Advisory Board on Disability
We aim to make Delta the carrier of choice for all customers with disabilities. Our Advisory Board on Disability promotes accessibility for all by providing recommendations to Delta related to customer experiences, training, policies, procedures and anything that impacts people with disabilities when they travel by air. All Advisory Board members are individuals with different disabilities who are Delta frequent flyers.
We’re proud to count the following leaders among the members of our Advisory Board:
Shanti has spent over 30 years working in the area of disability employment and economic self-sufficiency for adults with disabilities. She holds a MS degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a post graduate certificate in management from the University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Management. Shanti currently serves on national and local advisory boards and committees for people with disabilities. She is a person with a disability and is a strong advocate for improved employment and independence for persons with disabilities.
She resides in Tampa, Florida, with her husband, and enjoys spending time with friends and family including her grandchildren.
Jessica Cox is the world's first licensed armless pilot, as well as the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association. She was born without arms but has been able to compensate to function effectively in a world that requires the use of hands and arms. She is also a certified SCUBA diver. Cox works as a motivational speaker and has shared her message in 27 different countries. Jessica published an autobiographical self-help book, Disarm Your Limits in order to inspire people to overcome their own challenges through the lessons she has learned in her life.
Catherine is the Executive Director of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund, which promotes research to develop a better understanding of causes and effective treatment strategies for paralysis, sensory loss and other consequences of spinal cord injury and disease. Catherine is a biomedical engineer and has worked in research, clinical and educational settings for over 30 years. She is an avid scuba diver and lives outside of Columbia, South Carolina with her husband.
Carol Gray is a Consultant to Children, Adolescents and Adults with Autism. She is an internationally sought-after keynote and seminar speaker and has completed over 1,000 presentations. She is best known for the development of Social Stories, a well-respected evidence-based practice used worldwide with people with autism of all ages. Carol is the recipient of several awards for her contributions to the education and welfare of individuals with autism worldwide.
Carol lives in west Michigan with her husband, Brian, and three basset hounds. During the summer, they live at their cottage where Carol runs a library that serves the residents of their lake's community.
Teaching Faculty, College of Business, Florida State University, and Disability Consultant
Dr. Harding is a ‘go-to’ leader within the disability space from both personal and professional experience. He has contributed for over 38 years in national, state and community public policy that advances the independence and self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities. He is a former 2x U.S. Presidential Appointee, 7x Florida Gubernatorial Appointee, and Author of 2 five-star books (Now What? & ADA Adventure). He has spoken to thousands of people worldwide and has assisted numerous businesses exceed minimum accessibility standards within the business practices. As a 2x quadriplegic he strives to lead by example that life is full of possibilities.
He also serves on several national, state and community boards. In addition to being a long-time member of the Delta Advisory Board on Disability, Dr. Harding works with Florida Network on Disabilities (FND), Evergreen Life Services (ELS), Toni J Mason Foundation and he serves as the Faculty Advisor to the FSU University of Choice (UoC) Initiative. He teaches the 2022 Association for American Colleges and Schools of Business (AACSB) internationally recognized Workforce Inclusion course at FSU, alongside other courses.
Some of his past contributions include but are not limited to the 2002 James Patrick Memorial Program, co-authoring the 2004 National Accessibility Guidelines, the 2006 Volunteer Voting Accessibility Guidelines, the 2008 Outdoor Accessibility Guidelines, the 2014 Refueling Assistance Act and the 2015 Florida Able Act. Additionally, he serves as a grant reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) and the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation.
He and his wife Erika live and work in Tallahassee, Florida.
Minna is a mixed medium artist. She's a jewelry designer, a painter and a food artist. She is committed to creating a community where all are welcome at the table. Minna is a community partner to New Mobility Magazine, a magazine for active wheelchair users, which includes resources for participating fully in life and articles concerning disability lifestyle. She is a teaching artist to Synergies Works, an organization supporting entrepreneurs with disabilities and a community partner to One Bread, food outreach program to end food scarcity.
Prior to her recent retirement, she was the SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Peer Support Manager at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She was also a Board Member of Disability Resource Group and distribution committee member for Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund, Georgia.
John D. Kemp, Esq., is an accomplished executive widely respected for his many achievements in the corporate and nonprofit worlds. He has decades of experience in the disability movement as a disabled leader. His previous leadership roles include serving as the National Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy Associations, President and CEO of VAS Arts and VSA Arts International and as General Counsel and Vice President of Development for the National Easter Seal Society, among others. In 1995, he co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities. He recently served as president and CEO of the Viscardi Center and Henry Viscardi School.
John is a recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award, widely regarded as America’s highest honor for disability leadership and service, and the Dole Leadership Prize from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, whose recipients include Nelson Mandela and former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
As board chair/member or partner, John has supported numerous leading disability and nonprofit organizations. In 2001, he became a partner in the Washington, DC law firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P.C., where he developed an active federal legislative and lobbying practice. A much sought-after global speaker, in 2019 John spoke at the inaugural Symposium on Disability Rights, co-sponsored by Lakeshore and the UAB Institute for Human Rights.
His latest book, Disability Friendly: How to Move from Clueless to Inclusive, is a clarion call to businesses around the world to realize the opportunities presented by employing people with disabilities. It explains the potential of disabled employees, how to create a culture of inclusion, and, in the process, help people with disabilities become proud contributors.
John graduated from Georgetown University and Washburn University School of Law. He has received two Honorary Doctorate degrees, the first an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Washburn University School of Law, and the second, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Connecticut, while serving as the Graduate School Commencement Speaker.
David works in the Oregon Department of Transportation, Office of Civil Rights, where he manages civil rights programs including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Environmental Justice program. David is the former Executive Director of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (2009-2017). He holds a Master of Public Service degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washburn University. David currently serves on the board of directors of the Reach Another Foundation, whose mission is serving babies born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus through surgical care, community aftercare and maternal nutrition. He is a former board member of the Spina Bifida Association of America and his local center for independent living. In 2011, he served as private sector advisor to the United States' official delegation to the United Nations' periodic review of the U.S. human rights record. David has worked on projects or studied in over a dozen countries and he is a proponent of social inclusion, physical activity, and political participation for all people with disabilities.
David is the Passenger Accessibility Manager in the Accessibility Office of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak). David is responsible for providing accessibility information to internal and external stakeholders, managing outreach activities by Amtrak to the disability community, ensuring ADA compliance, participating in efforts around upcoming train fleet replacements, coordinating review of train mockups by representatives from national disability organizations and overseeing internal projects to ensure accessibility compliance.
David previously worked for the Honorable Tony Coelho (D-CA), who was one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). David has also served as president of the D.C. Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf Alumni Association (FSDAA), a board member of the NTID Advisory Group and has been with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) since 1978. He has represented NAD on issues concerning telecommunications and transportation.
He holds a bachelor's degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), as well as degrees from the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID). David attended high school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. In addition, he has received the National Association of the Deaf’s most prestigious award, the Fred C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award, the Dr. Rosalyn Simon Award from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority presented during its first annual Accessibility Excellence Awards, and the RIT 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for the NTID. David hails from Miami and currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Thomas Panek is the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to individuals with vision loss, helping them achieve their health and wellness goals. Under Panek’s leadership since 2014, Guiding Eyes continues to be an international leader and pioneer in the service animal field, including the first-of-its-kind “Running Guides” program.
Panek was previously appointed to the United States Foreign Commercial Service as a senior international trade specialist. He served as liaison to the World Bank and worked with American embassies to expand business opportunities for U.S. aerospace, technology and engineering companies. He is an expert in trade agreements and negotiating international business transactions.
Panek graduated with a master’s degree from American University School of International Service, with a focus on International Trade Law. An avid runner, Panek has completed more than 20 marathons, including five Boston Marathons. In 2019, he became the first runner to compete in the New York City Half Marathon guided by dogs. He lives in New York with his wife Melissa and their four children.
A lifelong advocate for people with hearing loss, David Rosenthal’s personal and professional life provided him with the opportunity to impact public policy and services that benefit their lives. Although now retired, he continues to be an advocate for greater communications accessibility for all.
David holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rochester Institute of Technology/The National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Throughout his 40-year career, David was fortunate to be in leadership positions in various organizations which enabled him to break down communication barriers for people with hearing loss.
Among the many accomplishments in David’s career are the establishment of the Kansas Relay Center in conjunction with the Kansas Governor’s office and the Kansas Corporation Commission prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and working with the National Emergency Number Association to help Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) improve their communications accessibility in order to respond effectively to people with hearing loss when they call 9-1-1 for assistance. David currently is serving as Chair of the North Carolina Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Rebecca.
Tom Seekins is a former professor of psychology and director of the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana. He earned a master's degree and doctorate in behavioral psychology at the University of Kansas. Before his retirement in the fall of 2017, he conducted applied research and development on a wide range of issues of importance to individuals with disabilities. He has been recognized for his efforts with a number of awards, including the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Montana in 2016, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Disability Section of the American Public Health Association in 2017.
Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2010. He serves on the board of directors of the Montana Summit for Parkinson's, a state-wide education and advocacy organization.
Mallory is a 3-time Paralympian for Team USA and currently training for what will be her 4th Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. A multi-time American and World record holder, ESPN ESPY Award recipient and a 5-time Paralympic medalist, Mallory has utilized the platform of her professional swimmer career to be a fierce advocate for the disability community. In addition to her athletic career in 2018 Mallory served as an on-air reporter with NBC for the PyeongChang Paralympics and in 2022 she was an in-studio correspondent and host for NBC for Beijing Paralympic Games. In addition, Mallory is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and thought leader, speaking on topics of resilience, overcoming adversity, goal setting, teamwork and DE&I.
In 2021 Mallory released her memoir, LIMITLESS, where she shared her journey of hope and resilience to overcome adversity, empowering readers to honor their journey and lean into their still unwritten futures. The co-CEO and co-founder of TFA Group, a social impact agency and production studio where she has served as an executive producer, writer and director on projects ranging from branded content to documentaries. Following her paralysis at the age of 18, Mallory has found not only her passion, but purpose in the power that storytelling and sport hold to transcend and serve as a catalyst for change in our society. Her passion is rooted in utilizing those platforms to work with her clients across all sectors and serve as advocate for authentic representation for the disability community from the workforce, to media and entertainment and in sport.
Glen W. White, Ph.D., has been involved in the rehabilitation and independent living field for over 30 years. Until his recent retirement, he directed the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, served as Principal Investigator of the NIDILRR-funded Research and Training Center on Community Living and as Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Dr. White has had numerous opportunities to work with consumers with disabilities in identifying, developing and shaping on-going disability research. For the past several years he developed a systematic line of research in the area community participation of people with disabilities. Other research interests include prevention of secondary health conditions, and disaster planning and emergency response for people with disabilities. On an international level, Dr. White has conducted research and training activities in Korea, Japan and Vietnam, and prevention of secondary health conditions in Perú. He is past president of the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, past chair of the American Public Health Association’s Section on Disability and recently served as a board member of the United States International Council on Disability.