Project Advisory Committee

Headshot of Lydia Dawson, ANCOR's Director of Policy, Regulatory & Legal Analysis.

Lydia Dawson

Lydia is ANCOR’s Director of Policy, Regulatory & Legal Analysis. She formerly served as the executive director for the Maine Association for Community Service Providers and the Idaho Association of Community Providers, representing agencies supporting individuals with behavioral health and developmental disabilities. Prior to her work as a state association executive, Lydia served as a staff attorney with Maine’s protection and advocacy agency, representing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Lydia obtained her Juris Doctor from Roger Williams University School of Law with a concentration in public interest and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maine. She has been engaged statewide and nationally as a speaker and trainer on topics related to guardianship and supported decision-making, access and rate reimbursement methodology, and due process in Medicaid.

Headshot of Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of the United States

Peter V. Berns

Peter is the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of the United States, the world’s largest community-based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), with 600 chapters across the country.  Under his leadership, the 70-year-old organization has charted an ambitious course of progress, innovation and change as it aims to achieve its mission of promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Before joining The Arc, Berns served as Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations for 16 years, as Deputy Chief/Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Maryland Attorney General’s Office, and as Staff Attorney/Fellow, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown University Law Center. 

Berns served on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 2011 – 2017.  He also sits on Comcast NBCUniversal’s Joint Diversity Council.  He has been named six times to the Nonprofit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 list.   Berns received his JD, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, an LLM in advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center, and a BA in psychology, magna cum laude, from University of Pennsylvania.

Jason Billehus

Jason is a member of the Missoula Valley People First chapter and is part of the Montana People First Senate. He sits on the Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) board and is also on the Montana Council on Developmental Disabilities (MCDD). He’s worked on a variety of advocacy issues – from defending Medicaid to trying to end Social Security’s marriage penalty. 

Crystal Hernandez

Dr. Crystal Hernandez is a proud Cherokee, psychologist, inpatient psychiatric hospital administrator for the State of Oklahoma, Tribal disabilities expert, researcher, and autism mother. She serves the DEI Officer for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She believes in service to others and works relentlessly to improve clinical treatments, diagnosis, and equitable access to care for all. Culturally rooted supports and services are central to Dr. Hernandez and she embeds this principle in every aspect of her life.

Mary Sowers

Tawara Goode

John Tschida

Donna Meltzer

Rachel Patterson

Greg Robinson

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