“Before becoming an SNA member, I thought being a special needs attorney basically meant understanding Medicaid, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and other public benefits. But it’s so much more,” says Suzuki. “It’s really about empowering our clients to lead the lives they wish, as independently and securely as possible. We need to constantly be on the lookout for issues that stand in the way of their self-determination.
“As SNA’s president, I plan to focus on providing members with the knowledge and tools to be increasingly effective one-on-one advocates for their clients. As the public comes to have more daily experience with people having a range of abilities—as friends, neighbors, athletes and co-workers—grass roots social change will occur.”
Suzuki serves on the board of The Arc in Hawaii, is a former vice president of Family Voices, which facilitates community-based care for children with special needs, was a founding member of Aloha Independent Living Hawaii, and has long volunteered with the University of Hawaii Elder Law Program.
He has been a Special Olympics coach for the past 15 years and proudly points to leading his basketball team to a state-level gold medal in 2007. “We’ve come close to repeating that performance for the past three years, coming in second in down-to-the wire competition,” he recalls. “My team gave it their all, so I’m proud to say that we won second place.”
Also named to the SNA board of directors: Katherine Barr, Esq., Birmingham Alabama, as president-elect; Brian Neal Rubin, Esq., Buffalo Grove, Illinois, as vice president; Jefferey M. Yussman, Esq., Louisville, Kentucky, as treasurer; and Robert Fechtman, CELA, Indianapolis, Indiana, as secretary.
Continuing as directors are Ann N. Butenhof, CELA, Manchester, New Hampshire; Robert B. Fleming, CELA, Tucson, Arizona; Mary Alice Jackson, Esq., Austin, Texas; Morris Klein, CELA, Bethesda, Maryland; Jennifer Lile, Esq., Canton, Ohio; Mary O’Byrne, Esq., Lutherville, Maryland; Dennis A. Sandoval, CELA, Riverside, California; and Kelly A. Thompson, Esq., Arlington, Virginia.