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Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Doug Williams (Term 2022–2024) is an Educational Consultant with Vision specialization in the Harrisburg Office of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). He has worked as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist with the Nevil Institute in Philadelphia, (later ASB), and at the Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 in south central Pennsylvania as an O&M Specialist.

This page is dedicated to introducing you to the members who serve on the Board. We are most pleased to present this outstanding group of Board members. Each has graciously agreed to serve on the Penn-Del AER Board of Directors for the upcoming term.

Nancy Ashley (Term 2022–2025) is a retired Itinerant Teacher of the Visually Impaired, employed by the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 for almost 37 years prior to her retirement in 2015. Nancy “enjoyed” her students who varied in age from Early Intervention to 21 years old, learning more from her students than she was ever able to teach them. Nancy developed pertinent ties with Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, PaTTAN, and Blind Association. She encourages those now in the field to form the same valuable connections. Nancy received her Bachelor’s degree from Kutztown State College (now University) and her Master Equivalency Degree through IU and Wilkes University graduate level courses. In wanting to remain connected to the field of visual impairment upon retirement, she successfully pursued becoming a member of the PennDel AER Board. This has been a very positive venture and her only regret is that she did not pursue it sooner. Nancy wants to share one of her favorite Bible verses with you: 2 Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith, not by sight."

Mary C. Daubenspeck (Term 2022–2025) is currently certified through PDE and ACVREP as a TVI/COMS. She is a graduate of KSU with a BS in El Ed and BVI Ed. O&M Certification from Pitt 1984. Mary currently works as a TVI/COMS for PA CAIU 15. She worked closely with BSO and the Optimist Olympics to promote and develop sports and activities to develop skills and provide recreational opportunities for children, adults and their families. She served as a member of the board to the Pennsylvania Association of Blind Athletes, the Penn Del AER and Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania where she is currently a member of the Programs and Services Committee working with other members to continue and develop programs for the visually impaired population in this area.

Brenda Egan (Term 2021–2024) earned a master’s degree in education for students who are blind and visually impaired and supervisory certification from the University of Pittsburgh. Her undergraduate degree is from Slippery Rock State College in Special Education/Elementary Education. She retired from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children where she had been the Director of the Early Childhood Program for 24 years. She was also employed by Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 as a classroom teacher and was instrumental in launching the Orientation and Mobility Program at the IU. Brenda is an active member of the Penn-Del AER Chapter.

Maria Lepore-Stevens, President-Elect (Term 2022–2024) has worked as a COMS for the Division for the Visually Impaired in Delaware and Chester County Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania. In addition to her work as a COMS, Maria is dual certified as a Certified Adapted Physical Educator and is a professor of adapted PE in Rowan University's in teacher prep program. Maria spends her summers directing Camp Abilities educational sports camps for athletes with visual impairments in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Maria earned her BS in Health and Physical Education (concentration in Adapted PE) from West Chester University, her MA in O&M from the University of Arizona, and her EdD in Educational Policy, Planning, and Administration from West Chester. Her dissertation research focused on using summer sports camp programming to foster self-determination skills in youth with visual impairments.

Kerry Lueders (Term 2020–2023) is an Assistant Professor and the Co-Director of the Low Vision Rehabilitation at Salus University, formerly the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). She is also a Low Vision Therapist at the William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center at The Eye Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Kerry graduated from PCO in 1999 with a Master of Science in Orientation and Mobility, and subsequently added certificates in Education of the Visually Impaired and Low Vision Rehabilitation. Prior to her current appointment, she provided O&M services for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and the Montgomery County Association for the Blind. She also served as District 6 Director of AER's O&M Division 9 from 2002-2004. Kerry is proud to be a Penn-Del AER member and will bring her creative and innovative spirit to the board.

Mary Nelle McLennan (Term 2021–2024) holds a M.A. from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and retired as the Executive Advisor to the President of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). As one of her responsibilities in that role, she serves as APH’s representative to the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and holds the position of BANA’s Vice Chair. Before moving into her current position, Mary Nelle served as the APH’s Vice President of Products and Services. Earlier, she served as the Braille Editor at APH after fifteen years as a classroom teacher at the Tennessee School for the Blind. Mary Nelle is active throughout the vision field in state, national, and international arenas. She served as President of the Kentucky Chapter of AER, Chair of AER’s Division 12, and Chair of international AER’s Council of Division Chairs. In addition to chapter and division leadership, she served six years on the AER International Board of Directors, four of those as AER Secretary. Mary Nelle has served on the Penn-Del AER Conference Planning Committee as Conference Presenter Coordinator since 2007. Mary Nelle’s contributions have been recognized by her peers through a number of awards, which include the Mary K. Bauman Award, AER’s highest award for leadership in education of students who are blind or visually impaired. For her 16-years of work as creator and editor of the quarterly column “SPRINGBOARD” in the professional journal RE:view, she was awarded the 2010 C. Warren Bledsoe Special Recognition Award for excellence in writing and publication. She also received the 2011 Pennsylvania-Delaware AER Chapter’s Outstanding Service Award and earlier the Exceptional Service Award from the Kentucky Chapter of AER. In 2011, Mary Nelle was honored by her colleagues and friends with a stone on the Wall of Tribute which is associated with the Hall of Fame housed at APH.

Vince McVeigh, Treasurer, (Term 2022–2024) has been involved providing both educational and rehabilitative services to persons with visual impairments for forty years and throughout much of that time have been actively involved in professional organizations serving these populations including AER and CEC. He has served as an officer at the national level for CEC-DVH, the state level for Pennsylvania CEC and have been an active Penn-Del AER member for many years. Vince has recently retired from Chester County Intermediate Unit.

Ashley Popojas, Secretary (Term 2022–2024) is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Western PA School for Blind Children, Outreach Department in Pittsburgh. She provides services to infants, toddlers and preschoolers through early intervention programs and to school-aged students within Westmoreland, Allegheny and Indiana counties. Prior to joining the Outreach Department, Ashley served as a childcare teacher and classroom teacher at WPSBC. Ashley also provides instruction for the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, and is an Independent Evaluator for the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers in Allegheny County. Ashley proudly earned her Bachelor's Degrees in Corporate Communications and Business Management from Carlow University, followed by an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. Ashley graduated from the University of Pittsburgh's Vision Studies Program with dual TVI and COMS certifications. Ashley resides in Greensburg, PA, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, son, daughter and two puppies.

Holly Russell, Past-President (Term 2022–2024) is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, who has worked in the field of visual impairment and blindness for 29 years. She is currently working with Western PA School for Blind Children in the Outreach Department, providing services for children in grades kindergarten to high school in a variety of school districts. She also works with families and children in the VisAbilities Clinic and is part of a multidisciplinary team working with children and their families to conduct assessments and recommend vision adaptations and services. Holly graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Vision Studies Program in 1993. She also earned a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in child development from the University of Pittsburgh. Holly is the president of the Pennsylvania Delaware Chapter of AER and is serving her second term on the Board of Directors. In 2016, Holly was honored to receive the Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award. Holly’s greatest joy comes from spending time with family, especially her husband and two daughters.

Erin Weaver, President (Term 2022–2024) is the Statewide Coordinator of Education Services for the Visually Impaired, Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired. She earned her A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education at Villa Maria College of Buffalo, B.S. at Michigan State University in the areas of Elementary Education, Special Education, and Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and an M.S.E.D. at St. Bonaventure University in Childhood Literacy. A few highlights of Erin’s career include her involvement with Camp Abilities where she received the Jim Burch Above and Beyond Award, Camp Abilities Saratoga Above and Beyond Award, and had the opportunity to work on the following publications: Visual impairment and physical education: Steps to success, Gross Motor development for Children With Visual Impairments, Teaching Gross Motor Development to Children With Visual Impairments, and Staff Training for Physical Education for Children With Visual Impairments. Erin worked in the Western New York area as a Teacher of the Blind & Visually Impaired, Special Education and Elementary teacher for 25 years. Vacationing on the beaches of Delaware with her husband and three children encouraged Erin’s relocation to Delaware last year.

Tracy Whitehead (Term 2021–2024) is currently working as an itinerant teacher of students with visual impairments for BLaST Intermediate Unit #17, teaching in all of the school districts in Bradford and Tioga Counties. She has been in this position for 33 years. Her passion is keeping up with the newest technology for students with visual impairments. She is also serving on the Penn-Del Conference Planning Committee since 2011 where she chairs the Handout Committee, and she sits on the Presenter Committee. Tracy received the Elinor H. Long Educator of the Year Award in 2013. She is a proud graduate of Kutztown University. She resides in Canton, Pennsylvania with her husband Ned. Together they raised 4 boys, have 2 grandchildren, 2 dogs and 20 llamas.

Jeanne Aaron (Term 2020-2023) has been working with blind and visually impaired persons from birth through adulthood for over 25 years. As a teacher of the blind and visually impaired, she has provided services to infants, toddlers and preschoolers through early intervention programs and school-age students through the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. She educates families, professionals, and the public about the abilities of children and adults living with visual impairment and advocates for their independence. She received her bachelor’s degree from Kutztown University in Education of Students with Visual Impairments. She began working as a PA Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired in October of 1994 for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit delivering instruction and consultation to teachers to ensure equitable education for visually impaired students. She received her master’s degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Salus University in October 2019; Magna Cum Laude. She completed her Vision Rehabilitation Internship at the Montgomery County Association for the Blind to maximize the independence of adults who are blind/visually impaired. During that internship, she also worked at the IDEAL summer camp teaching students age 14–21 adaptive skills of daily living at the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She is currently working on a certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation at Salus University with an internship at The Eye Institute of Philadelphia.

Becky Knaub (Term 2020-2023) has worked for the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services since 2013. Her career began in the Wilkes-Barre District Office as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. In 2017 Becky was transferred to the Special Programs Division, where she assists in creating instructional materials, checking for accessibility on websites and documents, training staff on the use of assistive technology, assisting with the development of Assistive technology and VRT curriculums for Summer programs and training BEP clients in both VRT and Assistive technology. Becky also works the Summer Academy and Junior Summer Academy programs teaching both VRT and assisting with the instruction of Assistive technology. Becky is currently working towards her certification as a teacher of the visually impaired. Becky has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Spanish from Edinboro University and a master’s degree in Vision rehabilitation Therapy from Salus University. She received her Vision Rehabilitation Therapy ACVREP certification in early 2013.

Greg Lazur (Term 2020-2023) is an educational consultant with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and is assigned to the Pittsburgh office. He joined PaTTAN after starting his career at Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, where he served multiple roles as a behavior specialist, teacher of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialist, and administrator for the residential program. He holds multiple degrees from the University of Pittsburgh including a master’s degree in early intervention and special education, certification as a teacher of the visually impaired and is a certified orientation and mobility specialist. As of the summer of 2020, he will also hold a Pennsylvania principal certificate through California University of Pennsylvania. He considers it an honor to serve on the Penn-Del board and is looking forward to working with everyone.

Lachelle Smith (Term 2020-2023) is currently an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Professional Preparation Program for Vision Rehabilitation Therapy in the College of Education and Rehabilitation at Salus University. She is also the founder and sole proprietor of InSights Vision Rehabilitation Services; the practice consisting of clients referred from State, non-profit agencies, and private clientele who seeks her trademark holistic approach to rehabilitation services. Lachelle continues to operate in her practice while teaching at Salus ensuring to bring pragmatic experience to the classroom. In addition, Lachelle is the founder and president of Blind Blessings, Inc., a 501(c) 3, not-for-profit organization created to meet the vision rehabilitation and spiritual needs of those seeking vision rehabilitation services. Lachelle is a 2003 PCO alumni (now Salus University) graduating with a M.S. in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy while achieving the highest honors possible. She holds her certification in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy through ACVREP. Lachelle is committed to the advancement of all individuals who live with disabilities and dedicates her time to serving on Boards and Committees that share that vision, including ACVREP, VRT SME, AER Recruitment and Retention Committee, and Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (AVRT) to name a few. She is enthusiastic about the opportunities available to her in making a difference in the lives of those she serves, whether in the vision rehabilitation field or in the classroom.

Meet the Board

Susan Barton (Term 2022–2025) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs for 13 years in Wilmington, DE.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in the Social Work field for over 20 years.  She considers herself as fortunate to have been introduced to the world of blind rehabilitation and to Veterans who are visually impaired during her tenure as Chief of Social Work. She found the mission to help Veterans with visual impairment to be rewarding in ways not experienced before.  When the opportunity presented itself, Susan took on the full-time role of the VIST (Visual Impairment Services Team) Coordinator for the Wilmington VA, and has been working as a Blind rehabilitation specialist for the past 4 years, loving every minute. Susan resides in Delaware with her husband, daughter, dog, and 3 cats.

Mark Richert (Term 2022–2025) recently joined the Overbrook School for the Blind as its International Program Coordinator. From March of 2020 through the end of December 2021, Mark served as Interim Executive Director for the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). He previously served as AER’s Executive Director from 2001 to 2005. Over the course of his career in the vision loss and broader disability communities, Mark has successfully championed many of the significant public policy achievements in our field. He helped enact the landmark Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which began a revolution in mainstream technology usability, audio description, and availability of assistive technologies for specific populations and helped establish the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) to support K-12 students with print disabilities. He has been instrumental in drafting the historic Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act to drive fundamental systems change in special education for students with sensory disabilities and has promoted prescription drug labeling accessibility. In addition, Mark has served numerous mission-aligned organizations, including: VisionServe Alliance, AER, the National Disability Institute, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, and the National Industries for the Blind. Mark received his Juris Doctor from the George Washington University National Law Center in Washington DC and his Bachelor of Arts from Stetson University in Florida.

Mark Steciw (Term 2022-2025) has worked in the field of blindness and visual impairment for over forty years. He began his professional career as a teacher of students who are blind and visual impaired with additional significant disabilities.  He was also an administrator for programs serving this population. Mark has worked as a pre-school vision itinerant for the School District of Philadelphia. He has had the unique experience of being the low vision educational specialist at the William Feinbloom Rehabilitation Center at the Eye Institute in Philadelphia.  While in that role, Mark was involved in various research projects including contributing to various publications and the development of the Pepper Visual Skills Test for individuals with macular degeneration. He was an adjunct faculty member at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now Salus University) where he taught courses in the TVI Preparation Program. Mark served as an educational consultant in visual impairments at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) for almost thirty years. During this time, he served on a panel that was responsible for developing the national certification test for teachers of students with visual impairments through the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Mark was the recipient of the Eleanor Long Educator of the Year (ELEY) Award in 1997. Mark has presented at various national, state and regional conferences. He was one of the “founding fathers” of the Summer Academy for Students with Visual Impairments He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Overbrook Friedlander Programs and has previously served as a board member of Penn-Del AER. He has been actively involved as a member of the Penn-Del AER conference planning committee for many years. Mark has been married for forty years and has two children and six grandchildren.

Evangeline Worsley (Term 2022-2025) is a certified teacher of students with visual impairments. She earned her B.S. in Secondary Education with a focus in English and Communications from Penn State University. In the fall of 2012, she began her career teaching English in the high school program at Overbrook School for the Blind. Evangeline later secured her vision certification and Master of Education through the University of Pittsburgh and her special education certification through West Chester University. In 2021, Evangeline was honored to receive the Elinor Long Educator of the Year Award. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband.