Skip to Content

Speakers Bureau Bios

Speakers Bureau Homepage | Speaker Request Form

Please click on a name to expand the bio.

Dr. Thomas Cheetham

Dr. Tom Cheetham

Dr. Tom Cheetham is a Board Certified family physician with over 30 years of experience serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He began in this field in the early 1970s, prior to medical school, with his wife as live in houseparents supporting ten adults with intellectual disabilities. His clinical experience includes providing primary medical care in three developmental centers, as the sole physician for a tertiary 24 bed dual diagnosis (intellectual disability and a psychiatric diagnosis or significant behavioral issues) unit in a state psychiatric hospital, and as a community based family physician for fifteen years, all in Ontario, Canada. After being granted a rare O visa by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Dr. Cheetham became the Medical Director at Orange Grove Center, in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2009. Clinical experience also has included primary care and dual diagnosis consulting for a large community agency serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the age spectrum, and with a multidisciplinary community-based dual diagnosis team. Dr. Cheetham's publications include book chapters on physical health, and guidelines on primary care of adults and the use of psychotropic medications in management of problem behaviors in adults with intellectual disabilities. He has held academic appointments in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario, and in the Department of Family Medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. In 2007 he was selected Physician of the Year by the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and holds Fellowship in the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Since early 2011 he has been with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and is the Director, Office of Health Services. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Developmental Disabilities at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville Tennessee.

Ms. Astrid French

Astrid French

Astrid French is the Curriculum Coordinator for the Shelby Residential and Vocational Services (SRVS) Learning Center where she has developed a comprehensive Montessori-based interactive curriculum for all eleven Learning Environments (classrooms), including Teaching Kitchen, Model Apartment, Activity Room, Sensory Exploration Room, Art Studio, and Music Room. The curriculum she is pioneering strives to provide an engaging and meaningful experience where individuals can lead a purposeful life, reach their fullest potential, and have increased joy. SRVS is the first organization of its kind to use the Montessori Method for Adults with Disabilities.

To ensure the success of the Montessori curriculum for adults with disabilities, Astrid has created an on-going staff development training program that educates employees on the basics of Montessori philosophy and method while instilling a sense of higher purpose and confidence. She is currently using basic research tools to measure the outcomes and effectiveness of both endeavors.

Astrid holds a Masters of Education degree and is American Montessori Society (AMS) certified. She taught Montessori early childhood education for 13 years. She has a high school daughter who attended a Montessori school through 8th grade, a son currently enrolled in a Montessori program, and a brand new baby boy!

Ms. Amy Gonzalez

Amy Gonzalez

Amy Gonzalez is the State Director of Employment and Day Services for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and she has committed her life to assisting individuals with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment. For the past 12 years she has worked to provide support to individuals with disabilities in an array of settings such as academia, counseling, support services, job development, vocational rehabilitation, advocating, and most importantly job placement.

Amy obtained her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2006. In May 2011, she obtained her Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the same university.

Amy has a strong passion and commitment to significantly increase the number of Tennesseans with disabilities that are employed. She believes that employment is for everyone and that with the right match, individuals with even the most significant disabilities can become employed.

Dr. Rick Rader

Dr. Rick Rader

Dr. Rader is the Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center at Orange Grove where he is responsible for the initiation, implementation and evaluation of innovative healthcare programs to address individuals aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is cross trained in medicine and medical anthropology. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Exceptional Parent Magazine and has published over 200 articles in the field of developmental disabilities. He has been an advisor to five former US Surgeons Generals in the area of health and disability and serves on the Board of the American Association on Health and Disability. He is co-founder, past president and board member of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and was the first appointed Special Liaison for Family Healthcare Concerns at the President's Committee on People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is an Emeritus Advisor to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Healthcare Innovations for the US Department of Health and Human Services and is a member of the Steering Committee at the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio in the Institute for Evidence Based Practice. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Southeast Autism Symposium and is an Adjunct Professor of Human Development at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Dr. Rader is a member of the National Curriculum for Developmental Medicine where he is engaged in creating an educational curriculum for Family Practice residents. He was appointed as a Distinguished Practitioner at the National Academies of Practice. He is an advisor to the National Organization on Rare Disorders and a consultant to the Healthy Athletes Program at Special Olympics International. He was responsible for the expansion of Universal Newborn Screening in the State of Tennessee and was appointed to the State Genetics Advisory Board. He was awarded Fellowship status at the American Institute of Stress and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is currently co-editing an international textbook on developmental medicine. His areas of expertise are training of medical professionals, advocacy, ethics, disability and health, health policy, health promotion and disease prevention.

Dr. Victor Schueler

Dr. Victor Schuler

Victor Schueler grew up in Texas where he attended Southwestern Medical School. After completing his psychiatry residency at Washington University in St. Louis, he moved to East Tennessee to practice as a geriatric psychiatrist at Lakeshore Mental Health Institute. He then worked at Greene Valley Developmental Center as a psychiatrist and later became the Medical Director. Currently, he is the East Tennessee Regional Medical Director for DIDD. Speaking interests include medical, neurological and psychiatric issues in people with intellectual disabilities.

Mr. Billy Worsham

Billy Worsham

Billy Worsham began his career at Douglas Cooperative (DCI) in June, 1987. Since that time, Billy has worked in the agency's various programs which includes in day services, residential services, and currently as the Career Development Coordinator for the agency. Billy has also served in the capacity of Independent Support Coordinator and Operations Manager for DIDD service providers. Billy holds a B.S. degree from Austin Peay State University.

While employed at DCI, Billy has developed a passion for serving citizens with disabilities. He is a member of the DIDD Statewide & East Regional Policy and Planning Council (EPPC), member of the East Regional Employment Consortium, and President of the Sevier County Civic Club.

In addition, Billy also serves the community as a member of the Smoky Mountain Area Workforce Investment Area Youth Council, Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth, Leadership Sevier, and as president of Smoky Mountain Family Matters.

As a member of the DIDD Speaker's Bureau, Billy has a strong desire to share his knowledge and experience in serving the community and citizens with disabilities. Areas of experience and knowledge include community networking, leadership and management, nonprofit operations, and employment for DIDD service recipients.