Think College Staff

Meg Grigal

Meg Grigal, Ph.D.
Senior Research Fellow

 

Meg’s work focuses on research, policy, and practice in inclusive higher education for people with intellectual disability (ID). She is the principal investigator on multiple federally funded projects focused on transition to college and employment for students with ID. She has co-authored three books, over 30 peer reviewed research articles, and 15 book chapters on college access. In addition to research, Meg has provided professional development to thousands of professionals and families around building expectations and expanding opportunities for students with ID to go to college.

Debra Hart

Debra Hart, MS
Education and Transition Director

 

Debra is the director of ICI’s Education and Transition team. She has focused on developing inclusive higher education options for students with intellectual disability nationwide. Debra has over 30 years of experience working with students with disabilities, their families, and professionals to support youth in becoming valued members of their community by participating in inclusive K-12 education, inclusive higher education, and competitive integrated employment.

Clare Papay

Clare Papay, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate

 

Clare Papay conducts research on inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Clare is the evaluation coordinator for the National Coordinating Center for the TPSID model demonstration program. She is also the co-principal investigator for the Institute of Education Sciences-funded project, “Moving Transition Forward: Exploration of College-based and Conventional Transition Practices for Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism.” Dr. Papay is co-editor for the Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education.

Cate Weir

Cate Weir, MEd
Program Director

 

Cate oversees all day-to-day operations of the Think College National Coordinating Center, with a focus on technical assistance and dissemination. She is a national expert on inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Prior to Think College, Cate served as the project coordinator for the Consortium on Inclusive Postsecondary Education. Cate has led many state and regional capacity building initiatives and has provided training and technical assistance to professionals and families throughout the country.

Danie Roberts-Dahm

Danie Roberts-Dahm, Ph.D.
Program Director

 

Danie is the project coordinator of the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network. She leads project implementation, including regional partnership development, training and technical assistance, and dissemination. Prior to Think College, Danie served in leadership roles at an inclusive postsecondary program and a state technical assistance center focused on the transition of students with disabilities in Florida. Danie’s work has been focused on the development of inclusive college opportunities for students with disabilities.

Susanna Miller-Raines

Susanna Miller-Raines, MSW
Program Manager

 

Susanna is a program manager for the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network and a training and technical assistance provider working closely with regional and state alliances and those that are in development. Prior to Think College Susanna led the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Alliance out of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University. Susanna is also the co-founder and was the founding board chair of the Southeast Postsecondary Education Alliance. Her work has been focused on supporting exploration and implementation of inclusive higher education programs in Georgia as well as building state and regional alliances.

Kathleen Becht

Kathleen Becht, Ph.D.
Technical Assistance Coordinator

 

Kathy provides technical assistance daily to families, K-12 educators, agencies, and college and university staff and educators specific to the development and implementation of inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability. She has lived, taught, and advocated in the field of exceptional education for over 35 years with a passion for the self-determination of students with disabilities. Her research focus lies in literacy at the secondary and postsecondary levels and inclusive postsecondary education for individuals with cognitive disability. Prior to joining Think College, Kathy was the director of Florida’s Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education at the University of Central Florida.

Belkis Choisel-Praslin

Belkis Choiseul-Praslin, Ph.D.
Research Associate II

 

Belkis’ work focuses on special education and transition related research and inclusive employment experiences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She works with the evaluation team at Think College, focusing on data analysis. Belkis has presented her research over 30 times in international and national conferences, co-authored six peer-reviewed publications, three book chapters, and served as co-PI on university research grants. In addition, Belkis provides transition professional development to school districts and teachers across the country.

Pam McFarland

Pam McFarland
Database Manager

 

Pam works closely with several projects, including the National Coordinating Center, Employment Services, SELN, and Vision Studies. She has experience with multiple database applications, including Quickbase and Filemaker, and online data collection applications such as Qualtrics and Survey Gizmo. As an undergraduate at UMass Boston, Pam was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and interned with the Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment program at McLean Hospital. Before joining ICI, Pam managed clinical data for National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trials and longitudinal studies.

Rebecca Lazo

Rebecca Lazo
Knowledge Translation Manager

 

Rebecca manages the social media presence for Think College, fields questions from families and program staff, and coordinates publications for the NCC and related projects, including editing and proofreading. Rebecca has over 20 years’ experience as an editor and dissemination expert in the disability field, developing and disseminating information about best practices related to the education, employment, and self-determination of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the broader community. Rebecca has coordinated over 60 webinars on a wide variety of topics related to inclusive postsecondary education and keeps the thinkcollege.net website up to date.

Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson, MA
Knowledge Translation Associate

 

Sheila delivers engaging and accessible content to people with intellectual disability and those who support and advocate for their full inclusion in higher education, competitive employment, and the community at large. Prior to her work with Think College, Sheila taught courses in English and communications at multiple New England colleges and coordinated marketing for Employment First Florida and the State Employment Leadership Network at the Institute for Community Inclusion.

Matthew L McClellan

Matthew L McClellan, Ph.D. candidate
Graduate Assistant

 

Matthew is a doctoral candidate with the School of Global Inclusion and Social Development at the UMB. He supports Think College staff in numerous projects, including grant, research, and program database task support. Matthew’s academic research focuses on the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ college student finding and using supports amid the global pandemic. As an LGBTQ+ advocate, he engages with campus administration to create and facilitate greater inclusive LGBTQ+ programing. Matthew comes with multiple years’ experience working in various nonprofit areas including social work, health care, and higher education.

Maria Paiewonsky

Maria Paiewonsky, EdD
Program Director

 

Maria is a program director and transition specialist. She serves as director of the UMass Boston Transition Leadership program, an approved course of study for the Massachusetts Transition Specialist endorsement as well as an approved Division of Career Development and Transition teacher accreditation program for transition specialists. Maria is also a training and technical assistance provider for state and national initiatives that support college-based transition services for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She focuses on professional development and including students with intellectual disabilities in inclusive research related to transition services. Over the years, Maria has coordinated numerous secondary and transition related projects.

Nancy Hurley

Nancy Hurley, MS
Training Associate

 

Nancy oversees program recruitment and scholar support for the Transition Leadership Program. She also develops and delivers face-to-face and online courses and workshops for educators and professional staff, students, families, and community providers. As project coordinator, Nancy focuses on assessment, access to postsecondary education, youth development, career development, and differentiated instruction. Nancy is a certified ambassador for the Charting the Life Course planning framework. She holds a professional license in Intensive Special Needs from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Lori Cooney

Lori Cooney, MEd
Director, Curriculum Design & Inclusive Education

 

Lori is the project coordinator for Future Quest Island, a fully accessible college and career readiness adventure for elementary and middle school students funded by the Federal Office of Special Education Programs. She has 25 years of extensive experience designing and delivering professional development on universal design, inclusive education, individualized learning plans, curriculum development, course design, technology integration, college and career readiness, and assessment strategies for pK-16 students. Lori received the 2012 MassCUE Pathfinder Award, a Technology Humanist Award from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is recognized as a Christa McAuliffe Teacher by the Challenger Learning Center.

Russell Thelin

Russell J. Thelin, MS, LVRC CRC
Senior Research Associate

 

Russ provides consultation to college programs related to partnering effectively with vocational rehabilitation agencies. He has 30+ years in rehabilitation counseling and held vocational rehabilitation agency positions including executive director and rehabilitation counselor. Russ has been recognized with the 2014 “Ethics in Government” award from The Daniels Fund & University of Utah Eccles School of Business as well as the 2009 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award from the Utah Rehabilitation Association.

Ashley Luce

Ashley Luce
Program Coordinator

 

Ashley consults on college-based transition services and disability services on the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) project. Ashley’s background is in disability services in higher education. She has worked with students with autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and psychological disabilities. She has also worked one-on-one with students as an academic coach and educational coach. Prior to joining ICI, Ashley consulted with faculty members and family members regarding academic supports for students at Framingham State University.

Shelby Bates

Shelby Bates, LSW
Program Assistant

 

Shelby is the program assistant for the Think College National Coordinating Center, where she supports all project activities. Prior to joining the NCC, Shelby worked for Colorado’s inclusive Higher Education Consortium, coordinating events, trainings, and collaborations to increase awareness of college options for students with intellectual disability in the state. She is fueled by her experience growing up with a sibling with a disability.

Caitlyn Bukaty

Caitlyn A. Bukaty, Ph.D.
Research Associate

 

Caitlyn works with the Think College National Coordinating Center’s evaluation team supporting collection and review of TPSID data. She comes to the NCC with diverse experience supporting transition, post-school opportunities and outcomes, and evaluation of postsecondary education programs at the state level. Caitlyn’s additional research interests focus on leveraging technology and Universal Design for Learning to optimize students’ lifelong living, learning, and earning.

Photo of Arin Rook

Arin Rook, MS
Knowledge Translation Associate

 

Arin is the knowledge translation associate for the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network where they manage the development of the project's products and dissemination efforts. Prior to joining ICI, Arin worked as the coordinator of campus-wide DEI training efforts at the University of California, Riverside. Arin is incredibly passionate about digital accessibility, Disability Justice, and helping to build a culture of belonging and inclusion for everyone in higher education.

Photo of Sara Pound

Sara Pound
Knowledge Translation Associate

 

Sara is a Knowledge Translation Associate for the Think College National Coordinating Center and Inclusive Higher Education Network. Sara coordinates, creates, and publishes materials on best practices for the education and self-determination of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Prior to joining Think College, Sara worked with an Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) program in South Carolina. Sara’s work primarily focuses on increasing equitable access to inclusive educational and independent living opportunities for multiply marginalized students.