Astrid Arroyo
LEND Program of Pittsburgh

Ms. Arroyo is currently a trainee in the LEND Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She has personal experience to share in her transition journey as a parent and as an advocate for others.

 


 

Miya Asato MD
Director, LEND Program of Pittsburgh
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Division of Child Neurology

Dr. Miya Asato is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Division of Child Neurology. She has over 15 years experience in working with youth with SHCN and their families. She is Director of the LEND Program of Pittsburgh, which is a multidisciplinary clinical and leadership training program to train the next generation of leaders in disabilities and pediatrics.

 


 

Erica Balint
Outreach Coordinator
Alliance for Infants & Toddlers

Erica has been at the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers for 22 years. For the first 10 years she worked as a Service Coordinator, providing direct service to families while coordinating Early Intervention services for their children. For the last 12 years, she has been working as the Outreach Coordinator. Her role is to bring awareness on Early Intervention services to Pediatricians, Hospitals, Child Care Centers, Homeless Providers, Parent Groups, Libraries and other Social Service organizations throughout Allegheny County.

 


 

Aleta Barnett, BS
Adult Mental Health Advocate
NAMI Keystone PA

Aleta has been in the social service field for over 15 years, and has worked with at-risk youth providing life skills, drug and alcohol prevention and HIV/AIDS education in Erie, PA. Since 2011 she has worked in Pittsburgh with people experiencing homelessness, mental health issues as well as drug and alcohol issues. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology as well as an Associate degree in Human and Social Services, both from Edinboro University.

 


 

Joyce Bender
President and CEO
Bender Consulting Services

Joyce Bender, President and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, has built her career on over 30 years of executive search experience, and has become an internationally recognized leader in disability employment, since founding Bender Consulting Services, Inc. in 1995. Bender is an advocate for disability employment and the host of the Internet talk radio show Disability Matters with Joyce Bender on voiceamerica.com. She is the current Chair of the Board of the National Epilepsy Foundation and the secretary on the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

 


 

Mindy Bramer
Director of Professional Development
Provident Charter School

Mindy Bramer has been an elementary and special education teacher, reading specialist, and she has taught ninth grade English Literature. Most recently she has worked at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) on Pennsylvania’s Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Pilot Program. She is also a Nationally Board-Certified teacher in the area of Reading-Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood. Ms. Bramer also has her Special Education Supervisor and Principal certifications. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Special Education Leadership and hopes to defend her dissertation this Spring. Ms. Bramer’s greatest educational accomplishment is helping teachers learn how to teach reading to students with deficits in the areas of decoding and comprehension. Ms. Bramer has her Orton-Gillingham Level I certification and is also a trainer of the Wilson Reading System. She is also part of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and is co-chairing the 2020 Conference.

 


 

Shelly Burr, Ed.D.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit

Dr. Shelly Burr is certified in K-6 Elementary Education, Middle School Math, Middle School Science, and Special Education K-12 in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She is currently a Training and Consultation Coordinator at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3. Shelly earned her Bachelor’s degree at Penn State University, her Master’s degree at The University of Pittsburgh, and her Doctorate from The University of Memphis. She taught in the classroom for fifteen years in grades K-6. Shelly specializes in the areas of mathematics, RtII/MTSS, and curriculum development.

 


 

Susan Caban
Director of Education
NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania

Susan Caban is the Director of Education at NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania. Ms. Caban is a teacher for NAMI’s Family-to-Family Education Program and a trainer for NAMI’s In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence mental health awareness presentations. She has collaborated with individuals in recovery and mental health advocates to create informative presentations for community organizations, students, and family members. Ms. Caban earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education at Carlow University.

 


 

Michael Carnicella, MA
CEO
Transitional Options, Inc.

Michael Carnicella graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with both a MA in Employment and Labor Relations and a BA in Sociology. Michael’s educational background, plus his 15 years of experience working with disabled adults, align perfectly with the Transitional Options philosophy. Michael’s high ethical standards make him the perfect fit as CEO of Transitional Options, Inc. Michael prides himself in creating new models of service in order to customize plans that fit everyone’s needs. Michael takes personal responsibility to ensure that every individual served by Transitional Options has an easy path to attain their specific goals and reach their fullest potential.

 


 

Aeisha M. Carter, MAEd
CEO, Tutelage Residential Services

She has more than 25 years of education and experience in education, corporate training, human, and social services. She has worked with children and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism in both the public and private sectors. Tutelage Residential Services provides licensed and unlicensed individualized supports throughout Western Pennsylvania.

 


 

Guy Caruso, Ph.D., FAAIDD
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Guy is from Pittsburgh, Pa and works for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, Pennsylvania’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. He is the Western Coordinator for the statewide Institute. He studied with Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger and uses Wolfensberger’s concept of Social Role Valorization (SRV) to assist families, people with disabilities and providers to combat devaluation and provide opportunities for people to obtain the “good things in life.” For the last 46 years he has worked in several capacities in human services and has spent much time assisting families and people with disabilities to lead a valued life in the community. His work has led him to train and present across the United States, Canada, and to Australia.

 


 

Nora Gieg Chatha, Esq.
Tucker Arensberg, P.C.

Nora represents individuals, fiduciaries and healthcare providers in all areas of estate planning and wealth preservation, with a focus on special needs, public benefits and long-term care related issues. Past experience as legal counsel with the Pennsylvania State Medicaid (Medical Assistance) Agency, the Department of Human Services, and knowledge of Orphans’ Court practice and fiduciary duties allows Nora to provide comprehensive representation to clients in a variety of complex situations.

 


 

Gregory Cherpes MD
Medical Director
Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs

Dr. Cherpes currently serves as the Medical Director for the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs. He has served in this role with the Department of Human Services since 2015, supporting ODP’s role in ensuring that policies and practices provide optimum support to people with disabilities in their homes and communities. His role includes capacity building to help ensure the availability of systems and resources to support people with complex needs. Dr. Cherpes graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1991 and has been in practice since completing residency and fellowship training in 1996. He is board certified in general psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry. His clinical, research and educational efforts have been devoted to addressing the healthcare needs of people with disabilities across the lifespan.

 


 

Valire Copeland MSW, MPH, PhD
University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work

Dr. Copeland is a Professor in the School of Social Work. She is Director of the Baker Fellowship which is a federally funded grant training program to train the next generation of social workers committed to behavioral and physical health.

 


 

Cynthia J. Corbin, LCSW
President
National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter

Cynthia J. Corbin, LCSW is a human services and management consultant with over thirty-six years of experience. She has held numerous leadership positions in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. As a consultant, she is focused on helping individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in an ever-changing, outcomes focused, data driven environment. Ms. Corbin received her BSW and MSW from Temple University School of Social Work Administration. In addition to her consulting she serves as an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University and Widener University. She also maintains a small clinical private practice. Ms. Corbin is a Past-President of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Pennsylvania Chapter and served on the NASW National Board of Directors and Adjunct Faculty for Temple University School of Social Administration. She was a Governor-appointed member of the State of Pennsylvania’s Children and Family Services Cabinet as well as served on the Commission for Organ Donation. Ms. Corbin spent many years advocating for the disabled as a healthcare worker and administrator. She was diagnosed with. Multiple Sclerosis in 2008. Her professional efforts added a personal focus that compels her to educate about, advocate for and fight on behalf of persons who are differently abled.

 


 

Nikki Dawson, MSW
Advocacy Director
NAMI Keystone PA

Nikki joined NAMI in 2017 as an intern while completing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her involvement with NAMI she worked in veteran homelessness and homelessness prevention services as a case manager and outreach coordinator. Nikki is an eight-year US Army veteran with a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to her MSW she holds a BSW from Ohio University and is a recent graduate of Community Leadership Course for Veterans, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.

 


 

Dr. Caesar DeLeo
Vice President, Executive Medical Director Clinical Strategies
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Within Highmark, Dr. DeLeo has served in several capacities, including as Vice President and Executive Medical Director of Clinical Strategy, Senior Medical Director, Interim Vice President of Utilization Management, and Senior Medical Director at Gateway Health (a subsidiary Medicaid and Medicare special needs plan). Dr. DeLeo’s current role within Highmark’s Chief Medical Officer Organization involves his helping to lead innovation in behavioral health, addiction and telemedicine. His leadership also extends to supporting and evolving practitioner reporting, pay-for-performance (True Performance) and value based initiatives. Earlier in his career, Dr. DeLeo served as Medical Director at HealthAmerica/ Coventry in Pittsburgh, CIGNA HealthCare of Illinois in Chicago, and Hospice St. John in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He practiced Internal Medicine in the Geisinger Clinic in Pennsylvania for many years and as an ER Physician in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Throughout his career, Dr. DeLeo has led departments, managed physicians, created programs, innovated technology and has been involved in all aspects of health plan operations. A transformative leader, Dr. DeLeo led Gateway Health’s Physician pay-for-performance and practitioner engagement programs. Dr. DeLeo’s passion for equitable health and wellness has carried his career in directions of health services, population health and strategic operations. Dr. DeLeo is a graduate of Lehigh University, Jefferson Medical College and the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health (MHSA). He is a third generation physician who began his career making house calls at an early age with his father, a General Practitioner.

 


 

Collin Diedrich, PhD
Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania

Dr. Collin Diedrich has a PhD in Molecular Virology and Microbiology from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a Certificate in Disability Legal Studies from University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is a postdoctoral associate researching how HIV changes immunological responses to tuberculosis. Dr. Diedrich has multiple learning disabilities and personally understands how thinking differently can be a struggle and a gift. Dr. Diedrich is an advocate, author, and professional speaker for students who have learning disabilities. Dr. Diedrich advocates the importance of finding your jet packs (i.e. allies and techniques used to overcome barriers in life)! He is also the founder and president of Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania, a 501c3 non-profit that focuses on providing services and advocating for students that think differently.

 


 

Scott Dougherty, M.Ed.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit

Scott A. Dougherty, M.Ed. is certified as a Teacher in the areas of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (N-12) and Elementary Education (K-6) and as an Instructional Technology Specialist (K-12) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He completed his undergraduate work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, graduate work at Waynesburg University, and an Assistive Technology Applications certificate at California State University, Northridge. In addition to his work as a Training and Consultation Coordinator at Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3, Scott has taught at a residential school for the Deaf; worked as a statewide consultant in assistive technology and deafness/deafblindness; and taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of assistive technology, instructional technology, and American Sign Language. He specializes in the areas of assistive technology, augmentative and alternative communication, alternate eligible content, Deafness, Deafblindness, support for students with complex support needs, Universal Design for Learning, and STEAM.

 


 

Carol Erzen, M.Ed.
Staff Development Executive
Merakey

Carol Erzen attended Clarion University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education, then continued to earn a master’s degree in Motor Learning and Development from the University of Pittsburgh. Carol was a Special Education teacher with the City of Pittsburgh School District. For over 36 years she has served in numerous positions at Merakey Allegheny Valley School including Program Director, Administrator and Director of Training.

 


 

Debbie Ference
Chief Operating Officer
NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania

Debbie Ference, MA, is the Chief Operating Officer of NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania. In her role, Ms. Ference oversees human resources, financial management, and education services. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her Master’s degree in human resources from St. Francis University in Loretto, PA. Ms. Ference is a state trainer and teacher for NAMI Family-to-Family and a teacher for NAMI Basics and Parents & Teachers as Allies.

 


 

Stuart Fisk CRNP
Director
Center for Inclusion Health
Allegheny Health Network

Stuart Fisk, CRNP has been involved in HIV research, nursing, and prevention since 1988. He has provided hospice, nursing and medical care for persons living with HIV disease since 1992 with a focus on providing care for persons with substance use and mental health disorders. He has helped to develop a number of innovative programs to provide compassionate and state of the art care for these populations, both in Pittsburgh, PA and San Francisco, CA. He was involved in the development and legalization of Prevention Point Pittsburgh, a syringe exchange program providing a broad range of prevention services for injection drug users in the region. Since 1999 he has been involved in the development of the Positive Health Clinic at Allegheny General Hospital; a Ryan White Care Act funded medical clinic for persons with HIV. He is provides primary care for persons with HIV infection at the Positive Health Clinic and serves as Principal Investigator for the Ryan White Care Act grant from HRSA.. Stuart served on the Allegheny County Drug and Alcohol Planning Council for 7 years and has worked with the Allegheny County Overdose Prevention Project. Stuart Fisk is also Director of the Center for Inclusion Health at Allegheny Health Network which houses the Addiction Medicine program at Allegheny Health Network. The mission of the Center is to develop clinical, teaching and research programs to expand quality health care to populations that have been excluded from care due to mental health, substance use or other social determinants of health disparity. In 2017, the Center for Inclusion Health was awarded a Center of Excellence for Opiate Use Disorders grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for expansion of treatment for OUD for Medicaid recipients. CIH was also granted $1 million from for expansion of MAT integration into primary care and the development of multi-disciplinary integrated pain centers at Allegheny Health Network.

 


 

George Fleming
Outreach Specialist
Allegheny Family Network

George J. Fleming is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Clarion University and has worked in the Human Services field for the past 30 years. At an early age, George realized that he had a compassion for the plight of all people and a desire to serve them. His background in the Human Service field includes several decades of executive administration and oversight for alcohol, tobacco and other drug treatment, residential group homes, mental health services, reunification services, homeless shelters, mentorship and prevention services. Mr. Fleming is currently the Outreach Specialist for Allegheny Family Network and the Fathers Involved Now Program, which helps support and partner with families rearing children who have emotional and mental health needs to improve their quality of life. He also facilitates groups for batterers who have court orders to address intimate partner violence through Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Men’s Program.

 


 

Dr. Beverly Frantz PhD
Temple University Institute on Disabilities

Dr. Beverly Frantz is the project director for the criminal justice and sexuality initiatives at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Dr. Frantz focuses her work on the intersection of disability, healthy sexuality, sexual violence, criminal justice, and the judiciary system. Dr. Frantz co-founded A Woman’s Place, a domestic violence program and shelter. She has served on the faculty of the PA Victim Assistance Academy and is an adjunct faculty member at AEquitas, the National Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, and Temple University. Dr. Frantz is a nationally recognized speaker, author of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, tip sheets, personal safety/sexual abuse curricula, and has produced numerous DVDs.

 


 

Tom Franz
PEMA and the Pennsylvania Volunteers

Tom Franz, is a member of PEMA and the Pennsylvania Volunteers serving in a disability awareness capacity. He served as Operations Director for the American Red Cross of Greater New York and as the Assistant Director, Behavioral Health and Disaster for the State of Maryland. Franz served with the Peace Corps in famine relief and refugee repatriation and held various leadership roles in many social service agencies throughout his career.

 


 

Michael Gamel-McCormick
Disability Policy Director
Senate Special Committee on Aging, Senator Bob Casey

Michael Gamel-McCormick is the Disability Policy Director for Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He held a similar position in the office of Sen. Tom Harkin, as well as being Sen. Harkin’s senior education staffer. He began his career as an early childhood education teacher, teaching in inclusive settings. He also was a special education technical assistance provider for over 40 counties and cities in Virginia. For 15 years, he was a professor and dean at the University of Delaware as well as the director of the university’s Center for Disabilities Studies. Just prior to joining Sen. Casey’s staff, he was Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

 


 

Leah Gray
Deputy Director
Disability Options Network

Leah currently serves as the Deputy Director of Disability Options Network. She is a person with a disability and serves as a local contact for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Association Disability Inclusion Taskforce.

 


 

Dr. Erin J. Grimm
Training & Consultation Coordinator
Allegheny Intermediate Unit

Dr. Erin J. Grimm’s professional career spans 20 years of educational and leadership experiences that encompass private, public, and charter schools within Western Pennsylvania. Presently, Dr. Grimm is employed at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. She serves the 42 school districts within Allegheny County as the IDEA Training and Consultation Coordinator delivering state and federal directed content as it pertains to effective practices on secondary transition and special education compliance. While fulfilling her professional duties at the AIU, Erin successfully facilitates coordination of the Allegheny County school districts for National Disability Mentoring Day; and has served as the lead facilitator for the Transition Coordinating Council of Allegheny County. Academically, Erin received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Elementary & Special Education from Slippery Rock University as well as her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration & School Leadership from Duquesne University. Additionally, she obtained her Supervisor of Special Education and Principal Certifications from Duquesne as well as her Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility and successfully defended her dissertation at Duquesne University receiving her doctorate in Educational Administration & School Leadership. Due to her passion and resourcefulness, Dr. Grimm has been afforded the opportunity to present local, state and nationally on topics ranging from successful practices on secondary transition, family engagement, improving selfdetermination & executive functioning skills of all students, understanding the connection from school to the community.

 


 

Mary Hartley
Project Director
Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium

Mary is a disability systems-change consultant working with multiple organizations – United Way of Allegheny County’s 21 and Able Initiative, so students with disabilities can transition to adulthood in employment, housing and services; helped conceive Allegheny County’s The Housing Connector; directed United Way’s #IWantToWork Campaign; led two pieces of Pennsylvania legislation to passage, Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities and Employment First PA; launched a model of business employment collaboration, the Career Transition Project; launched Pennsylvania’s statewide Planning for the Future Checklist and app; generated numerous state and local policies, strategies and solutions; led ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative; and worked with Autism Connection of Pennsylvania on policy solutions for adults on the spectrum that led to services. She is a parent advocate serving on multiple state boards and committees and was appointed by Governor Wolf to chair the Pennsylvania Employment First Oversight Commission. She lives with her husband and 2 children in Pittsburgh, her son Jack is advocating on his own behalf through transition.

 


 

Brittany R. Holzer, Esq.
Tucker Arensberg, P.C.

Brittany works with families and individuals to assist in the development of a complete estate plan, including financial and health care powers of attorney, as well as living wills. She also works with individuals and health care institutions to assist in guardianship proceedings. Additionally, in her estate practice, she focuses on special needs planning and medical assistance/long term care planning.

 


 

Rich Howard
President
River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.

In 2001, Rich became a member of the Board of Directors for Passavant Memorial Homes, a non-profit human service organization. In 2004, he was the Founding Chairman of the Board for Life Enrichment Trust, Inc., a Passavant-related corporation. He served on the boards of two other Passavant-related corporations, Accessible Dental Services, Inc., and Passavant Development Corporation, Inc., parent to PDC Pharmacy. Howard joined Passavant’s Corporate Management Team in 2008 and held various responsibilities, most noteworthy, as Relationship Manager for Life Enrichment Trust, Inc., as well as Director of Sales and Marketing for the entire Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Rich has provided leadership to the communities in which he has lived by serving on many public boards as well as local service clubs. Since its incorporation in July of 2016, he has been honored to be President of River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.

 


 

Elizabeth Humphrey
Self-Advocate
LEND Program of Pittsburgh

Elizabeth “Liz” Humphrey is an inspirational speaker and advocate for all people with disabilities. She is an active member of Self Advocacy Power Network for All (SAPNA) and Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking (C2P2). Liz has an inspirational Facebook page — I Can’t be Put Down — and aspires to market her products. Liz is a Merakey Allegheny Valley School Pathfinder who personally experienced the Person Centered Process.

 


 

Cynthia L. Ingraham
East Central Representative
Helen Keller National Center

Cynthia L. Ingraham, East Central Representative for the Helen Keller National Center completed her doctoral degree in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She has authored numerous monograph chapters on transition issues for youth with sensory disabilities and more than two dozen articles on the education and rehabilitation needs of consumers with physical and sensory disabilities. Dr. Ingraham volunteers with New Life, Inc., a wheelchair sports program for youth with physical disabilities in the Metro Washington, D.C. area, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together and aging-in-place programs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Dr. Ingraham is also a freelance writer for About Time Magazine, Inc., based in Rochester, New York writing on social and educational issues within the African American Community.

 


 

Kimberly Katruska, PhD
Merakey

Kimberly Katruska, Ed.D. has worked in the social services field for 16 years. She currently specializes in adult education and training as it pertains to program development and implementation of practice. Dr. Katruska utilizes positive approaches and trauma informed care frameworks as means to improve the quality of supports provided to people and teams. She joined the Transformation Project Initiative in 2018 as a facilitator and advocate. Dr. Katruska is currently involved with data analysis of the project and fostering the project’s sustainability and growth within Merakey.

 


 

Erika Kauffman, M.ED
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Erika Kauffman, is the Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor for OVR Pittsburgh District Office. Erika supervises Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) and Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS), and collaborates with PETS providers, and BJJS providers & Pennsylvania Academics & Career/Technical training (PACTT) Affiliates. Erika has a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education Intervention & Transition Services for Pre-K to Secondary Education, and Master of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling. She has been with OVR since 2007 as a Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, and promoted as a VR supervisor in 2013. In 2014, OVR has expanded their program and services for secondary students through PETS, and juvenile court involved youth and students with disabilities who are served by PACTT Affiliates or county probation offices through BJJS. PETS and BJJS are intended to increase the employment rate of student with disabilities in the state of PA, and to prepare students with disabilities with career interests, work readiness skills, participate in community work experiences, and explore postsecondary training opportunities at an earlier age to maximize their potential to enter competitive integrated employment. Erika has been involved with OVR/PETS team in the development for provision and coordination of services and program for PETS and BJJS potentially eligible students with disabilities in Allegheny County.

 


 

Lisa Krause
IT Manager
Highmark Health

 

Lisa Krause is an Enterprise Solutions manager at Highmark Health, experienced in application development and production support.  She is a customer focused, service oriented, technology leader with over 30 years of experience in IT, including 19 years in management and has a history of delivering large scale and software optimization solutions.  Lisa has a superior understanding of both hospital and physician health care systems, as well as knowledge of insurance audit processes, fraud investigation and compliance impacts.  She is a highly adaptable leader with core competence in relationship management and has a proven track record with execution of day to day operations and staff development.

Recently, Lisa has been responsible for establishing digital accessibility as part of the system development life cycle for Enterprise Solutions and has been instrumental in establishing a sustainable process for the Highmark organization to leverage Disability Equality Index (DEI) best practices.

 


 

Leigh Anne Kustra, MHA, MBA
Director of Population Health Strategies
Gateway Health

Leigh Anne Kustra is the Director of Population Health Strategies at Gateway Health. She obtained both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Healthcare Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. Leigh Anne has over 15 years of experience in healthcare, including working for both providers and payers as well as school district special education programs. Additionally, Leigh Anne offers a unique perspective, currently navigating the healthcare system with her 9 year old son who was born with Spina Bifida.

 


 

Dr. Ann Marie Licata
Director
Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium

Dr. Ann Marie Licata serves as the Director of the Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium. She comes to her role with a breadth of experiences including classroom teaching, elementary and middle school principalships in both public and private schools, teaching in higher education and served as the Assistant State Director for a non-profit organization, Communities In Schools. With nearly 30 years of service to students, families, and the communities enable her to dynamically lead the activities of the Consortium. Her research interest in disability studies and advocacy, leadership, and institutional mission are a natural fit for the worthy work she pursues. Dr. Licata has successfully presented her research at state, national, and international levels.

 


 

Jim Lilley, MS
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Jim is a Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor with the Pittsburgh District Office of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. As such, he is responsible for supervision on the areas of Transition Services/PETS, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, and Assistive Technology, as well as backup for Supported Employment Services. Jim has been with the Pittsburgh District Office since February 2019. He is also part of OVR’s College Policy workgroup. Prior to joining the Pittsburgh team, Jim started with New Castle District Office of OVR in June 2010 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with a mental health caseload. In March 2013, he became the Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and in May 2015, became a Supervisor. In the NCDO, Jim’s areas of focus had been as the Coordinator for Transition Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Early Reach Services and Supported Employment. Jim is a graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina with a Masters of Rehabilitation Studies with a dual emphasis in Rehabilitation Counseling and Vocational Evaluation. Prior to coming to OVR, Jim has worked in Community Rehabilitation Programs and in Private Rehabilitation.

 


 

Rick Lipa, MEd
The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh

Rick Lipa has over 22 years of experience working with at-risk youth and students with disabilities. Rick has Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Education in Special Education from Duquesne University. For the past 12 years, Rick has been the Transition Coordinator at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh’s Day School. At this time, Rick works with students and families to assist them in meeting their post-secondary goals. Post-secondary goals include finding employment, searching for different living arrangements, and assisting students with engaging in their communities through volunteer work or recreational activities.

 


 

Hillary A. Mangis, Ph.D.
PaTTAN

Dr. Hillary Mangis is a member of the PaTTAN Pittsburgh team, serving as a state lead for Secondary Initiative, and providing support on the Intensive Interagency and Pathways to Graduation initiatives. A graduate of Washington and Jefferson College, Hillary began graduate studies at Duquesne University, where she earned her doctorate in school psychology in 2009. Dr. Mangis has publications in the Textbook of Pediatric Neuropsychiatry and Applied Neuropsychology. She has also presented research at the International Neuropsychology annual conference. As a member of the National Association of School Psychologists, she holds the credential of Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). Dr. Mangis’ previous work experiences include serving as psychologist for Early Intervention/DART at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. In addition, she served as contracted school psychologist for West Allegheny and district school psychologist for Carlynton. She has also served as the Coordinator of Special Education and Student Services at Carlynton, prior to joining the PaTTAN team.

 


 

Brandon Markosek
State Representative, 25th District

Before his election to represent the 25th Legislative District, Representative Brandon Markosek served as a Community Outreach Representative for State Senator Jim Brewster, where he was involved in directly working with residents to identify community needs, while working to best address those needs in the district and in Harrisburg. Additionally, as a member of the Knights of Columbus, Friends of Monroeville Library, Monroeville Chamber of Commerce and St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Monroeville, Brandon has remained committed and active in the community, with vested interests championing the betterment of Allegheny County and beyond. His legislative priorities include providing sufficient funding for senior citizen-based programs, confronting the opioid epidemic, ensuring greater public safety, securing increased funding for all levels of education, and bolstering the area’s economy to create jobs. Brandon is dedicated to maintaining efficient constituent services in his district office. With bachelor’s degrees in both Political Science and History from Duquesne University, he also holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and has taken courses through Stanford University’s online program.

 


 

Loreta Matheo MD
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

Dr. Loreta Matheo is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Program Director for the fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. In addition to general adolescent medical care she runs the Bridges for Transition Clinic. Bridges, a multidisciplinary clinic aims to assist patients with complex medical needs and their families as they transition from the pediatric model of care to the adult model of care. The clinic has expertise not only in transition assessment and planning but also care for reproductive and behavioral health needs and works in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Law School’s Health Law clinic. As head of the hospital’s Transition Task Force she works with her colleagues to educate medical providers on the tenets of transition for all patients. Additionally, she speaks at community and professional conferences on the topic.

 


 

Kimberly K. Mathos D.O., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Dr. Mathos is employed at a variety of community and academic sites where people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Blind receive services. She also works at a program at University of Pittsburgh /Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic where individuals who are experiencing psychotic illness receive care. She holds adjunct faculty positions at Gallaudet University and at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences also at the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys a mix of teaching, community based research and clinical care. In 2009 she was awarded the National Alliance of Mental Illness Exemplary Psychiatrist Award for her innovative practice ideas for working with complex patients who had sensory disabilities, mental health, intellectual health and physical health challenges.

 


 

Dan Miller
State Representative, 42nd District

As the eldest child of immigrant parents, Dan was the first member of his family born in America. Raised by a single mom from an early age, finances were often challenging. Even so, his family instilled in him a strong appreciation and recognition of the special opportunities America offers. As a result, Dan has made public service an important part of his life. He enlisted in the Army National Guard after high school. While his military service was cut short due to injury, he found another way to engage in service. As a Team Leader in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corp, he led a team of young people working on community projects across the Mid-Atlantic. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in education and history and became a teacher. He later graduated with a law degree from Catholic University, where he received two community service awards, chaired their public interest auction, and served as executive editor of their communications journal. Upon passing the bar, Dan decided to serve the community again as a public defender focusing on juveniles and later as a county solicitor where he worked to make sure kids were safe in their homes and received a proper education. Dan and his wife Kim moved to Mt. Lebanon where he joined the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. In 2011, he was awarded the Medal of Merit for his attempt to save the life of a three-year-old child from a devastating house fire. He went on to be elected as a municipal commissioner, and has served the community as a board member of such local institutions as Outreach Teen and Family Center, the Center for Theater Arts, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont and the Carnegie Library. Dan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2013 and elected as Chair of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation in 2019. Additionally, he serves on the Education Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Labor and Industry Committee, and the Human Services Committee. He is the Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Special Education and the BlueGreen Alliance Caucus, and also is a member of the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, Climate, Early Childhood Education, Firefighters & EMS, LGBT Equality, HOPE and Steel caucuses. Dan is the co-chair the National Task Force on the Future of the Workforce- an initiative designed to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The task force is bipartisan, bicameral collection of legislators, agency heads, and advocates from across our country. It has been put together as a collaboration of the US Department of Labor, the Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. As state representative, Dan has received awards for his advocacy for people with disabilities from ACHIEVA, The PEAL Center, The ARC of Pennsylvania, and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, Pennsylvania School Counselors Association and he has been awarded a lifetime membership in the PTA.

 


 

John P Miller, MRC, MA. CRC, CAADC OWDS
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

John Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management and Organizational Psychology from Otterbein University and worked in the Hospitality and Real Estate sectors before beginning his career in vocational rehabilitation. Prior to joining OVR in 2010, John earned Masters’ degrees in both Mental Health Counseling and Vocational Rehabilitation and worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). In his current role as Business Services Supervisor, John leads a diverse team of professionals who conduct employer outreach, provide no cost business services to employers interested in creating a fully inclusive workplace. Since the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014, John and his team have increasingly partnered with businesses to implement employer driven programs and initiatives. In 2016, John and his team developed and implemented MYWORK Initiative and in 2018 the team partnered with the City of Pittsburgh to pilot MYWORK Pittsburgh. Both MYWORK programs place high school students with disabilities into paid summer work experiences in their own community. In the past year, John and his team have collaborated with nearly 150 organizations to provide disability trainings, website and worksite accessibility consultations and other business services. As a result of these efforts the business services team has directly placed nearly 300 OVR adult and student customers into employment in the past year.

 


 

Christine A. Moon
PaTTAN

Christine Moon has been an educational consultant in the PaTTAN Pittsburgh office since 2017. Christine’s areas of specialization include Special Education Leadership, Procedural Safeguards, and Inclusive Practices. Prior to coming to PaTTAN she served as the Director of Special Services for the Shenango Area School District in New Castle, PA for 15 years. She previously taught English and special education at the secondary level. Her background includes working with individuals who are adjudicated youth, individuals with emotional disturbance within the partial-hospitalization setting, and a variety of students within the public school systems within the states of VA, NC, and PA. Christine received her B.S. in Secondary Education/English from Clarion University and her M.Ed. in Special Education from Regent University. In addition, she has her Educational Supervision Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh and her Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from Edinboro University.

 


 

Dr. Libby Moore, LSW, Dhce, NCG
Vice President of Client Care
River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.

Libby graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She obtained a Master of Social Work degree from West Virginia University in 1983 and in 2001 obtained her Doctorate in Health Care Ethics from Duquesne University. She was with the Heritage Valley Health System for twenty-nine years during which time she was a medical social worker and the ethicist for the entire health care system. During her last ten years with Heritage Valley Health, she established the palliative care service, providing palliative care consults to patients of the system. In November 2017, she joined River Community Fiduciary Services as the Vice President of Client Care.

 


 

Dr. Denise Morelli
Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA) Board Member

Dr. Denise Morelli serves on the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA) Board. Until her recent retirement, she served as a Program Director for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU). During her 36 years at AIU, she held positions as a special education teacher, reading specialist, and supervisor. Denise earned her B.S. Ed in Special Education with dual certification in special and elementary education at Edinboro University and her M.S. Ed Reading Specialist, Principal Certification, and Ed D. from Duquesne University. Her passion for reading and her advocacy for readers stems from her own struggles with dyslexia.

 


 

Deborah Murdoch, MPH
Program Manager
Jewish Healthcare Foundation

Ms. Murdoch is a Program Manager at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. In this role, she provides leadership for the Adolescent Behavioral Health Initiative (ABHI) and Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI), including facilitation of collaborative learning and peer-exchange, analysis of program data, and documentation of lessons learned. Together with the ABHI team and partnering youth organizations, she is working on the development of a youth advocacy network focused on improved teen mental health services and supports. Prior to joining the Foundation, she spent eight years working in international public health, including two years as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa and three years in Uganda working on a national HIV and AIDS care and treatment program. Ms. Murdoch earned a BS in Neuroscience from the College of William and Mary and an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

 


 

Nancy Murray, M.S.
President
The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at ACHIEVA

Nancy Murray is the President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at ACHIEVA. She has 40 years of experience in the disability field in public policy, advocacy, family support, supports coordination, health care and state government serving people with disabilities and their families. Nancy’s primary area of interest is the resilience of families of children and adults with disabilities and the long-term impact of caring for a person with a disability on a family. Nancy has conducted numerous seminars and has written numerous articles on disability issues. Nancy is the Project Director of ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative which is focused on access to healthcare for people with disabilities. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Advisory Council and numerous committees through the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs. She is also a member of The Arc US’s National Council of Executives of The Arc and the PA Executives of The Arc. She served as a founder and coordinator of the Down Syndrome Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Director of Supports Coordination at Staunton Clinic, and the Pennsylvania Western Area Director of the Office of Developmental Programs.

 


 

Megan Nocera, M.S
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Megan Nocera is a 2009 graduate of Westminster College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a certification in Special Education. She then obtained her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. She began working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for OVR in May 2012, where her caseload consisted of working with students and adults with mental health and intellectual disabilities. She was promoted to Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor in 2018 where her responsibilities include: Small Business Committee Coordinator, overseeing placement equipment purchases, as well as sitting on the Allegheny County Certified Peer Specialist Advisory Committee.

 


 

Stacy L. Nonnemacher, Ph.D.
Clinical Director
Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations in the Office of Developmental Programs

Stacy L. Nonnemacher received her Ph.D. from Lehigh University. She is currently the Clinical Director for the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations in the Office of Developmental Programs in Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services. Stacy is the Editor in Chief of the Positive Approaches Journal. She has been involved in the field of disabilities for over twenty five years supporting children, adolescents and adults in home, community, and school settings. Dr. Nonnemacher has conducted applied research and trainings on Positive Behavioral Support, fostering self-determination, Functional Behavioral Assessment, and the needs of and support for individuals with autism. She believes that supporting individuals with disabilities begins with a multiple theoretical perspective in understanding the person. Dr. Nonnemacher applies this belief to her work supporting, training and working with people living with disabilities, families, providers, and state systems.

 


 

Eric O’Connor, NCG
Vice President
River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.

Eric is a native of Beaver County who graduated from Beaver High School. He attended Robert Morris University, completing degrees in Human Resources and Business Management. Eric’s background includes working with Business Owners to produce positive financial outcomes. He has also served as a Trust Officer for Life Enrichment Trust, Inc. Mr. O’Connor holds FINRA Series 7, Series 66, and Series 6 qualifications, is a Circle of Wealth Advisor, and is an Authorized Practitioner of the Nelson Nash Institute. He is currently the acting Chairman of the Board for the Beaver County Children and Youth Services Advisory Board. In 2017, Mr. O’Connor received certification as a National Certified Guardian (NCG). In 2019, he was selected to participate in a committee that will oversee changes and enhancements to the Pennsylvania Guardianship Tracking System that was implemented by the Commonwealth in 2018. Eric has been the Vice President of River Communities Fiduciary Services since its incorporation in July of 2016.

 


 

Sara Oliver-Carter
Chief Diversity Officer
Duquesne Light

She will be responsible for creating and advancing DLC’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy and associated initiatives.

Oliver-Carter brings to DLC more than 20 years of experience in human resources, employee engagement, and D&I. She most recently served as the Senior Director, Talent and Diversity/Inclusion for the Pennsylvania State University in State College where she played a critical role in the development, growth, and overall success of the Human Resources team.

Prior to her time at Penn State, Oliver-Carter was with Highmark for 18 years in a variety of human resources positions culminating in the role of Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion.

 


 

Lisa Paglia
The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh

Lisa Paglia is a Community Based Instruction Facilitator and Volunteer Job Developer at The Children’s Institute. She studied Sciences and Psychology at Duquesne University. At The Day School, Lisa helps students learn, accommodate, and perform functional tasks that relate to specific volunteer jobs at school and in the community. She also helps students develop interpersonal skills necessary to succeed and become self-sufficient at volunteer placements. She ensures that there is continuous communication between the home, school, and community to allow the students to become as successful as possible in adult life after graduating from The Day School. Lisa has been an employee of The Children’s Institute since February of 2007. She previously worked on the Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit as a part of the psychology department before assuming her current position in The Day School in 2009.

 


 

Maria Paluselli
Chief Learning Officer
Provident Charter School

Maria Paluselli is the Chief Learning Officer at Provident Charter School. She has experience working as a special education teacher in several public schools. Maria is also a certified Orton-Gillingham Trainer. For over 10 years she served as the Director of the Children’s Dyslexia Center. Here she has trained and supervised teachers and tutors at initial and advanced levels. Maria is a trainer for Winsor Learning, publisher of a multisensory reading program. She has traveled throughout the country training teachers and coaching them as they implement intervention programs. Maria has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and she works independently assessing students and consulting with parents and school districts. She presents regularly on various topics related to reading and intervention strategies. Maria is the past chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Group of The International Dyslexia Association.

 


 

Kyran John Phillips
Certified Peer Specialist
Peer Support and Advocacy Network

Kyran John Phillips is 26 years old and a Pittsburgh native. He is a member of the transgender and mental health communities and currently employed with the Peer Support and Advocacy Network as a certified peer specialist, as well as a teaching assistant with the Stand Together program throughout Allegheny County. His hobbies include hiking, writing, and advocating for the successes of First Episode Psychosis programs.

 


 

Tomar Pierson-Brown JD, LL.M
University of Pittsburgh School of Law Director, Health Law Clinic

Tomar Pierson-Brown is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Director of the Health Law Clinic, a medical-legal partnership with UPMC-Children’s Hospital. Certified legal interns in the Clinic are trained in the substantive law and professional legal skills necessary to provide brief advice and, in select cases, direct representation to low-income patient families.

 


 

Greg Pollock
VP of HR & Accessibility Officer
PNC Financial Services

Greg Pollock is the Vice President of Human Resources and Accessibility Officer at PNC Financial Services. He currently works at PNC’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. He started his career as a Public Affairs Specialist at the Dow Chemical Company. He joined Dow’s Feedstocks and Energy Division in 2012 after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and interning in Public Affairs during the summer of 2011. 

Mr. Pollock serves on the Board of Trustees for the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD), the Epilepsy Association of Western and Central PA. He previously served as President of the Board of Directors for the Disability Network of Mid-Michigan and is President of the NTID Alumni Association Board of Directors. He also served as the Diversity & Inclusion Leader for Dow North America following his role as the Public Affairs Manager for all six Dow sites in Louisiana. During his time at Dow, Mr. Pollock co-founded Dow’s Project SEARCH program which provides meaningful employment skills for transitioning students with developmental disabilities. He also represents PNC on Disability:IN’s Corporate Advisory Board and chairs their ERG/BRG Committee.

Mr. Pollock was previously appointed by Governor Snyder to Michigan’s ‘Barrier Free Design’ Board as well as Michigan’s Construction Codes Commission. He is a recipient of the ’40 under 40’ Spirit of Rotary Award as well as the NCAAP’s Young Professionals Leadership Award and has been featured on Lt. Governor Calley’s ‘Hidden Talents Tour’, ABC’s ‘What Would You Do?’ on the employment of Deaf & hard of hearing people and is a frequent keynote speaker, including events with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the G20 Summit, Northwood University and the MI Hidden Talents Summit in the Great Lakes Bay region.

 


 

Jesse Putkoski, M.S.Ed.
Area Director
Western PA Chapter American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Jesse Putkoski is the Area Director for the Western PA chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, having been involved as a volunteer since 2016 and then as a board member since. During her time with the organization, she has delivered a number of suicide prevention presentations, as well as held the position of coordinator for Healing Conversations, a program that offers support to those who have suffered a suicide loss. She is certified in SafeTALK suicide intervention. Her professional background also includes ten years in the legal industry, as well as four years as a high school educator in the Richmond, Virginia area. She holds a Bachelor of Art’s degree in English Writing and Master of Science degree in Secondary English Education from Duquesne University.

 


 

Cindy Rosentreter, MS, CRC
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Cindy Rosentreter is a Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor at the Pittsburgh Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Cindy has her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Slippery Rock University and completed an internship at the Hiram G. Andrew’s Center with their onsite Rehabilitation Counselors. Cindy also worked as a Job Trainer with Project SEARCH at UPMC Mercy through Goodwill of Southwestern PA in 2012. Cindy earned her Masters’ degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 when she began her internship at OVR. In 2017 Cindy got promoted to Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor specializing in Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) and the Early Reach Initiative. In her role as a PETS Supervisor, Cindy has lead a team of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Early Reach Coordinators who collaborate with high schools and community partners across Allegheny County to assist students with disabilities to become ready for work and post-secondary training. Cindy is also part of the Transition Coordinating Counsel of Allegheny County’s Planning Committee, who coordinates quarterly meetings for Teachers, Students/Families, and Community Partners to learn more about transition services offered to students. Cindy is fluent in American Sign Language, is a Certificated Rehabilitation Counselor, and has her certificate in Rehabilitation Technology.

 


 

Jeff Ruder, Esq.
Ruder Law

Jeff Ruder is the founder and principal of Ruder Law. Since 2006, Jeff has focused his practice on advocating for the rights of disabled children in public schools. Jeff is also frequent speaker to professional and parent groups regarding the rights of students with disabilities. Jeff also serves as an Allegheny County Solicitor, handling matters involving child abuse and neglect. In addition, Jeff works as special counsel for the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations where he represents victims of housing discrimination. Jeff also serves as special prosecutor for Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board. Previously, he worked as a guardian ad litem for Legal Aid for Children. Jeff is a 1993 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a 1996 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.

 


 

Susan Rudisin, M.Ed., CRC, LPC
University of Pittsburgh Center for Recovery Services

Mrs. Rudisin is an outpatient mental health service provider working in an outpatient program that serves consumers diagnosed with chronic mental illness. Sue works collaboratively with psychiatrists, community agencies, insurance companies, medical providers, families and peers at University of Pittsburgh Center for Recovery Services.

 


 

Mary Sanderson, MS OTR/L
The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh

Mary received her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from Duquesne University in 2016. She received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Duquesne University in 2017. Mary currently works as an occupational therapist for The Day School at The Children’s Institute. Mary serves students ages 8 to 21 by developing and implementing intervention treatment plans for students with a wide range of disabilities including but not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome. In this position, Mary collaborates with multiple disciplines, team members, and family members in order to yield the best outcomes for students. This includes collaboration regarding post-secondary services with transition staff. Mary has worked diligently to prepare students for the “real world” after graduation. This has included education to team members, transition-based goal development, advocacy across environments and disciplines, and use of the IEP framework to guide daily intervention.

 


 

Dr. Tracy L. Scanlon, LPC, CT, CEAP
Director of Professional and Program Services
Outreach Teen & Family Services

Dr. Tracy L. Scanlon completed her doctoral work at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit. She received a B.S. in Human Resources Management from Geneva College and a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University. She is a licensed professional psychotherapist, a professor of psychology and is certified in thanatology, employee assistance, and critical incident defusing and debriefing. Dr. Scanlon is a critical incident responder with the Allegheny County Emergency Response Team, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the Allegheny County Police Department. Dr. Scanlon has been an instructor at Community College of Allegheny County since 2001 and also teaches both undergraduate and graduate counseling psychology at California University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Dr. Scanlon is the Director of Professional and Program Services at Outreach Teen and Family Services in Mt. Lebanon Pennsylvania. She maintains a private practice in the Mt. Lebanon area of Pittsburgh with a focus on trauma and loss. Although her academic interests are relatively broad, she has spent much of her career in service to the culturally and-economically disenfranchised. She has spent over 25 years as an advocate examining how negative life experiences, such as trauma and grief impact mental wellness. She has been published in local magazines and newspapers many times and travels regionally and nationally providing critical incident and disruptive event management support, including the Tree of Life Synagogue and the Las Vegas Hotel tragedies.

 


 

Rachel Schwartz, Ph.D., BCBA
Education Consultant
The Watson Institute

Rachel Schwartz is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has worked internationally creating and supervising programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Rachel received her Master’s degree in Teaching and Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. When she isn’t consulting, Rachel collaborates with the local medical community to promote resources for families of children with complex health needs, teaches in the Special Education program and Applied Behavior Analysis program at the University of Pittsburgh, and publishes original research in special education journals including Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, Remedial and Special Education, and Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Rachel currently serves as a guest reviewer for several journals. In her role as an Education Consultant at the Watson Institute, Rachel provides training and consultation services to school districts and other organization seeking to support individuals with special needs. Rachel has over a decade of experience in the fields of special education and behavioral supports.

 


 

Christine Craig Seppi
President
Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA)

Christine Craig Seppi is currently the President of the PA Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (PBIDA). She is a long-time member of the Pittsburgh Regional Group of PBIDA. In 2006 she became the Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Group and served as the Group Chair from 2010–2018. During her time as Chair, she supervised PBIDA activities in the Pittsburgh Region including 5 major biennial conferences as well as numerous other PBIDA events. She has served on the PBIDA State Board since 2006. Ms. Seppi is an Orton-Gillingham Tutor certified at the Advanced Level through the 32 o Masonic Scottish Rite Children’s Dyslexia Centers. She is also certified as an Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) through the Academic Language Therapy Association. She has over 2,000 hours of tutoring experience. She currently tutors privately. Ms. Seppi obtained a Master of Arts in English Language from Brigham Young University. Before becoming an Orton-Gillingham tutor, she taught English, writing, and oral presentation skills at the college and high school levels. She has also developed and presented communication and management training courses as a consultant. Ms. Seppi and her husband are the parents of four adult children, one of whom has dyslexia.

 


 

Katherine A. Shecora, LSW
Vice President
National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter

Katherine Shecora, LSW, is the current Vice President of the National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter. Professionally she is a social worker with a Fortune 500 company in Philadelphia, helping working adults and their families access therapeutic and community-based resources to deal with life stresses. Having been in the field for over twenty-five years since graduating with an MSW from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work (now SP2), Ms. Shecora has drawn from her own life experiences as a person with a physical disability to demonstrate an authentic sense of self her professional life. At the age of two, she endured a stroke due to head trauma, resulting in hemiplegia. At the age of eight, she was an unwitting pioneer in the disability rights movement, being among the first children mainstreamed into the public school system with the passage of The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975). Since then, and especially after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), Ms. Shecora has worked tirelessly to eliminate internalized stigma for those whose lives are impacted by both emotional and physical impairments both in her practice and in the social work community.

 


 

Robert “Bobby” Silverstein
Principal
Law Firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC

Robert “Bobby” Silverstein is a nationally-recognized attorney with over 45 years of public policy experience in the disability arena. For more than a decade, he served as staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin. During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Bobby was a behind-the-scenes architect of more than 20 disability-related bills enacted into law, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently, Bobby is a principal in the law firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, PC. He is also a member of the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED). In this capacity, he provides policy assistance to state policymakers, including preparing reports and policy briefs, drafting legislation, presenting testimony, and facilitating discussions among policymakers and other stakeholders. In 1971, Bobby earned his B.S. in Economics, cum laude, from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 1974, he received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Silverstein is the recipient of numerous national awards, including the Distinguished Service Award from the President of the United States.

 


 

Katie Smith
Youth Leadership Coordinator
The PEAL Center

Katie Smith is an educator and advocate. As the Youth Leadership Coordinator at the PEAL Center, she works directly with transition-aged youth and young adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs. There she leads in development of self-advocacy and leadership skills for successful transition outcomes. Katie acquired a spinal cord injury and successfully transitioned into life with a disability utilizing personal networks 12 years ago. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Certifications in Elementary and Special Education. Working in the fields of education and advocacy, Katie promotes meaningful inclusion of all individuals utilizing her personal experience.

 


 

Caterina Staltari
Director of Clinical Education
Duquesne University, Dept. Speech-Language Pathology

Mrs. Staltari is the Director of Clinical Education in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at Duquesne University. She received her Master’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders from The University of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Staltari has over 25 years of experience working with both pediatric and adult populations with an emphasis on disorders of language, speech and cognition. At the Duquesne University Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, she oversees the clinical education of graduate students in both internship and externship practica and provides direct clinical instruction for graduate students in the University Outpatient Clinic. Additionally, Mrs. Staltari teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of speech-language pathology.

 


 

Dr. Sarah Stockey, Dhce
Client Care Supervisor
River Communities Fiduciary Services, Inc.

Having earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Sarah continued her education at Duquesne University where she achieved her Doctorate of Healthcare Ethics degree. Sarah spent one year in Hampton Roads, Virginia where she served as the clinical ethicist for 3 community hospitals in the Bon Secours Health System. She then worked with Duquesne University as the Clinical Instructor for the healthcare ethics doctoral students for 6 years. Currently, Sarah works with UPMC Mercy Hospital as an ethics consultant. She has presented at several national conferences, including the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and the National Association for Catholic Chaplains. Sarah joined River Communities Fiduciary Services on July 23, 2018 as the Client Care Supervisor.

 


 

Marci Sturgeon-Rusiewicz, MS, NCC, LPC, CPSS, CPRP, Doctoral Candidate
Senior Manager of Recovery and Resiliency
Wesley Family Services

As the Senior Manager of Recovery and Resiliency for Wesley Family Services, Marci is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Pennsylvania, a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Doctoral Candidate of Counseling Psychology. Her clinical work involves both assessment and psychotherapy to youth and young adults within a university counseling center as well as adults and older adults in a community behavioral healthcare setting. She has extensive experience in working with the diversities of individuals diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) and severe emotional disturbance (SED) as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner. Her oversight includes community Drop-In Centers serving both transition age and adults within Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. She is the Clinical Manager of the First Episode Psychosis Program (ENGAGE) at Wesley Family Services. Marci has a background in program development within the community based behavioral healthcare setting. She is a holistic health practitioner who believes in the importance of maintaining a balance of mind and body for optimal wellness which she incorporates into both direct practice and her management style. Her work emphasizes a bio/psycho/social support system for youth and adults. She holds an undergraduate degree in art education from Carlow College and earned a Master of Science from Carlow University.

 


 

Kathy Sullivan, M.Ed.
Preschool Service Coordinator
Allegheny Intermediate Unit DART Program

Kathleen has been working with children and families for almost 40 years, with 25 of those years specializing in preschool early intervention with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s DART Program. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from California University of Pennsylvania and Master’s Degree in Early Intervention from the University of Pittsburgh. Kathleen is also an adjunct faculty member at Carlow University. Throughout her career, her focus has been that each interaction is an opportunity for positive change and that while we know that children learn best through play, that we as adults, cannot forget that it is important for us too!

 


 

Beth Traynor MS, LPC, CRC
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Beth is a Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor at the OVR Pittsburgh district office. She is the Supported Employment Coordinator and the ID/Autism Coordinator for the Pittsburgh office. She has been a member of the OVR Small Business Committee for over 10 years and is on the Project SEARCH Steering Committee. Prior to her current position, she was Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and worked with customers a variety of disabilities, including physical, mental health and learning disabilities. She collaborated with community partners, transition coordinators, students and their families as they transitioned from secondary and post-secondary education. She has a B.S. in Marketing from Robert Morris University and an M.S. in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences – Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. She also has a Certificate in Assistive Technology from the University of Pittsburgh. Beth is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania.

 


 

Josh Verdi
Enterprise Labor and Employment Counsel
Highmark Health

Joshua Verdi is an Enterprise Labor and Employment Counsel with Highmark Health, where he advises all parts of the enterprise, on topics including harassment, discrimination, and diversity issues. Prior to Highmark, Joshua spent 16 years as a litigator and employment counsel at Reed Smith. He attended Duquesne University where he graduated summa cum laude in Psychology, he also received a Masters’ in Psychology before attended the University of Pittsburgh Law School where he was on the Law Review. He has been recognized nationally as a Top Employment Counsel by First Chair. In his free time, he coaches travel soccer and announces youth football games for Seneca Valley.

 


 

Crystal Vogtsberger
Training & Consultation Coordinator
Allegheny Intermediate Unit

Mrs. Crystal Vogtsberger’s professional career spans both school district and specialized school settings as a special education teacher and administrator. For ten years, Crystal served as a special education teacher for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit specializing in the instruction of students with autism, learning, emotional, and complex disabilities. In addition, Crystal served as the Director of Special Education for Clairton City School District. Currently, Crystal is employed at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Training and Consultation Team (TaC), her primary initiative encompasses behavior. Academically, Crystal received her undergraduate degree from Lee University of Tennessee in Special Education and obtained her master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Administration. Additionally, Crystal completed her certification in Special Education Supervision from Slippery Rock University, a certification in Cooperative Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as certifications in mid-level English, and secondary English. Crystal is currently in a Doctoral Program at Slippery Rock University for Special Education.

 


 

David Wargo
ADEPT Program Specialist
The Arc of Pennsylvania

David Wargo has been with The Arc of Pennsylvania as a program specialist for five years. Prior to joining the Arc of PA David worked as PA State Trooper for 26 years, where he specialized as a Criminal Investigator and Community Services Officer. Having retired in Feb 2013, he worked 2 and half years as a school police officer. David has acquired certification through Marc Gold and Associates in Discovery, Job Development, and Systematic Instruction since joining the Arc of PA. He has been providing all three services the past 2 years. David also provides mentorship for others going through the Arc’s Discovery Certification process.

 


 

Michal Wargo
ADEPT Program Specialist
The Arc of Pennsylvania

Michal Wargo has been with The Arc of Pennsylvania as a program specialist for five years. In addition, she has been an educator for over 20 years, working both in K-12 and higher education settings. She has an M.Ed. specializing in reading and is currently working on her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education. During her time at the Arc, Michal gained certification through Marc Gold and Associates in Discovery, Job Development, and Systematic Instruction. She is also a mentor for others going through the Discovery process.

 


 

Erin Weierbach
Youth Empowerment Coordinator
The PEAL Center

Erin Weierbach is the PEAL Center’s Youth Empowerment Coordinator and works with the Transition Quality Empowerment Project in partnership with George Washington University and the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network. Erin has worked with people with disabilities for more than 14 years to support them in achieving their goals and discovering their potential for success. She has earned her ACRE certification from Griffin-Hammis Associates in Community Employment with Concentration in Customized Employment. She is also a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) and has used her experience to support adults with intellectual disabilities to pursue their employment goals. Erin is a person living with a disability herself and she is able to use her personal life experience to offer peer mentoring and teach the principals of independent living to the people she supports.