Advisory Board on Disability

We aim to make Delta the carrier of choice for customers through thoughtful, reliable and innovative service to the disability community. Our Advisory Board on Disability promotes accessibility for all of our customers by providing recommendations to Delta related to compliance, 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 35 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.  

Recently retired as a Georgia Work Incentive Planning and Assistive Services Project Lead from Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, External Affairs. She resides in Tampa, Florida, with her husband, and enjoys spending time with friends and family including her three 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 20 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 also teaches 2nd and 3rd year medical students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine about health care provision to people with various disabilities.

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. For more information about Carol and her work, or to contact her, visit, opens in a new window.

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. 

Dr. J.R. Harding is a recognized disability leader from both personal and professional experiences. As a 2x quadriplegic, author of "Now What?",, opens in a new window accessibility expert, and international speaker, he has contributed for over 30 years to national, state, and community policy for the independence and self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities. He has served under 2 U.S. Presidents, 4 Florida Governors and continuously serves on a number of community-based organizations.

He currently serves The Able Trust (Ambassador), Evergreen Life Services, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Service and Technology (FAAST), the Florida Network on Disabilities,, opens in a new window (Director) and the Delta Disability Advisory Board (member). He is the first person with a significant disability to graduate from both Leadership Florida, Leadership Tallahassee, and he is also a co-founder of Florida Disability Mentoring Day (DMD). He completed his doctorate from Florida State University (FSU) in Higher Education and Public Policy. He and his wife Erika live and work in Tallahassee, FL.

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, 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 the President & CEO of The Viscardi Center and the Henry Viscardi School. A renowned global speaker and a person with a disability, he inspires others to achieve the impossible through knowledge, experience, vision, and persistence.

He graduated from Georgetown University in 1971 and Washburn University School of Law in 1974. He has received two honorary degrees, the first a Doctorate of Law from his alma mater, Washburn, and the second a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Connecticut. In 1995, Mr. Kemp co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities with Paul G. Hearne. In 2001, he became a partner in the Washington, DC Law Firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P.C.

 In March 2006, Mr. Kemp received the Henry B. Betts Award, widely regarded as America's highest honor for disability leadership and service. In December 2014, he received the Robert J. Dole Leadership Prize and joined a prestigious group of international recipients including Nelson Mandela and two former U.S. Presidents.

He also chairs Viscardi’s Project Accessible Oral Health, a global public-private partnership in pursuit of improved overall health and access for the disability community.

David is the former Executive Director of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (2009-2017) and works globally to promote disability rights, inclusion, and stakeholder advocacy. 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 with concentration in Writing from Washburn University.

David serves on the board of directors of the Spina Bifida Association of America and the Reach Another Foundation. He also serves in the human rights seat of the Global Experts Panel for the International Federation on Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. 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 spina bifida and is a proponent of social inclusion, physical activity, and political participation for all people with disabilities.

David has served as President of the District of Columbia Association of the Deaf and the Florida School for the Deaf Alumni Association and has been with NAD since 1978. He represents NAD on issues concerning telecommunications and transportation. In his role as Sr. Community Outreach Specialist in Government Affairs/Corporate Communications at the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), David is responsible for providing accessibility information, managing outreach activities by Amtrak to the disability community and overseeing internal projects to ensure accessibility compliance. 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). He received his secondary education at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. 

In recognition of his advocacy work, David has received the Fred C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award, NAD’s most prestigious award, The Dr. Rosalyn Simon Award from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority 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 recently retired as Director of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, he continues to advocate for greater communications accessibility for all. 

A deaf man himself, David served as a Project Consultant with the Missouri Governor’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped as a liaison between the Deaf community and the General Assembly; Project Coordinator for Johnson County Community College in Kansas; Executive Director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Prior to the establishment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, David worked with the Kansas Corporation Commission to establish the Kansas Relay Center. 

David also held leadership roles for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T). During this time, he was heavily involved with the National Emergency Number Association by helping 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.

After leaving AT&T, David served as president of the Kansas Telecommunications Industry Association and later as the director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division for the Minnesota Department of Human Services in St. Paul, Minnesota. He currently resides in North Carolina.

Mallory has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. After her injury at the age of 18, Weggemann chose to return to the pool. In April 2008, her older sister found an article in the local newspaper discussing the Paralympic Swimming Trials. Still learning her new life with a disability, Weggemann found one thing unchanged, her love for swimming. Mallory showcased her amazing abilities by winning gold and setting a Paralympic Record in the 50m freestyle. Mallory also anchored the bronze medal winning 4x100m medley relay team, bringing USA back from fifth place to almost capturing gold! It has been deemed one of the most memorable moments of the London Games, and it inspired many across the world. Mallory is also a highly sought-after motivational speaker for corporations and has been a speaker at TEDX. She also recently became a published author with her book titled “Limitless” in which “she shares the lessons she learned by pushing past every obstacle, expectation and limitation that stood in her way.”

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.