Meet the Council
The Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities has been charged by the Colorado State Legislature to strive to ensure equality of opportunity, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for all of the State’s citizens, including persons with disabilities via their collaborative relationship with the Colorado Department of Human Services.
Julia Beems, MA
Assistive Technology Partners, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Julia Beems is Senior Instructor and the Assistive Technology Program Outreach Coordinator, and Emergency Preparedness Program Coordinator with Assistive Technology Partners in the Department of Bioengineering at University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Center. She also holds a secondary appointments in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pediatrics. Ms Beems was trained as a horticultural therapist and rehabilitation counselor/vocational evaluator.
Ms. Beems has worked in the field of assistive technology for over 30 years providing assessments, technical assistance and training to individuals with disabilities their family members and the professionals who serve them. Ms Beems current responsibilities include providing outreach services across Colorado to individuals with disabilities and their family members; professionals from educational, employment, healthcare and emergency response agencies who work with them; policy makers and legislators; and the general public. Her areas of expertise include low-tech, low-cost assistive technology solutions, emergency preparedness and modifications for the rural and agricultural communities. Ms Beems represents ATP as a member of the Colorado Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the North Central Region Functional Needs Steering Committee, and the state Community Preparedness Advisory Council. She has been recognized by the American Horticultural Therapy Association for Humanitarian Service and by AARP as an Outstanding Community Partner.
Kathryn Ciano-McGee RN, BSN
Director of Case Management / A Rise Above, LLC.
Kathy Ciano-McGee founded a Home Health Agency in 2000 for her own disabled child and other disabled children. In 2002, Kathy was given a provider number by the State of Colorado to administer the Children’s-Home and Community Based Children’s Medicaid Waiver C-HCBS Medicaid Waiver. Kathy has been administering the C-HCBS Medicaid waiver, formally the Katie Beckett waiver since 2002, and feels that she has found her calling and given Kathy purpose for her daughter and other children with disabilities.
In 2008, Memorial Hospital via Health Care Policy and Finance (HCPF) contracted exclusively with Kathy Ciano-McGee to provide case management to ALL children with special needs in El Paso County Colorado via Healthy Communities (EPSDT). Kathy left the Home Health Agency she founded in 2013 and started A Rise Above (ARA). It is Kathy’s passion to assist ALL children ages 0-to their 21st birthday on Medicaid with special needs. Kathy was appointed as a parent representative to the Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities in 2018.
ADA Manager / Office of Accessibility, City of Colorado Springs, Colorado
Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator and Consultant / Ruger Consulting, LLC
Steve Ruge is a governor appointee of the Council and has been a member for over two years. Steve runs his own consulting company specializing in disability issues with a focus on Title II related issues. In his consulting experience he has worked with numerous Title II agencies including the city of Wheat Ridge and the state Department of Transportation. He currently lives in Aurora with one dog and one cat.
Sarah Kathleen Smith
Vocational Services / Parker Personal Care Homes
Sarah Smith is a Master level Social Worker. Her work history focuses on competitive, sustainable employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In her current role as Program Director at Steamers Coffeeshop and Jack’s Bar and Grill, Sarah manages a vocational program that employs over 40 adults with disabilities. Sarah is passionate about policy and how legislation impacts services for adults with disabilities across the state of Colorado. She wrote her graduate thesis on sub-minimum wage policies and their implications and is eager to continue to advocate for adults with disabilities as a member of the Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities.
In her free time, Sarah is an active volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, serving on their Young Professionals Board and as a Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Coordinator, a peer-to-peer mentoring program that matches recently diagnosed patients with survivor volunteers. Sarah is a life-long figure skater, avid trail runner, and brand new to Taekwondo.