ABLE National Resource Center Welcomes New Staff

April 13, 2017

With 19 states having launched ABLE programs, and many more set to launch in the next few months, the ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) aims to do everything it can to ensure that individuals with disabilities and their families have all the information needed to feel comfortable becoming ABLE account owners. With that in mind, the ANRC is excited to announce the hiring of the following individuals (all of whom are either family members of eligible ABLE account owners or eligible ABLE account owners themselves):

Christopher J. Rodriguez, Director

Chris Rodriguez has been serving as the “Acting Director” of the ABLE National Resource Center for the majority of its existence, in addition to his role as the Director of Public Policy for National Disability Institute (NDI), a position he will continue to hold concurrently. Mr. Rodriguez has extensive experience working on behalf of individuals with disabilities both on the state and national levels. Prior to joining NDI, he worked for Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc. as Director of Governmental Affairs and Media Relations. He has also acted as a policy consultant for UCP National and the National Association of Councils for Developmental Disabilities, and began his professional career as the Director of Chapter Services for The Arc of Texas. Mr. Rodriguez earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas, concentrating on Social and Economic Policy, as well as Disability Studies.

Mr. Rodriguez’s drive to assist individuals with disabilities is a result of his personal experience with disability: he is the younger brother to an individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities who resides in Texas.

Heather Sachs, J.D., Senior ABLE Advisor

Heather Sachs has nearly a decade of experience as an advocate in the disability community. She formerly served as the Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy for the National Down Syndrome Society from January 2015 – March 2017. At NDSS, Ms. Sachs spearheaded legislative priorities on federal, state and local levels in the areas of economic self-sufficiency, education, employment, health care, research and community integration, and developed significant expertise on the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. She worked directly with state legislators and disability advocates to achieve passage and enactment of state ABLE bills in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. She has collaborated with financial industry leaders and state ABLE program administrators on the development and implementation of ABLE programs, and has worked with federal agencies to develop and clarify the rules and regulations regarding ABLE.

Ms. Sachs is also a parent of a child with Down syndrome. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Daniel Elkus, ABLE Specialist

Daniel Elkus holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and is currently a second-year law student at Georgetown University. He has expressed a sincere interest and enthusiasm in not only disability related public policy, but in ABLE Act implementation specifically. As a person with a disability and a student of law, Mr. Elkus contributes a unique perspective on the development of ABLE programs and the implementation of the ABLE Act.

Matthew Shapiro, ABLE Specialist    

Matthew Shapiro is a motivated, young self-advocate currently living in Virginia. While at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, he created his own degree through the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program. He integrated Sociology, Public Policy and Special Education classes to create his Advocacy for Social Justice Degree. In 2014, he developed a disability consulting company called 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC. It is the goal of 6 Wheels Consulting to work with businesses of all types to help advance their understanding of disability culture. Mr. Shapiro also serves as an ABLE Ambassador with Virginia529 and ABLEnow to help promote the rollout of ABLE accounts in the Commonwealth of Virginia.