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 Agreement 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.
NJCDB Project Director
Heather Osowski has been working in the field of Deaf Education for over 15 years. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree, both from The College of New Jersey. Heather holds New Jersey teaching certifications in Elementary Education and Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as well as a New Jersey Supervisory Certification. Previous to her role at NCJDB, she has been the Transition Coordinator at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in West Trenton, New Jersey and has led programs such as Community-based Instruction and Person Centered Approaches in Schools and Transition. Through her role as transition coordinator, Heather has worked with students with deaf-blindness collaborating with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Helen Keller National Center and NJCDB for transition services and post secondary planning needs. During her time at Katzenbach, Heather supported students and staff as a technology coach and coordinated social media for the school. She was recognized as New Jersey Governor’s Teacher of the Year (school level recognition) in 2016 and held various leadership roles at Katzenbach. Heather is fluent in American Sign Language and continues to coordinate community sign language classes through the Katzenbach Parent and Staff Education Foundation. Heather is dedicated and passionate about supporting the individual needs of students and families in our community.
ICCNJ Program Coordinator
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 iCanConnect Program Coordinator within the Center on Sensory and Complex Disabilities (CSCD) at TCNJ.
Transition 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.
Family Engagement Coordinator
Jennifer Henkle is the parent of a five-year old daughter who is deafblind (CHARGE Syndrome) and has been actively involved in planning her daughter’s educational program; has worked with NJCDB as a resource parent; is actively involved in the deaf community and with the NJ School for the Deaf. Mrs. Henkle is the president of the NJ School for the Deaf parent organization. She also participated in the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network SRP training to become a resource parent.
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.
Youth Employment Program (YES) Coordinator/ Employment Specialist
Danielle is a 2005 College of New Jersey graduate with a degree in Special Education and a minor in Psychology. She was an elementary 3rd Grade Teacher, Title 1 Support Teacher, and Special Education teacher in South Brunswick for over 8 years before taking some time to be home with her children. While in South Brunswick she was part of the IR&S Team, District Curriculum Writing, Responsive Classroom Team, and many other school community activities.
She has worked as a job coach and employment coordinator for the Work Skills Preparation summer program for the past 16 years. Currently, Danielle works on the Youth Employment Solutions (YES) project for alum of the WSP program and works closely with the Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired Vocational Rehabilitation Unit to assist young adults who are blind, vision impaired, and have additional disabilities find employment in their communities. She has also been part of the development and implementation of the Blindness Learning Community along with Kelly Reymann and has trained staff from various supported employment agencies across New Jersey. She has also provided job coaching for several graduates of the WSP summer program and has worked closely with employers to make worksites accessible.