Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Penn-Del AER Logo: a blue, white, and black artistic rendering of an eye with the text Penn-Del AER and the Penn-Del AER and the chapter name: 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."

Photo of Brenda Egan
Photo of Vince McVeigh
Photo of Holly Russell
Photo of Mary C. Daubenspeck
Photo of Maria Lepore-Stevens
Photo of Mary Nelle McLennan
Photo of Ashley Popojas
Photo of Tracy Whitehead

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 (Term 2023-2025) 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.

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 2023–2025) has worked as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist in the field of visual impairment and blindness for 29 years. She is currently working at Western PA School for Blind Children, serving as the Middle School Principal, supervising the middle school, O&M, and Outreach Departments.  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.

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.

Becky Knaub (2023-2026) 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 programs for Transition aged students and training BEP clients in both VRT and Assistive technology. In 2021, Becky began working as a VR specialist temporary work out of class assignment. Her focus became supporting blind/visually impaired staff who use AT and assisting in all content being accessible before being distributed to OVR staff. Additionally, Becky is often asked to test the accessibility of websites that are being considered by OVR for customers or staff or by other agencies collaborating with OVR. In July of 2022, Becky received a promotion to a VR Specialist. Her title is VR specialist for Accessibility Support. She continues to support staff who are blind and visually impaired who use AT, ensure document accessibility, and test website for accessibility as needed. Becky has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Spanish from Edinboro University and a Masters degree in Vision rehabilitation Therapy from Salus University. She received her Vision Rehabilitation therapy ACVREP certification in early 2013.

Photo of Becky Knaub

Greg Lazur, President Elect (Term 2023-2025) is an educational consultant with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and is assigned to the West Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 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 an 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. He is the current chair elect for AER International Division 1, Leadership Division. He considers it an honor to serve the field of blindness and visual impairment and believes that AERs core values of compassion, diversity, independence, and integrity set our field apart from others.

Lachelle Smith (Term 2023-2026) 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.

Photo of Lachelle Smith
Photo of Nancy Ashley

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.

Photo of Mark Richert

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.

Photo of Mark Steciw

Evangeline Press (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.

Photo of Evangeline Press

Yomi Koya (Term 2021-2024) is a certified teacher of students with visual impairments. Originally from Nigeria, Yomi earned his Master of Education in educational management. Yomi started his career in the field of blindness and visual impairment working at Overbrook School for the Blind as a one-on-one support staff. This position inspired him to further his education at Salus University to obtain his Master of Education in blindness and vision impairment. While completing his degree, Yomi began working as an itinerant teacher for the Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI). Yomi has worked at DVI for five years where he had the opportunity to mentor new teachers and assisted with planning and leading youth programs. He was a pioneer member of the National Federation of the Blind, Teacher of Tomorrow program. This summer, Yomi will begin his course of study at University of Massachusetts, Boston to obtain a certificate in Orientation and Mobility. He currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with his wife, three children, and a dog.

Photo of Yomi Koya

Meet the Board

Gregory Gerhart (Term 2023–2026) is an Educational Consultant at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). He is a member of various statewide initiatives including Blindness-Visual Impairment, Deaf-Blind, and Assistive Technology. With a strong commitment to improving educational opportunities for students, Greg works closely with PaTTAN's Short-Term Loan and AIM Center. Prior to his role at PaTTAN, Greg worked as an itinerant teacher for the visually impaired at Lancaster-Lebanon IU13. Greg holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Kutztown University. To further enhance his expertise, he pursued a master's degree in special education and obtained an assistive technology certification from Bowling Green State University. Additionally, Greg is a certified orientation and mobility specialist, a credential he earned through Portland State University. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a member of the Penn-Del AER board, collaborating with dedicated professionals to advance the field of visual impairment.

Matthew “Matt” Love, is from Smyrna, Delaware. He is currently a sophomore at Kutztown University studying Special Education: Visual Impairments and 4th-8th Grade Mathematics. His goal academically is to receive a PhD. in Special Education. One of his biggest achievements was being a Keynote Speaker/ Student Leader for the Kent County Transition Fair and Delaware Transition Conference respectively in 2019 and 2021.

Jamie Maffit is an Assistant Professor in Salus University’s Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and Director of the graduate personnel preparation programs in Orientation and Mobility. She is a certified Low Vision Therapist and Orientation and Mobility Specialist and works with individuals of all ages in the Philadelphia Metro region. She currently practices at the William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Clinic. Her areas of interest include working with patients with visual field loss and the use of mobile, assistive technology for individuals with low vision.