I have been speaking regularly at conferences and meetings large and small for years now. I have been the featured speaker at board meetings, conference breakout sessions, moderated town halls, and as the keynote speaker for national and regional conferences. I have also helped plan conferences and reviewed the feedback forms on the speakers and about the entire conference. The success of a conference hinges on the quality of your speakers. I want your event to be a success for your organization and for your attendees.

If you would like to check my availability for your event or if you have questions, please contact me at mleach@downsyndromeprenataltesting.com.

Inviting me to speak

Here is what you can expect from me as your invited speaker:

  1. Prompt responses to your phone calls and e-mails.
  2. A phone call to better understand how I can meet your event’s and audience’s needs and expectations.
  3. Promotion of your event on this blog and via my social networks.
  4. A professional presentation tailored for your event with up-to-date information.
  5. If desired, attendance at your full-event to facilitate small group discussions, breakouts, and other needs you may have.
  6. A follow-up after the event to review whether I met your expectations.

About me

I have five years worth of post-graduate coursework and fifteen years worth of listening to other speakers at professional conferences, business meetings, and small group sharing sessions. When it has been my time at the microphone, I have approached each opportunity as a chance to engage the audience by sharing information that has practical relevance to their personal and professional lives.

I have presented at international, national, regional, and local conferences. Representative speaking engagements include:

  • Keynote speaker and breakout facilitator at the annual conference for Canadian Association for Community Living, Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida
  • Invited speaker for annual conference for the South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
  • Platform presenter at American College of Medical Genetics and World Down Syndrome Congress
  • Invited speaker for medical and bioethics lectures at hospitals and medical schools
  • Town-hall moderator for plenary session at Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action annual conferences
  • Breakout speaker at multiple National Down Syndrome Congress conferences

My presentations receive superior ratings from attendees with the two most common comments being, “So much information,” and “Wish there was more time for this topic.”

My most requested presentations

I present on the ethical, legal, and practical issues involved with prenatal testing for Down syndrome, training volunteers and staff for effective medical outreach, and fundraising strategies for non-profits. For each speaking engagement, I customize my presentations to fit the needs of the host organization.

T21 CellPrenatal Testing for Down Syndrome: Scientific advances have resulted in a rapidly-changing landscape for expectant mothers receiving prenatal care. In the past decade, the medical guidelines have changed from offering prenatal testing for Down syndrome to mothers 35 and older, to offering prenatal testing to all expectant mothers and in just 2013, medical professional societies issued position statements on how the newest form of prenatal testing–non-invasive prenatal screening–should be incorporated into clinical practice. This presentation covers these technologies, what each test result means, and analyzes the professional guidelines. This presentation has been given at medical conferences, hospitals, medical schools, and Down syndrome support organizations seeking to learn more about the state of prenatal testing.

check yes or noInformed Decision Making: Prenatal testing for Down syndrome is premised on respecting the expectant mother’s autonomy by giving her the opportunity to gain information upon which she may make reproductive decisions. This presentation covers the ethical concepts, the research on whether clinical practice is meeting prenatal testing’s ethical justifications, and shares the resources for achieving informed decision making. I have given this presentation at hospitals, medical schools, bioethic courses, and to Down syndrome support organizations and their conferences.

dna_500Ethics of Prenatal Testing for Down Syndrome: While prenatal testing is offered in more variations than ever before, the underlying ethical issues largely have remained the same–and largely have remained unaddressed in clinical practice. As ever the case, science seems to outpace our ability to ethically incorporate these advances. This presentation provides this historical overview of the ethical, legal, and social implications of prenatal testing for Down syndrome and is appropriate for medical, legal, bioethics, and Down syndrome conferences.

handshakeEffective Medical Outreach: Everyday throughout the United States, individuals are walking into the offices of medical providers pulling behind them roller bags containing marketing materials about their companies’ offerings of medical technologies. Prenatal testing for Down syndrome is no different. But, for the most part, there is not a product representative visiting those offices to provide the resources recognized by professional medical societies that should accompany prenatal testing for Down syndrome. This presentation has been given at national, regional, and local Down syndrome support organizations on how to develop a responsible medical outreach program so that the local medical community trusts the information provided and will refer patients to the local and national support organizations.

MoneyCapital Campaigns for Non-Profits: First as founder and chair of Down Syndrome of Louisville’s Development Committee and then as Board President, I was active in the capital campaign that began at $800,000 and grew to ultimately raise $4.2 million and expand from building on existing property, to buying and building a new facility, to expanding across the river and establishing not one but two campuses for lifelong learning for individuals with Down syndrome in the Greater Louisville area. This presentation covers these lessons learned and best practices to guide organizations to take the next step in their development.

Lincoln_MemorialFinding Political Common Ground: Prenatal testing is inexorably entwined with the political hot-button issue of abortion. However, beginning in 2005, efforts began to address the responsible administration of prenatal testing regardless of pro-choice or pro-life positions. This was exemplified by the two lead sponsors of a law passed in 2008 being pro-choice Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and pro-life Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). In recent months, similar efforts have experienced success at the state-level, with multiple pieces of legislation being entered and passed by state governments representing all political leanings. This presentation provides a survey of these pieces of legislation and provides a roadmap for introducing legislation that will succeed no matter the political landscape and why other policy measures make enacting balancing legislation all the more urgent.

Each of these presentations can be (and has been) presented on its own or in conjunction with one of the others. For instance, I have done a three-hour presentation covering prenatal testing for Down syndrome, its ethics, and effective medical outreach. On the other hand, I have presented for 50 minutes on relevant pieces of legislation, and even as short as 15 minutes at medical conferences on informed decision making. Whatever your event’s needs, I can design a presentation that fits the time available as well as serve as a small group facilitator on the presented topic or breakout speaker on a separate subject.

The Next Step

I appreciate you considering me for your event and I hope we will have the chance to work together. You can check my availability by contacting me at mleach@downsyndromeprenataltesting.com. I will follow up with you promptly.


  1. David E. Smith says:

    I have a question which I hope you will be gracious enough to answer: are there important differences between cffDNA testing and testing of DNA from fetal cells recovered from maternal blood?

    I thank you in advance for your answer.

    • David–my understanding is that the difference between cell free DNA and fetal cells in the maternal blood is that cell free DNA is actually from cells from the developing placenta versus actual fetal cells. You can find out more on cell free DNA at my post “When cell free fetal DNA isn’t.” The difference is in accuracy, with tests of fetal cells not having the false positives and false negatives of cell free DNA. The other difference is cost, since it is much more expensive to identify fetal cells versus cell free DNA.

  2. Hi Mark , I’m 38 yr old and just had the cfdna test and it came back that was detected on massively, what do you think , I’m devastated , I’ve been trying to get as much information that I can’t get but nothing is making me feel better

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