About SOTA 2023

state of the art logo

The State of the Art Conference (SOTA) provides opportunities for colleges, universities, researchers, program staff, parents and self-advocates to learn about the current state of research and practice in the field of inclusive postsecondary/higher education, and to network with each other. Conference speakers include faculty and staff from postsecondary education initiatives, parents, self-advocates, and other experts—sharing effective practices and leading group discussions.

View Agenda on Whova

Download 2023 SOTA Schedule Final

2023 Registration Rates 

  • General Attendees: $475* (early bird rate of $425 until September 1)
  • Executive Committee, Presenters & Reviewers: $400
  • Students and Graduate Students for SOTA and the Student Leadership Conference: $50
    The Student Leadership Conference is for future and current college students and costs $50 for both days.
  • College Fair: Free for students and families, $50 for Exhibitors
    Registration for the Student Leadership Conference is not required to attend the college fair.
  • IPSE Capacity Building Day: $25 (rate subsidized by Think College Network, email susanna.millerraines@umb.edu to inquire about registration).

All conference attendee tickets include breakfast and lunch on October 25-26 as well as a dinner/cocktail reception on October 25.  Registration scholarships are available for students and family members. Contact kgrifasi@syr.edu to request an application.

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Conference Information

Interested in becoming a sponsor State of the Art or Student Leadership Conference? Contact conference manager Karly Grifasi at kgrifasi@syr.edu.

Travel and Hotels

The 2023 State of the Art Conference will be at Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO at the rate of $199/night plus tax. Click here to reserve your room in the Hotel Block. Book early as it will fill up.

Additional hotels within walking distance to the conference:

Airport shuttles are available from the Denver and Colorado Springs airports to the Antlers Hotel through Groome Transportation. Click here for rates and reservation info.

Sheet, Colorado Springs Resources 2023, which includes additional airport shuttle information, restaurants and more!

State of the Art Leadership Award 2023 Recipients

The George Jesien National Leadership Award
Dr. Clare Papay, Think College

Clare Papay (she/her) is Senior Research Associate/Project Manager at Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston, where she conducts research on inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Clare is the Evaluation Coordinator for the National Coordinating Center for the TPSID model demonstration program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). She is also the co-Principal Investigator for the IES-funded project, “Moving Transition Forward: Exploration of College-based and Conventional Transition Practices for Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism” and co-Principal Investigator for the OPE-funded project, “Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network: A Technical Assistance and Dissemination Center.” Dr. Papay serves as co-editor for the Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education (JIPE).

Institute of Higher Education Leadership Award 
Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist, University of Memphis Institute on Disability

Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist is an accomplished professional who has dedicated her life to advancing the knowledge and practice of rehabilitation counseling. Her exceptional leadership abilities are evident in her role as the director of the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID) since its inception in 2007. Before her academic career began, Dr. Schiro-Geist was a psychologist educator with seven community-based programs for young adults with IDD in Illinois since coming to Tennessee. Dr. Schiro-Geist has managed the TigerLife program at the University of Memphis Institute on Disability which has successfully graduated 307 young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the last decade. TigerLife, which is an inclusive higher education program, holds a competitive integrated employment rate of over 70%. Dr. Schiro-Geist has been involved with specialized accreditation in rehabilitation, counseling, rehabilitation science, and the development of inclusive higher education, accreditation standards and practices as part of the MCC work group.

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Laura Lee Leadership Award 
Jason Rogers, Special Olympics

As Coordinator of Workplace Readiness and Inclusion, Jason Rogers works with companies to help them become more inclusive towards people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Jason believes that people with ID have great things to contribute to companies and is passionate about helping companies realize that. Jason also works at The Learning Center at Chattanooga Christian School as a paraprofessional where he supports middle and high school students with ID as they practice workplace readiness skills. Jason holds a Certificate of Career Exploration from Lipscomb University’s IDEAL Program, where he was one of the first of two undergraduate students with ID to live independently in the student dorms. Jason has a passion for life and for helping persons with ID reach their full potential and independence.

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State Level Leadership Award
Jonathan Lidgus, University of Missouri – St. Louis

Jonathan has been a member of the University of Missouri – St. Louis community since 2002. He began his career at UMSL as a graduate student in the Office of Student Life and was brought on full time in 2005. Two years later, he joined the Office of Residential Life where he became its Director. From there, Jonathan worked at UMSL Succeed for five years until he was promoted to Program Director in August 2017. He holds a M. Ed. in Counseling and is working toward a doctorate in Education. His academic research interests are in the area of intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) in higher education. Jonathan’s role is instrumental in the planning and establishment of the Succeed Program at UMSL and its subsequent transition to the Office of Inclusive Postsecondary Education.


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Megan Cartier Early Career Scholar Award
Dr. Sascha Reed, George Mason University

Dr. Alexandra “Sascha” Reed is the Academic Coordinator of the Mason LIFE Program at George Mason University and adjunct professor for the Division of Special Education and Disability Research. Sascha’s research interests include inclusion, intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD),inclusive postsecondary education and community involvement, and participatory inquiry. Her research goals include developing studies which are participatory and inclusive of students with IDD in order to center student perspectives and disrupt the tradition of research which leaves out key stakeholders.

2022 Recipients

Executive Planning Committee

The members of our Executive Planning Committee oversee conference planning, agenda structure, keynote selection and leadership award application review.
  • Nikkia Borowski, Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education
  • Katie Ducett, Assistant Professor, SUNY Cortland
  • Micah Fialka-Feldman, Outreach Coordinator of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University
  • Karly Grifasi, Assistant Director of Operations and Communications, Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University
  • Linn Jorgenson, Director of Disability Services at George Mason University
  • Christi Kasa, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Inclusive Services, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • Stephanie Smith Lee, Past Chair of the Think College Accreditation Workgroup, Interim Director and Senior Policy Advisor, National Down Syndrome Congress
  • Dr. Linda Mason, Director of the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities at George Mason University
  • Dr. Beth Myers, Executive Director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University
  • Denise Rozell, Director of Policy Innovation at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Sara Jo Soldovieri, Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University
  • Cate Weir, Project Coordinator at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • K. Ryan Wennerlind, University of North Carolina Wilmington