Imagine Enterprises, Inc.

Meet the SPEAKer's

Meet Ricky Broussard

Ricky currently works as a trainer and peer leader for SPEAK with Imagine Enterprises, serves on the DADS Consumer Directed Services Work-group and the IDD System Redesign Advisory Committee. Ricky has made numerous state and national presentations on self-advocacy and self-determination. Senate Bill 617 was named "Ricky's Law" in honor of The Arc of Texas Board member, Ricky Broussard, who testified about the importance of transition planning to ensure students with disabilities are prepared for a successful life after high school.

Let's Meet the SPEAKer's

LaShunda Coleman

LaShunda speaks on topics that come from her own life experiences. In recent years, she overcame many obstacles and negativity to rebuild her life "on a foundation of truth". She embraces the philosophy that "life should be lived abundantly", and wants to inspire others to believe they can do whatever their heart desires. Ms. Coleman lives in Bryan, Texas. She attends Sam Houston, State University, working toward a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. She is a dedicated advocated for people with disabilities and devotes much of her personal time volunteering to help others. Ms. Coleman has presented at the Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living Self-Advocacy Series.

Anna Eggebrecht

Anna is a high school student in College Station, Texas. As a student with learning disabilities, she uses a variety of services and supports to succeed in school. Early on, her mom handled most of the planning, arranging, and negotiating. But now, Ms. Eggebrecht takes the lead on those things. The ability to advocate for herself in school has given her confidence and independence. By sharing her personal story, she wants to share that feeling of empowerment with other students with disabilities and encourage them to advocate themselves. Ms. Eggebrecht has presented at the Texas Transition Conference.

Havilah Walsh

Havilah wants people to know that having Down syndrome doesn't keep her from doing what she wants to do in life. She's active in church, sports, and dancing. She has a job, an active social life, and a great circle of friends. As a speaker, Ms. Walsh inspires and encourages other people with disabilities to follow their own dreams and desires in life. She also works to change negative attitudes and stereotypes that create barriers for people with disabilities. Ms. Walsh has presented at the Conroe Independent School District, Texas A&M PATHS Program Open House, the Texas Transition Conference and the Houston Legislative Listening Hour.

Cole Wright

Cole gets great pleasure in telling people about God's love. As a young man with autism, he found joy and meaning in watching the popular animated Veggie Tales movies. They helped shape his spiritual life. Now he wants to share that joy with other young people with disabilities - as a special needs minister. As a speaker, Mr. Wright weaves his own experiences with messages from Veggie Tales, with the hope of inspiring young people to learn about God and explore their own religious beliefs. Mr. Wright currently lives in Brenham, Texas.

Juan Gonzalez

Juan, of Bryan, Texas, follows a pretty simple formula for living life. Believe in yourself. Be truthful. Work hard. Have fun. It works well for him. He has a steady job as a dishwasher on the Texas A&M campus where he works hard and enjoys his coworkers. When he's not at work, he likes to get together with friends. He likes to sing and participate in the occasional talent show. By sharing his personal story, Mr. Gonzalez hopes to encourage other people with disabilities to take charge in living the life they want. Mr. Gonzalez has presented at the Bryan/College Station Resource and Transition Fair.

Nicole Cortichiato

Nicole is an artist and author. Since 2010, she has written and illustrated stories for children and adults. Along the way, she discovered that her creativity and imagination are effective tools for problem solving-especially for mending and strengthening personal relationships. By sharing her own success story as "a machine gun of love," Ms. Cortichiato wants to help others learn how to turn problem relationships into positive ones. With heartfelt honesty and sly humor, she encourages audiences to be creative in learning how to love differently by editing their thought processes to get what they want from relationships. Ms. Cortichiato has presented to Alley Writers Group and National Narcolepsy Conference.

Nancy West

Nancy is a woman with a mental illness. She is interested in helping families understand things from the prospective of their loved one with a mental illness. Ms. West presented at an Imagine Art open reception and Austin Oaks Church.

Jesse Trocino

Jesse's presentation, A Cowboy Life, is about Jesse who is an urban cowboy who has carved out a lifestyle and livelihood that embraces his love for all things cowboy! Debbie Kizer, a.k.a. Jesse's mom, a disability advocate who took person centered planning approaches out of the box to help Jesse carve out a unique life. An inspiring presentation that will help you identify your own passion and learn how to link with existing community people, spaces and events to bring your passions from dream to reality. Mr. Trocino presented at Texas Council Conference, Optimist Club meeting, Austin Rodeo, American Association on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Conference and Education Service Center, Region 13 Beat the Heat Conference.

Shane Whitehurst

Shane is a man with an extreme muscular degenerative condition. He enjoys sharing his personal story as an inspirational speech that is well suited for many audiences. Mr. Whitehurst has presented at Austin Stone Community Church.

Angel Lively

Angel is a student at Santa Fe High School, has caught the volunteering bug. And she wants you to catch it too. Helping people who have needs-like people fighting cancer-brings her joy. And she likes to turn that joy right back around to benefit someone else who may need a hand. For Miss. Lively, volunteering is a family affair. She enjoys organizing bake sales and other events to raise funds to help people out. She shares her story with others with the hope they will be inspired to volunteer and reap the rewards and benefits of lending a hand. Miss. Lively has presented to Santa Fe ISD Parent meeting, Santa Fe ISD School Board meeting, Santa Fe ISD Curriculum and Instruction team meeting, Santa Fe ISD District Administration meeting and Alvin ISD Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Conference.

Britney Walleck

Britney loves working with little kids. She fairly beams when she describes her job as a teacher's aide in a class full of young children at the College of the Mainland. Miss. Walleck started working with the little ones as part of the Santa Fe school districts STRIVE (vocational training) program. She knew almost immediately that it was something she wanted to do as a career. Through her experience, Miss. Walleck has learned the joy of working doing something you love. She shares that message with students and others who may be making their own career decisions. Miss. Walleck has presented to Santa Fe ISD Parent Meeting, Santa Fe ISD Curriculum and Instruction team meeting, Santa FE ISD District Administration meeting and Alvin ISD Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Conference.

Jon Diaz

Jon plans to follow in his father's footsteps in construction when he graduates from Santa Fe High School. He knows education is important to reach that goal but, until recently, he struggled to get the most out of school. Mr. Diaz believed he needed to be in different types of classes to do better. He built a case for that and spoke up for it with teachers and others with authority to change class assignments. It worked. Now Mr. Diaz is more comfortable in school and enjoys learning. He shares his story with other students to explain the importance of knowing how to speak up and be involved in making decisions about their lives. . Mr. Diaz has presented to Santa Fe ISD Parent meeting, Santa Fe ISD School Board meeting, Santa Fe ISD Curriculum and Instruction team meeting and Santa Fe ISD District Administration meeting.

Erika Vega

The first thing Erika will tell you about herself is that she's an artist. Art is her passion. It is her most comfortable form of self-expression. While enrolled at a Goodwill training program in the Santa Fe school districts STRIVE (vocational training) program, Miss. Vega noticed the nearby Hobby Lobby offered art classes. She went in, introduced herself to the teacher, and was invited to join the class. A public class, she is quick to point out, as opposed to one just for people with special needs. Next, she was determined to take more advanced classes at the College of the Mainland. She applied, was accepted, and started classes in the spring of 2016. Miss. Vega uses her artwork to share her story and encourage students and other audiences to act on their dreams. Miss. Vega has presented to Santa Fe ISD Parent meeting, Santa Fe ISD School Board meeting, Santa Fe ISD Curriculum and Instruction team meeting, Santa Fe ISD District Administration meeting and Alvin ISD Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Conference.

Seth Hodges

Seth knows how bad it feels to be targeted by bullies. Mr. Hodges, a student at Santa Fe High School, has autism. In addition to his own experiences, he's seen plenty of other students, who bullies perceive as "different", get picked on, too. Rather than keep a low profile, Mr. Hodges wants to shine a light on the problem by speaking to students, teachers, families and others who may be a part of the solution. He believes people should feel good about themselves and be proud of who they are. Mr. Hodges has presented to the Santa Fe ISD parent meeting, Santa Fe ISD Curriculum and Instruction team meeting, Santa Fe ISD District Administration meeting and Alvin ISD Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Conference.

Damian Tabor

Damian works at the Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living in Corpus Christi. He assists people with disabilities who want to lead independent, active, and productive lives. He knows the struggle first-hand. Mr. Tabor lives with cognitive and mobility disabilities resulting from surgery to remove a brain tumor a few years ago. Forced to learn new skills and re-learn some old ones, he is rebuilding his active lifestyle. One of the biggest barriers to that, he finds, is having accessible, reliable, and timely transportation. He is a vocal advocate for improving and increasing transportation options for people with disabilities in his community and throughout the state. Mr. Tabor has presented at the Texas Advocates Conference.

Dalia Gutierrez

Dalia works hard at her job at the Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living in Corpus Christi. The mother of three enjoys the work, but also looks forward to her time off with family and friends. Living in a beautiful coastal town, there are a lot of prospects for outdoor fun-parks, fishing, and boating, to name a few. Unfortunately, the absence of wheelchair access at many recreational sites limits Ms. Gutierrez' ability to partake. Focused more on accessible housing, transportation, and businesses, many cities haven't grasped the importance of accessible recreation. Ms. Gutierrez is working to change that with a personal campaign to educate local government and civic leaders. Mr. Gutierrez has presented at the Texas Advocates Conference.

Lillian Taylor-Whitfield

Lillian is a dedicated advocate for people with disabilities in Corpus Christi. Her personal experience living independently with a disability allows her to relate to people making their best effort to do the same. She enjoys helping people work through the many obstacles that can make it hard to be independent. But there's one barrier that Ms. Taylor-Whitfield is especially interested in breaking through-the barrier to employment for people with disabilities. Her mission as a speaker and an advocate is to help employers realize that people with disabilities are a valuable untapped resource that could truly benefit their businesses.

Jesse James Hale III

Jesse has special insight into the potential for abuse and neglect of people living in nursing homes or other institutions. The Corpus Christi native often volunteers to assist his mother in her work at the local area agency on aging. He knows about the worry and fear of family members who must rely on others to care for-and care about-their loved ones. As a speaker, Mr. Hales helps families become strong advocates for their loved ones by learning how to identify and document suspected abuse, as well has when and how to report it. With better information, he believes families will be more powerful advocates in their dealings with nursing homes.

Brett Nall

Brett doesn't like the label "person with a disability". He thinks it leads to preconceived ideas about his abilities. He wants people-especially employers-to raise their expectations of people who live with physical or mental differences. Mr. Nall works at a healthy food and lifestyle market in Lubbock, Texas. As a speaker, he shares his own experience on the job, including how mis-perceptions and stereotypes can limit the types of jobs available, as well as the chances of moving beyond entry-level positions. With open minds, accommodations, and creative employment practices. Mr. Nall believes business and all employees can thrive.

David Segal

David studies theater arts, American Sign Language, and mass communications at Texas Tech University. He is passionate about the performing arts and has extensive knowledge about many aspects of the film, television, and animation industries. Sponge-Bob Square pants are his favorite cartoon character. Mr. Segal believes that, like him, people with disabilities can learn a lot from that yellow fellow. He draws from the wisdom of Sponge-Bob to help listeners deal with some of the problem they may have, such as self-acceptance, attitudes about work, and social relationships. Mr. Segal has presented at Texas Tech University and the Texas Advocates Conference.

Stephen Castro

Stephen has his eye on the prize - a Bachelor's degree in communications from South Plains College. As a student with autism, he has personal experience with the determination and perseverance it takes to keep moving toward a goal. From elementary school to college, Mr. Castro has learned the importance of setting short and long-term goals, and mapping out ways to achieve them. He wants to encourage others to follow their dreams, and he freely shares his personal story with audiences, with the hope they will discover their own paths to success. Mr. Castro has presented at Texas Tech University, the Texas Transition Conference, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities meeting, and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.

Christopher Williams

Christopher is a young man with autism that enjoys working at Walgreen's. He would like to share his story about how important employment is to people with disabilities.

Darcy Tarrillion

Darcy is an adult that has autism. She has found the struggles in adulthood particularly challenging and has felt that along the way there has not been much support or solutions for adults who are trying to make it through life being on the spectrum of autism. She offers solutions and a different perspective based on her own personal experience and observation. She is the founder of the group Adults with Autism/Asperger's where adults with autism can go and discuss these very challenges. She offers the notion that "autistic people can teach other autistic people" and that the adult perspective holds much value and is often overlooked. Ms. Tarrillion has presented at a local support group.

Sarah Kowpak

Sarah is a preschool teacher at a Christian-based preschool. She is passionate about early childhood education and enjoys working with children who have disabilities. Sarah believes that children need knowledgeable teachers who are aware of how to help all kinds of students, with a variety of abilities to succeed. She enjoys sharing her own personal experiences in how she was able to overcome her challenges with the help and support of her family and willing educators. Sarah has presented at the Family-to-Family Annual Conference in February 2015 and to the University of St. Thomas in January 2016. Her presentation topic was useful accommodations at school and home.

Allison Funk

Allison is a young woman on a mission. Of her many and varied interests, the Houston native is passionate about playing sports. She loves the competition and camaraderie. She appreciates the benefits of an active lifestyle-for body, mind, and spirit. Ms. Funk's awakening to athletics came at an early age when a perceptive Taekwondo coach saw that-even with a significant neuromuscular disorder-the young girl on the sidelines was keeping up with the class. His invitation to join the group ignited her strong interest in getting more kids with disabilities involved in athletics adaptive sports programs. She is also a fierce competitor on the local power wheelchair soccer team.

Zeyhla Cruz

Zeyhla is a young woman on a mission. As Vice President of the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates, Ms. Cruz is very vocal on her desire to live and work in the community. Given the opportunity to learn to drive, she believes this is an essential key to the road to independence. She dreams of one day owning her own home and is determined to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of her goals. Ms. Cruz has presented at the Arc of the Gulf Coast Membership meeting, Public Testimony to her State Representative and the Texas Advocates Conference.

Jennifer Morris

Jennifer wants a real job for real pay! She is an active member of the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates who enjoys working with people who have Alzheimer's disease. This is particularly close to her heart because both of her grandparents had Alzheimer's. Ms. Morris wants to send a message that although she may have a disability, she is very capable of performing her job tasks. She feels empowered when she speaks for herself and believes that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Ms. Morris has presented during Public Testimony to her State Representative and the Texas Advocates Conference.

Greg Barnes

Greg is a retiree who worked with one company for 25 years. Mr. Barnes is the President of the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates and was a hard worker who enjoyed his job and believes that people with disabilities should be able to work and earn a living just like everyone else. Mr. Barnes has presented during Public Testimony to his State Representative and at the Texas Advocates Conference. Edward Jaloway is passionate about many things. Spending quality time with his family and friends is very important to him. Mr. Jaloway also enjoys working in his workshop, Ed Shred's, a home-based paper shredding business. He lives an active lifestyle and is a member of the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates. Mr. Jaloway wants to live in his own community and make his own decisions on who supports him. Mr. Jaloway has presented at the Texas Advocates Conference, the Arc of the Gulf Coast, Pasadena ISD Resource Fair, United Way of Brazoria county and Public Testimony to his State Representative.

Alyssa Enriquez

Alyssa has a dream to live by her friends and family. Ms. Enriquez wants to be able to make her own choices. She advocates for the right to choose who supports her to live a more independent life. She is a member of the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates who continues to sharpen her skills to lead a self-determined life. Ms. Enriquez has presented during Public Testimony to her State Representative and the Texas Advocates Conference. Allen Freeze was the caregiver for his 92 year old great-grandmother. He currently is employed part time at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Working is important to Mr. Freeze as he likes to earn money so that he can do things with his friends. He serves as Secretary for the Gulf Coast Self-Advocates and uses the power of his voice to advocate on employment issues. Mr. Freeze has presented during Public Testimony to his State Representative and the Texas Advocates Conference.

Quenton Bernhardt

Quenton believes strongly that all students should be able to attend school without being bullied. He wants to educate school officials, parents and students about the need for awareness. Mr. Bernhardt has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board, Alvin ISD Autism Conference and the Arc of the Gulf Coast Membership meeting.

Christopher Chea

Christopher, is like many individuals with autism, he once was a picky eater. At one point, he would only eat plain McDonald's cheeseburgers. He likes sharing his story about how he overcame this. Now he loves to cook and is not against trying new things. He even created his own cookbook! Mr. Chea has presented at the Alvin ISD Autism Spirit night and Alvin ISD Autism Conference.

Kimberly Echegoyen

Kimberly is a Christian who enjoys going to church and loves her family who is always there for her. She is active in Special Olympics and likes to hang out with friends. Kimberly wants to share what it's like for a person with cerebral palsy and to encourage everyone to take a chance and get to know someone with a disability.

Valerie Gonzales

Valerie is a student in the Transitions Unlimited program in Alvin ISD. She likes to go places with her mom and her favorite stores are Walmart, HEB, Kroger and the mall where she loves to shop for shoes, clothes and jewelry. Valerie enjoys spending time with her family and plays football and Uno with younger cousins. She wants to educate the public about the importance of home and vehicle accessibility to lead a life of independence. Ms. Gonzales has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board, Alvin Noon Rotary, Alvin Evening Lions, Alvin Soroptimist, Arc of the Gulf Coast Membership meeting, Alvin ISD Autism Conference and Texas Association of Vocational Adjustment Coordinators Conference.

Victor Perez

Victor enjoys participating in Special Olympics and his favorite sport is basketball. Victor is determined attitude in accomplishing his goals will help him when he attends the STRIVE program at Alvin Community College. Mr. Perez has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board and the Dickinson ISD Abilities Conference.

Reid Shuler

Reid is a huge fan of country music, particularly Reba McEntire. He likes to tell everyone he meets about her life and career. Reid is an avid bowler and competes with Special Olympics. He hopes to encourage others with his enthusiasm for the things he enjoys and wants students to become more self-confident so people will understand their life choices. Mr. Shuler has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board and the Alvin ISD Autism Conference.

Jason Starbuck

Jason is in the Transitions program at Manvel High School. His disability makes it difficult to bowl in the traditional way. Jason's teacher built a specialized ramp that allowed him to participate and compete with the Alvin ISD Special Olympics team. Mr. Starbuck is a very good bowler who has won several medals. Jason loves the competition and the camaraderie! Mr. Starbuck has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board and Alvin ISD Autism Conference.

April Ward

April is in the Transitions Unlimited program at Alvin High School. She spends her time at church and with her family. Her goal after high school is to work in a day care or with special needs children. April wants to educate her community about the need for public transportation so all citizens can access their community. Ms. Ward has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board, Gulf Coast Center Board meeting, Arc of the Gulf Coast Membership meeting, United Way Brazoria County, Alvin ISD Autism Conference and Texas Advocates Conference.

Evan Klentzman

Evan has many interests including basketball and Special Olympics. There is no interest, however, that tops his desire to be a good friend to everyone. Mr. Klentzman has lots of friends that he likes to help and make them feel happy. He is the manager for the Alvin High School girls basketball team. He believes if people have a great attitude and strive to be a great friend to those they meet, the world would be a happier place! Mr. Klentzman presented to the Alvin ISD School Board, Alvin ISD Annual Convocation and Alvin ISD Autism Conference.

Alissa Morris

Alissa is a student in the Texas A&M PATHS Program. She has overcome many obstacles to get where she is today and wants to share her journey of living with a seizure disorder with others and encourage everyone to live each day to the fullest. Ms. Morris has presented to the Alvin ISD School Board meeting, Alvin ISD Special Olympics Banquet, Alvin ISD Autism Conference and Inclusion Works Conference.