Team Members

Think College is housed at the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Think College staff, consultants, and partners have years of experience in research, technical assistance, and training, as well as program planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Specific areas of expertise include postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability, person-centered planning, dual enrollment programs, technology, employment, transition from high school, universal design for learning, and inclusive education.

Brenda Brooks

Brenda Atkins

Program Assistant

Brenda provides administrative support to the Think College National Coordinating Center via her role on the Education and Transition team and the Finance and Accounting team at the Institute for Community Inclusion. Her duties include processing travel reimbursements and other financial matters. Brenda works in an administrative capacity, providing support for conference and meeting logistics, taking meeting notes, and assisting with data collection.

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Molly Boyle, MA

Project Coordinator and Universal Design Specialist

Molly provides professional development to college faculty, administrators, and disability support personnel on universal course design and teaching strategies that ensure equal access for all students, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Previously, she coordinated the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative at MassBay Community College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Molly's expertise includes the provision of individual supports for postsecondary education, universal design for learning, online teaching, and adaptive technologies.

Carole Carlson

Carole Carlson, MA

Training Associate

Carole provides training and technical assistance to educators and staff involved with the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative. In particular, she is working with college and school district partners in western Massachusetts on the Think College Transition Model Project. Carole also provides training and technical assistance to college programs starting residential supports for their students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Lori Cooney, MEd

Project Manager & Universal Design Specialist

Lori has extensive experience in designing and delivering professional development for faculty and staff on instructional resources, universal design techniques, lesson plans, and assessment strategies that meet the learning styles of all students. Some of the integration tools that she currently uses are online lesson plan builders, rubric generators, Web 2.0 tools, tablet devices (e.g., iPad), and open-source applications.

Daria Domin

Daria Domin, MSW

Research Associate

Daria is a research associate at the Institute for Community Inclusion who works primarily on the Access to Integrated Employment project. She manages and performs quantitative and qualitative data analysis and develops publications for a number of projects, including and CATADA. Daria also works with the Think College National Coordinating Center, supporting system development and publication production as well as providing training and technical assistance to TPSID sites.

Meg Grigal

Meg Grigal, PhD

Principal Investigator

Meg is a national expert on postsecondary education and transition for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She works with colleges, schools, families, and students to develop, expand, and improve inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability. Meg has authored many publications on the topic of inclusive postsecondary education, including the book Think College: Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, co-authored with Debra Hart.

Teresa Grossi

Teresa Grossi, PhD

External Evaluator

Teresa serves as the external evaluator for the Think College National Coordinating Center. She also is the director for strategic developments at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University. Teresa has extensive background in secondary transition and employment for individuals with disabilities. She is working on a 5-year research grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independently Living and Rehabilitation Research titled “The Effects of Embedded Employment Resources on the Employment Outcomes of Transition-age Youth Through a School-to-Work Collaborative.”

Kelly Haines

Kelly Haines, MA

Senior Research Associate / Program Manager

Kelly has a background in providing direct services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is a trained social science researcher in the field of disability studies. She does qualitative research on employment and knowledge development activities exploring credentialing in inclusive higher education for the National Coordinating Center. Additionally, Kelly leads several projects that focus on employment and vocational rehabilitation research for

Ty Hanson

Ty Hanson, MEd

Program Coordinator

Ty serves as an inclusive higher education specialist for the Think College National Coordinating Center and Future Quest Island-Explorations project.  Ty supports students, families, and professionals as they navigate the transition from high school to college. She believes in the importance of using a student-centered and collaborative approach to transition planning while reinforcing the expectation that all students, including those with disabilities, have the right to achieve their college dreams. Ty's research interests include college based-transition services, program evaluation, dual-enrollment consortia, sustainability, and inclusive research.

Debra Hart

Debra Hart, MS

Principal Investigator

Debra has over 25 years of experience working with youth and adults with disabilities, families, faculty, and professionals that support youth in accessing inclusive secondary and postsecondary education, as well as competitive employment. Since 1997, she has directed 5 federal grants designed to create access to postsecondary education for youth with intellectual disability. Debra has authored many publications on the topics of transition and postsecondary education, including co-authoring Think College: Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities with Meg Grigal.


Nancy Hurley, MS

Training Associate

Nancy is the project manager and an instructor for the Transition Leadership Program at UMass Boston. She has developed and conducted trainings for teachers and professional school staff, students, families, community providers, and disability advocates. Nancy’s training topics have included transition assessment, person-centered planning, access to postsecondary education, youth development, career development, resource mapping, and differentiated instruction.

Rebecca Lazo

Rebecca Lazo

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Rebecca has over 20 years of experience in academic publishing, specializing in the fields of inclusive education and access and rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She worked with Debra Hart, Meg Grigal, and others to develop and produce the book Think College: Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities. In her role on the National Coordinating Center, Rebecca coordinates the dissemination of information online, via publications, and at training events.

Maria Paiewonsky

Maria Paiewonsky, EdD

Project Coordinator and Dual Enrollment Specialist

Maria uses inclusive research methods with students, transition staff, and college personnel to evaluate postsecondary education initiatives and to develop training and technical assistance materials. She is a transition specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion. Maria’s work includes online course development and teaching, as well as face-to-face training and technical assistance. Her training topics include youth development and self-determination, career development, access to postsecondary education, school-college partnerships, and inclusive research and dissemination.


Clare Papay, PhD

Senior Research Associate

Clare’s research focuses on the transition to adult life for students with disabilities. She was the founding co-director of the REAL Certificate at Arcadia University, a two-year program for students with intellectual disability. Clare has taught undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses that focus on supporting students with significant disabilities, disability studies and special education law, positive behavioral approaches, transition to adult life, and research methods.

Frank Smith

Frank Smith, MA

Evaluation Manager and Research Associate

Frank has experience in survey research methodology, data management, data analysis, and data systems design. He is one of the authors of the annual report, StateData: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes. Frank has made multiple presentations on the use of employment outcomes data to state vocational rehabilitation agency directors.

Paula Sotnik

Paula Sotnik

Project Evaluation Consultant

Paula Sotnik has developed and directed over 18 national and state training and technical assistance projects supporting individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups, including persons with disabilities. She oversees the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Programs for Students with Disabilities, a college-school partnership to support public high school students with intellectual disability. Paula's international work includes training and technical assistance with educators in Nepal, India, Mauritius, and Bangladesh.

Russ Thelin

Russell Thelin, MS, LVRC CRC

Senior Policy Fellow

Russ provides consultation to college programs related to partnering effectively with vocational rehabilitation agencies. Russ has over 25 years direct service/administrative experience in leading and delivering rehabilitation services. Russ also served as president of the National Association for Rehabilitation Leadership (NARL).


Cate Weir, MEd

Project Director

Cate is the program director for the Think College National Coordinating Center. Previously, she served as a project coordinator for higher education-related projects at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. Cate also has worked as a disability support coordinator and a faculty member for the Community College System of New Hampshire. Her expertise includes the provision of individual supports for postsecondary education, person-centered planning, and strategic planning for organizations.



Think College Consultants


Kelly Kelley

Assistant Professor, Western Carolina University

Kelly directs a successful program for students with ID at Western Carolina University and is a member of the special education faculty there. In her role with Think College, Kelly provides technical assistance related to program development and operations.

Amy Dwyre D’Agati

Amy Dwyre D'Agati, MS

Senior Faculty Specialist, University of Maryland, TA Specialist for the Maryland Work-Based Learning Collaborative

Amy specializes in provision of technical assistance and training in the areas of Job Development and Customized Employment for youth with ID, Transition Services, Post Secondary Education Transition Programs, Employer Partnerships, and Discovery and Assessment for Employment

Susanna Miller-Raines

Susanna Miller-Raines

Coordinator, Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium, and Chair, Southeast Inclusive Postsecondary Education Alliance | Georgia State University

Susanna Miller-Raines is the Operations Coordinator and a Community Support Specialist for the Center for Leadership in Disability in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. Her responsibilities are related to inclusive postsecondary education, transition, college and career readiness, as well as leadership development for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is the Statewide Coordinator for the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium and is the Project Coordinator for the Consortium’s TPSID Grant.



Think College Partners

Denise Rozell

Denise Rozell, JD

Senior Policy Strategist, Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Denise Rozell is the Policy Strategist at AUCD working primarily on issues affecting youth in post-secondary education, employment and independent living. Denise has twenty-five years of experience in disability policy at the federal and state level working on almost all issues and legislation affecting individuals with disabilities beginning with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In her role with Think College, Denise provides technical assistance and support around public policy development in the area of postsecondary education for students with ID, facilitates a Public Policy Affinity Group and creates resources related to public policy information.

Barbara Ziemke

Barb Ziemke

Co-Director, PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

Barb Ziemke has been a parent advocate and project coordinator at PACER Center for 15 years, specializing in the areas of inclusion and secondary transition. In addition to working with families, she writes training curriculum and presents workshops to parents and professionals. A former educator and parent involvement coordinator in school and clinic settings, she believes in the value of family involvement and parent-professional collaboration. She has served as chairperson of Minnesota’s Special Education Advisory Panel, and currently serves on Minnesota’s State Rehabilitation Council and the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. Barb is the parent of a young adult son with an intellectual and developmental disability who is successfully learning, living and working in the community.

Stephan Smith

Stephan Smith

Executive Director, Association on Higher Education and Disability

In addition to serving as the chief staff officer at AHEAD, he has taken on increasingly complex roles in local, state, and national arenas advocating for the total and equitable inclusion of people with disabilities in education and the workplaceAdditionally, he serves on numerous national and international advisory boards and executive councils related to people with disabilities, education, employment, transition, social justice, and civil equity. In his role with Think College, Stephan facilitates communication and collaboration between college programs for students with ID and programs that support students with disabilities.