Speaking Engagements


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A Dynamic Speaker for Your Event

Kathy O’Connell provides trainings, workshops and keynote presentations to individuals, families and professionals. Each is done with a combination of storytelling, lecture, discussion, interactive exercises and personal reflections.

Kathy’s trainings and presentations are geared toward helping people, as well as the professionals and families who support them, feel empowered and motivated to use their abilities to contribute to their community and the world.

Learn more about Kathy O'Connell

Kathy O'Connell speaking

Tailored to Your Needs

All presentations can be tailored for keynote presentations for conferences, hour-long sessions, half or whole-day workshops. Presentations can also be designed for people with disabilities, family members, professionals, and/or general audiences.

Kathy does significant preparation when requested to do a presentation. This includes calls with the conference organizers and/or the team to hone in on the needs and interests of conference attendees in order to provide maximum value.

Please contact Kathy to schedule a brief call to discuss your presentation requests and needs.

Connect to Discuss Your Event Need

What People Say About Kathy’s Presentations


David's Refuge Logo

“Kathy O'Connell lives, breathes, and teaches the power of "Embracing Different Abilities." She spoke to our Board of Directors, helping us to better understand the families we serve as a non profit. Her wisdom, wit, and life experiences challenged us to look at and maximize the amazing and wonderful abilities each of our families possess. She clearly communicated her passion and empowered us better serve our parents.”

- Warren Pfohl
David's Refuge
East Syracuse, New York

Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State logo

Kathy is the quintessential professional. Her strategies and tips for folks in the intellectual and developmental disability community regarding dating are very applicable to building healthy dating relationships. Kathy’s themes and principles are very universal making it easy for family members to support those in need and also challenge themselves to look inward when guiding someone into dating. When searching for a comprehensive tool kit or simply receiving counseling relating to dating in the I/DD field, Kathy O’Connell is a vital source for providing a trustworthy and safe environment for learning about the journey of dating. Working with Kathy has truly been rewarding.

-Tim Ferguson
Director of Special Projects & Online Learning
Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, Inc.
Cohoes, New York

Top Presentations by Kathy O’Connell

Making Dating Easier

Dating with a disability can be hard! Judgments, misperceptions, and people too quickly swipe left. Meanwhile, you’re longing for love and companionship, but you’re about to give up. Don’t! Dating and relationships can be made easier. This presentation will show you how focusing on four areas – self-esteem, confidence, a plan (not a wish), and follow-through will make dating with a disability easier.

Couple at a lake

Supporting Dating and Relationships for People with Disabilities

Living in a society where people with disabilities are treated equally and fairly is the goal of any good organization. There is a huge element that is rarely addressed if at all in many groups that is stifling the equality of people with disabilities. If we want to see holistic success we have to address dating and healthy relationships.

Many uncomfortable and harmful circumstances, stemming from people not having relationship skills, can arise. Sometimes in not knowing how to address such issues, they get “swept under the rug.” Imagine if you were told these feelings were wrong and should be avoided. There is a way to address the social and emotional challenges of dating and relationships for people with disabilities so they can expertly navigate them. This not only enhances relationship skills but also helps develop better boundaries, increases self-esteem and confidence, and improves mental health for pursuing goals.

Kathy presents on other topics such as self-esteem, confidence, mental health, acceptance, and living the life you want.

Couple taking a selfie

What's Your Firewalk?

A firewalk, if done correctly, involves being so connected to your purpose, that although you may feel fear, you take a risk anyway. This was the philosophy Kathy used in doing an actual firewalk, which she equates to living with a disability. Both involve fear of getting hurt and failure, but if you’re attuned with your purpose, you will accomplish much. In this presentation, you will learn:

  • How to go for what you want and pursue more in life, no matter how insurmountable the challenges.
  • An approach to integrating the challenges of living with a disability into a stronger version of yourself as someone moving from pain to purpose.
  • How to believe in your purpose as the directing force in creating a happy and successful life with a disability.
Fire for fire walk

Previous Speaking Engagements

  • TASH Annual Conference
  • US Business Leadership Network
  • Texas Parent to Parent
  • The disAbility Coalition of Talbot County, MD
  • New York State Department of Health for Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Keuka College
  • Burton Blatt Institute of Syracuse University
  • Arc of Oswego, NY
  • AccessCNY
  • Arise
  • David’s Refuge
  • Women Business Opportunities Connection

Want to Book an Engagement?

Contact Kathy