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Opening Doors Together Conference

Conference Speaker Biographies

Opening Doors Together 2024 Conference: Accessible Housing, A Human Right. Inglis Self Determination Housing of PA Statewide Housing Conference


 Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH

Dr. Arkoosh was appointed to lead the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services by Governor Josh Shapiro on January 17, 2023. She completed the nomination process and took office as Secretary on June 29, 2023.  Prior to this role, Secretary Arkoosh served on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners since January 2015, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission. Arkoosh won election to a full four-year term in November 2015 and served as Commission Vice Chair until her election as Commission Chair in November 2016. She was the first woman ever to serve in this role. Arkoosh was re-elected in November 2019 and unanimously chosen by her colleagues to again serve as Chair in January 2020. Montgomery County is the third most populous county in Pennsylvania with over 856,000 residents. The three-member Board of Commissioners oversees a budget of more than $500 million and directs more than 2,800 employees charged with administering and overseeing county functions, including human services. 

As Commission Chair, Secretary Arkoosh was committed to strengthening services for children, veterans, and seniors. She led the efforts to eliminate street homelessness of veterans and streamline delivery of human services. Recognizing the need for a strong, supported workforce in executing these goals, she instituted a $15 minimum wage and gender-neutral paid parental leave for Montgomery County employees. Drawing on her background as a physician, she oversaw a multi-pronged, integrated response to the opioid overdose epidemic, including issuing a standing order in 2015 to enable participating pharmacies in Montgomery County to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone at the request of any member of the public.

As a physician and public health professional, Secretary Arkoosh was at the center of Montgomery County's efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, leading a data- and science-driven approach to the unprecedented challenge. Arkoosh's leadership was praised during the county's response, especially her transparency and public communication throughout the pandemic. Secretary Arkoosh is also a staunch advocate for maternal health and reproductive rights, and previously served on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

Upon obtaining her Master of Public Health in 2007, Arkoosh became deeply engaged in the national effort to achieve comprehensive health care reform. She led the National Physicians Alliance, a national non-profit organization of physicians, who, putting their patients before profits, joined a broad-based nation-wide coalition for reform. During this time, she developed policy and legislative strategy, and promoted public engagement in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and throughout the country. Dr. Arkoosh maintains comprehensive knowledge of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on individuals and the health care system.

Prior to stepping into public service, Secretary Arkoosh was Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Arkoosh is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and received a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She performed her residency at Jefferson Medical College in Anesthesiology with a special focus in Obstetrics. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Northwestern University.

Secretary Arkoosh lives in Springfield Township, Montgomery County, with her husband and their three children.





 Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.,

Dr. Rossetti is an internationally recognized accomplished speaker, author, consultant, CEO, and Founder of Rossetti Enterprises LLC since January 1997. She is a leading expert in disability inclusion, universal design, and accessibility. Rosemarie acquired a spinal cord injury on June 13, 1998, crushed by a 7,000-pound tree while riding her bicycle, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. Her journey as a wheelchair user fuels her passion for accessibility and universal design.

She is celebrated for her inspiring story of resilience and motivational presentations on overcoming adversity. Rosemarie's work has made her a prominent figure in the disability community and a powerful advocate for accessibility, empowering individuals to live their fullest lives despite physical limitations.
Following her injury, she and her husband, Mark Leder, faced numerous challenges adapting their home to meet Rosemarie's accessibility needs. They led the design team and were the general contractors for their new home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory. They have lived in this nationally recognized model of accessible and universal design in Columbus since May 2012. This is the top-rated universal design home and garden in North America. This experience ignited her passion for creating environments usable by all, regardless of age or ability.
She is an internationally recognized speaker, sharing her story and advocating for accessible and universal design across industries, including architecture, interior design, and real estate. She has given numerous conference presentations, inspiring audiences with her message of inclusivity and the importance of accessible and universal design.

As an accessibility consultant, she helps clients enhance homes, workplaces, and other spaces for inclusivity. Rosemarie authored articles and her book "Universal Design Toolkit" on accessible and universal design. She continues to speak and consult to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. In her work promoting accessible and universal design, she shares her experiences and insights to inspire individuals, corporations, and organizations to create more inclusive spaces and attitudes.
Rossetti is an inspiring entrepreneur who rethinks design and building by spearheading discussions and experiments around re-imagined living and working spaces.
Her contributions to accessibility and universal design have earned recognition and awards, cementing her status as a respected advocate for inclusive environments.





Domonique Howell

Ms. Howell is 38 and from Philadelphia PA. She is a mother, has cerebral palsy, is a full-time wheelchair user, and a disability and family advocate. Currently she works as an Independent Living Specialist for Liberty Resources Inc., a center for independent living in Philadelphia. Her advocacy specialties are homelessness, affordable accessible housing, the rights of parents with disabilities, and medical systems advocacy.

She is also the developer and founder of Momma Chronicles Too (founded in 2014), a support and advocacy group for mothers with disabilities and women guardians who have disabled children. She currently is the co- chair of the Lived Experience Commission for the Road Maps to Home Board facilitated by the Office of Homeless Services in Philadelphia. She has also been appointed as a board member of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. She is also a member of the national grassroots organization, ADAPT. Lastly, she is the former titleholder of Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania for 2023.