Ruth Allison, M.B.A.
Ruth is a Research Associate, currently assigned to the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), which assists state education and vocational rehabilitation agencies in implementing evidence-based and promising practices for students with disabilities to graduate prepared for post-secondary education and employment. Additionally, she works on the Rehabilitation Research Training Center (RRTC), focused on conducting vocational rehabilitation research, disseminating knowledge, and providing evidence-based technical assistance and training to stakeholders and partners. Prior to joining TransCen, Ruth’s career focused on developing, implementing and evaluating programs and services for both students and adults. She has directed several successful state-wide system-level initiatives to create consistency of services and to improve compliance with federal and state policies and procedures.
Ruth enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, going to the movies, spending time with family and friends, and being active.
As a Senior Associate, Darrell provides technical assistance and employment specialist support to several projects, including Maryland PROMISE, Add Us In, Youth with Disabilities, and the Montgomery County initiative. Darrell is extremely passionate and diligent (having seemingly limitless energy seems to help, too) and puts those qualities to good use as he works individually with over 25 youth – assisting them in exploring and finding their interests, exposing them to work experiences, and preparing them for their transition to adulthood after high school.
Darrell is a native of Connecticut and has lived in the area since obtaining his Masters from George Washington University. Darrell is always excited and enthusiastic and empowering youth/young adults to realize their dreams in life.
Kelli Crane, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
As a Senior Research Associate, Kelli is responsible for the implementation of numerous model demonstration and research projects related to secondary transition and the employment of individuals with disabilities. Kelli currently is Co-Project Investigator for Maryland PROMISE and oversees its associated training and technical assistance. Before joining TransCen, Kelli worked as a secondary education transition coordinator and a consultant for the National School-to-Work Office of the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor and the Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her areas of expertise include research, outreach, and the alignment of systems to improve programs and services for youth with disabilities. She has authored and co-authored several publications on secondary transition education and employment of persons with disabilities.
In her spare time, Kelli likes to run, and in the winter, ski. A native of Wisconsin, she currently lives Massachusetts with her husband, son, and daughter, not too far from her dream of living at the beach on the coast, or, as she calls it, “living on the edge.”
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Carleen provides critical support on a wide variety of services and projects as the Office Administrator at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. In doing so, she acts as the first point of contact for Technical Assistance callers, maintains the daily administrative needs of the Center, and is part of the team that coordinates the yearly ADA Update Conference and ADA: In Focus trainings. Carleen previously worked with young children with disabilities through the ARC of Montgomery County, she was the Event Coordinator for a major bookstore, an editor for a hotel company, and a Church Parish Administrator.
Carleen loves to spend her non-work time with her family, especially her “two wonderfully curious and creative cubs” (her kids). Carleen’s unofficial motto is, “Life is truly a blink, so I believe time is better spent seeking expression over perfection.”
Ann Deschamps, Ed.D.
Senior Research Associate
As a Senior Research Associate, Ann divides her time between working on projects, providing training and technical assistance, and managing the ADA Leadership Network. Ann is currently assigned to MD PROMISE and works on numerous other projects including several focusing on teaching youth self-advocacy and self-determination skills. Ann previously served as Director of Training and Evaluation for TransCen’s ADA Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region before becoming a Transition Specialist with the Fairfax County Public School system in Northern Virginia for nine years. There, she provided consultation, training, and technical support to students receiving special education services. She also served as a consultant to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation in Florida where she advised the Board of Directors on disability programming specifically related to transition from school to life after school and career development for college students with disabilities.
Ann loves helping people figure out their strengths and weaknesses and how this translates to their career. She likes to figure out what makes people tick, and especially loves to help inactive people discover exercise, as Ann is an avid runner and yogi.
Jaqueline “Jackie” Gast
As a Research Associate, Jackie provides technical assistance support for Maryland PROMISE. Prior to her work at TransCen, Jackie applied her lifelong passion for business to her work; as an Account Manager for NCR Corporation, and as a commercial and residential real estate appraiser. Jackie later joined the Lower Shore Manufacturing Network at Salisbury University where she developed workforce preparation programming for high school students to increase enrollment in high tech courses in career technology education centers. Jackie found her niche in workforce development, particularly working with youth, which she greatly enjoys. Jackie later became, and still serves as the Director of the Eastern Shore Business Leadership Network (ESBLN), tasked with promoting the benefits of employing people with disabilities to local employers.
Assisting youth with disabilities to become productive members in their community is Jackie’s greatest reward. When she’s not working, Jackie enjoys spending time with and visiting her large family, being on the water, and running with her dog.
Senior Research Associate
Meredith has worked for TransCen in a variety of capacities since 1992. She is currently a Senior Research Associate providing technical assistance for Maryland PROMISE. Meredith previously taught in Montgomery County Public Schools Alternative Programs, where she established the Career Program. Meredith’s niche is in facilitating and establishing expanded customized employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. She’s adept at facilitating collaboration and promoting successful business-education partnerships, work-based learning experiences, and model transition services. She has authored or co-authored articles and educational materials on business–education partnerships, customized work, and workplace mentoring. Meredith began her career promoting creative strategies for independence for her sister.
Meredith is truly a world traveler and loves to hike and bike. She has backpacked around the world by herself, but perhaps explored a bit too far when she once got stranded on a deserted island in Thailand. Luckily, she was rescued shortly thereafter by a man in a dugout canoe.
Marie Parker Harvey
Marie is the Program Manager and County Liaison for the Montgomery County Customized Employment Public Intern Project (MCPIP), a partner project with the American Job Center and Montgomery County, MD government. In this role, Marie identifies and creates part-time positions in County government offices based on a department’s need and then recruits qualified, interested individuals with significant disabilities ensuring that any necessary supports are in place. Marie also oversees the efforts for a local Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) Youth with Disabilities Initiative, where she assists transitioning youth by establishing employment opportunities, based on their interests, skills, and abilities. Marie also facilitates workshops and training sessions for disability employment service practitioners who assist job seekers with disabilities. Marie is known for establishing, maintaining and promoting excellent working relationships among jobseekers, disability employment service providers, and employers.
An avid do-it-yourselfer, Marie loves using her tools on home improvement and interior design projects. When she’s not fixing up her house, you can find her watching HGTV.
Marie joined Transcen in October 2017 as the Accounting Manager. She brings over 30 years of experience in the field of non-profit accounting to this position. Most recently Marie worked as the Director of Accounting at a non-profit agency in Maryland providing residential, day, and supported employment services to developmentally disabled adults. In addition, she worked for a Community Action Agency in western Maryland managing federal, state, and local grants providing a variety of services to low-income families and the elderly. Marie graduated from Frostburg State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.
As an Employment Specialist, Maureen assists youth find employment opportunities based on their skills and interests, providing individualized support and assistance through the entire process.
A native of Baltimore, MD, Maureen is a Veteran of the United States Air Force who has served in the human services arena for over ten years. Her passion is to help people grow and to work with them to achieve their goals. Maureen is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Psychology, with the goal to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Maureen loves music and spending quality time with friends and family.
Hyun is TransCen’s Graphic Designer, providing design to marketing materials, projects, and programs, among others. Prior to joining TransCen, Hyun was a Resource Specialist for Maryland at the Montgomery County One-Stop, working in the Core Services Department, assisting job seekers get job ready. She specialized in orientating customers to the One-Stop, as well as counseling them on their job search in areas such as: career planning, résumé writing, and interview readiness. She has maintained outstanding relations with clients, partners, and county agencies.
A native of Montgomery County, Hyun loves to get out and travel. She’s also passionate about art and design.
Alex is a Youth Employment Specialist for the Young Adults Opportunities Program and for the DORS SYE/Pre-ETS Program on the Maryland Direct Services team. In this role, Alex helps transitioning youth find employment opportunities based on their skills and interests, providing individualized support and assistance through the entire process. Alex started with TransCen as an intern and comes from years of experience working with and in support of people with disabilities.
Alex is a Montgomery County native. In her free time, she tutors children with disabilities in the Montgomery County area, as advocacy is her true passion.
As a lawyer with many years of policy and non-profit experience, Bonnie brings a unique skill-set as Grants/Projects Manager. She works across programs and projects, providing research, writing, policy, communications, consulting, and project management assistance. She is also responsible for finding researching and writing grant proposals to secure funding for TranCen’s future work. Bonnie previously worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at Wounded Warrior Project in Washington, D.C. where she was an integral member of a small government relations team, working with Congress and Executive agencies to advocate for wounded warriors and their families, focusing particularly on education, employment, and economic empowerment issues.
Bonnie is a native of the area and in her spare time she enjoys the outdoors and being active, whether it be hiking, running, biking, yoga, or other physical activities. She also loves eating out at her favorite restaurants, and discovering new ones, and testing out new baking recipes.
Laura Owens, Ph.D., CESP
Laura, the President of TransCen, has over 30 years of experience, with a strong background as a national leader in the disability employment field. Laura is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Exceptional Education Department where she teaches courses focusing on high school inclusion and transition from school to work. She is also the founder and President of Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. (CEO), in Milwaukee, which she founded in 1991. Prior to joining TransCen, Laura served as the Executive Director of APSE (the Association of People Supporting Employment First), a national organization focusing on the advancement of integrated employment for citizens with disabilities. She is an internationally known speaker having presented to businesses, organizations, schools, and at conferences in Ireland, Croatia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Chile, and Portugal.
A woman with seemingly limitless energy, Laura is passionate about her work and loves helping individuals with disabilities obtain and maintain employment. Working with individuals with disabilities is what she enjoys the most – and then she’s eager to support others in learning how to help individuals with disabilities pursue their dreams – from teachers to employment consultants to employers.
Natalie is an Accounting Assistant and was placed with TransCen through their Veterans Workforce Investment Program, a service offered for military veterans with disabilities seeking to return to the civilian workforce. TransCen is providing Natalie with on the job training in the accounting department to supplement the basic finance skills she learned before her military service. Through her work with at TransCen, Natalie is reintegrating into a non-military lifestyle and regaining additional professional experience that she can apply in the future. Ms. Rosser plans to continue her university studies part-time to complete her B.S. degree in digital gaming.
A native of the DC metro area, Natalie is really passionate about digital gaming and computer generated animation. Ask her what her favorite movie is and she’ll probably say, “Anything Pixar.”
Sean is a Training Associate, currently working on the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on VR Practices and Youth as the Knowledge Translation Manager and also on the Youth Employment Solutions (YES) Center as a Quality Control Manager. Prior to joining TransCen, Sean worked at the PACER Center helping to direct transition projects and spearheading the creation of PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment. Sean is an experienced trainer and presenter and brings strong and varied experience in the areas of youth employment, access to post-secondary education, and family engagement. Sean is also knowledgeable in juvenile corrections and inclusive recreation and has personal experience as the brother of an individual on the autism spectrum.
Sean was born, raised, and continues to reside in Minnesota. He has two boys who keep him acting young and feeling old. In his spare time he enjoys going on road trips with his wife (the true definition of a “better half”), seeing 80’s metal bands with his brother, and sneaking out for non-authentic Mexican food.
As a Training Specialist with the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, Claire conducts training for a variety of entities in the Mid-Atlantic region, including state and local government agencies, businesses, and organizations. Her primary areas of expertise are Titles I, II, and III of the ADA. Claire has a Juris Doctorate from UC Irvine School of Law and is well versed in the legal requirements of the law. Originally from California, Claire moved to DC after she graduated law school for a legal fellowship at Disability Rights DC.
Claire loves dogs, especially her guide dog, Kodiak. In her spare time, Claire loves doing arts and crafts projects.
Kodiak is a 2011 graduate of Guide Dogs for the Blind. When he’s not assisting Claire, Kodiak loves playing keep away with his toys and stealing the hearts of everyone he meets.
Dale Verstegen, M.B.A
Senior Research Associate
Dale is a Senior Research Associate and is assigned to a range of research, training, and technical assistance projects in various parts of the country. Dale has over 30 years of experience providing training, consultation, and project management for state vocational rehabilitation agencies throughout the country. He provides consultation and training in the areas of program development, performance management, marketing, job development, supported and customized employment, and case management, and has developed curriculums and provided trainings on supported and customized employment for a wide range of state agencies and organizations.
Describing himself as someone who can’t sit still, Dale loves to travel (for work and for pleasure), listening to live music, riding his motorcycle, sailing and boating, and watching sports. He grew up in Wisconsin and still lives there today – and would be happy to live there forever, in Madison, specifically, as long as he can leave frequently in the winter.
Barbara Van Dyke
Training and Outreach Coordinator
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Barbara is the Training and Outreach Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Barbara is responsible for all things social media for the ADA Center and she schedules, plans, and manages training events, including the annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update Conference. Under her direction, the ADA Update Conference has expanded from a one day event with 6 breakout session and under 100 participants to 2 full days with 20 breakout sessions and 250 participants. Barbara also assists with the development and management of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center’s robust collection of information guides, resources, and tools.
A native of Rockville, Barbara has really enjoyed baseball coming back to the DC area and is an avid Washington Nationals fan, but the Maryland Terps remain her #1 team.
WorkLink – San Francisco, CA Office
Andrew is an Employment Specialist at WorkLink, TransCen’s San Francisco-based employment program for job seekers with disabilities. In this role, he supports developmentally disabled job seekers, in close partnership with their employers, progress in their careers, while aligning their strengths with the needs of the companies. He supports job seekers in the areas of facilitating communication, building tools and processes, and overall career development. Prior to joining TransCen, Andrew was an Inventory Lead at a Nike Retail store in San Francisco, and, before that, a Restaurant Supervisor in Las Vegas.
Andrew grew up in Las Vegas, but moved to San Francisco after graduating from college to join his high school sweetheart. She is now his wife. Andrew learned how to cook amazing Italian at an early age from his mom and grandmother, who came from Sicilian roots. He makes an amazing Chicken Parmesan.
Marie is an Employment Specialist at WorkLink, where she advocates for her clients and provides them individualized assistance as she helps them find employment opportunities based on their skills and interests. Marie’s favorite part of the job is building relationships with her WorkLink clients, their families, and area employers.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Marie enjoys hiking with her dog, cooking, and playing the guitar and singing.
Community Facilitator/Job Coach
As a Community Facilitator/Job Coach with WorkLink, Paul’s favorite aspect of his work continues to be the “magic moment” when a client masters a skill or gains an experience that he/she (and perhaps a family member) previously thought was unattainable. Before joining WorkLink, Paul worked for 3 years as Service Coordinator for a program in Oakland, California serving adults with developmental disabilities. Prior to entering this field, Paul worked in several different areas including: Refugee Education, Advocacy and Resettlement, Homelessness and Housing Advice. He also spent several years teaching English as a Second Language in Europe and South East Asia. Paul hails from Manchester England.
As the father of two teenage kids, Paul doesn’t get a lot of free time, but in those rare moments, he is often to be found writing and singing songs, in the music halls and listening rooms of the San Francisco Bay Area.
As an Employment Specialist, Matthew advocates for his clients and assists them find employment opportunities based on their skills and interests, providing individualized support along the way. He is eager to make an impact and inspire others in this role, and is passionate about working to make positive changes in the community.
Matthew grew up in the Bay Area and has worked in hospital services, retail, coaching, and working with youth development programs. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, martial arts, video games, and music.
Sara is the Director of WorkLink, TransCen’s San Francisco-based employment program for job seekers with disabilities. Sara is also a key contributor to the training and technical team where she works with employers, school districts, parent groups, and service providers. She also provides field support for many of TransCen’s federal and state initiatives. Currently, she is a subject matter expert for ODEP’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program, where she provides technical assistance and consultation to state agencies and providers in capacity building in effective practice, system/provider transformation, school-to-work transition and employer engagement. For the past 30 years, Sara’s focus has been on school-to-work transition and employment for individuals with disabilities. She has extensive experience in direct service, policy and program development, and system transformation.
When asked what her passion is and what she can’t stop talking about, Sara will respond: “My work. My work. My work.” She also loves music, traveling to exotic locales, cooking/baking, taking her dog to the beach, and reading the New York Times on Sunday mornings.
Jude serves as WorkLink’s Program Manager in San Francisco. She has worked for over two decades serving adults living with developmental and cognitive disabilities, specializing with those with dual diagnoses of mental health disorders. Jude has developed programming for this population focusing on advocacy, self-determination, empowerment, and community inclusion. In addition to managing and developing multiple programs in the Northern California area, Jude has worked with and learned a great deal from members and advisors from the People First Movement. Jude has previously served as Vice Chair for the State of California sponsored Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Advancing Policy to Eliminate Discrimination Program (APEDP) Advisory Group, a statewide initiative.
Being witness to the stigma around disabilities has armed Jude with a commitment to break through the barriers of discrimination. Jude uses a collaborative leadership style to develop and maintain multiple advocacy groups and consumer advisory committees.
Creative Employment Opportunities (CEO) – Milwaukee, WI Office
Gail has years of experience working in telecommunications and customer services. The skills she developed in those past careers have truly assisted her with creating strong, successful relationships with local businesses while career developing for our clients. Her caring, driven personality has lead to trusting relationships and to being a strong team member at CEO.
Marketing Coordinator/Employment Consultant
Mary has over 15 years of successful sales and marketing experience. She has worked at local and regional media outlets, as well as with young adults in an “out of the box” field marketing business. Throughout her career, she has established lasting relationships with many corporate and media decision makers. Mary feels that the field of Job Development with CEO is a natural fit for her, and establishing potential careers for individuals with disabilities is truly rewarding.
Dwight Johnson, CESP
A native Milwaukeean, Dwight worked for Milwaukee Public Schools as an educational assistant for 30 years where he worked with students with disabilities and at-risk students. Dwight has been an Employment Consultant with CEO since 2005. He has been trained as a trainer for Systematic Instruction by Michael Callahan (Mark Gold and Associates). His passion is working with individuals with high support needs, helping them become more independent on the jobs. He is a huge Packers fan, enjoys golfing in the summer, and dabbling in the stock market.
Karen has worked for Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. since it was founded in 1991. Karen’s primary responsibilities focus on ensuring employees with disabilities maintain their employment. Karen takes pride in developing individualized instructional strategies and adaptations that promote greater independence in the workplace. She also works with co-workers and supervisor to ensure the employee is fully included on the job. Karen enjoys spending free time with family, bowling, and traveling..
Research Grant/Employment Consultant
Alissa graduated from Alverno College with a B.A. in Professional Communication. She was previously a teaching assistant where she focused on helping students develop their reading skills and abilities. She also helped teach English as a Second Language to native Spanish-speaking students that needed additional support with the English language. Alissa has a wide range of experience in the customer service field, as well as the Public Relations field, and prides herself on being an excellent communicator. She thrives in an environment that includes variety and meeting new people.