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Board of Directors

Dr. Kathy Gill, President

Dr. Kathy Gill, President, a parent of a classified student who graduated from the Warwick Valley Central School District, founded PULSES in August 2008 to empower parents to become full participants in their children’s educational programs.  Through her PULSES work, Kathy disseminates information related to local services, attends CSE meetings, develops workshops/training sessions on special education topics, and advocates for positive changes in the special education system in the Mid-Hudson Valley.  She also serves as Director of Family Services for VoicesUnited4Change, an Orange County organization with the purpose of ensuring that family and youth driven care and its values are part of the local mental health community and is a member of the Orange County Interagency Collaboration Team with the mission of promoting effective community services which support children and their familiies.  In her “real job” Kathy is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Kinesiology at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

Sandra J. Oglesby, Vice President

Sandra assists parents and students in educational advocacy and for nearly eighteen years she has attended CSE, 504, superintendent and manifestation hearings in various Hudson Valley and NJ school districts. She was the Executive Director at Empowering Ellenville, a community-based agency focusing on student advocacy, legal clinics, and other identified areas of need within the community from 2010-2017. Sandra and her husband adopted daughters, winning an impartial hearing and an appeal against the Ellenville District.  Sandra serves(ed) on Boards; Downey Side Adoption Center in Rockland County, an adoption group for older children, BOD at Empowering Ellenville, and a selected Chair for the Criminal Justice and Legal Redress Committee of the NAACP Board, Ellenville Chapter. Sandra has a wide range of experiences from negotiating with school districts for classifications, services and placements to handling hearings. Sandra’s professional career is in the insurance and reinsurance industry. She is focused on tort reform in New York State and currently is enrolled in law school. Professional interests and memberships include:  Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. [COPAA], the Mid-Hudson Claims Association-Nominated Officer, PLUS (Professional Liability Underwriting Society) member since 2011 and past Vice President of the National Association of Insurance Woman (NAIW), Manhattan Chapter, member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, United States Association of Professional Investigators, NAACP member, Excess Surplus member from 2002, and a RAA member from 2002. She recently was inducted into Who's Who as an honorary member of businesswomen and May 2019-Marquis Who’s Who in Top Executives. 

 

Gina M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.

Gina M. DeCrescenzo is the founder of Gina DeCrescenzo, P.C. (“GDPC)”, an education law firm in White Plains. She built the firm on years of civil rights litigation experience and unparalleled passion for improving the lives of children. GDPC takes a no-nonsense approach to education cases. They aim to settle, but are prepared to litigate. Other attorneys turn to Gina specifically for her knowledge of and experience with special education law. Gina serves of counsel to the Law Offices of H. Jeffrey Marcus, P.C., a Buffalo-based law firm, where she litigates the firm’s NYC cases. She is also a consultant for AIG’s Pro Bono Legal Program where she mentors in-home counsel regarding IDEA cases. Gina received her Juris Doctor from Pace Law School and her Bachelors of Science from Fordham University. She is admitted to the United States Supreme Court, the State Court of New York, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. She is a member of the Federal Bar Counsel, Disability Rights Association, American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee, New York State Bar Association, Westchester Women’s Bar Association’s Education Law Committee, Hudson Union Society, Columbian Lawyers’ Association, and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (“COPAA”) where she serves on their Publishing and Training Committees. Gina also serves on the Board of Directors of Family Focus Adoption Services. She lectures to parents, attorneys, and organizations throughout New York State on special education-related issues.

Wendy Allen

Since September 2000, Wendy has advocated for families in Orange and Sullivan Counties and works with a variety of populations of disabilities including; learning disabled, physically disabled, autistic, and emotionally disturbed.  She is well versed in the Federal and State laws, holds trainings and workshops on a monthly basis for parents and professionals on special education topics, and supports parents in their quest for developing appropriate school programs for their special needs children.  Wendy is an inspiration educational advocate who is deeply committed to the success of students and their families.

Carol Pede

I am a parent who decided to retire early once I found out that I gave birth to a one pound, 24-week
preemie baby. I was dedicated to ensuring all the necessary therapies in her early years and once in
school, I continued to identify her needs with my own intuition (and Google’s help). I did my due
diligence to document my daughter’s needs and to identify what I actually wanted when presenting to the IEP team. Unfortunately, I felt the need to move, because even though I got the “services” she needed that year, my intuition told me that I would be fighting every year. That equated to a waste of time, time my daughter did not have. After moving, I found myself in a district with money and “good” people and once I presented a reasonable case, I got what my daughter needed. In fact, the district paid for an out of district placement for three years in order to address her socialization needs. Much can be accomplished without having to hire expensive legal counsel if you are able to present reasonable goals. It helps to give the answers and spoon feed the case managers. Make the case manager’s job easy by outlining what is needed rather than just identifying the problem and asking the district to “fix” the problem. I discovered that I needed to FIND the answers and then ask the district to implement them in a timely fashion. I continue to give advice to other parents and tell them to use a common sense educated approach when advocating for their children.

Laura Stubecki

Laura has been practicing occupational therapy with the pediatric population since 1995.
Specializing in sensory integration, Laura has worked in schools, private clinics, and home care.
She is Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing (SIPT) certified and has training in Therapeutic
Listening, Handwriting without Tears, reflex integration, and The Alert Program. In 2010, Laura
opened a regular education preschool in which a teacher and occupational therapist collaborate
on education and strategies within the classroom and she is also the owner/director of Pediatric
OT Solutions and Preschool Solutions.

Michele Hirsch

Michele began her journey into advocacy when her daughter Lily was diagnosed with Autism in 2007 at the age of 2 ½ and was a participant in a federal class action lawsuit to help children diagnosed with Autism. Michele quickly began doing lay advocacy for other families and served on the NY State 1115 Waiver Panel. Michele and her family moved to Ulster County in 2012 where she re-launched the Kingston City School District Special Education Parent Group and served on the Taconic DDSO Autism Advisory Board. In 2014, Michele began working for Family of Woodstock, a leading human services agency in Ulster County and became credentialed as a Family Peer Advocate (FPA) by the NY State Office of Mental Health. In her role as a FPA, Michele works with families that are raising children experiencing social, emotional, developmental, and behavioral challenges. Michele brings her unique personal experience of parenting a child with special needs to each family that she works with. She is deeply committed to making sure that all children receive the appropriate school programs and placements that they are entitled to by law.

Michael J. Troeger

Michael brings a varied educational and experiential background to the PULSES Board. Upon completing his first graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, Michael was appointed Program Coordinator of one of the first “Single Point” pilot programs in New York State. This effort laid the ground work for similar programs designed to address the mental health crisis in schools, as well as society in general. Michael then served as Transition Coordinator and School Counselor in the elementary, middle, and high school levels for 23 years. In this work, Michael was very vocal in the need to advocate for all students within the public schools and he was therefore, sought out by parents and students and was the recipient of a NYS Assembly Certificate of Merit in Special Education. While completing an Ed.D. in Interdisciplinary Education Studies, Michael currently serves as an Educational Consultant and is affiliated with the Ulster County School to Work Partnership, the Ulster County Transition Coordinator Council, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Phi Delta Kappa, the American Psychological Association, and the American School Counselor Association.
 

Christine M. Cesarz

Christine is the parent of a classified student in the Minisink Valley School District and is a member of the Orange County Medical Reserve Corps since its inception in 2005 in the role of Adult Nurse
Practitioner, as well as serving on the Advisory Board of the Corps. She serves as the parent member on the Minisink Valley CSD’s Committee on Preschool Special Education and Committee on Special Education, and on the Jewish Family Service of Orange County Parent Advisory Board and as the Health Director at their Kids Connect Camp for Special Needs Children. She also served as a 4-H Leader in Orange County for six years and as a Team Coordinator for Beautiful People’s baseball team (Adaptive Sports for Children with Disabilities) for three years. Christine is passionate about providing parents of children with disabilities with information and resources to assist them to participate fully in their children’s educational program.

Stephen Scherrer

Stephen is dedicated to the PULSES Board and the children and families we serve with his passion for philanthropy and charity work. Stephen believes in being visible in the community to help families learn about their financial futures regarding investment planning. He found his career path with New York Life while working with children at Disney World in Orlando, FL. Prior to living in Orlando, Stephen worked in event management for the New York Jets. He helps families with special needs children either directly through his firm or through his work with law firms that work with PULSES. Stephen is dedicated to ensuring that parents have proper planning and funding for their children’s long term financial needs. He joined the PULSES’ Board as a way to give back to his local community.

AnneMarie Barrett

AnneMarie is the mother of three children, including two with special needs, living in Orange County. Her educational advocacy began over four years ago when another parent suggested that she consult the PULSES website for information on local resources. This starting point made a huge difference in learning how to meet the diverse needs of her children. AnneMarie attends relevant workshops and presentations and also takes college courses related to special education issues. She was selected to participate in the New York State Partners in Policymaking Class of 2018. Her main areas of advocacy are inclusive education, transition planning, improving supports for parents, as well as increasing awareness and services for adults who are misdiagnosed or diagnosed in late adolescence or adulthood. AnneMarie is dedicated to educating parents on the importance of research and education law, understanding the IEP process, and sharing local resources for special needs children.

Deanna Vaughan

Being told that your daughter has a life threatening autoimmune disease brings unimaginable heartache and stress. When she was three years old, she was diagnosed as a Type I Insulin Dependent Diabetic. This disease requires 24 hour care and a lifetime of needle sticks every single day to survive. When she was first diagnosed, during our hospital stay, we learned everything we needed to know to start our new “normal” life. The doctors and nurses briefed us about all the medication, supplies, blood sugar monitoring, insulin doses, puberty and sicknesses, hypoglycemia and the life saving Glucagon shot, and carb counting. However, they left out one important piece of information; How to prepare for battle against our school district related to our daughter’s now needed 504 plan. When our children go to school, the teachers, nurses, aides, etc. are with our children five days a week, six hours a day. We expect the school personnel to act in the best interest of our children but sadly this does not always happen. No parent should ever be in fear of sending their child to school, however this is our reality, our nightmare. As a parent I will tell you this; let your voice be heard, for you are the voice of your child. Never back down for what you know is best for your child.