Meet Our Experts
We offer content experts who are experienced in problem solving and designing right-fit solutions.
There are more than 15 staff members available to you
Amy Scott, MA, CESP, is currently the Interim Director for Eleversity, a department of Heritage Christian Services. Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling. Amy has over 23 years of experience managing and directing programs that provide vocational coordination, social work, supported employment, plus residential and day habilitation services to individuals with a wide range of disabilities. Additionally, she has worked with families and detention facilities providing vocational instruction to at-risk students in preparation for school to work. As a Certified Benefits Advisor, Amy worked for five years as an employment specialist for New York Works a Social Security pilot project. Throughout her career and during employment with the Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center at the University of Buffalo, Amy has developed and delivered numerous supported employment curriculum, professional presentations and has ongoing involvement in national rehabilitation communities of practice surrounding program evaluation/quality assurance and supported employment.
Customer Service Lead
Karen Schnaufer is the Customer Service Lead for Eleversity. She has over 30 years of experience in the human service field, working at agencies throughout the Rochester, N.Y., region, including Catholic Charities, Crestwood Children’s Center, LAICO Industries, Lifetime Assistance, Mary Cariola Center and Villa of Hope. For over 20 years, Karen has primarily worked in residential services for Heritage Christian Services, starting out as a recreation specialist and ultimately holding numerous supervisory roles. She is a strong advocate for people with differing abilities and works tirelessly to provide dignity and respect to those she supports. Karen is also a “rescue mom,” with a dog and a cat who are an indispensable part of her family. She enjoys the great outdoors and, along with her partner, spends vacations and weekends in a Class A RV along with their “kids.”
Project Support Specialist
Training and Organizational Development Specialist
Margaret DiTusa is a Training and Organizational Development Specialist at Eleversity, a division of Heritage Christian Services. Margaret comes to the Eleversity team with years’ experience as an attendee and enthusiastic participant of the Innovations in Employment Supports trainings. She is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the presentation as an instructor. Margaret is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP), holds an undergrad in Disability Studies and is pursuing a master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling, aiming to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). She is also a member of the Association of People Supporting Employment first (APSE) and the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP). Margaret has 10 years’ practical experience serving a variety of populations and communities throughout the 5 boroughs and Long Island concerning supported employment from job coaching roles to management. She is knowledgeable and skilled in the guidelines, objectives, expectations, and deliverables of OPWDD and ACCES-VR. Her first position in vocational rehabilitation was serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and she continues to practice American Sign Language. Margaret’s favorite part of her career includes assessing job seekers and applying those findings vocationally, career counseling, partnering with businesses, and providing education and training to promote equity and quality of service. She has an affinity for efficient and effective program design, development, organization, and administration. Margaret encompasses a devoted understanding of how vital inclusion, competitive employment, true citizenship, person-centeredness, self-determination, advocacy, dignity of risk, self-determination, and similar principles are for all people supported. She is deeply driven and inspired by ethically facilitating assistance for groups of people who deserve access to and participation in community, employment, and all other spaces that make life worthwhile. In her spare time, Margaret loves to cook, plays adult co-ed sports (primarily kickball) and cares for her many plants and Rottweiler, Nitro.
Training and Organizational Development Specialist
Maura Denning works as a training and organizational development specialist for Eleversity, a division of Heritage Christian Services. Maura brings to her role 25 years of experience in vocational rehabilitation with roles ranging from job coach to program coordinator. Over the span of her career she has developed a specialty in providing supports and services to job seekers who are deaf or hard of hearing. She has received acclaim for the Sign Language and Understanding Deaf Culture courses she developed and taught in New York for Monroe County employees, the Rochester Fire Department and graduating law enforcement officers. Maura brings a varied background to the TODS role; she spent several years working in human resources in the business sector, which allows her a unique stakeholder perspective. As a result of her passionate advocacy, she was elected to the position of president of the Rochester Area Employment Network for two consecutive terms, and she was instrumental in the annual NDEAM employer recognition event in the Greater Rochester area. At Eleversity, she will work on the Innovations in Employment Supports statewide training project creating curriculum, designing resource materials and teaching courses. She is a talented instructor and operates on the belief that learning collectively will lead to great opportunities for professionals in the field.
Community Liaison and Training Specialist
Sara Taylor is a Community Liaison and Training Specialist focused on corporate and organizational training and social justice issues. Taylor’s 25-year career in nonprofit services ranges from direct care front line social worker to senior level administrator. In addition to her job at HCS, she has managed a consulting business for more than 20 years, providing leadership development training and capacity building services to small nonprofit and faith-based organizations as well as managing professional conferences throughout North America. Sara obtained her master’s degree in Human Service Administration from St. John Fisher College. She has received certificates in leadership development, completed several ministry and theology training courses and holds ministerial licenses. Sara also serves on numerous advisory boards and steering committees at the local, state and national levels.
Training & Technical Assistant, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
Robert Statham, Training & Technical Assistant for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS). Robert has extensive experience in developing and delivering effective trainings all across the state of New York for people with disabilities. Robert’s passion is delivering engaging trainings that will educate providers in assisting people with disabilities to discover their future employment goals. Robert is also president of Pathlight Career Counseling Inc., which assists college students in obtaining career related goals. Robert has been in the field of employment and counseling for over 15 years. He was awarded the Employment Specialist of the Year in 2004 by the Rochester Area Employment Network (RAEN) and continues to forge positive relationships with area employers and companies in the local Rochester community.
Founder and president, Giving Back to Our Communities, Ltd.
Emily B. Ellis is the founder and president of Giving Back to Our Communities, Ltd which is a faith-based consultant group specializing in helping families and organizations in multicultural communities develop the skills they need to access and provide quality services to their family members and constituents with developmental disabilities. She is also the co-owner of Sight & Sound Productions; a family owned video production and duplication services company located in the heart of downtown Yonkers, New York.
Laura McCaffrey has a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis in clinical services. She has been working in the field to support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities for over 20 years. Her experience reaches from the days of the day treatment program to today, running one of the largest employment programs for people with ID/DD. In 2001, Laura became the assistant director for employment and business services at AHRC-NYC. Prior to this, she worked as a social worker and clinical supervisor for Helen Keller Services for the Blind. She was Acting Executive Director for A-1 Universal Services, providing service coordination and respite supports to the ID/DD community. After more than a year as a regional care manager director for Care Design NY, Laura is embarking on consulting work and continuing her training activities. Laura is also an at-large board member of NYS-APSE.
Christina Murgola, MS, CRC, CESP, works as a senior vocational rehabilitation counselor within Eastern Suffolk BOCES Supported Employment Services. Christina has been immersed in the rehabilitation community on Long Island for nearly 20 years, serving in various capacities across many different professional affiliations. Throughout her career, Christina has worked in every capacity of supported employment service delivery from front line job coaching to program management. She has been an active member of local provider associations and previously served as co-chair to the Nassau Placement Network. She is currently a member of the Suffolk County Rehabilitation Council serving in dual capacities of treasurer and vice president of the council’s board. Christina is a member of the New York State Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) and serves as secretary of the chapter’s board of directors. She received her Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling through the University at Buffalo, State University of New York on-line Graduate School of Education. Christina believes that professional development and the process of learning will not only enhance our ability to deliver quality supports and services, but will assist in elevating the field.
Jim Scutt graduated from SUNY Fredonia and began working in the field of supported employment. He has worked as a consultant for the Innovations is Employment Supports project since its inception. Jim uses his vast experience in supported employment to design and deliver trainings that will help to develop people’s skills in providing employment supports. When Jim is not working as a consultant trainer for the Innovations project, he is an Associate Vice President at People Inc. located in Western New York In addition to his job at People Inc., he also serves as president of the New York State Association of People Supporting Employment First (NYSAPSE) Board, and holds various leadership positions locally within his community. Jim strongly believes that with the appropriate supports and discovery, that everyone who has the desire to work can do so. This belief starts with making sure the people providing the employment supports have the right tools and knowledge to provide comprehensive and responsible services.
Esther Weinstein has an extensive background in developing, implementing and providing innovative services to individuals with disabilities, which include, but are not limited to supported employment, day habilitation, pre-vocational services, case management and Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitative Treatment (IPRT). She has provided supported employment services for many years, and has provided training and education to staff throughout New York, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands.
Previous associate director, Ascent Education & Training
Erica Belois-Pacer was the previous associate director of Eleversity and also served as a regional vocational rehabilitation community employment specialist. She now serves as a consultant trainer for Ascent in addition to her position with National APSE. Erica began her educational career as a first and second grade teacher in an inclusion classroom. Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (N-6) and special education (N-12) with a concentration in History from SUNY Geneseo. She was accepted as a graduate assistant at Geneseo where she completed a master’s degree in Literacy/Reading Specialist (N-12). Most recently, Erica served as the senior director of educational programs at FallsView Academy. Erica was responsible for hiring, overseeing, and training a staff of up to 60 qualified educators and/or specialist for each contract, providing ongoing advisement and guidance. She developed program opportunities through Supplemental Educational Services (SES), Supplemental Academic Services (SAS), and Extended Learning Programs (ELT) across the state. She created programs in urban, suburban and rural communities and learned valuable lessons from each experience. Erica also researched opportunities and created new partnerships with community organizations and department leaders within the City of Rochester for administering educational programs. She worked with the Office of New Americans to provide citizenship classes and educational opportunities for refugees new to the country. Erica formed and maintained relationships with individuals to provide programs that worked. Erica is originally from Clinton, NY where much of her family still lives.
Katie Page, CESP, B.S. in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire. Katie brings over 15 years experience in the world of supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Katie created and implemented employment services with AIM Services Inc., in Saratoga Springs, NY for both OPWDD and ACCES-VR services. Katie is active in her community as co-chair of the Youth and Transition Council with NY Alliance for Innovation and Inclusion. In addition to her role on the National APSE Professional Development team, Katie is active with her local APSE chapter, where she chaired the sub-committee which developed relationships with local Chambers of Commerce to better connect with businesses. Katie has presented both locally and nationally on the topic. She is dedicated to elevating employment professionals and employment as a whole.
Janice has 37 years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities and helping them achieve their highest level of independence. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work and worked at OPWDD for 36 years. While at Finger Lakes DDSO, one of her roles was a Medicaid Service Coordinator for 12 years. She worked with families, agencies and individuals providing linkage and advocacy. She also worked as an Employment Training Program Supervisor for 12 years. Janice worked with individuals whose goal was to be employed. She believes with a thorough Discovery, a good job match, and the appropriate support, many of our individuals can be successful in employment. Janice worked closely with the Supported Employment agencies providing technical assistance and support. Janice was involved in developing the Discovery Report along with the Vocational Development Plan and the Job Development Plan. Currently Janice is an instructor at AutismUp in the Full Life Academy program. Janice is also a certified Life Coach working with individuals with disabilities and their family members. Her experiences working in the field of developmental disabilities have shaped her as a coach and inspired her to empower parents, individuals with disabilities, and siblings to boost potential, see possibilities and gain a sense of freedom. Janice has a passion for training and believes in employment for the individuals we provide service for. She feels well-trained staff can make all the difference in empowering our individuals and helping them achieve their goals and dreams.
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