Ideas that Work, office of special programs U.S. Department of Education

The contents of this website were developed in part under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M150052. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government or Project Officer, David Emenheiser.

Staff Directory
Debby Ambroza
Reading Mentoring Specialist, Marion Office
[email protected]

Debby started with OCECD July, 2014 as the Reading Mentoring Specialist for OCECDs new program, Mentoring 4 Reading Achievement. Debby received her B.S. in Education from The Ohio State University with a major in EMR Education. She was a teacher in special education in the Lima City Schools and at Columbus Grove Elementary school. Towards the end of her teaching career she piloted the Reading-tutors program for one to one reading mentoring. Debby says it does take time to organize materials before this program can begin. It takes a different approach/mind set to coordinate this type of program but when looking at the smiles, seeing the self-confidence continuously grow within the students, there is no doubt that the extra time spent is worth every new effort. She has worked for Learninga-z.com creating materials and published her own series of children’s books. More recently she was the Training Consultant for Project MORE reading program. She lives in northwest Ohio with her husband, Barry, and are blessed with two sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.
Laryssa Beatty
Information Specialist/Trainer, East Central Office
[email protected]
Laryssa recently began her career with OCECD as of September 2014. Laryssa holds an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting and worked in Pediatrics prior to being a stay at home mom for 14 years before becoming a Parent Mentor for Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center. Laryssa is a mother of 3 children. Two of her children have given her experience with Down Syndrome, Autism, Metabolic Disorder, ADHD, severe behavior challenges and non-verbal communication, as well as navigating the special education system. Laryssa resides in Carroll County and provides information, training and support to families in East Central Ohio.
Marcie Beers
Director of Early Childhood, Marion Office
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Marcie has been with the OCECD since July 2010. Her focus is preschool education programming, special education performance measures, Early Learning Content Standards and Early Learning Program Guidelines. Marcie disseminates information and supports and assists families, parent networks, parent organizations, school districts and universities. She performs trainings and attends conferences and resource fairs. Marcie holds a B.S. in Elementary Education. Before joining OCECD, Marcie has worked within the education field as a long-term substitute, a GED Instructor, and as the Director of an Adult Literacy Program. Marcie has two sons; her youngest son receives services for Dyslexia.
Chantelle Blackburn
Bilingual Intake Assistant , Marion Office
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Chantelle is the Administrative Assistant to Marbella Cáceres, the Statewide Multicultural Coordinator, and to Marcie Beers, the Statewide Preschool Coordinator. She is bilingual, having been the Hispanic Ministry Coordinator for her church for several years. Chantelle has a BS in Middle Education and taught Spanish at Marion Catholic High School. She is a lifelong Marion resident, the mother of two daughters, and is blessed with four grandchildren.
Sandy Brickner
Information Specialist/Trainer, North Central Office
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Sandy has been with OCECD since 2000. Sandy provides information, training and support to parents in her area. She is also the lead trainer for the Northwest to the Southwest side of the state for the “It’s My Turn” transition training provided for students ages 14-21. Sandy holds a degree in Early Childhood Education. She previously served as a Parent Mentor for several years. Sandy has five sons; two have been identified with learning disabilities and one is challenged with AD/HD.

Robin Bryant
Information Specialist/Trainer, Southwest Office
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Robin has been with OCECD since 1990 and as a consultant prior to that time. She provides information, training and support to parents in her area. Previously she provided services to families as an employee of the Southwest Special Education Regional Resource Center for ten years from 1979-1989. Robin has a love for early childhood education and has taught pre-school and kindergarten in the public school system. Robin has a hearing impairment and is the parent of a son and a daughter with learning disabilities.

Margaret Burley
Executive Director, Marion Office
[email protected]
Margaret Burley has been the Executive Director of OCECD since 1979. In this short time, she has expanded the organization from five parent and professional organizations, working out of her home with no money for the phone bill or staff to assist her to an over $2.5 million budget today. She has been able to obtain and sustain grant funds from the state and federal departments of education. She has built the organizational members from five in 1979 to over 40 organizational members, which includes parent and professional organization representatives and over 130 individual members which make up the Governing Board. She directs public policy and research for OCECD. Margaret is known nationally for her work in the field since 1972. Tom, her son, is the youngest of four children and has multiple disabilities from Congenital Rubella Syndrome. Margaret lives on the family farm with her husband.
Marbella Cáceres
Statewide Multicultural Coordinator, Marion Office
[email protected]

Marbella has been with OCECD since 2006. She is from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Her responsibilities include coordinating multicultural trainings and support groups, supervising and training the four multicultural information specialists/trainers across the state. She translates materials for families from English to Spanish and is involved in the development of trainings that address the cultural needs in the state of Ohio. She also serves the Hispanic/Latina families regarding information and individual assistance on their rights. She has started a support group which the parents have titled P.L.A.N.E.O. (Latino Parents Associated for Special Children in Ohio). She then expanded to include a P.L.A.N.E.O. in Cincinnati and Cleveland. She was previously employed for four years as an Instructor in the field of public service. Marbella has two daughters and one son.

Marbella Cáceres ha sido parte de OCECD desde el 2006. Ella es de San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Sus responsabilidades incluyen la coordinación y desarrollo de los entrenamientos multiculturales para ayudar con las necesidades culturales en el estado de Ohio y los grupos de apoyo, como también la supervisión y entrenamiento del personal multicultural a través del estado. Ella viaja por todo el Estado ayudando a padres latinos que tienen niños (as) con necesidades especiales con información y asistencia individual en sus derechos. Ella es co-fundadora del primer grupo de apoyo a nivel estatal para padres llamado Padres Latinos Asociados por los Niños Especiales en Ohio (P.L.A.N.E.O.) Ella traduce todos los materiales de entrenamiento e información, y supervisa la traducciones en diferentes lenguajes, organiza los programas de alcance comunitario, coordina eventos y esta a cargo de la supervisión de la coordinación de los grupos de apoyo a nivel estatal. Ella trabajo como Instructora en el área de servicio publico. Ella tiene dos hijas y un hijo.

Pam Cotrell
Information Specialist/Trainer, West Central Office
[email protected]

Pam has been with OCECD since 2008. Prior to 2008, she served as a consultant. Pam provides information, training and support to parents in her area. Pam became interested in advocating for children with disabilities when she found herself overwhelmed while navigating the educational system on behalf of her own daughter who was non-verbal and had cerebral palsy. She is passionate about training parents in their rights under IDEA, and supporting them in acquiring the skills to advocate for their child. Pam is a Registered Nurse and graduate of Rhodes State College and Bluffton University.

Nancy Crabtree
Information Specialist/Trainer, Southern Office
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Nancy has been with OCECD since 2004. She provides information, training and support to parents in her area. For 4 years prior to joining OCECD, she provided advocacy services for parents as a volunteer. Nancy’s interest is in children with behavioral challenges and in empowering parents to advocate for their child. Nancy has 2 children. Her son has AD/HD and needed specialized supports when he was in school.

Kim Dennison
Information Specialist/Trainer, Ohio River Valley Office
[email protected]

Kim has been with OCECD since 2005. She provides information, training and support to parents in her area. She previously worked as a Parent Mentor for Gallia County Local School District in Southeastern Ohio. She is a parent of a daughter who was born deaf and received a Cochlear Implant at the age of 3 ½ years of age.

Lee Ann Derugen
Webmaster & PTI Director, Marion Office
[email protected]

Lee Ann Derugen is currently the Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center Director and the Webmaster.  She was the Co-Director for 20 years. She was the financial manager and program coordinator for six grants from various funding sources.  For 11 of those years she was the Regional Co-Director for the Alliance Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center where she provided technical assistance to the 14 parent centers in the Midwest states. Since 1979, she has worked beside Executive Director, Margaret Burley. Starting out as a volunteer answering the phone in that home based office to managing 28 staff in 15 offices across Ohio.  Lee Ann became involved with OCECD because of her compassion for individuals with disabilities and her interest in the field. Her youngest brother has multiple disabilities. As his guardian, Lee Ann continues to be his advocate and supervises the staff in his own home through a supported living program. She resides outside of Marion with her husband.

Valorie Dombroskas
Information Specialist/Trainer, Southeast Office
[email protected]

Valorie has been with OCECD since 2002. She provides information, training and support to parents in her area. Previously she was a Parent Mentor serving families in Athens and Meigs Counties. She is also the former director of the Special Education Parent Advocacy Network (SEPAN) when she also worked with OCECD for several years. Valorie is the parent of a son with a learning disability.

Angie Ferdinand
Asst Director of Policy and Organizational Development, Marion Office
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Angie has been with OCECD since 1999. She was the Executive Assistant to the Director, Margaret Burley and is now the Assistant Director of Policy and Organizational Development. She assists with office operations, handles calls and mail, maintains the governing board membership which includes parent and professional organization representatives and is responsible for collection, development, and maintenance of data for the Parent Alert System. She assists Margaret with public policy and research for OCECD, scheduling and meeting preparation. Angie prepares parent and governing board mailings, also assists with computer technology, phone and email accounts, and tracks equipment inventory.

Amy Freeman
Reading Mentoring Director, Marion Office
[email protected]
Amy has been with OCECD since July 2014. Her focus is on developing and coordinating a 1:1 reading mentoring program for students reading below grade level. This program is called Mentoring 4 Reading Achievement (M4RA). Amy and Debby Ambroza will train schools and parents throughout Ohio to establish 1:1 reading mentoring programs to help their struggling readers. Partnerships include: the Ohio Department of Aging and the Department of Youth Services. Amy holds a M.Ed. in Special Education. Amy was the former director of Project MORE, also a 1:1 reading mentoring program. She has over 35 years working as a: teacher, sheltered workshop director, behavior specialist, superintendent, state-wide preschool reviewer and regional DD program consultant. Amy’s youngest brother had Down Syndrome and was her inspiration for her life’s work. She also has boy/girl twins that are juniors in college.
Cheryl Huckaba
Parent Training Assistant, Marion Office
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Cheryl has been with OCECD since 1998. She copies and collates training materials for regional trainings and state conferences. She fills publication orders, completes mailings and assists staff in various ways. She also assists the librarian in disseminating library material. She has previous worked at Mobile Meals, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Compass Group Homes. She has two daughters and three grandchildren.

Connie Hudson
Conference Coordinator
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Connie has been OCECD Conference Coordinator since 2004. She coordinates the annual conferences and events such as: Partnering for Progress, Leadership and the Horn/Walter Awards Banquet. She also writes/distributes the FUN Newsletter which is geared to families of young children 0-9. She was a Parent Advocate from 1998 to 2004 for the West Central office. She graduated from Columbia College with an Associate Degree in Business Administration. She became interested in special education after having two children with special needs. Connie is the parent of three children; a daughter who has A.D.D. with Depression and a son who is medically fragile with Cognitive Disability. She has served on the board of Family Voices of Ohio and is a member of Logan County Supported Living Advisory Council.

Martha Lausé
Information Specialist/Trainer, Central Ohio
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Martha Lause has been with the OCECD since 1997. Martha assists parents by phone, refers parents to other area OCECD Information Specialists, Parent Mentors, ODE or other agencies. She also researches and keeps OCECD staff up-to-date on disability related topics. She has a master's degrees in Library Science and in Education. Martha is the mother of three children; her eldest son, a college graduate, has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities.  As of July 1, 2016, Martha became the Information Specialist/Trainer for Central Ohio counties too.

Karen Lyke Prokop
Information Specialist/Trainer, Northern Office
[email protected]

Karen has been with OCECD since 2003. Karen provides information, training and support to parents in her area. She also is a lead trainer in the northern part of Ohio for the “It’s My Turn” transition training for students age 14-21. She previously was Advocacy Manager for Ohio Protection & Advocacy Association for 5 years. She has been assisting families in securing appropriate services for children with disabilities for over 20 years. She has two children; her son has multiple disabilities.

Iliana Martinez
Latino Community Families Information Specialist/Trainer, Mid Ohio Latino Office
[email protected]

Iliana has been with OCECD since June 2010. She is from Mexico D.F. She serves the Hispanic/Latino families in Mid Ohio regarding information and individual assistance on their rights through trainings and advocacy skills. She also supports with the coordination of P.L.A.N.E.O. (Latino Parents Associated for Special Children in Ohio), a statewide support group for Spanish speaking families. She holds a B.S. in Biology Science. Iliana has two sons, which one of them has learning disabilities.

Iliana Martinez aboga y entrena a las familias Latinas en la parte Central de Ohio y también ayuda con la organización del grupo De apoyo PLANEO en Columbus.

Barbara Rice
Grants Manager/Bookkeeper, Marion Office
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Barbara has been with OCECD since 2002. She is the grants manager and bookkeeper for all OCECD grants. She previously coordinated conference events and all activities for the Parent Mentors of Ohio. She holds a bachelor's degree in Education as well as a teaching license for social sciences grades 7-12. Her background in is social services and casework through Marion County Job and Family Services. Active in her church, she helped establish Prospect Christian Preschool and served on an all female work team in West Virginia through the Appalachia Service Project. Barbara is married and has two daughters and three grandsons.

Jeanith Ryle
Information Specialist
[email protected]
Jeanith has been with OCECD since 1998. She provides information and support to parents regarding their rights in the special education process and empowers them to advocate for their children. She has four children; the eldest daughter has Angelman Syndrome, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy and is Bi-polar and non-verbal. Her youngest son has Dyslexia and learning disabilities.
Ivette Sarkar
Latino Community Families Information Specialist/Trainer, North East Ohio Latino Office
[email protected]

Ivette works in the Multi-cultural Division of OCECD as a bilingual-consultant assisting the Latin- American community in Northeast Ohio since September 2014. Her responsibilities include providing resources, training, and guidance to families that have children, teenagers, and young adults with special needs. She also attends school meetings and collaborates with school personnel to improve outcomes for children. Ivette has a BA in Psychology and a Minor in Spanish from The Ohio State University. Before coming to OCECD she assisted adults with developmental delays, physical disabilities, and mental illness in a residential adult group home. In Chicago, she assisted the Latin and American communities with legal issues related to substance dependence and abuse. Additionally, she managed group counseling, taught remedial education classes and provided progress reports and affidavits to the courts, probation and the Secretary of State’s office. Ivette’s mother is from Mexico City and she learned Spanish by visiting family every summer. She has dedicated her career to helping the Latin American community and understands the unique challenges associated with preparing and educating special needs children for the future from a personal and professional experience. She also looks forward to being a resource and advocate to parents.

Ivette trabaja en la sección multicultural de OCECD como consultante bilingüe, apoyando a la comunidad Latino Americana desde Septiembre 2014. Sus responsabilidades incluyen proporcionar recursos, entrenamientos y asesoramiento a familias que tienen niños pequeños, adolescentes y jóvenes adultos con discapacidad. También asiste a las reuniones escolares y colabora con el personal de la escuela para mejorar los servicios y resultados para estos niños. Ivette tiene una Licenciatura en Psicología y Español de la Universidad Ohio State. Después de graduarse, trabajo en el área residencial ayudando a adultos con retrasos en el desarrollo, discapacidades físicas y enfermedades mentales. En Chicago, asistió a la comunidad desarrollo un grupo de asesoramiento y proporcionó reportes y declaraciones bajo juramento a los tribunales, oficiales de probatoria y oficinas del Estado. La madre de Ivette nació en La Ciudad de México. Ivette aprendió el español viajando a México todos los veranos, para visitar amigos y familiares. Ha dedicado su carrera a ayudar a la comunidad Latino-Americana, y entiende las dificultades asociadas con preparando y educando niños con necesidades especiales por tener experiencias propias en lo personal y profesional. Su meta es ser una fuente de suporte y apoyo a los padres y a sus hijos con discapacidad.

Tammie Sebastian
Information Specialist/Trainer, Cleveland Office
[email protected]

Tammie started with OCECD in September, 2011. She provides information, training and support for parents in Cuyahoga County. Previously Tammie was an advocate for the Tapestry System of Care. Her focus before coming to OCECD was the Juvenile Justice System and helping families getting the schools to evaluate children that were not getting the proper services they needed and therefore ended up in the court system. Tammie has two daughters, one who is challenged with AD/HD and one who has the diagnosis of Autism and Anxiety.   

Lily Tsai
Asian Community Families Multicultural Specialist/Trainer, Central Ohio Office for Asian Families
[email protected]

Lily Tsai began her job as a Multicultural Specialist/Trainer for OCECD in April 2012. Prior to that, she worked as a Registered Nurse in Taiwan’s largest military hospital for several years before coming to the US. She graduated from Columbus State Community College with a Respiratory Therapist degree and worked as a national licensed RRT in most of the hospitals in metropolitan Columbus for more than 10 years. She almost finished her Art degree in Columbus Art and Design. She has been involved in a lot of volunteer activities such as teaching Mandarin Chinese in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. She has been working at AACS (Asian American Community Service) as a Mandarin/Taiwanese interpreter in most of the hospitals and juvenile courts in Columbus metropolitan area for many years. She organizes and supports Asian parent support groups for special needs children in central Ohio. She has been living in Worthington with two boys and twin girls.

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