and mentor on DO-IT’s e-mentoring communities, giving invaluable advice on technical details, complex software/hardware interaction, and accessible technology for postsecondary education.

Dr. Kelsey Byers, DO-IT Mentor, for her countless presentations on equal access in academics, fieldwork, governance, student events, and other aspects of campus life, and constant advocacy and presence at DO-IT events. She has been active in the broader UW community, making important contributions on several committees, student groups, and other entities that promote access and inclusion for everyone.


Dr. Bea Awoniyi, long-time DO-IT collaborator, Santa Fe College Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, and president elect for the Board of Directors of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), for her work to better serve students and veterans with disabilities, including substantial contributions to DO-IT resources and the AccessCollege project.

Anna Marie Golden, founder and manager of AnnAtycal Web Studio, DO-IT Mentor, and part of UW’s Accessible Technology Services team, for outstanding mentoring and her work to increase accessibility on the Internet, including the development of an accessible website for the Deaf-Blind Service Center.

Susan Gjolmesli, director of the Disability Resource Center at Bellevue College, DO-IT Mentor, and project partner, for outstanding advocacy in the promotion of accessible campuses and the development of the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program. She was designated as a Living Treasure at Bellevue College in 2009 and received the Washington State Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown in 2012.

Michael Richardson, co-director of the Northwest ADA (American with Disabilities Act) Center and DO-IT Mentor, for his relentless advocacy and enthusiasm for the participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of our community.


Katrina Carter, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for her advocacy in founding a disability student group at UW Bothell; and her work in the National Youth Leadership Network, Think First National Injury Prevention Foundation, National Leadership Conference for Youth with Disabilities, and the Army Corps Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

Wendy Chisholm, DO-IT Mentor, senior Microsoft strategist, for co-editing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and 2.0, which form the basis of most web accessibility policies throughout the world; co-authoring the book Universal Design for Web Applications; and founding Accessibility Camp Seattle. 

Dyane Haynes, DO-IT Mentor, DO-IT partner, and director of Disability Resources for students at UW, for her tireless efforts in sharing disability resources and promoting universal design through capacity-building institutes, as well as her work within DO-IT Admin, DO-IT Prof, DO-IT College, and AccessSTEM projects.

Conrad Reynoldson, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘03 Scholar, for his work to raise disability awareness in the community. He was the first person to use a power wheelchair in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle half marathon, has organized comedy nights to increase the visibility of people with disabilities, completed an internship at Disability Rights Washington, and was a congressional intern in Washington, DC.


Laura Bersos, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘04 Scholar, for developing community among DO-IT Scholars and participants. Laura has attended Summer Study every year since she became involved with DO-IT.

Kayla Brown, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘05 Scholar, for advocacy work at Bellevue College and nonprofits. She advocates for people with disabilities in Seattle, traveled to New Orleans to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, participated in City Year, and has served on the ATeam leadership group for DO-IT’s AccessSTEM project.

E.A. Draffin, research staff in the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science in the United Kingdom, for promoting accessibility in e-learning, the web, and mobile devices; providing an international database of accessible technology; and supporting students with disabilities to increase accessibility in education, employment, and their daily lives.


Dr. Martha Bosma, associate professor of biology at UW, for her leadership in the inclusion of people with disabilities in science education and careers, outreach to ensure accessible science labs, and mentoring of DO-IT Scholars in their transition to postsecondary education.

Corinna (Lang) Fale, DO-IT Ambassador and ’00 Scholar, for her work promoting self-advocacy for people with disabilities through her position as co-coordinator of the Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Determination (LEAD) Coalition at the Arc of Snohomish County and as a representative for People First of Washington.

Dr. Sang-Mook Lee, professor of geophysics at Seoul National University, for promoting access to technology, education, and employment for people with disabilities in South Korea.

Noah Seidel, DO-IT Ambassador and ’05 Scholar, for his disability advocacy and leadership on the UW campus and in the Seattle community. He has organized disability awareness events and has spoken on numerous panels regarding inclusion, access, and transition to college and careers.

Priscilla Wong, DO-IT Ambassador and ’95 Scholar, for her volunteer work serving people with disabilities at the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital and ongoing dedication to advocating for accessible programs and environments.


Kim Borowicz, disability rights lawyer at Access Living and DO-IT Mentor, for contributions on to the field of disability law and a commitment to tackling issues of access to transportation, media, and education for people with disabilities.

Loren Mikola, disability inclusion program manager at Microsoft and AccessSTEM team member, for contributions in making Microsoft an inclusive environment for employees with a wide variety of abilities and for promoting the design of accessible technology.

Kris Rosenberg, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘94 Scholar, for contributing to the long-term success of DO-IT’s college preview and technology program at Camp Courage by providing lab and technology support, instruction, and mentoring.

Jessie Sandoval, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for academic achievement and pursuit of a career in disability law.

Chris Schlechty, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘02 Scholar, for academic achievement, pursuit of a career in computing, and mentoring interns with disabilities in the workplace nationwide.


Daman Wandke, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘05 Scholar, for leadership in organizing disability awareness activities on a postsecondary campus.

Al Souma, coordinator of Disability Support Services at Seattle Central Community College and AccessCollege team member, for responding to emerging issues of students with disabilities, including those related to people with mental health impairments and veterans with disabilities.

Dr. Mamoru Iwabuchi, associate professor at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo and assistant director of DO-IT Japan, for promoting DO-IT practices internationally.


Dennis Lang, associate director of the disability studies program at UW, for promoting the adoption of a disability studies program which now resides in the School of Law. He has also mentored dozens of students pursuing the disability studies minor.

Anthony Arnold, DO‑IT Ambassador and ‘94 Scholar, for significant contributions to the field of augmentative and alternative communication through his advocacy and career, and serving as a powerful role model for the employment of individuals with disabilities that affect both mobility and speech.

Dr. Ray Bowen, while Dean of the UW College of Engineering, made contacts at the National Science Foundation in 1992 that led to DO‑IT’s first grant funding. He mentored DO-IT founder and director Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler and facilitated collaborations with the college’s programs for women and minorities. This created an expanded view of diversity that became a model for other departments and institutions.


Dr. Imke Durre, DO‑IT Mentor, for accomplishments in earning a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in atmospheric sciences, increasing public awareness of the positive contributions of people with disabilities in science fields, and providing a strong role model and mentoring to students with visual impairments.

Julie Peddy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program manager, for accomplishments in integrating youth with disabilities in service learning programs and promoting the employment of people with disabilities in science fields.


Karen Braitmayer, architect and DO‑IT Mentor, for accomplishments as a business owner and for progressing accessibility efforts within the field of architecture.

Mylene Padolina, Microsoft senior diversity consultant, for accomplishments in the integration of disability in the diversity efforts of businesses and for success in programs encouraging youth to pursue high-tech career fields.

Jessie Shulman, DO‑IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for accomplishments in increasing access and support on the UW campus and providing a strong role model to students with hidden disabilities.

Dr. Suzanne Weghorst, assistant director for research at the UW Human Interface Technology Lab, for accomplishments in research and for providing numerous opportunities for students with disabilities to explore the field of human interface technology.


Cheri Blauwet, DO‑IT Ambassador, ‘96 Scholar, and Stanford graduate student, for achievements in athletics and academics.

Mike Dedman, education specialist at the National Parks Service, for improving access in the national parks.

Charity Ranger, DO‑IT student staff and UW student, for improving access and support on a postsecondary campus.

Anna Schneider, DO‑IT Ambassador, ‘93 Scholar, artist, businesswoman, and UW graduate, for accomplishments in the combination of fine arts, business, and science.