The NJCDB Technical Assistance team consists of individuals with a wide range of experience and training related to supporting children and youth with Deafblindness, their families and service providers.
Jerry G. Petroff
Executive Director, Jerry G. Petroff, is a full professor at TCNJ, has been professionally involved in the education of students with deafblindness for over thirty years. He holds a doctor of philosophy in psychological studies in special education, a master of education in speech pathology and audiology, and an undergraduate degree in deaf education. Dr. Petroff is a nationally recognized expert in the education of children with deafblindness.
Assistant Director of The Center on Sensory and Complex Disabilities
Kelly has been professionally involved in Supported Employment for young adults with intellectual disabilities since 2003. A graduate from The College of New Jersey, with degrees and Certification of Teacher of the Handicapped and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Instructional Design, she began her career with a public school district, where she used the community work-sites as her “classroom”. With a passion for having high expectations for people with disabilities in the workforce and community, Kelly has always had an interest in creating a “win-win” opportunity for both the person with a disability AND the employer.
Kelly is responsible for the oversight of the Memorandums of Understanding in Partnership with the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, including the following departments:
- Work Skills Preparation (WSP) Program
- College Preparatory Program, in partnership with the Bonner Summer Pre-College Program
- I Can Connect (ICC-NJ), federally funded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Support Service Provider Program (SSP)
Presently, Kelly is also an adjunct professor in the School of Education teaching graduate courses emphasizing on Transition and Community-Based Instruction for Students with Severe Disabilities and Curriculum Design for Students with Severe Disabilities.
David Rims is the Business Manager for the Center on Sensory & Complex Disabilities: Research and Training (CSCD) at The College of New Jersey. Mr. Rims’ focus involves several Federal and/or State grants, and several enterprise accounts under the umbrella of the center. These include the Career & Community Studies Program (CCS), The Support Service Providers of New Jersey (SSP-NJ), The Work Skills Preparation Program (WSP@TCNJ), The Post-Secondary Education for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID/CCSPLUS) and The Autism Center at TCNJ. He is a full time staff member at the college, and holds a degree in Health Administration.
NJCDB Project Coordinator
Project Manager, Michelle Ragunan, has been working with individuals with disabilities and their families for the past eighteen years and has been providing technical assistance regarding students with deafblindness for the past eight years. She has extensive experience working with organizations for persons with disabilities and working as an advocate for individuals (both children and adults) with disabilities promoting self-determination, accessibility, and full participation in home, school, work, and community life. Her personal experiences, within the disability community, provide valuable insights in planning and implementation of project initiatives. Ms. Ragunan holds a master’s degree in human resources management with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a certificate in history.
Project Director of New Jersey Center for Deaf-blindness
Project Director, Angel Perez, has been working in the field of Sensory Disabilities for the past sixteen years. She has a Masters Degree in Visual Impairments and a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders and Deafness, with an undergrad in Special Education. She also received training from the Orton and Gillingham program for Dyslexia. She is currently working on a PhD in Vision Science with an emphasis in Sensory Disabilities through the school of medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. During her years of school and training, Angel received two national honors and scholarships, first, as a Helen Keller Fellow, then as a National Leadership Consortium for Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) Fellow. Mrs. Perez was formally a Hearing and Vision Specialist. Mrs. Perez has a passion for the field of deaf-blindness and service provision, and in teaching.
NJCDB Family Specialist/ ICCNJ Outreach
For the past seven years, Carly Fredericks has been active parent advocate for children with hearing loss and deaf-blindness. She has been involved in various fundraising events to support several establishments supporting children with hearing loss and to fund research that will lead to prevention, treatments, and cures for the entire spectrum of deaf-blindness. Carly speaks publically about her personal experiences raising a child with Deaf-blindness at various renowned institutions such as The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She thrives to provide all the resources available to individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. Currently, Carly is the Family Support Specialist for the Deaf-Blind Project, within the Center on Sensory and Complex Disabilities (CSCD) at TCNJ.
Program Coordinator for WSP/CPE
Melissa has been involved, professionally, with young adults with intellectual disabilities since 2005. A two-time graduate from The College of New Jersey, Melissa holds a Master’s Degree and dual certification in Elementary Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities. In 2012, she became the Transition Teacher/Specialist at the Northern Burlington County Regional School District. Currently, Melissa is the Program Coordinator for Summer Transition Programs within the Center on Sensory and Complex Disabilities (CSCD) at TCNJ, a partnership with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Program Coordinator for SSP-NJ
Kathleen has been involved with the Deaf and Deaf-Blind communities since 2010. Kathleen is a graduate of Ocean County College with a degree in American Sign Language-English Interpreting. She studied Deaf-Blind Interpreting where she gained a passion for supporting this specific community. Since graduating, she has been a freelance sign language interpreter for various agencies. In 2013, Kathleen worked as an Employment Specialist for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for vocational rehabilitation. Kathleen joined the SSPNJ program in 2013 as a Support Service Provider for the Deaf-Blind community in New Jersey. She strives to take her experience to promote and support the independence and success of each New Jersey Deaf-Blind individual.
Dot Loesch joined the staff of the Center after retiring from the State of NJ with more than 32 years’ experience working with deaf, multihandicapped, and deafblind students. She instituted the deafblind program at the New Jersey School for the Deaf in 1979 leading it through future inclusion and transition processes. She also developed the PLUS Program at NJSD which dealt with deaf students with emotional disturbance and was the first of its kind in NJ. She is a graduate of TCNJ (formerly Trenton State College) and has her Bachelors in Education of the Deaf and her Masters in Special Education.
ICCNJ Project Specialist
Mr. Gabry has a keen personal interest in technology because, as a deafblind person himself, it allows him to communicate with hearing and sighted people, as well as live more safely and independently. He has studied various technologies for deafblind people since 2007, when he first went to the Helen Keller National Center. Mr. Gabry hopes to give more deafblind people freedom and independence by teaching them to use technology in their daily lives. Mr. Gabry is a student at Bergen Community College.
NJCDB Associate for Transition
Ms. Lashbrook was State Coordinator for the Delaware Program for Deafblind Children for 16 years. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Education with dual certification in elementary education and special education (mental retardation) and a Master of Science in Education of persons with severe, profound and multiple handicaps. Throughout 15 years as a classroom teacher, she worked in inclusive and separate school settings, serving students with deafblindness and other moderate to severe disabilities, from birth through 21 years of age. She was instrumental in creating inclusive opportunities in education, transition, employment and community participation for students.