ABLE to Save Podcast Series

The ABLE to Save podcast series is brought to you by the ABLE National Resource Center, which is managed by National Disability Institute.

Hear from leaders in the public and private sectors, as well as from ABLE account holders and their family members, about how ABLE accounts can be an effective savings tool to help improve health, independence, and quality of life for people with disabilities.

To listen to the ABLE to Save podcast series, visit each episode profile below.

Where to Listen

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ABLE to Save Podcast Episodes

Featured Guest: Michael Morris, Founder, National Disability Institute

Michael Morris is the Founder of National Disability Institute (NDI) and a Senior Strategic Advisor. He has more than 30 years of experience in and outside of government pioneering new strategies to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Mr. Morris serves as an advisor and technical expert to multiple federal agencies on policy and systems relationships at federal, state and local levels to advance economic stability, mobility and asset development for persons with disabilities. In 1981, he was named the first Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Public Policy and came to Washington, D.C. to work in the Office of Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker, as legal counsel to the United States Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped. Mr. Morris also served subsequently as counsel to the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee. From Capitol Hill, he went to work at United Cerebral Palsy Association as the first director of government relations, then as director of community services and finally as national executive director. During his 14-year tenure, his leadership put a focus on needed assistive technology and its essential role in accommodating people with disabilities in the areas of employment, education, communications and daily living. In 2001, Mr. Morris helped establish NDI to advance the social and economic independence of persons with disabilities through strategic investment and technical assistance activities nationwide that bring together government, corporations, foundations and community and faith-based organizations. Mr. Morris received his undergraduate degree with honors in Political Science from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio and his law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Ga.

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Featured Guest: Betsy Blair, SSA Policy Analyst

Ms. Blair works at SSA headquarters as a policy analyst on the SSI income and resources team. Prior to working at the agency, she was employed by State of Maryland and specialized in eligibility policy for income assistance programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF.

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Featured Guests: Stephen Dale and Amy Tessler

Stephen W. Dale, Esq., LL.M is a disability rights advocate whose interest in the disability community began at an early age. He comes from a family of institutional workers that served in California’s State Hospitals and Developmental Centers for more than three generations. For 17 years, he worked as a psychiatric technician in a variety of institutions in California, and later became an intern at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) working on disability access cases, and later transitioned to a private practice focused on drafting and administering special needs trusts. Stephen is currently the principal attorney at the Dale Law Firm which is dedicated to providing quality estate planning to clients by working cooperatively with the clients’ tax, financial and insurance professionals. He is also the trustee of the Golden State Pooled Trust which serves beneficiaries in California. Part of his duties is to oversee a series of MCLE programs accredited by the California State Bar, which provides education to attorneys and trustees on a wide variety of disability-related subjects focused on quality of life for persons with disabilities. Stephen is a long-standing member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national, not-for-profit organization of attorneys dedicated to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Amy Tessler’s son was diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum when he was two years old. Just like most Moms of special needs children, Amy immersed herself in learning about the vast number of autism therapies in hope of finding something that would really help. She attended conferences about how to plan for his future. Although unlikely, Amy struggled with who would take care of Scott and his sister if something happened to her and her husband. Therefore, the Special Needs Trust was created when Scott was 10 years old in order to establish a funding source and provide direction for Scott’s safety and emotional well-being in the event of a worst case scenario. Even though Scott has an SNT, he opened an ABLE account in March of 2018.

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Featured Guest: Jennifer Casselman

Jennifer Casselman is Vice President of Commercial Operations with Greater Lending in Nevada. She also serves as a member of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Jenny opened an ABLE account to allow her daughter, Kenley (11), who has Down syndrome, to save for her future without jeopardizing her benefits. As a family member and advocate for ABLE accounts, Jenny has spoken before the Nevada Legislature to thank them for supporting ABLE accounts as a tool to help loved ones today and to plan for tomorrow. She is a 2020 ABLE National Resource Center Ambassador.

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Featured Guest: Kathy DeAngelo

Kathy DeAngelo is a Certified Benefits and Work Incentives Planner for Chenango-Delaware-Otsego (CDO) Workforce in upstate New York, providing advocacy for Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities who are seeking assistance to return to employment. She previously worked in various positions for Otsego County, both at the Department of Social Services and at Otsego County Office of Employment and Training, cultivating a unique perspective that led to her successful role as Disability Resource Coordinator and Sr. Employment & Training Counselor.

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Featured Guest: Edward Mitchell

Edward Mitchell is an ABLE account owner and independent living specialist for the Jackson, Tennessee Center for Independent Living. In 2003, at the age of 17, he was a victim of a hit-and-run accident while on his bicycle that resulted in quadriplegia with an incomplete spinal cord injury at the C5 and C6 levels. That hasn’t slowed him down, though. Edward went on to get his bachelor’s degree from Lane College, a private Historically Black College, and his Master’s in Business Administration from Union University. He’s also an active member Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black Greek letter organization founded in 1906. In 2018, Edward came onboard as an inaugural ABLE National Resource Center Ambassador and testified before the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging at their hearing on “Supporting Economic Stability & Self Sufficiency as Americans with Disabilities & their Families Age.” Last year, Edward was inducted to the Lane College Hall of Distinction for the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

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