Skip to content


Date: 8/16/2021 - 8/17/2021
Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Register Now

Held Virtually

The PA Community Alliance Summit, a project of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, will discuss and explore the theme: Recover, Rebuild, and Reform. What does it look like in your community to “recover?” How can we “rebuild” communities to move forward? What “reform” is needed to improve community systems? The Summit is two days of networking, discovering alliances and collaboration building within diverse organizations in Pennsylvania led by and/or supporting underserved/unserved populations who experience marginalization and oppression.

Please note that this event automatically will include accommodations including American Sign Language interpreters and closed captioning during the length of the event.  Should you potentially require an accommodation under the ADA to participate in this program in addition to ASL and closed captioning, please email  Please send your request for an accommodation at least 5 business days in advance of the event or program.


9:00 am – 10:00 am  |  Session 1: KEYNOTE

The Intersection of Trauma and Intellectual Disabilities

Everyone has felt the symptoms of at least chronic stress if not full-blown trauma over the course of the past year, whether we recognize it as such or not.  Dr. Jurman will discuss the impacts of trauma and chronic stress on all of us, and the impacts they can have on people diagnosed with Intellectual Disabilities.  He’ll share stories from his past work in the field and highlight how being trauma-informed and person-centered can help us and the people we serve achieve healing and well-being.

Dr. Daniel L. Jurman, DMin

Dan got his start working with at-risk youth in places like Camden, Newark and Atlantic City over 30 years ago.  He has a bachelor’s degree from Rowan University and master’s and Doctoral degrees from Lancaster Theological Seminary.  His career has included working with people with intellectual disabilities, providing healthcare at rural and urban Federally Qualified Health Centers, and doing community organizing and anti-poverty work.

Read More
 In December 2019, Dan began serving as the first Executive Director of Governor Wolf’s new Office of Advocacy and Reform where his focus is to create better outcomes for all people whose circumstances have made them vulnerable. In addition to his volunteer roles in the community, Dr. Jurman is also an adjunct professor/guest lecturer at the Penn State Hershey Department of Public Health Sciences and was an adjunct professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary where he co-taught a course on the intersection between Theology and Poverty.

10:00 am – 11:15 am  |  Session 2: (Choice of A or B)

A: Panel Discussion on Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence happens behind closed doors and we’ve had our doors closed for quite some time now. How do people of color and those in the LGBT communities recover? Facing additional challenges of poverty and mental health, how do you rebuild? Now that we are removing our masks and opening our doors, how do people reform their lives? And what work must be done to reform how we support those facing domestic violence?

Moderator: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Panelists: Safe Journey, Crisis Center North, Lutheran Settlement House

Moderator: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Denise Scotland

Denise M. Scotland joined the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence in March 2000 and is the Senior Training & Technical Assistance Specialist. Her responsibilities include offering training and technical assistance to programs and other stakeholders with a focus on trauma-informed and survivor-led services to unserved and underserved survivors, overseeing local and statewide prevention initiatives, and collaborating with state and local government agencies, and other allied professionals in the development and maintenance of community partnerships that enhance the delivery of comprehensive services to unserved and underserved survivors. Before joining the Coalition, Denise was a Legal Advocate for 9.6-years at a local domestic violence program, Turning Point of Lehigh Valley, Inc. and worked for Outward Bound for 6-years. Denise graduated from the University of Scranton with a M.S. in Human Resources Administration and a M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling.

Safe Journey

Lori Palisin

In addition to her role as the CEO of PurpleOne, Lori Palisin also serves as the executive director of Safe Journey, a domestic and dating violence services program, in Erie County, Pa.  She believes that educating all members of our communities is crucial to ending domestic violence.

Read More
After a remarkable 25-year career championing the needs of victims and survivors of domestic violence, Lori has spearheaded the development of PurpleOne, the national training and awareness campaign that unites communities against domestic violence.  During her career she has attended more than 80 domestic violence-related workshops, conferences, and trainings.  Lori is a member of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and co-founder and current member of the Erie County Rural Domestic Violence Task Force.  She holds a bachelor’s in Business, Liberal Arts and Science with a minor in Psychology from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College..


Meghan Duda

Meghan Duda is the communication director for the PurpleOne Program.  She has worked in marketing and communication in a variety of industries including health care, government, politics, and higher education.  She also has worked in education for the last decade in both higher education and corporate settings.  Meghan earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, a master’s in Organizational Leadership and a doctorate in Organizational Learning and Leadership.


Crisis Center North

Jeff Lambert

Jeff Lambert received his PhD in Philosophy at Duquesne University. Jeff has been the Education Coordinator at Crisis Center North since September of 2020. Prior to working at Crisis Center North, Jeff taught at Duquesne University through their philosophy department and Honors College for six years before moving into the field of community engagement and prevention education.

Read More
Jeff’s philosophical research and teaching style have always focused on building educational environments and examinations of healthy relationships.


Leon Strimel

Leon Strimel was hired as Crisis Center North’s Prevention Educator in February of 2010. He comes to Crisis Center North after spending thirty-five years employed in West Allegheny School District as a high school Guidance Counselor. Leon wrote two books, entitled “Make Your Family a Team and Win” and “Power Learning.” Over the past ten years at Crisis Center North, Leon developed and implemented programs such as Developing Healthy Relationships with Yourself and Others, Peer to Peer Empowerment, and Coaching Boys Into Men.

Read More
He has made over 10,000 presentations to over 100,000 students. In 2017 he won the Pennsylvania State Governor’s Award for these programs and his work at Crisis Center North.

Lutheran Settlement House

Toby Fraser

Toby Fraser (he/him) is the Manager for Community Education at Lutheran Settlement House, a survivor support agency in Philadelphia.  He comes to this work through non-violent direct action-based activism and has been a part of the movement to end gender-based violence since losing a friend in 2008.  His work has ranged from doing workshops with youth about the roots of violence and social change to training professionals on concrete skills such as screening,

Read More
safety planning and supporting survivors to direct action trainings in mostly the environmental movement.  Toby identifies as a cis-gendered white man.

B: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Presentation (PDF)

To help Philadelphians recover from pandemic-related job loss and the rising need for food due to COVID-19, PHS leads job training and placement programs and mobilizes thousands of gardeners to grow and share food in their communities. PHS supports communities to rebuild healthy living environments and social connections by transforming blighted lots into mini parks and equipping people to grow and share food with their neighbors. Growing economic opportunities and supporting networks for self-reliance reforms our communities. Join us to learn more about how to partner with PHS to improve health and wellbeing through gardening.

Julianne Schrader OrtegaJulianne Schrader Ortega

Julianne Schrader Ortega is the Vice President and Chief of Healthy Neighborhoods at PHS where she advances the organization’s key initiatives through successful implementation, collaboration within the organization, and management of partnerships vital to PHS. She built and strengthened partnerships, developed resources and supported the programs that train community members, teachers, inmates and urban growers to garden, build beauty in Philadelphia, and increase production and distribution of produce for families without access to fresh, local food.

Read More
Julianne received her B.S. in Biology from Trinity College and has worked around the world to transform land use and empower communities to work toward sustainable and just food systems. As Director of the Citywide School Garden Initiative with GrowNYC, Julianne worked with government agencies and non-profit organizations to connect 400 New York City public schools with the funding, training, and materials needed to start and sustain learning garden programs. She also spent over a decade with the Rainforest Alliance.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm  |  Session 3: Pop-up Talks

Get an introduction to 3 speakers. Following lunch, join a discussion with 1 or 2 of them. Discover how you could work together to recover, rebuild and reform Pennsylvania.

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm


12:45 pm – 1:15 pm  |  Session 4: Pop-up Networking Stations

(Choice of A or B)

A1: Colours Organization

ISRC Lessons Stigma (PDF)


A2: KenCrest

Click here to enter Track 2

Community Participation During Covid (PDF)

Come discuss community participation during COVID-19 for adults with intellectual disabilities. We seek to maximize use of technology to rebuild and reform community engagement.


Gina Cincotta

Gina Cincotta M. Ed. has been a teacher for 29 years in various settings.  She currently designs instructional units and activities for adults supported by KenCrest.  Gina will explain how KenCrest used technology to support people during the COVID-19 pandemic.  She will guide you through the steps to create Remote Community Services and the creation of new programs.



B: Casa San Jose (CASA)

County and public service lack culturally tailored supports or language information, preventing the Latino and Hispanic communities from accessing services and needed information to recover and rebuild during COVID-19. This prompted Casa to explore reforms and develop the Latinx Relief Program, in coordination with community allies and organizations, to provide wraparound services and launch an aggressive social media information campaign to disseminate accurate and language/culturally accessible information.


Monica Ruiz

Monica Ruiz is the Executive Director at Casa San José.  Monica has been working with Casa since 2014 when she started as an intern, then moved to service coordinator and then community organizer.  Prior to that, she worked for Catholic Charities as a case manager.  She was born in Cleveland Ohio and has Latino roots from Guatemala and Puerto Rico, where her mom and her dad are originally from.  She is a proud mother of one daughter and four sons.  She loves cooking and enjoys playing soccer with her children.

Read More
Monica holds a master’s degree in Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing and Social Action.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Psychology.

Monica is a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues.  She fights for those facing deportation proceedings and launches projects to assist women, children and youth.  In addition, she partners with political, labor, religious, and law enforcement leadership to make Pittsburgh stronger and more welcoming to all.

Monica recently received the 2021 Women and Business Award from Pittsburgh Magazine as well as the 2021 Dr. Cyril Wecht Western PA Humanitarian Award.  She also received the 2019 Women of Influence Award, Pittsburgh Business Times, and the 2019 César Chávez Community Heroes Award.  She was awarded the 2018 New Person of the Year, from Thomas Merton Center and the 2018 Rising Star, from the University of Pittsburgh by the School of Social Work.  She is currently a fellow of Lead Now Pittsburgh, a transformational leadership program for the civic sector.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  |  Session 5: (Choice of A or B)

A: Panel Discussion on Suicide & Prevention

Family Therapy (PDF)

Support Group Flyer (PDF)

During COVID-19, suicide and suicide prevention loomed larger than previously experienced. Let’s discuss what the experience of community members such as veterans, the aging, people with disabilities and those with a mental health diagnosis looks like to recover and rebuild. And what is being done to reform systems of support.

Franklin County Military Outreach Program
Center for Community Resources
Minding Your Mind

Jordan BurnhamMinding Your Mind:
Jordan Burnham

Jordan is a public speaker who discusses the mental health issues and disorders that affect so many of us. He is a survivor of a suicide attempt during his senior year in high school and shares his powerful story of fighting depression and finding recovery.


Read More
Jordan is a nationally recognized mental health advocate. In 2008 he addressed a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill. In 2010 he was chosen as one of the “Best of Philly” for his work in public speaking and advocacy. In 2012 he was honored with an Emerging Humanitarian Award from retired San Francisco 49ers player Nmadi (Nam-DEE) Asomugha (Awesome-Wah) and the Asomugha Foundation.

He has been featured in People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today. Jordan has appeared on ESPN’s E:60 and Outside the Lines, as well as Dr. Phil, The Ricki Lake Show, CNN, the Early Show and Good Morning America. He has been featured in three documentaries and his piece, “Unbreakable” with E:60 was nominated for an Emmy. Most recently, you might have seen Jordan at the White House for the National Conference on Mental Health, hosted by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Jordan has been speaking on his story and mental health all over the country for the last 8 years. He’s spoken in 32 different states and 3 different countries. His presentation is meant to inspire, educate and allow others to know they’re not alone.

Franklin County Military Outreach Program:
Fred “SARGE” Bucci

Fred “SARGE” Bucci is a twenty-year Army retiree. He served in Vietnam & Desert Storm. He is a third generation Army combat veteran and has been married for 47 years with two children and 5 grandchildren; and has resided in Chambersburg since 1986. Originally from Philadelphia, he experiences PTSD (War related) resulting from both conflicts. He identifies as having bi-polar disorder, depression, anxiety, survivors’ guilt and has drug overdosed. He is a three-time survivor of attempted suicide. He is 100% service-connected disabled with a service dog for PTSD. Sarge also has multiple medical issues due to “Agent Orange”, including heart, kidney, & diabetes complications; has had 20 surgeries and takes 18 different prescriptions daily.

Sarge started the Outreach program in 2008 when his son returned home from one of his 5 combat tours with mental health issues. At that time there was no place in town that could help him. Sarge wanted to change that and support other veterans with mental health challenges.

Center for Community Resources:Shanon Quick
Shanon Quick

Shanon Quick (Central Director of Programs) has been with CCR since 2017. She has extensive experience with developing telephone, mobile, and walk-in crisis intervention services that are person-centered, focused on recovery, connect individuals to community resources, and reduce the risk of suicide. She has experience in opening new crisis programs, most recently Northumberland and Wayne counties. She has participated in the creation of the Crisis Intervention Teams, and Suicide Prevention and Zero Suicide Task Forces.

Read More
She was also a workgroup member of the OMHSAS Crisis Intervention Services Transformation Recommendations White Paper, CCBH Crisis Performance Standards Work Group, OMHSAS Crisis Regulation Work Group and OMHSAS Work Group to Develop PA Emergency Services Crisis Training Manual.

B: Awaken Pittsburgh

Since the start of the global pandemic, we have faced isolation, the loss of loved ones, jobs, and uncertain futures. The mental health challenges are on the rise, especially for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and undocumented communities during this time, which exacerbated the unequal access to supports that existed pre-COVID-19. How do we recover from our depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and have enough to help others rebuild? This session will facilitate a conversation about what can work to recover and heal ourselves and those we serve.

Stephanie RomeroDr. Stephanie Romero

Dr. Stephanie Maietta Romero, founder and Executive Director of Awaken Pittsburgh, works to bring mindfulness practices to adults and youth throughout Western PA. Dr. Romero has 20+ years of experience teaching elementary, middle school, high school and college students. She has been a meditator and mindfulness practitioner since the early 2000s. Finding that her meditation practice profoundly influenced both her personal and professional lives,

Read More
Dr. Romero explored the integration of mindfulness into her classroom space through her dissertation, culminating three years of research into mindfulness in education. Dr. Romero is a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies.

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm  |  Session 6: (Choice of A or B)

A: Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children

Presentation (PDF)

In this session, Friends Association will share their work in establishing NIA House, a community-based housing program for women and children impacted by incarceration. Focused on Rebuilding, Reunifying, and Reconnecting, NIA House supports women in accessing foundational needs allowing them to find a space of safety and balance, which empowers her to move into spaces of resiliency and ultimately thriving while directly addressing key factors impacting successful reentry for women.

Jennifer LopezJennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, Executive Director at Friends Association since January 2019, has over 30 years of experience in strategic and organizational management focusing on creating, implementing, and improving programs for marginalized community members. Jennifer served the Chester County Community as the Deputy Chief of Probation, Parole, and Pretrial Services where she administered trauma-informed programs serving over 10,000 justice-involved individuals.

Read More
She provides training and is a featured speaker both locally and nationally on trauma, justice-involved women, and family homelessness. Jennifer serves on both the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee and the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, she is a member of the Chester County Women’s and a Board Member of Thistle Hills.
Yulanda Myers
Yulanda Myers, Peer Specialist at NIA House, brings extensive experience in case management and recovery support to the women in the community. She is committed to assisting justice involved women to find the recovery support system that best suits them and encouraging them in maintaining their sobriety. Yulanda has partnered with returning citizens to achieve self-sufficiency and meet personal goals. She has in-house experience with case management, program strategy and house operations. She is committed to fostering a safe, trauma-informed environment for the women and children at NIA House.


B: Domestic Violence Service Center

Presentation (PDF)

Individuals with disabilities are more likely to experience domestic violence than individuals without disabilities. Abuse may include the following: physical violence, emotional abuse, financial control or sexual abuse. Points of discussion will be recognizing the signs of abuse, developing a safety plan, and accessing the resources available to living an independent life free from violence.


Tammy Rodgers

Tammy Rodgers has been the Volunteer/Education Coordinator at the Domestic Violence Service Center (DVSC) for the past 24 years.  A graduate of Mansfield University with a degree in Social Work, she has worked in many diverse fields, ranging from pre-school children, intellectually disabled adults, and the elderly.  During her employment at DVSC, she has provided presentations on both the local and national levels, speaking to both professionals and community members.  As the trainer for the agency, she has also provided information and education to community partners on the prevalence of domestic violence and the resources available.

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm  |  Session 7: (Choice of A or B)

A: U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (Erie Field Office)

This session will focus on the intersection of trauma-informed care & cultural sensitivity. Many marginalized communities face trauma, strive to recover, and rebuild their lives through informed care. But we are not always mindful to reform our care to include cultural sensitivity. Starting from a lens on the refugee and immigrant experience, we will explore the intersections of trauma across other demographics to include race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and class.


Dylanna Grasinger

Dylanna Grasinger moved to Erie in 2012 to assume the Executive Director position at USCRI Erie, after leading human services agencies in the Midwest, Pittsburgh and Akron, Ohio.  She was drawn to Northwest Pennsylvania’s potential and quickly realized that Erie County was the place she wanted to grow her roots.

Read More
Dylanna understands that people are what make Erie County special, and this is what connects her to the community.  Having worked with refugees and immigrants for over two decades, she understands the importance of a diverse and inclusive community.  Experienced in a variety of direct service and administrative functions, including grant-writing, curriculum design, teaching, program evaluation, fiscal management, volunteer management, and program development, Dylanna combines her commitment to refugees and immigrants with her superpower of simplifying complex issues to create strong client-centered programming and long-lasting systemic change that works.

In addition to her work leading USCRI Erie for the past nine years, Dylanna volunteers her time with the Certification for Healthcare Interpreters Board of Commissioners and the Erie Mayor’s New American Council, and as a board member for Bike Erie, Multicultural Healthcare Evaluation Delivery System (MHEDS), and UPMC Hamot Diversity Committee.  She was one of the leading organizers of Boulevard Park Association in 2016, an Erie neighborhood group working to connect neighbors.

Dylanna earned her B.A. in English from Kent State University, where she also received certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), as well as a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University.


Lydia Laythe

Lydia Laythe is the Health & Wellness Program Coordinator for the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants’ Erie Field Office.  She graduated from University of Portland (Oregon) and Edinboro University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work.  Fresh out of grad school, Lydia worked as a trauma therapist – working part of the time as a school-based therapist with children and adolescents who experienced trauma, and the other part of the time as an outpatient therapist with men convicted of sexual offenses after their release from jail or prison in court-mandated therapy.

Read More
In November 2019, Lydia was elected to Washington Township Council, the youngest person elected to this specific municipal council.  Lydia also co-organizes French Creek Indivisible, a non-partisan civic engagement group that focuses on defending democracy and advocating for justice, equity, and accountability at all levels of government (started in 2016).  Lydia also spends her free time co-facilitating a Participatory Defense group in Erie which offers mutual aid and emotional support to people involved in the criminal legal system or their loved ones.  She also helps manage the social media accounts for “Immigrants Are Us” a California-based photography project that highlights the diverse, human experiences of immigrants.  Lydia sits on the board of the Edinboro Lake Watershed Association and the Mercyhurst Preparatory School Board of Governors (Alumni Board).

B: Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging

Handout (PDF)

Presentation (PDF)

One of the biggest challenges heard during the pandemic was the stress that our aging facility residents and their families endured in not being able to visit and the risk of infection.  Families & Residents are still trying to recover.  Facilities are continuing to be creative and proactive in their efforts to keep families connected and residents safe.  In addition, both facilities and the Area Agency on Aging depend on the advocacy efforts of the ombudsman program.  Working together, our common goal is to rebuild confidence and keep our residents connected with loved ones during the pandemic.  It is also an area that needs more development.  We will discuss reforms that could make the system better and improve older adult isolation


Sara McDonald, Deputy Director, Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging

Kerri Anzulewicz, Protective Services Administrator, Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging

Noelle Kovaleski, Nursing Home Administrator, Carbondale Nursing Home

Linda Korjeski, Ombudsman, Serving Seniors


Sara McDonald

Sara McDonald works for the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.  She has spent the last 8 years employed in various management positions within the agency and currently serves as the Deputy Director.  She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and Marwood University Master of Social Work Program.  The Area Agency on Aging Works in Partnership with the Ombudsman, Nursing Homes, and many other Community Partners to advocate and Support Older Adults in our county.  Throughout the Pandemic, the Area Agency on Aging was the lead in Lackawanna County for COVID-19 1A vaccination efforts, resulting in Lackawanna County currently being 3rd in the State of PA for COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution.


Kerri Anzulewicz

Kerri Anzulewicz is a Program Administrator at the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.  She has been an employee of the agency for 20 years working primarily in the Older Adult Protective Services department.  Ms. Anzulewicz has worked in various roles within the agency including direct care management and supervision.  In recent years Ms. Anzulewicz has completed the Victims Services Foundational Academy for her work with the Victims of Crime Act grant awarded to the LCAAA and the Leadership Development Institute provided by Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging.  Prior to her employment at the LCAAA, Mrs. Anzulewicz was employed in social services at a skilled nursing facility. Mrs. Anzulewicz obtained her undergraduate degree in social work at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA in 2000.  In 2014 she graduated from Marywood University with her Master of Social Work.


Noelle Kovaleski

Noelle Lyon-Kovaleski, is the Center Executive Director at the Carbondale Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Carbondale, Pa.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Policy and Administration from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Kings College.  She also serves as the Treasurer for Northeast Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Association.


Linda Korjeski

Linda Korjeski is the Lackawanna County Ombudsman through Serving Seniors.  She educates each resident of a nursing home, personal care home, assisted living facility, Adult Day participants and families about their rights, facility procedures and the resources available to them through a network of volunteers. Most important of all, they provide direct assistance when a person’s rights or quality of care are being challenged.  Ombudsman work with facilities and providers to mediate disputes between individuals and families all while maintaining the strictest confidentiality standards and protecting the dignity and rights of the persons involved.


9:00 am – 10:00 am  |  Session 1: (Choice of A or B)

A: Panel Discussion on Sexual Violence & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Join us to discuss how sexual violence differs for diverse populations such as youth, people with disabilities and veterans? What will help them recover? And how did systems rebuild during COVID-19? We will also discuss what reforms are happening in community-based partnerships?

Moderator: WOAR – Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence

Panelists: Norristown Vet Center, Mission Kids: Children’s Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center (SARCC)



WOAR – Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence

Levone Cannady

Levone Cannady has been involved with sexual violence work since he graduated college eight years ago.  Levone started his journey of altruism by dedicating part of his time to a program titled Inclusive Basketball.  The Inclusive Basketball program provides socialization, playing and training opportunities for people of different abilities from the surrounding community and Shippensburg University.

Read More
Levone felt a sense of purpose from connecting with those individuals and sought to involve himself in work where he could make a difference and be of value.  Levone was hired at WOAR as an Education and Training Specialist and through vigorous work, networking, community partnership, and providing culturally relevant and inclusive trainings and programs to the city of Philadelphia, he was able to move through the ranks to Senior Education Specialist and now Project Coordinator of WOAR’s Healthy Masculinity Initiative, a community mobilization and education platform that provides the opportunity for men to discuss and analyze gender roles, those who subscribe to them, and their relationship to sexual violence.  Levone routinely plans and coordinates many events for WOAR, including SAAM events, Men’s Health Month events and is regularly invited to campuses to speak with fraternities, sororities, classrooms, and faculty. As a cisgender, heterosexual male, Levone is very aware of his privilege and uses that as leverage in his conversations with men, boys, and individuals who subscribe to masculine gender norms and have been socialized through those roles.  Levone is one of the few men who is actively involved in dismantling rape culture in Philadelphia.  For the past seven years in the city of Philadelphia, Levone has led boys’ groups, facilitated male groups, trained organizations, and presented at conferences on the many topics at the intersection of masculinity and sexual violence.  He is actively involved in groups such as the Mayor’s Commission for African American males, which helps to create policy in the areas of social justice, health and wellness, economic development, and education.  He was recently inducted as a member of Educators for Consent Culture, a grassroots group that seeks to build a consent culture inside of Philadelphia Schools.  Last, he has had the opportunity to participate in interviews to speak about his work and the importance of male allyship in the fight against sexual violence and gender-based violence.

Norristown Vet Center
Mission Kids: Children’s Advocacy Center of Montgomery County
Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center (SARCC)

Norristown Vet Center:
Allison Stanco-Aguilar

Allison Stanco-Aguilar, MS, NCC, LPC

Allison began her career at the Norristown Vet Center in 2009 as a Readjustment Counselor and was promoted to Director in 2017.  She is a 16-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and deployed to Germany in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Prior to her employment with RCS, she worked for DOD and community-based outpatient clinics.

Read More
She has received training in several evidence-based therapies for PTSD and recently became Nationally Certified in Clinical Supervision. Allison is a part of a proud military family, her husband having served 24 years, and stepdaughter currently serving in the US Navy.  She and her husband live locally with their 3 dogs and are very active with animal rights and environmental education as well as several veteran organizations.


Chanel SantiagoChanel Santiago

Chanel Santiago, MBA is the Veteran Outreach Program Specialist for the Norristown Vet Center in Norristown. She served in the US Army as a Transportation Specialist from 06/1997 to 02/2004 and deployed to Iraq from 2003-2004. Chanel graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications (Was pulled out of my graduating semester to serve in Iraq), then pursued MBA in Management from Strayer University and graduated in 2008 with a 4.0 GPA.



Kaity NordhoffSexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center (SARCC):
Kaity Nordhoff

Kaity Nordhoff is the Prevention & Outreach Specialist for the Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center in Lebanon, PA. She has worked in sexual assault centers across Pennsylvania for the last 8 years, offering trauma-informed counseling services to survivors of sexual violence and educating our communities on prevention & intervention in sexual abuse. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Practitioner through the National Institute for Trauma & Loss in Children and specializes in the intersections of anti-oppression work and sexual violence prevention.


Jane KimMission Kids: Children’s Advocacy Center of Montgomery County
Jane Kim, Esq.

Organization Website:
Organization Social Media Handle: @missionkidscac

Jane Kim, Esq. is the Program Director for Mission Kids. She began her career as a public high school teacher in Delaware County before pursuing a law degree at Temple University Beasley School of Law. Ms. Kim began her legal career in the District Attorney’s Office in Montgomery County, focusing on appellate matters, human trafficking, and community engagement. Ms. Kim also worked as a civil attorney representing adult victims of sexual assault in family law, immigration, and Protection from Abuse. To pursue her passion for advocating for child victims, she became a staff attorney at the Support Center for Child Advocates in Philadelphia. She represented child victims of sexual abuse in dependency hearings, criminal trials, and appellate matters. While in Philadelphia, she co-chaired the Children’s Rights Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Her work at the Support Center first introduced her to the valuable work of child advocacy centers, where she saw first-hand how its multidisciplinary approach can bring justice and holistic healing to child victims of abuse and their families. Before arriving at Mission Kids, Ms. Kim worked as the Director of the Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center.

Michelle McDyreMichelle McDyre

Michelle McDyre, a graduate of Penn State University with a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Legal Studies and a minor in Sociology, has worked in the criminal justice field for 8 years and has dedicated 6 years to Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center in a variety of capacities including direct service as a Case Coordinator and Family Advocate, as the agency’s Development and Outreach Manager, and now expanding her impact as the organization’s first-ever Prevention Education and Outreach Manager.


Read More

Michelle is responsible for coordinating and managing child abuse education and prevention efforts, including trainings, speaking engagements, presentations, community events, and social media and online engagement.

Michelle has developed curricula and presented on topics including Human Trafficking, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM), The Effects of Child Abuse and Trauma on Students in the classroom, the Child Advocacy Center Response/ A Collaborative Approach to Child Abuse Investigations, and the vulnerabilities of children with special needs that put them at risk to being abused and exploited.

Michelle enjoys presenting to professionals including educators, medical providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, therapists, counselors, and other youth-serving professionals, along with caregivers and other adult community members; but she finds her days especially rewarding when she facilitates trainings for children and helps them identify safe adults and empowers them to speak out against abuse.

Michelle thrives on the opportunity to share the story of Mission Kids’ impact on the lives of abused and neglected children in our community and finding ways to connect community members to our mission. Michelle’s favorite part of her job is getting out into the community and connecting with new people to educate them about the dynamics of child abuse and see how we can best work together to make our community better!

Madeline MitchellMadeline Mitchell

Madeline earned her BS in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Shippensburg University where she completed an internship at The Head Start Program.  Madeline also completed her MS in Psychology at Shippensburg University.  Madeline worked as a Therapeutic Staff Support Personnel at Momentum Services where she provided behavioral management intervention to children and adolescents, and as a lead teacher in a before and after school program for elementary age children.


Read More
Madeline started her career working in child welfare at Franklin County Children and Youth Services as an Intake Caseworker II where she investigated allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Madeline Mitchell joined the Mission Kids team as a Forensic Interviewer in August 2019.  Prior to working at Mission Kids, she worked for the Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center as the Family Support Advocate.  In preparation for becoming a Forensic Interviewer, Madeline attended the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC)’s Forensic Interviewing of Children Protocol Training along with their Victim Advocacy Training.

B: U.S. Small Business Administration (Philadelphia Field Office)

Entrepreneurship is the most effective social program on earth; it has lifted millions out of poverty. The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, we will discuss the resources and support SBA offers for entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand, or recover their business from a disaster.

Sonia SmithSonia Smith

Sonia is SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania District Office Public Information Officer for the 40 counties in Eastern Pennsylvania as well as the Economic Development/Lender Relations Specialist for Wayne and Pike Counties. Sonia is a subject matter expert on women business owners, encore entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial reentry (ex-offenders) programs, microlending, mission-focused community-based lending, and exporting. Ms. Smith is a bilingual, first-generation American and holds a B.S. degree from Penn State in Quantitative Business Analysis with an Economics Minor.

10:15 am – 11:15 am  |  Session 2: (Choice of A or B)

A: Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP)

Presentation (PDF)

Eight Things You Can Do To Avoid Termination (PDF)

Tenants Rights Protections Against Utility (PDF)

Tenants Rights Protections Against Utility (SPANISH) (PDF)

PULP will highlight the overarching issues associated with utility accessibility and how the pandemic has compounded these problems. We will discuss how communities can work together to recover, rebuild, and reform to help alleviate utility accessibility issues. We will demonstrate how addressing this could result in a positive ripple effect throughout communities in this Commonwealth.

Laura Edinger

Laura Edinger serves as the Senior Policy Analyst at the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP), where she evaluates and provides input on various existing and emerging policy initiatives and their impact on low income utility customers. Laura focuses attention on Universal Service proceedings, working alongside and under the guidance of PULP attorneys, to help ensure all Pennsylvania residents have access to life-sustaining utility services.

Madi Keaton

Madi Keaton serves as the Energy Justice Coordinator at the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP), where she works to advance just and equitable clean energy and energy efficiency policy for low income and communities of color. She also helps to coordinate PULP’s coalition engagement, in addition to supporting the work of PULP’s attorneys and clients.


B: Autism Society of Pittsburgh

Since people on the Autism spectrum are seven times more likely to encounter law enforcement, it is critical we rebuild our knowledge of Autism and effective methods of communication and de-escalation. Our training focuses on the importance of providing education to first responders, who make split-second decisions in their encounters with the public.

Jesse A. Torisky, Esquire

Jesse A. Torisky, Esquire, was a prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office from 1985-1995, where he prosecuted virtually every crime. Upon leaving the District Attorney’s Office, Jesse became a civil litigator and focused on Insurance Fraud investigations and first- and third-party insurance defense. Jesse was an instructor for 8 years with the Allegheny County Police Academy in the subjects of Search & Seizure and the PA Crimes Code, and since 1987 has been an Adjunct Professor at Community College of Allegheny County in both their Criminal Justice and Paralegal Programs. Jesse is currently the President & CEO of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh, and regularly presents trainings to Magisterial District Judges and First Responders on Traits of Autism and Autism in the Courtroom.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm  |  Session 3: Pop-up Talks

Get an introduction to 3 speakers. Following lunch, join a discussion with 1 or 2 of them. Discover how you could work together to recover, rebuild and reform Pennsylvania.

12:00 pm – 12:45 pm


12:45 pm – 1:15 pm  |  Session 4: Pop-up Networking Stations: (Choice of A or B)

A: Her Power Incorporated

Childcare facilities faced challenges during COVID-19 and need to recover now that we are opening our communities. We will discuss disparities, how children and inner-city businesses were impacted during COVID-19, and how we must reform practices around childcare to be successful moving forward.

Tiffany L. LaVette

Social equity advocate, daycare provider, consultant, coach, friend, teacher, and leader are a few of the words used to describe Coach Tiffany. Her humble demeanor draws you in, but her education, passion, and drive will keep you locked in and fully aware of her capabilities to succeed and set the standard for others to follow. Coach Tiffany currently serves as the Founder/Director of ABC Erie, a day care that provides no-stop 24-hour care to more than 100 children per shift. Her expertise in scaling and sustaining day care success has afforded her the opportunity to scale to be seven-figure facility in just three years. She works diligently to develop strong teams through training, establishing clear boundaries, and creating a welcoming environment for all staff and faulty. Her urge for seeing others win, despite socioeconomic limitations, ignited an unquenchable desire to launch a national consulting business.

Read More
Coach Tiffany provides training and consulting services for start-up day cares, established day care facilities, and corporations looking to establish internal day care resources for their staff and teams. Having served as the President of her local NAACP Chapter, adjunct college staff, campaign manager for local governor, trainer/facilitator for state and local licensing committees, just to name of few, Coach Tiffany is well-equipped for helping others achieve success Coach Tiffany is also a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

B1: Saint Joseph’s University – The Impact of COVID on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education in Marginalized Urban Communities

In this session we will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education in marginalized urban communities. Data is showing that many vulnerable families discontinued services for their children (birth to 5) with disabilities and delays during the pandemic. It’s crucial for stakeholder groups to work collaboratively to conduct community-based outreach in order to reengage families. Young children with disabilities and delays and their families from marginalized urban communities also stand to benefit from sustained collaborative efforts given how challenging the system can be to navigate.

Kaitlin MoranKaitlin K. Moran, Ph.D.

Kaitlin K. Moran is an assistant professor of Teacher Education at Saint Joseph’s University. Her research focuses on the accessibility and equitable distribution of high-quality early childhood education in high-poverty urban neighborhoods. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on child development, the foundations of early childhood education, and the interplay between language, literacy, and culture.

Read More
Prior to arriving at Saint Joseph’s in August 2016, Dr. Moran was an affiliate professor of education at Temple University from 2010 to 2016 where she taught courses on the history of the American education system, current topics and trends in education, and child and adolescent development. During that time, she also served as a researcher in The School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Research and Evaluation, focusing on early childhood programs and programming, and a K-3 literacy coach for a local charter system. Prior to 2010, Dr. Moran taught bilingual Pre-K, Pre-K, kindergarten, and remedial first grade in the inner cities of both Chicago and Philadelphia. Dr. Moran received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame, her M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education with a Special Education endorsement from Dominican University, and her Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University.

Mollie Sheppard, Ed.D.

Mary E. (Mollie) Sheppard is an assistant professor of Special Education at Saint Joseph’s University.  The focus of her research is improving the lives of children with disabilities and their families through effective collaborative teams. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on special education, school, community and family collaboration and inclusive practices.  Prior to arriving at Saint Joseph’s in August 2017, Dr. Sheppard was an assistant professor at Rowan University from 2012 to 2017 where she taught courses in special education and collaborated with colleagues at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine to incorporate disability and special education topics into the curriculum.

Read More
Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Sheppard worked as an Inclusion Facilitator in the Newton Public School in Massachusetts.  Dr. Sheppard received her B.A. in English Lehigh University, her M.Ed. in Special Education from Boston University, and her Ed.D. in Special Education from Boston University..

B2: The Mentoring Partnership SW PA

The goal of this discussion on Trauma-Informed Mentoring is to help young people recover and heal, and then rebuild connections to help them grow. We will discuss the impact of the pandemic and recent social unrest as it relates to traumatic experiences.


Sophia Duck

Sophia Duck serves as the Training and Engagement Manager at The Mentoring Partnership SW PA, actively leading trainings, helping to develop new content and managing an awesome team of trainers.

Prior to The Mentoring Partnership, she served as program manager for Goodwill’s GoodGuides Program.  Sophia focused on the recruitment of mentors, developing partnerships for youth recruitment and engagement opportunities, while planning service-learning projects.

Read More
She also assisted with the facilitation of the HIRE Me after-school program, Summer HIRE and Entrepreneurship Programs, and served on the Western PA College Roundtable and College Success 101 committees. YouthWorks earned its Quality Coaching Badge from The Mentoring Partnership and was named an APOST Quality Campaign Program during her time there.  Seeing the value of being Out-of-School time, she travelled to Harrisburg with students to advocate for funding and gained valuable experience as a PSAYDN Ambassador in 2016. Sophia was active with TMP before joining the staff, as both a participant in LENS meetings and as a trainer. She has been intentional about getting to know other programs and learning how they can all work together to accomplish the same goals. Prior to transitioning to youth development and the non-profit field, Sophia worked in collegiate athletics as a media relations contact at three DI institutions, including the University of Richmond (2004-05), Princeton University (2005-06) and the University of Pittsburgh (2006-2012). Her passion for mentoring began when she started coaching high school volleyball at Wilkinsburg in 2009.  For four seasons, she helped to establish the Tigers as a competitive team and lauded the school’s first-ever all-conference selection in 2012.  She is now coach at Propel Charter School; but can also be seen at several local college campuses as a certified NCAA scorekeeper and line judge. Sophia holds a BA in Media Communications from Pitt and a MS in Sports Leadership and Professional Advancement from Duquesne.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  |  Session 5: (Choose from A or B)

A: Chovanes Law – Trans People, Covid-19, and the Fight Continues 

Harrisburg Disability Alt Text (PDF)

This session will provide basic information on trans people. Trans people are confusing for many people and even our LGB friends. We will review gender dysphoria, a trans-specific disability, defined as the psychological distress that results from being trans. Turning to the future, we will discuss how we need to recover from the past years, which include not only COVID-19, but also hatred towards trans people. Policies and laws will be discussed, the ones that exist and the ones that should exist, and how they could help build our recovery. The future and the needed reforms that PA needs to make for us will finish the session.


Julie Chovanes, Esquire

Julie graduated from Villanova University, Villanova, PA with four degrees including law. She founded Chovanes Law after she left a partnership in the largest law firm in the world, DLA Piper, to better serve her clients. Julie does employment law, civil rights law and other legal matters for trans and other people and have done commercial law, ranging from business law and litigation to patent law.


B: PA Office of Victim Advocate

The pandemic has compounded risks for sexual and domestic abuse. The Office of Victim Advocate assists in the recovery and rebuilding process for people who have been impacted by these crimes. This session will assist the audience in identifying and assessing risks as well as signs of abuse, and what to do if you know someone who is being abused. It will also focus on safe ways to reach out for assistance, including local and state resources, to help ensure victim and community safety. In addition, this session will identify programs, such as the Address Confidentiality Program, which can serve as an important tool in safety planning.

Karen LairdKaren Laird

Karen Laird is the Training Coordinator within the Office of Victim Advocate. She joined the agency in February 2003 as a Victim Assistance Coordinator and has also held the title of Director of Outreach and Programming. As Training Coordinator Ms. Laird is responsible for the training of all new staff, internal process training as well as all outward training.

Read More
Prior to joining OVA, Ms. Laird was a Research Analyst for Friends Research Institute (FRI) in Baltimore, MD. While at FRI, Ms. Laird interviewed teenage drug addicts for a substance abuse study to evaluate the effectiveness of their outpatient drug treatment.

Gerald WaltemyerGerald “JR” Waltemyer

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree at Millersville University (B.S.Ed. Psychology Option), JR began his career in victim services with the District Attorney’s Office of York County, PA where he worked as a victim/witness coordinator in a general courtroom. He was also assigned to the Indirect Criminal Contempt (PFA violation courtroom) where he first began to work professionally with victims of domestic violence. Following his first year of service, JR took ten years off to teach (mostly AP Psychology, but some government, economics, and history classes thrown in for good measure) as well as coaching football and baseball.

Read More
Following the birth of his first daughter, Chloe, JR felt a strong desire to get back into the victim services field, particularly working with victims of Domestic and Sexual assault as well as stalking. He was rehired by the DA’s Office in York and assigned to the STOP Unit to work with all adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. He served as the Co-Chair of the York County Domestic Violence Task Force’s DV Fatality Review Team. He presented at various conferences and workshops to include Right from the Start, Clergy Workshop, Aequitas DV Homicide Prosecutor’s School, and the York County Domestic Violence Homicide Symposium. He was nominated for the Dunkin Donuts Hometown Heroes Award. While serving in this capacity, JR earned his MS degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in cybercrime. He also successfully completed the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s Training the Domestic Violence Instructor Training Program. JR currently works for the PA Board of Probation and Parole in the Office of Victim Advocate where he manages the Address Confidentiality Program. He is a co-chair of the Technology Safety Committee of the National Association of Confidential Address Programs. JR lives in York with wife, Laree’, oldest daughter, Chloe, youngest daughter, Sage, and their dog Astro.

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm  |  Session 6: (Choose from A or B)

A: Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy

Presentation (PDF)

This presentation will explore the ways that mutual aid and community care play a part in supporting marginalized disabled communities. Community partnerships are so very important to help us all recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. We will discuss what reforms and practices are needed moving forward to create welcoming and inclusive communities.

Cori FrazerCori Frazer

Cori Frazer is a multiply disabled, nonbinary licensed social worker (LSW) and activist.  Having worked in progressive organizing since they were a teen, they have spent the last decade working to help build strong, vibrant queer and disabled communities.  Co-founder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (PCAA), Cori’s work is reflective of their deep belief in interdependence and liberatory praxis.  Under Cori’s leadership and practice of innovative models of community support and mutual aid, PCAA has served hundreds of disabled adults in western and central Pennsylvania.

Cori serves on the City of Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Taskforce on Disability and the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs’ Information Sharing and Advisory Committee.  Previously, Cori has worked in education justice, serving as fellow with University of Pittsburgh’s Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and as an intern with One Pennsylvania’s Education Rights Network.

In their spare time, Cori is a writer and graphic designer, with work published by Autonomous Press, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania’s End the Silence Campaign, as well as a number of zines, guest blogs, and many letter to the editor sections.

B: Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 AND Bridge Beyond

Presentation (PDF)

The Appalachia Intermediate Unit 08 coordinates and enhances efforts of organizations connected with school systems having responsibility for homeless students, primarily in rural, southern, west-central Pennsylvania. Bridge Beyond works with community members and organizations not typically associated with homelessness, in Pittsburgh and surrounding urban areas. Together, they are combining resources, strategies, and ideas to combat the real factors responsible for Homelessness. Please join us as we move forward to recover and rebuild what is broken, and discuss reforms badly needed in Pennsylvania.

Appalachia Intermediate Unit 08:
Leonard ShurinLeonard J. Shurin, M.Ed.

Leonard Shurin has been teaching English literacy to grades PreK-12 and adults for over 30 years. With a B.A. in English/British Literature, and minors in foreign languages and math, Bethlehem Steel Corporation (BSC) hired him as a remedial Math and English Instructor in their Mechanical Department to correct employee deficiencies.

Read More
Later, he acquired a B.A. in Education with PA certification in English. Subsequently, the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center hired him to teach and write grants. Grants included Workforce Literacy, GED, Pre-GED, ESL, Adult Remedial Reading and Math, Family Literacy, and a Barbara Bush Literacy Grant. Eventually the grants included Altoona CTC, Admiral Peary CTC, and Somerset CTC. At that time, the National Association of Bilingual Educators (NABE) invited Leonard to present at their annual conference held in Pittsburgh, PA, on the use of portfolios in ESL. The grants offered the opportunity to teach ESL to adults and children after school at GJCTC, and train Literacy teachers/tutors with the University of Pittsburgh. Concurrently, he helped establish the Cambria County Literacy Council. Many years spent testing and teaching ELs permitted him to acquire PA ESL Program Specialist certification. Soon Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 offered a position as the Curriculum and Staff Developer/ESL. With a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Pennsylvania State University, he became published in “Curriculum and the Cultural Body”, a book envisioning distance/remote learning. More recently, he co-presented with Ms. Cheri Peterman-Grimaldi statewide for the Pennsylvania Department of Education at the 2021 PDE English Language Development Virtual Professional Learning Summit on the topic, “Access to Equitable, Affirming, and Socially Just Education”.

Cheri Peterman-GrimaldiCheri M. Peterman-Grimaldi, M.Ed.

Cheri M. Peterman-Grimaldi currently teaches ESL classes at Hollidaysburg Area School District at all grade levels.  Additionally, she is the ESL Coordinator for the entire district and a certified WIDA Screener and WIDA ACCESS test administrator.  Not only a Pennsylvania certified ESL Program Specialist for the last 19 years of her 29 years in education, she is also certified and experienced in teaching English 7-12, Reading Specialist, and Elementary Education.

Read More
For the last 5 years, Ms. Peterman-Grimaldi has also taught all 10 graduate level courses in the 16 credit, PDE-approved, ESL Program at Appalachia IU8 in the evening, serving many district, charter, and private schools, and teachers seeking certification as a PA certified ESL Program Specialist. Her specialty is teaching the administration of all WIDA tests and the WIDA Standards. She has excellent communication skills with ESL families and children of diverse cultural, religious, and linguistic backgrounds.  Often going above and beyond her school responsibilities to assist ESL families with issues such as poverty, medical needs, and homelessness with a deeply caring heart, she is also devoted to her own four children. Ms. Cheri Peterman-Grimaldi has been the recipient of many awards, including the award of “Above and Beyond Excellence” during a PDE Audit/Monitoring of the ESL Program at Conemaugh Valley School District; the Penn State University WPSX 3/FM “Great Teacher Making a Difference” Award; Parent/Student Reading Night Activities; and presentations to intermediate units, districts, and schools across west-central Pennsylvania. Her specialty in this area is “Teaching ESL in Small and Rural Schools”.  More recently, she co-presented with Leonard J. Shurin statewide for the Pennsylvania Department of Education at the 2021 PDE English Language Development Virtual Professional Learning Summit on the topic, “Access to Equitable, Affirming, and Socially Just Education”.

Bridge Beyond:

Vinh Dang

Vinh Dang (he/him/his) is a first-generation Vietnamese American from Fairfax, Virginia.  Vinh is interested in advocating for better inclusion and understanding of individuals experiencing homelessness.  He is also an advocate for promoting better public health inclusion of marginalized communities aiming to promote affordable, and accessible health care.  He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Bridge Beyond as an External Affairs chair with interests in opening dialogue between established organizations to better support individuals experiencing homelessness.  On his free time Vinh enjoys hiking mountains, making videos, and telling corny jokes.

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm  |  Session 7: Endnote Panel: Education, Inclusion, Equity & Rights

Endnote Panel (PDF)

Over the last 2 years, our country has seen a rejuvenation of the will to address social inequities and injustices. It appears we seek to recover from hundreds of years of discrimination, bias, and oppression. This session will explore one aspect of life that impacts all of us – our education system. Come hear how different schools in Pennsylvania are rebuilding and reforming to support youth and adults in marginalized communities.

Moderator: Delaware County Advocacy & Resource Organization

Panelists: Educating Communities for Parenting, The Bridge Way School/Greater Philadelphia Association for Recovery Education (GPARE), Propel Schools, York County School of Technology

Moderator: Delaware County Advocacy & Resource Organization

Nicole Mendez-Simon

Nicole Mendez has been advocating for children and individuals with disabilities for over 12 years and has led the Education Advocacy Program at Delaware County Advocacy & Resource Organization, formerly known as The Arc of Delaware County, for the past 7 years.  Nicole is the Project Coordinator for Engaging Support Enriching Lives (ESEL), a project aimed at Combating the School to Prison Pipeline, funded by the PA DD Council.

Read More
ESEL provides Mindfulness and Collaborative and Proactive Solutions training in Chester Upland School District to help eliminate exclusionary and punitive practices.  Nicole is also a founding member of the PA Inclusion Collective, a special education parent led consortium focused on increasing inclusive education. 

Educating Communities for Parenting, The Bridge Way School/Greater Philadelphia Association for Recovery Education, Propel Schools, York County School of Technology

Educating Communities for Parenting:
Anita Kulick
| Educating Communities for Parenting

Anita Kulick is President & CEO of Educating Communities for Parenting and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Parenting Coalition.  She has worked in the field of education and parenting for over 40 years.  Ms. Kulick started her career as a Philadelphia public school teacher, and for the last 20 years has been developing and implementing specialized programs and services for highly at-risk children, adolescents, and adults; including those who are parenting, adjudicated delinquent, in foster care, parents living with their children in homeless and substance recovery residences, and families impacted by visual impairment.

Read More
Ms. Kulick has a B.S. in Education from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. in Education from Arcadia University, is an IFP Certified Parenting Facilitator and a Certified Trauma-Competent Family Professional.  Ms. Kulick holds a Certificate from the Drexel University Goodwin College of Professional Studies in Positive Psychology, and is an advocate for children, youth, and families throughout the Region and serves on a variety of boards commissions.

The Bridge Way School/Greater Philadelphia Association for Recovery Education (GPARE):

Rebecca Bonner, M.ED., MUPP

Rebecca Bonner, M.Ed., MUPP is a founding board member of GPARE, the parent non-profit for The Bridge Way School; and Executive Director of The Bridge Way School, Pennsylvania’s first recovery high school.  Rebecca has worked with non-profits for over 30 years in secondary and post-secondary education as well as small business development.  She currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services for the city of Philadelphia, the board of Unity Recovery, the national board of the Association of Recovery Schools, and the Policy Committee of Faces and Voices.  Rebecca earned her Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Master of Education from Temple University.  She is the 2012 recipient of Caron Treatment Center’s Brian H. Early Community Leadership Award and a 2019 Making a Difference Award from the City of Philadelphia Office of Addiction Services.

Propel Schools:
Carrie WoodardCarrie Woodard

Carrie Woodard has worked in a variety of schools and served scholars through various roles and titles. She has had experience as a middle school social studies teacher, high school counselor, and College and Career Counselor, which have all provided her with valuable insight into the way scholars learn and succeed. Currently, Ms. Woodard serves as the Project Manager for Propel Partners in Wellness (PPIW), the comprehensive wellness support system for Propel Schools, a charter school system in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. PPIW specializes in strength-based, behavior, and wellness coaching for students, families, and school staff. Across all Propel Schools, 80% of students qualify for the federal free/reduced-cost lunch program, 80% are a minority and 17% have special needs. Propel serves 4,000 students at 13 Allegheny County locations.

Nia Stanley

Nia Stanley is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Residency and Induction Specialist at Propel Schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  After owning and operating a childcare center for five years, she moved into instructional coaching first in early childhood, then at Propel.  Her work at Propel includes coaching new educators as well as helping with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives for the district.  Her favorite quote to sum up DEI work is, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”



York County School of Technology:

Lorraine Munion, Ph.D.

Lorraine Munion, Ph.D. is currently the instructor for YTechX, an innovative program that is the result of a collaboration between the Lincoln Intermediate Unit and York County School of Technology.  This program offers a two-year CTE program for students with moderate learning barriers.  Dr. Munion Has over 20 years teaching experience teaching in the K-12 level, most of it in learning support and emotional support programs.  More recently, Dr. Munion has taught at the post-secondary level for Temple University, West Chester University and Susquehanna University.  Dr. Munion enjoys educational research, writing on professional topics, and problem-solving for educational challenges.  She is currently working on a book for early-career teachers with challenging students.  Sometimes she blogs at www.The

Event Presenter

This event is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council; in part by grant number 1901PASCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.  Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions.  Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

Please note that this event automatically will include accommodations including American Sign Language interpreters and closed captioning during the length of the event. Should you potentially require an accommodation under the ADA to participate in this program in addition to ASL and closed captioning, please email Please send your request for an accommodation at least 5 business days in advance of the event or program.