special needs support

Advocate, Author, and Mentor

Jonathan Chase

2024 Keynote Speaker


Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of fourteen, Jonathan Chase is an advocate, author, and mentor to teens and  young adults on the Autism Spectrum.  He has worked in the Autism field since 2008, partnering with agencies, nonprofit organizations, and families to spread a message of understanding and awareness. He also works as a direct support professional, supporting adults with disabilities throughout the Portland area.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Jonathan travels the country as a presenter, teaching about autism awareness, understanding, and how to better support individuals on the spectrum in the home, classroom, and community.  His book “From Surviving to Thriving” is a guide to creating a more inclusive classroom through practical accommodations.

With over twenty years of experience as a professional musician, he brings a unique approach to the world of autism support.  His mentoring services cover a wide range of activities including jazz concerts, Dungeons & Dragons sessions, and annual foam sword battles at an overnight camp for teens on the autism spectrum named “Camp Odakoda.”

 His TED Talk, “Music as a Window into the Autistic Mind” brings together his passion for music and understanding of autism, showing how autistic people often process information in layers deeper than one can see from the outside.

Opening Parent Keynote 2024

Tenneal Wetherell

Tenneal Wetherell is the new Chief of Staff at the Oregon Department of Education. Prior to joining ODE as the Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Enhancing Student Opportunities, she was the Superintendent of South Coast Education Service District for 10 years, and school administrator and teacher for and additional 6 years. Tenneal and her husband, both special education teachers by trade and now school administrators, have embraced the challenges and joys of parenthood, particularly as parents of a child with unique needs.

Approaching parenting with a focus on possibilities rather than differences, Tenneal and her husband fiercely advocate for inclusive practices, full access to all opportunities and services, and ensuring the entire school environment sees the potential of every child, regardless of challenges they may face. Their journey as parents has deepened their commitment to supporting not only their own child but also advocating for all children to thrive in educational settings that foster growth and success.

Tenneal lives in Eugene with her husband and their two children, Will and Sutton, where they continue to champion inclusivity and excellence in education.

special needs support