The talented people who make up the Transitions team are qualified, knowledgeable, experienced, creative, patient, empathetic and supportive. All Transitions team members have demonstrated success in supporting people with disabilities and helping them grow and learn to their optimal potential. Not only does our team know how to foster success in each person they support, they give them the tools and strategies they need to build upon that success. Team members serve as coaches, mentors and role models for Apprentices.
Shaloni has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, an M.B.A. in Healthcare Administration and more than 25 years of experience supporting people with disabilities. She was inspired to start the Transitions program when her daughter, who is diagnosed with Turner syndrome and nonverbal learning disabilities, graduated from high school and began attending college. Shaloni helped her daughter overcome her challenges and her daughter graduated from the Honors College at the State University of New York in Albany in May 2015 and is working toward her master’s degree. Her daughter maintained a Dean’s List GPA each semester, has a part-time job, an internship at the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and is a worship leader and Sunday school teacher at her church. Shaloni has learned that with the right supports, challenges can become opportunities.
Jennifer has a master’s degree in Social Work, and is equipped with more than 16 years of experience in working with people with varying disabilities. She is a wellness coach trained by the Mayo Clinic, a Personal Outcomes Measures interviewer certified through the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL), and a certified instructor in the Health Matters program and the PEERS social skills program. Jennifer has been trained to use a technique called Motivational Interviewing as a means to talk with individuals, discover what their true motivation is and assist the individual to use that to achieve their goal(s). She has experience in working with individuals who are dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and a mental illness.
Dr. Reinecke is a doctoral level board-certified behavior analyst and a New York State licensed behavior analyst. She’s an assistant professor and the department chair for the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges. There, she developed the Achieve Degree, an online bachelor’s degree program for students on the autism spectrum, for which she received The Sage Colleges’ President’s Award for Innovation. Dana also received the ELIJA Foundation’s Chariot Award for her work in Long Island’s autism community. She was a representative-at-large and secretary for the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis and is now the president-elect. Dana has trained and consulted with schools, agencies and families in New York, Mexico, Australia and Northern Ireland. She presents research and workshops on the treatment of autism and applications of ABA at conferences and has published research in journals, written chapters in books, and co-edited ABA and autism books.
Gina Warsaw has more than 26 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and supporting them as they achieve their life goals. She was the assistant director of Vocational Opportunities at Liberty Enterprises for more than 10 years, where she helped move people from a sheltered workshop to a supported employment/day hab program. She has been the director of Employment Opportunities at Lexington for two years. Gina helped with the workshop closure at Lexington that led to integrated community employment opportunities for several individuals who attended the workshop. She also played a role in developing new community work sites that created employment opportunities, including a scanning/shredding operation and a thrift shop. Currently, Gina oversees Lexington’s day hab program, which serves 480 people in 15 different day habs, as well as the operations of the Employment Resources supported employment program.
Lauren began as direct support staff at Lexington seven years ago. Within months, she was promoted to a supervisory position and then to manager of a residential home in 2007. Lauren was called upon when the agency took over six homes from another agency that was unable to meet basic standards of care. Lauren quickly took charge and ensured a safe, supportive and nurturing home for each of the individuals she supported. Lauren excels at helping people grow and challenge themselves. One example of this skill is Rose, a developmentally disabled woman she helped move from a battered women’s shelter to her own apartment. Lauren has a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and earned a place on the Dean’s List each semester.
All of our academic coordinators have extensive experience in supporting students with special needs and working with other academic professionals to help students advocate for what they need. Amy and Darcy have received specialized training from Autism Speaks and the Houlton Institute on transition planning for individuals with autism.
Transitions mentors and coaches are hired after an extensive interview and background check process. Rigorous training is provided by Lexington, a nationally accredited provider of residential, day and clinical supports to more than 1,000 individuals with disabilities. Staffing ratio is 1:2 and supports are provided 24/7.
Barbara, a certified financial planner, had a son with developmental disabilities who was supported by Lexington’s residential program for 22 years. Prior to her 25-year career in the financial arena, Barbara worked for 15 years in psychological services, counseling terminally ill patients and their families. Barbara saw first-hand what can happen to families who have not had sound financial advice, and it led her to a second career as a financial services professional.
Marc Brandt is the former executive director of NYSARC, Inc., the largest non-profit provider of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Under his leadership, legislation was signed calling for bills of rights in community residences and establishing ombudsmen in developmental centers. Marc has served on more than a dozen boards, councils and committees at local, state and federal levels. He has been president of Liberty Central School and the NYS Chapter of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Dr. William Crankshaw is the superintendent of Remsen Central School District in Oneida County, New York. After earning his bachelor’s in music education from Ithaca College and his master’s from the College of Saint Rose, Dr. Crankshaw’s spent 17 years teaching secondary vocal music. Realizing the important impact of leadership in the success of students, he served as a school principal for six years before becoming a superintendent. Dr. Crankshaw also served as chairperson for the Committee on Special Education while at Northville Central School and continues to advocate for the success of students with all learning talents and abilities. Dr. Crankshaw received his doctorate from Sage Graduate School of Albany. He was recognized nationally as one of 40 top music educators by Yale University at the first Public School Music Program Symposium, “Music: A Child’s Birthright,” in 2007. To this day, he hopes to protect and support the arts in the public school setting as an essential part of a student’s well-rounded education.
Nancy DeSando, B.S.R.N, is the director of Innovations and Community Supports at Lexington. She delivers training and services, such as sensory swim, autism movement therapy, PEERS group, positive stress reduction and support groups, to individuals on the autism spectrum and their staff and families. She has over 35 years of experience in nursing, clinical management and community supports in hospital and long-term care facilities. In 25 years of working at Lexington, she has been director of Nursing and Clinical Services and division director for Health and Family Services. Nancy has presented at conferences about aging services, clinical and nursing supports, and staff training, chaired NYSARC’s Northeast Regional Aging Task Force and has served on the Commissioner’s Task Force on Aging.
With over 15 years of experience building companies, Ben and Mary are the owners of Twin Technologies, a Digital Solutions and System Integration firm located in Upstate New York. They are the parents of five children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum. They are longtime supporters of the autism community with a passion for assisting parents and kids on their journeys to self-reliance and fully lived lives.
Chance is a professor of arts administration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His previous positions include director of marketing and communications at Bay Chamber Concerts, director of communications at Westport Country Playhouse and marketing manager at the Contemporary American Theatre Company. Chance earned his B.S. from Northeastern University and both M.A. and M.B.A. degrees from Southern Methodist University.
Dr. Tamara Knapp-Grosz is the director of Counseling and Student Accommodations at the Savannah College of Art and Design and the current president of the American College Counseling Association. Active in numerous professional organizations, Dr. Knapp-Grosz is also the past president of the Georgia College Counseling Association and has presented at well over 1,000 workshops throughout the country for professionals and members of the general population. Her past faculty appointments include teaching in the graduate counseling programs at the Georgia School of Professional Psychology and Argosy University. She is presently a member of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board for the Professional Counseling Program at South University. She is a licensed psychologist and board certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialist whose clinical interests include positive psychology, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders and natural therapeutic interventions.
Sheila has worked in a variety of counseling settings in New York and Minnesota. She currently works as a patient experience coordinator in Mayo Clinic’s Office of Patient Experience and is an instructor of medicine at Mayo Clinic’s College of Medicine. She holds a B.S. in Social Sciences from Binghamton University and she received her Master of Social Work from Marywood University. Sheila is a certified wellness coach, a certified tobacco treatment specialist and a motivational interviewing trainer. She has a wealth of experience developing curriculum and facilitating courses on various topics relating to wellness, health behavior change and communication in healthcare.
Dr. Dustin Swanger currently serves as president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY. His career in higher education spans over 20 years, during which he has worked to bring the higher education institutions and the community closer together through developing programs to serve the local region, providing training for the area workforce, representing the college on numerous community planning committees and speaking with a number of groups on the importance of college-community relations. Before coming to FMCC, Dr. Swanger served as provost and academic vice president for Luzerne County Community College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Dr. Swanger received his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University and his master’s in Public Administration from State University of New York at Brockport.