Venus Ilagan, Secretary-General

Venus Ilagan came to Rehabilitation International in 2008 as Secretary General with 14 years in the field of disability advocacy. She is RI Global’s 9th SG and the first person with a disability to ever occupy the post: Ilagan was stricken with polio as a three-year old and has used a wheelchair for nearly all of her life. Prior to joining RI, Ilagan was the Chairperson (and first female chair) and Representative for the International Relations section of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), during which she worked to pass the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Aside from international disability initiatives, Ilagan has worked as the National Project Director for Breaking Barriers for Children in the Philippines, which provides free comprehensive rehabilitation services to more than 13,000 poor children and youth with disabilities. Prior to that, she was a journalist. Ilagan is a recipient of the 5th Kazuo Itoga memorial prize award for outstanding achievement in the field of disability in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the first non-Danish winner of the PTU (Danish Society of Polio and Accident Victims) Award for International Development Work. Ilagan holds a Bachelor  in Journalism from the Centro Escolar University in Manila.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Zhang Haidi, President

RI People - Haidi Zhang

Regarded as China’s Helen Keller for her outspokenness on disability rights, Zhang Haidi is the chairperson of the China Disabled Persons Federation and the President of Rehabilitation International. Born in Jinan, Shandong Province, Zhang became a paraplegic at age five due to complications from polio. Unable to attend school, she educated herself to university level, learning several foreign languages including English, Japanese, German and Esperanto. Zhang started writing and translating in the 1980s, authoring her life story Beautiful English in both Chinese and English. as well as the novel,  A Dream in Wheelchair. She has also translated many Western literary works into Chinese, including Ralph Helfer’s Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived, which won a national prize for translated works. As a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Zhang has called for the improvement of disabled access to buildings and the right of disabled people to drive automobiles. She is a member of the Chinese Writers Association and was a visiting scholar at the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, Germany from 2007 to 2008. Zhang holds a Master in Philosophy from Jilin University.

Susan Parker, Treasurer

Susan Parker has more than 30 years of executive experience gained through appointments by state governors, U.S. presidents, local and international boards of directors to better help people with disabilities worldwide. The former Secretary-General of RI (1993-1998), Parker’s experiences as a New England ski racer and instructor pointed her toward a career in disability advocacy, which included assisting disabled soldiers from armed conflicts in Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the early 1990s, Parker served as the Disability Commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration, opening up disability benefits to 465,000 U.S. children. From 2002-2011, she joined in the U.S. Department of Labor as the Disability Policy Director and helped create the national Disability Unemployment Statistic. Prior to the federal level, Parker held top leadership posts in two state governments: the State of Maine, Commissioner, Department of Mental Health & Mental Retardation; and the State of New Hampshire, Executive Director of the Developmental Disabilities Council. From 1998 to 2001, Parker was the Senior Policy Officer, Disability at the International Labour Organization in Geneva. She holds the Master of Social Work and Master of Social Planning degrees from Boston College School of Social Work and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mark Weber (South Africa), Vice-President, Africa

Hashem Taqi (Kuwait), Vice-President, Middle East/North Africa

Hashem Taqi is the General Manager of the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped and the first Kuwaiti to assume a key post in RI Global. Taqi, who has been working for the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped for nearly 35 years, previously served as RI Global’s Middle East Chair. Established in 1971, the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped offers various free services, such as medical care, rehabilitation and education to persons with disabilities. The Society started with the caring for 30 children with disabilities, and now it owns a modern purposed designed centre for 250 multiply disabled children, as well as day care centers in Hawally, Jahra and Ahmadi.

Ye-Ja Lee (South Korea), Vice-President, Asia Pacific

In 2015 the 23rd World Congress elected Ye-Ja Lee as the vice president of Rehabilitation International’s Asia-Pacific division. She is currently serving during the third part of the Asian and Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022. For her entire career, Lee has worked for the right of women and people with disabilities in both the public and private sectors. She has been a member of Seoul Metropolitan Council, as well as several government committees, helping to oversee policies. Lee has also worked with the World Council of Churches on operating international disability programs. She currently affiliated with the Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (KSRPD).

Roy O’Shaughnessy (UK), Vice-President, Europe

Roy O’Shaughnessy is the Chief Executive Officer of Shaw Trust, a national charity providing employment opportunities, skills, and health and well-being services to people of all abilities. In this role, he is responsible for the leadership and growth of Shaw Trust and developing external relationships to build an organisation that transforms a minimum of 50,000 lives each year. Prior to joining Shaw Trust, O’Shaughnessy served as the Chief Executive of Careers Development Group, a welfare to work organisation, where he led a national Expert Volunteer Initiative to recruit 50,000 volunteers to work with unemployed people across the UK in order to reduce long term unemployment. He was a board member of Papworth Trust, a disability trust, and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). O’Shaughnessy received a Bachelor of Science in Religion and Business Administration from Houghton College in western New York and studied Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in the United States.

Michael Brogioli (U.S.), Vice-President, North America

Michael Brogioli, the Executive Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), has more than twenty years of experience working on behalf of organizations that benefit vulnerable populations. At RESNA, he helps promote technology solutions for people with disabilities, including as the Principal Investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office on Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT). Prior posts include first Vice President for Policy and Government Relations at Special Olympics International, where Brogioli successfully secured federal, corporate and foundation grants to support several initiatives, including the Global Policy Summit on the Well-being of People with Intellectual Disabilities, held at the 2007 Special Olympic World Games in Shanghai, China. Brogioli holds a Master in Public Policy from Duke University, where he was a Jacob Javits Fellow, and a Bachelor Degree in government and international relations from the University of Notre Dame.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:

Friedrich Mehrhoff (Germany), Chair of the Commission on Work and Employment

Friedrich Mehrhoff is the head of rehabilitation strategies in the German Federation of Insurers against the risks of Work and School Accidents and Occupational Diseases (DGUV) in Berlin. Insurers, service providers, professionals and state authorities ask for his recommendations both nationally and internationally on return-to-work strategies for the disabled. He focuses on Disability Management as an economic and social investment. Mehrhoff has an advanced degree in law.

Tone Mørk (Norway), Chair of the Commission on Education

Tone Mørk is the head of Statped, a consortium that offers special educational support to all municipalities and counties of Norway. She arrived at Statped jin 2016 from her job as director of Special Units for the Nordic Welfare Centre (NVC) in Stockholm, While there, she helped develop the Nordic welfare model under the Nordic Council of Ministers in the social and health sector. Mørk has extensive experience in restructuring and establishingnew public enterprises as they apply to the disability field.

Hiroshi Kawamura (Japan), Chair of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA)

Hiroshi Kawamura is a long-term board member of the DAISY Consortium,a global partnership of organizations committed to creating the best methods of publishing for people who are blind or print disabled. He has also served DAISY in several other positions, including as an ambassador for DAISY in the Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) sector. Kawamura helped coordinate the Global Forum on Disability in the Information Society in Geneva and in Tunis, which has been followed by international conferences on DiDRR  and on-site collaborative research. Under Kawamura, the forum focused on empowering all community residents by providing accessible and easy to understand in in order too inform scientific knowledge on DiDRR in DAISY multimedia format. Kawamura arranged the Asia-Pacific Meeting on DiDRR in Sendai, Japan in April 2014 in collaboration with UN ESCAP, Nippon Foundation and Rehabilitation International. He has worked as a professional librarian at the University of Tokyo Library since 1970.

Yueqin Huang (China), Chair of the Commission on Health and Function

Professor Yueqin Huang is the director of the Division of Social Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Peking University’s Institute of Mental Health. She is also the vice-president of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the president of Society of Crisis Intervention of Chinese Association of Mental Health. In addition to her professional job, Yueqin serves as the the president of Chinese Mental Health Journal and is a international member of American Psychiatric Association, as well as a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

Pauliina Lampinen (Finland), Chair of the Commission on Policy and Services

Pauliina Lampinen is the current Executive Director of VAMLAS (Supporting Foundation for Children and Youth with Disabilities), one of the oldest disability organisations in Finland. VAMLAS promotes equal opportunities and inclusion of children and youth with disabilities, especially in education and the labour market.  Prior to joining VAMLAS Lampinen worked as the Development Manager for the VATES Foundation, where she advanced the employment of people with disabilities, as well as a project manager at University of Helsinki Continuing Education.She has been a member of the board of FIBS, the leading non-profit corporate responsibility network in Finland and a council member with the European Union of Supported Employment (EUSE). Lampinen attended the University of Helsinki, where she earned a Master in Social Sciences, Sociology, Social Politics, Social Psychology and Gender Studies

Kahled Al Mohter (Lebanon), Chair of the Social Commission

Jan Sau Johansen (Denmark), Chair of the Commission on Leisure and Recreation

Jan S. Johansen, the Chair of RI Global’s Leisure, Recreation and Physical Activity Committee has more than 30 years of experience in the field of Adapted Physical Activity as a consultant for the Danish Sportsorganization for Disabled and as a lecturer of APA at the university level. Johansen views rehabilitation and habilitation in a holistic perspective that includes all aspects of a persons life, including participation in leisure activities or competitive sports. He been a long-serving National Secretary of RI Denmark and works as a Manager of Marselisborg Centret, a National Centre of Rehabilitation in Denmark. Johansen holds a degree in Physical Education from the University of Southern Denmark, and a Post-graduate certificate  in exercise for rehabilitation from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Jan A. Monsbakken, Past President

RI People - Monsbakken

Jan Monsbakken, the President of Rehabilitation International (RI), has traveled around the world speaking out on behalf of the rights for persons with disabilities. Before becoming President of Rehabilitation International in 2012, he served on a range of organisations including as a board member of the European Disability Forum from 1998 to 2005, treasurer of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations from 1997 to 2007, and Deputy Vice-President and President-Elect of Rehabilitation International. He has also been actively involved in many international research projects in disability and psoriasis, as well as the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association. A native of Oslo, Mr. Monsbakken started his career as the Director of Negotiations for the Norwegian Nurses Association.