People of RI Global
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). Ilagan holds a Bachelor in Journalism from the Centro Escolar University in Manila.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Zhang Haidi, President
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. Zhang holds a Master in Philosophy from Jilin University.
Susan Parker, Treasurer
Susan Parker has more than 30 years of executive experience in the field of worldwide disabilities. 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. Parker has 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
Demelash Bekele (Ethiopia), Deputy 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.
Lobna Smida (Tunisia), Deputy Vice-President, MENA
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).
Joseph Kwan (Hong Kong), Deputy Vice-President, Asia/Pacific
François Perl (Belgium), Vice-President, Europe
Nick Carey (UK), Deputy Vice-President, Europe
Nick Carey is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Shaw Trust Group, a UK based charity with an ambition to help transform the lives of 1 million people each year. Shaw Trust is one of the 25 largest charities in the UK, delivering a wide range of public services from children and family services, schools, employability, learning and skills, justice, community health and wellbeing and retail and enterprise activities. Nick leads the Group’s strategy, policy, marketing and communications, assurance, risk, business intelligence and international functions. Nick joined Shaw Trust in 2012, before which he worked in policy at a membership body and think tank – the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – working with charity chief executives and central UK Government on public policy reform and creating a more professional, entrepreneurial and impact focussed charitable sector. He graduated from Cambridge University, after which he joined PwC in their London Banking and Capital Market team.
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. 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.
Mathieu Simard (Canada), Deputy Vice-President, North America
Mathieu Simard has been working in the physical rehabilitation area for the past 19 years and has been involved in a large number of international health projects since 2000. This mixed background has led to a number of different positions to strengthen disability inclusion in high and low-income settings alike. These range from clinical service provision to providing teachings and trainings in various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and universities in Canada and abroad. In addition to serving as Deputy-Vice President North-America and Vice-Chair on the International Commission on Accessibility and Technology, Simard chairs RI Rehabilitation International’s Task Force on Disability, Armed Conflict, and Natural Disasters. He is currently pursuing a PhD candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences at McGill University.
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
Khaled El Mohtar is a founding member and chair of the Rehabilitation International — Middle East/North Africa (MENA) Region organization. Under this office, he has organized and co-organized many conferences, seminars and workshops in the fields of disability, rehabilitation and development throughout the Middle East. El Mohtar started his career as teacher of Mathematics. In 1980 he founded and served as Chairman of the National Rehabilitation and Development Center, which works in the treatment, rehabilitation and inclusion of disabled persons in Lebanon, mainly children with special needs — a position he held until 2016. Before joining the Executive Committee, El Mohtar served on the board as the Rehabilitation International Deputy Vice President for the Middle East/North Africa Region from 2000 to 2013.
Eckehard Froese (Germany), Chair of the Commission on Leisure, Recreation and Physical Activities (LRPA)
Eckehard Froese, the Chair of RI Global’s Commission on Leisure, Recreation and Physical Activities, is an expert on rehab management. He is Head of Insurance, Benefits, Regress & Statistics of the German Social Accident Insurance VBG and responsible for the VBG´s Rehabilitation Strategy since more than 20 years. Eckehard Froese is also member of several committees of the DGUV, the umbrella organization of all German Social Accident Insurance Institutions. From the beginning his work has focused on reaching participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life by rehab management and targeted measures. ”
Jan A. Monsbakken, Past President
Jan Monsbakken, the Past 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.