Faith Kappenberg, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.(R) has extensive experience in many aspects of Early Childhood and Special Education. Her background includes social work, special education, childbirth counseling, psychotherapy, behavioral assessment, and transition support within early childhood and beyond. For over 25 years, Dr. Kappenberg has provided staff development for educators and service providers, as well as parent training. She prides herself on being a lifetime learner and keeps abreast of current research and evidence based practices that are most effective for children. Least restrictive environment, inclusive programming, and community support for all children have been her focus throughout her career. As a parent and stepparent of seven diverse learners, she brings a broad perspective to the field. Over many years, she was frequently sought in the special education and mental health communities for her expertise in leading evaluation teams and guiding complex individualized programs for children with disabilities that fostered inclusive solutions. Her experience working with families of children from 5-21, in addition to her experience working with children from birth to age 5, puts her in the unique position to see the big picture for the leadership, support, and services needed for children in their early learning years. Her programs have resulted in life changing outcomes for children with disabilities and their families.
Cynthia McKelvey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and has over ten years of experience working with children with disabilities and their parents. In addition, Cynthia has extensive experience navigating the foster care and adoption systems in our region. As the proud parent of three children with special needs who are adopted, Cynthia brings an extremely unique perspective to our project. She has navigated the service systems from Foster Care to Adoption to Early Intervention to CPSE, and CSE. She was instrumental in beginning a grass roots SEPTA that brought together seven rural districts, and organized speakers, trainings, and technical assistance for families and professionals. She has extensive training in peer mentoring and family support and is a Partners in Policy Making 2012 graduate. Amazingly, Cynthia speaks 5 languages (German, French, Dutch, English fluently and speaks conversational Spanish). With a clear devotion and passion for improving outcomes for all children, Cynthia sets the standard for this work.
Yesica Panora is currently the Bilingual Early Childhood Specialist for the Early Childhood Direction Center (ECDC). With a Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Therapy, Yesica has diverse experience working with children and young adults with disabilities, as well as their families and the professionals who serve them. Her background includes: providing person-centered, self directed and individualized supports to people with developmental disabilities through Independent Support Services, working with young children with autism in school settings, at the Quality Services for the Autism Community. Yesica also coordinates social groups and an Art Club at the Ezra Center at the Barry and Florence Friedberg Jewish Community Center. Yesica’s experiences, her understanding of diverse cultures, and her enthusiasm in supporting people with disabilities and their families make her an ideal Bilingual Early Childhood Specialist.
Dr. Janice Sawyer has been an early childhood educator, school administrator, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant on educational issues for more than 40 years. She is an expert and nationally renown for her publications and presentations on bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in schools. Her writings include Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse: A Handbook for Teachers and Administrators and “Peer Harassment in Schools,” published by Corwin Press, and “Boys Call Me Cow,” appearing in Educational Leadership. Her work stresses the research indicating that the societal problem of bullying, teasing, and harassment is epidemic, mirrored into every classroom, in every state, across all race, gender, and socio-economic groups. Dr. Sawyer recently delivered over thirty DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) Workshops commissioned by the New York State Department of Education. Dr. Sawyer has a passion for working with families, young children, as well as schools and/or districts to support inclusion, culture, and collaboration.
Randy K. Young is the Education Outreach Specialist for the Long Island Parent Center and Early Childhood Direction Center hosted by the Center for Community Inclusion at Long Island University. Currently, she is the President of Randy K. Young Consulting Services, Inc., a New York State certified Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE). Randy was a social studies teacher with extensive professional development in multiculturalism and diversity, curriculum development and an inclusive co-teaching model. More recently her extensive research includes Assistive Technology, Cultural Competency, Self Determination and Transition. She is a dynamic, results oriented professional with a wealth of experience in general and special education. As a mother of three children, including one with special education needs, currently in our education systems, she is committed to work with families, teachers and administrators to create the best educational outcomes for all students.
Elizabeth DeFazio-Rodriguez is currently a Bilingual Early Childhood Specialist for the Early Childhood Direction Center (ECDC). Ms. DeFazio-Rodriguez is a certified school psychologist with bilingual extension, licensed mental health counselor and school district administrator with the NYS Department of Education. She was previously a bilingual school psychologist on Long Island, Project Coordinator for the Long Island Parent Center, the Bilingual Special Education Specialist/Trainer with the NYS funded Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Center (RSE TASC). She has served on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Counseling Center and worked as a consultant with the Headstart Bureau for the Administration of Children and Families in Puerto Rico. She has trained educators and administrators in second language acquisition and the importance of recognizing a language difference from an educational disability as well as on the disproportionality of race/ethnicity in Special Education identification and placement.