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 the Training Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, Caleb coordinates ADA webinars and podcasts, plans the annual ADA Update conference, and conducts customized trainings for businesses, universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Before joining the Center, he taught for several years at Kent State University where he is completing a dissertation in disability studies.
In his free time, Caleb enjoys leading a philosophy reading group and competing in regional and national goalball tournaments.
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.
Employment Counselor – Ticket to Work
Andrea is an Employment Counselor with TransCen’s Employment Network partnership with the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program. As an Employment Counselor for Ticket to Work, Andrea assists individuals with disabilities who are receiving social security benefits who need assistance with career counseling, including helping them understand how social security benefits may be affected by work. Andrea has many years of experience working on disability employment issues, many of which have been at TransCen. Before working at TransCen, she was a Workforce Consultant with the New Mexico Employment Institute, leading the creation and implementation of the Institute’s mission and vision of successfully creating customized employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities and other barriers to employment. She has also worked extensively with New Mexico state agencies and organizations on the creation and development of jobs for people with a variety of disabilities.
ADA Information Specialist
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Carleen provides critical support to the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and to the general public as an ADA Information Specialist. In doing so, she provides information to Technical Assistance callers who require information, support, and guidance on the ADA and other relevant laws. Prior to this position, Carleen was the Office Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, working at TransCen, since 2014. 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.
Senior Research Associate
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.
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 a 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 Israel, 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.
As the Office Administrator at our Rockville headquarters office, Jasmine provides critical support to the entire TransCen team. With a career that has been focused on customer service, it’s no surprise Jasmine really enjoys assisting others – whether it’s in a professional capacity or just uplifting others, in general.
In her spare time, Jasmine enjoys being an aunt to five nieces and nephews, and travelling with her family and friends
As Accounting Manager, Donna applies her extensive accounting, finance, and grants management experience to overseeing the organization’s finances, and managing the budgets and administration of its programs and grants. Donna plays a key role in driving infrastructure and business processes to improve efficiency and meet strategic objectives. Donna has almost 30 years of experience working in the non-profit space in both accounting and human resources roles.
In her spare time, Donna enjoys spending time with her grandsons.
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.”
Chief Innovation and Training Officer
Sean is TransCen’s Chief Innovation and Training Officer. He has worked 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.
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
Program Coordinator / Employment Specialist
Danita Eason is the program coordinator for the WorkLink program and supports the Project Search program as an Employment Specialist. She strives to help the people she serves find meaning in their lives.
In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, music, and organizing foodie gatherings.
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.
Creative Employment Opportunities (CEO) – Milwaukee, WI Office
Mary Ann Beckman
Community Facilitator and Grant Specialist
As a Community Facilitator and Grant Specialist, Mary Ann assists with developing systems and seeking funding for innovative projects. She provides communication and problem-solving support through small groups and one-on-one sessions for individuals with high anxiety or other mental health issues in their post-secondary education and employment endeavors. She also consults for various K-12 schools in the area as well as for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she completed a Ph.D. in Urban Education Leadership. Mary Ann has over 30 years in the education field, with an emphasis on transition, as an administrator and teacher in both general and special education.
When she’s not working with individuals with disabilities, Mary Ann can be found hiking with her husband, Jim, spending time with her adult children and grandbabies, or simply exploring and looking for new adventures.
Dwight Johnson, CESP
A native Milwaukeean, Dwight has been an Employment Consultant with Creative Employment Opportunities since 2005. His passion is working with individuals with high support needs and helping them become more independent on the job. Dwight’s creativity and dedicated support has led to permanent employment for individuals with significant needs.
Dwight worked for Milwaukee Public Schools as an educational assistant for 30 years, supporting at-risk students and students with disabilities. He has been trained as a trainer for Systematic Instruction by Michael Callahan (Mark Gold and Associates). Dwight is a huge Packers fan, and also enjoys golfing in the summer, and dabbling in the stock market.
In her role as Program Director for Creative Employment Opportunities, Robin is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of employment programming for individuals with disabilities and providing training and support to a professional staff to ensure the delivery of high-quality services. Robin is also responsible for researching and assisting with grant proposals and alternative funding mechanisms to provide creative solutions for the provision of services.
Robin has a Master’s Degree in Science and Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Chicago. Robin has extensive experience in nonprofit management, social policy and program development, marketing and fundraising, and has continued to serve as an advocate for people with disabilities over the past 25 years. When not working, Robin enjoys spending time with her family, reading, gardening and cooking with her kids, running, and traveling.
In addition to managing the needs of the office for Creative Employment Opportunities, Sharon is responsible for monthly billing and overseeing a comprehensive client database. Sharon works closely with contract agencies to make sure funding is in place for services and also coordinates the agency’s special events. Sharon enjoys her role because she has the opportunity to assist both staff and families in the delivery of quality employment services offered by CEO.
Prior to her position as Office Manager, Sharon taught and supported both regular and special education students for over 15 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from National Louis University. Sharon’s passion for our mission of “Meaningful Work & Community Inclusion” is driven by not only her training and background in education, but also as the parent of an adult son with a disability. When not working, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors and traveling.
Chance joined Creative Employment Opportunities in 2018 as a staff member on a large research project the agency was conducting. After the project ended, CEO was fortunate to be able to offer Chance a position as an Employment Consultant supporting individuals in the local community. Chance meets with clients on a weekly basis in their employment settings and coaches them until they are able to work independently without his support.
Chance holds a Certification in Customized Employment and has completed two years of education towards a Bachelor’s Degree. Chance is passionate about the work that he does with his clients, which shines through in the success he has had assisting them to graduate to the point of not needing support. In his free time, Chance is interested in making music, snowboarding, and hanging out with his family and friends.