Class of 2021

White woman, wheelchair user smiling (posed) in front of a white wall, pink/clear framed glasses with short blonde hair wearing a black blazer with a black and white stripped shirt/black pants hands are placed on the rim of the wheelchair.

Dr. Toni Saia

San Diego State University

“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu and disabled people should not only be at the table but fully participating and leading the charge. Mentoring is about creating community, sharing opportunities, and paving the way for others.”

We are proud to induct Dr. Toni Saia into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Dr. Saia is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Rehabilitation Technology Certificate at San Diego State University within the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education. She is a disabled woman with a deep commitment to social justice, inclusion, and equity for all. Her professional work history has involved advocating for a progressive understanding of disability within the applied fields. A shift from diagnosis to disability as a culture and identity. One worth choosing and celebrating.

In 2019, she graduated from the University of Arizona with her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Her dissertation focused on the role of disability cultural centers in higher education — one of the only studies on this topic from the perspective of disabled students. She is one of the originators of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA) Disability-Related Counseling Competencies informing the work of 55,000 counselors nationally. She also serves on the board of the Society for Disability Studies and Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association (RCEA).

Her vision is of a just world … where disabled people have equal opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of life… where communities are barrier-free, and access is universal… where discrimination is unthinkable. As the Project Leader, Foundations of Inclusion and Accessibility: Building Organizational Capacity in Cultural Institutions with the Museum, Arts, and Culture Access Consortium, she leads a grant funded initiative to increase access within cultural organizations across New York City.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, riding roller coasters, spending time with her family, and being in community with other disabled people.