Advisory Council Bios
Dr. Cyndee R. Blount is currently the Chief Academic Officer for Petersburg City Public Schools and has 20 years of public educational experience while serving the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Petersburg. She has served the special education population through her numerous roles as an elementary director, principal, assistant principal, and teacher. She has experience in dual diagnosis of gifted and special education and she has a strong belief in meeting all students at their readiness level and building a personal pathway that is best suited for each student.
Gayl Brunk has more than 25 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities. For the past 13 years, she has been employed by Valley Associates for Independent Living in Harrisonburg VA. This is a Center for Independent Living serving 5 counties and 5 cities in the Shenandoah Valley area. She has assisted youth with transition planning, conducted workshops and trainings both locally and on the state level in regards to transition planning, and is a current member of the Disability Commission for the Virginia General Assembly.
Maurice Burton earned his bachelor's degree in Biology and master's degree in Special Education from Old Dominion University. Later, he obtained a post-master's certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration from George Washington University. Maurice has been in the field of education for over 10 years. He began his educational career teaching high school science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, etc.) in a residential treatment center for adolescents with at-risk behaviors in Hampton Roads, VA. While there, his philosophy that educators must not only understand and address academic needs but social, developmental, and functional needs as well (whole-child approach) began to take hold and develop. After returning to his hometown of Richmond, VA, Maurice obtained a special education position at Thompson Middle School. The following year, he was offered and accepted the position of Compliance Coordinator at Thompson Middle. Following several years in a neighboring division at the central office level, Maurice returned to Richmond Public Schools as an Instructional Specialist.
Carolyn D. Cage
Senior Coordinator, Learning Support-Special Education Services, Norfolk Public Schools
Carolyn Cage is a native of Richmond, VA, graduate of George Wythe High School, attended Virginia Commonwealth University and completed her undergraduate work at Old Dominion University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education with a concentration in Mental Retardation. She also earned her Masters’ degree at ODU in Educational Administration, with an endorsement in Administration and Supervision PreK-12. Carolyn is a 33-year veteran of Norfolk Public Schools where she served as a special education teacher and department chair; and for 16 years she served as the district’s transition specialist. She is credited with developing innovative programs and services to facilitate and implement transition planning for students with disabilities. Carolyn has written and or served as project coordinator for several grants, has served on several local and state committees focused on curriculum development, transition services, and advocacy for students with disabilities. She has presented on various topics at the local, state and national conferences and most recently completed the fifth cohort of the Aspiring Special Education Leaders’ Academy.
Joseph G. DeFilippo
Director of Academic Affairs and Planning, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Joseph DeFilippo has served as the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s (SCHEV) Director of Academic Affairs and Planning since 2006. Dr. DeFilippo provides leadership and coordination for state academic policies relating to public institutions of higher education, including institutional program approval, transfer and articulation, program productivity, changes of mission statement, and new instructional sites. He also oversees SCHEV’s office of Postsecondary and Out of State Postsecondary Education (POPE), which authorizes certain private and out of state institutions to operate in Virginia. Before coming to SCHEV, Dr. DeFilippo served as Assistant Provost and head of the Office of Academic Programs and Planning at the State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration. He has held teaching appointments in classics and philosophy at a number of institutions, including The Ohio State University, Cornell University, and The University of North Dakota. Dr. DeFilippo has published scholarship on a variety of topics in Greek and Roman philosophy. Dr. DeFilippo has earned a bachelor’s degree in classics from Cornell University, and master’s and PhD degrees in classics from Princeton University.
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services Virginia Department of Education
John Eisenberg became the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Student Services at the Virginia Department of Education on July 1, 2012. Mr. Eisenberg has been working in the field of special education in various roles for the last 18 years. Since 2009, he served as the director of Instructional Support and Related Services at the Virginia Department of Education. Mr. Eisenberg’s staff provided statewide leadership in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Severe Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injury, Intellectual Disabilities, Assistive Technology, Related Services, Comprehensive Services Act, Neighborhood Assistance Act, Family Engagement, and Students with Sensory Impairments. Mr. Eisenberg joined the VDOE as an education specialist for Severe Disabilities and Assistive Technology in 2005. Before coming to the Department of Education, Mr. Eisenberg was the Director of the Virginia Deaf-Blind Project at Virginia Commonwealth University. He previously worked with the National Technical Assistance Consortium for Deaf-Blindness and was a classroom teacher for students with developmental disabilities. He serves on numerous national and state advisory committees representing Assistive Technology and students with high support needs. Mr. Eisenberg was recently elected to the National State Directors of Special Education Board of Directors. Mr. Eisenberg earned his M.Ed in severe disabilities from Hunter College at the City University of New York and his B.A. from New York University.
Melissa A. Hartman is a special education and transition supervisor for Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. Dr. Hartman has consulted around the country providing professional development and training on Universal Design for Learning as a member of the faculty cadre at CAST. She completed her Ed.S. and doctoral degrees at The George Washington University and has worked for over 25 years with students with disabilities and their families. She has been an adjunct professor at several local universities, teaching classes on curriculum and methods, consultation, and special education. Her work has been published in Teaching Exceptional Children magazine and Technology Tools for Students with Autism . She loves to model and share new technology with her colleagues and teachers. Professional interests include transition, technology integration, professional development, and school leadership.
Director, Division of Rehabilitative Services
Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Kathryn (Kathy) Hayfield is Assistant Commissioner with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Kathy has over twenty years experience working in the field of disability services, in both the public and private sector, with her primary focus on improving employment and independent living opportunities for people with most severe disabilities. Kathy’s work spans numerous areas of disability services. Previously, Kathy served as DARS Assistant Commissioner, responsible for the Community Based Services Division. She has also supervised Education and Transition Services for the agency, provided leadership in the agency’s partnerships with Employment Services Organizations and Centers for Independent Living and worked with the Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) to improve awareness of and access to assistive technology across the Commonwealth. Kathy currently leads Virginia’s federally funded Vocational Rehabilitation program as Director of the Division of Rehabilitative Services. Kathy holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Samantha Marsh Hollins, Ph.D. is the Director of the Office of Special Education Program Improvement with the Virginia Department of Education. She received her doctorate in Special Education and Disability Policy from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Hollins is also a graduate of the Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (Va-LEND) program. Previous positions include Virginia Public Schools, as a special education teacher; Virginia Commonwealth University, as an adjunct professor and researcher; the Association of University Centers on Disabilities in Washington, D.C. as a Policy Analyst, Lobbyist and Disability Fellow. While in D.C., She focused on the policy agenda of education, employment and civil rights of individuals with disabilities. Dr. Hollins has also previously served as the Educational Specialist for Autism, Intellectual Disabilities and Assistive Technology for the Virginia Department of Education. She continues to participate in national conferences and conduct trainings related to the education of children with disabilities, state and federal data reporting and school improvement efforts related to students with disabilities.
Scott Jones has more than 25 years work experience in the Hotel Industry. Currently General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Richmond. Previously managed the Tobacco Company Restaurant for 10+ years. Presently serves on the Board of the Business Opportunities for the Blind. Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired LIFE program participating business sponsor. Current Business sponsor Lead for the Virginia Department of Education / Richmond Public Schools Program Start on Success Program. Business lead for the Richmond Public Schools Work Experience Program 2016. Member of the Richmond Security Group. Current participant with the VCU Medical Center Trauma Survivors Network Peer Visitors Program.
Program Specialist, Child & Family Services, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
Malcolm King has over 30 years of experience in the development and implementation of substance abuse and mental health programs for adolescents and adults. Presently he serves as the Child and Adolescent Family Program Specialist with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. He has also served as the Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Coordinator with DBHDS. Prior to these positions at DBHDS, he served as the Statewide Community Substance Abuse Program Supervisor and as a Treatment Program Specialist with the Department of Juvenile Justice. He received his BS and MS degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University and he is a VA state Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. He is an adjunct faculty at Virginia Union University in the School of Theology and at the University of Phoenix Richmond/VA Beach ground campus.
Bob Lancaster is a Director in Treasury and Payments Services for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Bob began his career at the Federal Reserve in 1996, and has held leadership positions in Internal Audit, Federal Reserve Information Technology and Information Security. Throughout his career, Bob has been a passionate community advocate, serving on the board of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond (DSAGR) for eight years, as well as actively engaged in numerous community service activities. In 2011, Bob established and chaired the Ability Beyond the Label (ABLe) employee resource network at the Federal Reserve, which works to support the Bank by recognizing the value that individuals with disabilities bring to the organization and promoting a diverse and inclusive work environment where employees can achieve success while feeling valued, engaged and appreciated for who they are. Bob received his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from James Madison University in 1981. He and his wife, Terri, have two daughters, Sarah and Grace. Sarah, who has Down syndrome, is a senior at Douglas Freeman High School, a self-advocate, and actively involved in the DSAGR and the community.
Director of Child & Family Services, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
Janet Lung has worked in behavioral health care for the past twenty years, serving with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), two community services boards and the Roanoke Memorial Carillion Hospital. Her primary focus has been on the development of funding for expanded community-based services, with an emphasis on children’s services. She has served in a variety of capacities with the DBHDS, including currently Director of Child and Family Services, and previously Director of Planning and Evaluation, Acting Director of Prevention and Children’s Services and Child and Adolescent Services System Project Director. She has served in various roles with federal grants, including principal investigator, co-principal investigator, federal grant reviewer and peer reviewer. She has had extensive involvement with mental health advocates, parent, consumer, and family groups. Janet holds the Master of Social Work degree, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Chair for Manufacturing As A Desirable Career Path, Association for Manufacturing Excellence
Glenn Marshall is currently serving on the strategy team for Revitalization of North American Manufacturing and leads the initiative focusing on Manufacturing AS A Desirable Career. This initiative is designed to reduce the critical shortage of skilled workers for advanced technology and manufacturing. In this role he reaches out to business leaders, academia, students, veterans, and policymakers to promote innovative ideas to create more opportunities and candidates for high paying careers in designing and building things at home, again. He was the benchmarking / process excellence advocate for Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS). This position requires him to indentify performance gaps and then finding industry best practices to address those issues, and then deploying them. He was engaged with all levels of the corporation, supply chain, and the Navy. He led the Northrop Grumman proposal team from NNS to supported the Navy’s Task Force Lean initiative. He continues to work with NNS in its out reach to the public schools and colleges on Career Pathways. He is actively involved with other learning organizations and serves on the Association for Manufacturing Excellence - board of directors, the US Senate Productivity and Quality board of directors, and co-founder of the Virginia Business Excellence Consortium Partnership Team and help launch the AME APQC Benchmarking Community of Practice with Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and other industry leaders. Glenn is Lean and Six Sigma Certified. He is a Virginia and South Carolina Quality and Manufacturing Excellence examiner. He received a degree in business and economics from Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the ARMY Quartermaster Officer Candidate School.
Adrienne Martin received a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese from Middlebury College. She works on the Client Services team at JoycePayne Partners, a local wealth management firm. She also works as an advisor and editor for BrandSync, a local marketing consulting firm. She has served on the Board of Directors of Sabot at Stony Point and Mary Munford Elementary School.
Rob Martin directs operations and accounts for BrandSync. Prior to co-founding BrandSync in 1999, Rob managed research and planning projects for regional and national brands in a broad range of industries at Alan Newman Research, a division of the Martin Agency, and later as an independent consultant. He has engineered BrandSync’s research-driven process of focusing operations and communications on strategies to stimulate revenue growth. He currently serves on the boards of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc. and the Richmond Venture Forum. He is also a member of the steering committee of Virginia Capital Day for the Association for Corporate Growth. Rob received a Master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College.
John McNaught has been working in the field of special education for the past fifteen years. John received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and his Master of Education Degree from James Madison University. He started his career at a residential wilderness school for at-risk youth and youth with emotional disabilities. John also worked in a public high school as a special education teacher and supervised a community based work-study program for students with disabilities. He was one of the first individuals in the state of Virginia to implement student-directed IEP meetings, and he worked diligently as an educator to bring the student’s voice to the forefront. For the past nine years, John has worked at the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center at James Madison University as a coordinator, focusing on transition and positive behavior supports. John is a founding member of the Virginia Department of Education’s I’m Determined Project and has served as the State Coordinator for the past six years. Under his leadership, I’m Determined has grown from nine pilot schools to more than 60 participating school divisions in Virginia and more than 30 states across the nation. Most recently, John was promoted to co-director of the Virginia Department of Education’s Region 5 Training and Technical Assistance Center.
Irene Meier is currently the director of Special Education Instruction for Fairfax County Public Schools where she oversees all special education instruction, transition and related services for over 25,000 students with disabilities. Dr. Meier has been a special education administrator for over twenty years in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. She has also been a high school special education teacher and speech-language pathologist. Dr. Meier received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte specializing in special education law and the education of students with severe disabilities. Her areas of publication include book chapters focused on special education leadership and the education of students with severe disabilities. Dr. Meier serves as an adjunct professor at George Mason University where she has taught courses in special education leadership, law and current trends in the field of special education.
Amy Miller is the Director of the Division for Academic Success at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and her Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Provider. In her current position, Amy provides disability and academic support services for health sciences students. Prior to coming to VCU, Amy worked as a Lead Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for 18 years with the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
Program Manager, CTI and Secondary Transition Specialist, Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Department of Education as a Specialist, providing technical assistance in secondary transition, graduation and diploma options, and credit accommodations: pathways to the standard diploma. Marianne serves on a number of committees and councils including The Virginia Intercommunity Transition Council, Virginia’s Collaborative for College and the Community Integration Implementation Team. Marianne started the I’m Determined project as an initiative to fulfill a recommendation from Governor Warner’s Olmstead Commission. She was appointed by both Governor Warner and Governor Kaine to serve on the State Rehabilitation Council. Marianne has been a member of the Council for Exceptional Children for the past 18 years. Marianne has served on the Executive Board for both the Virginia Division on Career Development and Transition and the Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education. She was the recipient of the Donn Brolin Award for State Leadership and Services in Transition in 2011.
Anthony has been involved in the field of Collegiate Recreation since 2008. After receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Youngstown State University, he moved to work with Drexel Athletics in Student and Member Services. Anthony has been the Assistant Director for Student Development at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Recreational Sports department since 2012. He has worked to better educate and engage students to the benefits of recreation as well as teaching soft skills through employment opportunities. His goal with employment in Recreational Sports is to better prepare student employees with the skills necessary for employment after graduation. He has also been dedicated to working with students of the ACE-it program by providing them with opportunities to work with peers, learn new skills, and transition from the program to employment after completion.
In what Stewart Roberson calls the “first chapter” of his career, he was a long standing, highly-regarded educational leader who has fostered relationships across the nation and around the world. An educator for over 35 years, Dr. Roberson served as a public school superintendent for 21 years. When he became chairman, president, and CEO of Moseley Architects in 2011, he observed that “public service is in his DNA,” and that he wanted his “second chapter” to include opportunities to provide leadership to an entity serving the public interest. Joining Moseley Architects, with its significant presence in public sector facility design, makes that possible. “I view my second chapter as one in which I’m able to help preserve and enhance a highly successful team focused on outstanding client service and continuous improvement,” reflected Dr. Roberson.
Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW is a father, therapist, author, professional speaker, philanthropist and entrepreneur. In 2015, Ronnie developed the Nelson Beats the Odds Comic Creator app to help young people celebrate their strengths and feel good about themselves. Ronnie, a former special education student, is the author of Amazon best-seller Nelson Beats the Odds, Tameka's New Dress and Nelson Beats the Odds: Compendium One. The author-therapist published his comic book series through Creative Medicine: Healing Through Words, LLC, a company he started in 2015.
Ronnie's early academic challenges ignited a passion within him to pursue social justice and work with youth. He has spent over eight years in the mental health and academic counseling fields and currently works as an outpatient therapist at the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board (MP-NNCSB). Ronnie is a graduate of Old Dominion University (2006) and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work (2014). He is an active member of the Richmond Association of Black Social Workers (RABSW). Ronnie has appeared on HLN, Fox and Friends Weekend, NBC 12 News, Teach.com, ADD.org and Understood.org. For more information please visit www.creative-medicine.com.
Director of Transition Services for the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
Jean Steveson is currently the Director of Transition Services for the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) since October 1, 2015. She has worked for the agency since 1987 when she began her career as a Rehabilitation Counselor serving youth and adults with disabilities to achieve gainful employment and greater independence. She has also worked as the Eastern Regional Director of DRS for six years and as a Transition Coordinator for four years. Jean has spent her career devoted to the betterment of the lives of persons with disabilities. Originally from Lynchburg, Virginia, Jean received an AA degree from Ferrum College, a BSW degree from James Madison University and a MSW degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Jean is an active member of the Virginia Rehabilitation Association and is the current President.
Belinda White is the aunt of Troy who is a current student in the ACE-IT program. Troy is in his first year at VCU and is a student worker at CTI. She became his advocate during high school to locate career and college programs to accommodate his nontraditional learning skills. Belinda has attended Virginia State University with a major in geology and worked as a mineral resources geologist with Anaconda. She has been employed for the last 11 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs in the department of neurology as a polysomnogram technologist. Belinda is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in IT Management and Information Security at the University of Richmond.
Parent Representative and Director of Family Supports, VCU Partnership for People with Disabilities
Dana Yarbrough is the mother of 19 year old Brooke who has significant physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities. Dana is the Program Leader of Family & Individual Involvement and Support projects at the Partnership for People with Disabilities at VCU. In her role, Dana directs the Center for Family Involvement and transition-related projects. Dana holds a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, a Masters degree in Non-Profit Leadership, and in May, will graduate from The George Washington University with a masters degree in special education transition.