People at SEEC


SEEC employs more than 200 individuals who have devoted their careers to enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. Direct Support professionals provide hands-on assistance and supports to more than 220 people as they pursue their interests and personal goals in the community. Management staff oversees the work of each department ensuring that programs reflect the needs, desires, and aspirations of each person we serve.  An administrative team consisting of the directors of each department guides the daily operations of the agency and reports quarterly to SEEC's Board of Directors. Our volunteer Quality Assurance Committee ensures supports and services are of the highest caliber.    
 

SEEC’s Administrative Team

 

SEEC's Executive Director Karen Lee.Executive Director


Karen J. Lee

Karen began working in the disability field in 1983 and became SEEC’s Executive Director in 1990. Under her leadership, SEEC continues to be an innovative provider of a full complement of services to people with developmental disabilities. In partnership with The Ivymount School, Karen played a pivotal role in the creation and staffing of the highly successful Project SEARCH programs at the National Institutes of Health, Montgomery County Government, and the Smithsonian Institution. Karen is a stalwart advocate for people with developmental disabilities, providing leadership in many advocacy groups including a U.S. Dept of Labor Customized Employment Think Tank, founder and member of Maryland’s Employment First Committee, Maryland Community Learning Services Committee, and Co-Chair of MC InterACC/DD, a coalition of Montgomery County service providers.  She has given multiple public presentations concerning integrated, customized, person-centered services at county council meetings, ANCOR and TASH conferences, and VCU webinars.

Karen holds a Master of Education degree in Special Education, Transition, and Secondary Education from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Elmhurst College, Illinois.
 


Executive Assistant


Karen Bond

Karen joined SEEC in 1995 and has been Executive Assistant since 1997, working directly with the Executive Director and the SEEC Board of Directors.  As a member of the agency’s Administrative Team, she is responsible for handling a variety of situations and administrative tasks related to clerical and administrative functions of the SEEC office, including the handling of confidential and time sensitive matters.  Karen’s previous work experience includes public school teaching, facilities management, security, and executive assistant for Ethan Allen and Marriott International.

Karen holds an Associate Arts degree from Prince George’s Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland. She is certified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.


Director of Community Living


Franstine Wallace-Barnes

Franstine has served as the Director of Community Living since February 1998 and directs services for approximately 30 men and women in more than 19 homes throughout the region.  Under her leadership, SEEC’s Community Living department received a rare “Exemplary” status by CARF when SEEC was accredited in the Fall of 2004.  Franstine joined the SEEC staff after holding a variety of professional positions in the disability community.  She worked at the District of Columbia ARC, initially as a court-appointed monitor of services to individuals entering the community after the forced closing of the Forest Haven Institution, and then in the position of Assistant Director of Residential Services.  Prior to her work at the ARC, she was a behavior specialist serving adults with developmental disabilities.

Franstine is actively involved in several disability groups, including ANCOR (American Network of Community Options and Resources), MACS (Maryland Association of Community Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities), and the Family Support Services Network of Montgomery County.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Morgan State University. 

Chief Financial Officer


Bonny Roy

In 2001, Bonny joined SEEC as Comptroller, benefiting SEEC with 20 years of experience in finance, accounting and administration of profit –motivated and non-profit organizations. Bonny oversees all the financial details for the agency, serves on the agency’s finance committee and also oversees the functions of SEEC’s Human Resource Department. For two years prior to joining SEEC, she was a professor at Howard University School of Business. Bonny is an active member of the Chief Financial Officers group of the Maryland Association of Community Services for People with Developmental Disabilities (MACS). She is also active in her community in fundraising, cultural, and charitable activities.

Bonny holds a Master in Business Administration degree from Howard University, Washington D.C., a Master in Sociology degree from Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi, India, and an undergraduate degree in Economics from Delhi University, India.

Director of Communications and Development


Cathy Dirksen

Cathy joined SEEC in 2002 as the Director of Communications and Development and is responsible for SEEC’s internal and external communications, including content on SEEC’s website, social media sites, and newsletters as well as mass communications to SEEC staff, the SEEC participants and their families. Through grants, special events, giving campaigns, and other fundraising activities, Cathy generates revenues to support the agency’s administrative operations and expand the quality of supports offered to SEEC participants. Cathy has more than 30 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, primarily in the fields of communications and fundraising.  Prior to joining SEEC, she worked for the Mighty Special Music Makers (now called InterPlay), the Autism Society of America, and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (Family Networks). As the founder of STEP Seminars, Inc., Cathy conducted workshops for families who have children with autism and co-produced a workshop video “Using Visual and Behavioral Cues in the Home: Teaching Functional Life Skills to Children with Autism and Related Disorders” which has been sold nationwide and abroad.

As the parent of a son with autism, Cathy has been involved in the local disability community as a volunteer and as a professional for nearly two decades.  She served on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Chapter of the Autism Society and KEEN, a recreational program for children with developmental disabilities. She also served as a parent mentor for the Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers program and for SEEC’s Parent to Parent program where she also serves on the Advisory Committee.  Cathy holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland.

Director of Workforce Development


Steve Blanks

Steve has served as the Director of Workforce Development since 2010, having previously joined SEEC in 1999 as the director of employment services.  In his current role, he directs a staff of over 50 employment and support professionals who facilitate community-based employment and inclusion for approximately 130 men and women. Steve is also the primary administrator of SEEC’s participation in Project SEARCH replications at the National Institutes of Health, Montgomery County government, and the Smithsonian Institution. He has made presentations at various industry conferences including the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE) Transitioning Youth Conference, TASH International Conference, Maryland Association of Community Services, and Project SEARCH Conferences.  He is an active member of APSE (Association of Persons with Supported Employment).  Steve’s prior experience includes working in the for-profit sector as a business consultant for Fortune 500 companies on a range of strategic and organizational issues.

Steve has a unique interest in this field, as his eldest brother has a developmental disability and is successfully living and working in the community in Kansas City, Missouri.  Steve holds a Master of Engineering, Economics, and Management degree from University of Oxford, England.

 

Director of Strategic Operations


Cynthia (Cindy) Shima Kauffman

Cindy serves as SEEC’s Director of Strategic Operations, a newly created position in which she is responsible for the organization-wide facilitation of SEEC’s strategic mission and vision and the Discoveries department.  She joined SEEC in 2012, and has been involved in the disabilities field for over 30 years, having started her career working with children and adults with disabilities for the Bedford-Somerset MH/MR services in western Pennsylvania.  Previous positions include working for CQL as the Vice President of Business Development and the Director of Accreditation, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) as an assessor and the Maryland University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (Kennedy Krieger Institute) as the Director of Family Support. Additionally, Cindy spent several years working for the District of Columbia and Maryland state governments as the Director of Quality Assurance and Regional Director of the Eastern Shore and Central regions.

Cindy’s commitment to providing person-centered services for adults with disabilities was forged from personal experience, growing up with two siblings with disabilities. Cindy has a Bachelor degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Special Education degree from George Washington University.  She has completed coursework toward a doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins University.

 

Director of Community and Employment Network


Jessica Neely

Jessica Neely joined SEEC’s staff in 2016 as Director of our Community and Employment Network. In this role, Jessica oversees  supports and services for more than 60 people who spend their weekdays engaged in community-based vocational, educational, and recreational  activities.  Jessica comes to us from The Arc Prince George’s County  where she oversaw the agency’s Day and Community Links Division.  During her years there, she also served as The Arc’s Director of Family Services and Community Affairs, and was involved in fundraising and communications efforts.  Jessica brings her love of community, learning, and culture to SEEC. After a long career in education, she served as the executive director of an arts and literature nonprofit in Washington, D.C., to promote reading and literacy.
 
Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Vassar College and an M.A. in English from Stanford University.  She is the mother of three children.  Her oldest, a freshman in college in Massachusetts, has cerebral palsy.  Her other two children are teenagers. 


IN MEMORIAM

Greg Gamble

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the news of the passing of Greg Gamble, a beloved member of the SEEC family. Greg passed away on September 4, 2016 at his home while recovering from recent heart surgery. Greg served as SEEC’s Director of Resources for more than a decade. We will miss his gentle spirit and the joy he brought to so many. 

We extend our sincerest condolences to Greg’s family, SEEC’s staff, and all who knew him.

Greg served as SEEC’s Resource Director, supervising numerous program supports including Case Management, Behavior Management, Quality Assurance, Transportation, Intake, Training Coordination and the Parent to Parent Program. He joined SEEC in 2004 to direct the then operating medical recreational day program serving adults with developmental disabilities. Previously, he was the Administrator of Workforce Development for Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley, and served as Director of Valley College of Technology, which offers an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and several certificate programs to individuals that have been displaced from their employment or unemployed. Prior experience also includes a position as a vocational counselor at the Western Maryland Consortium and working for a health services organization providing residential housing and a mental health clinic to individuals with behavioral and emotional disorders.

Greg began his career as a banker after graduating from Shepherd University with a Bachelors in Business Education degree and graduate work in Commercial Banking.


SEEC's Board of Directors

(As of February 9, 2017)

SEEC’s Board of Directors consists of volunteers from the community, family members of people receiving SEEC services, and at least one individual receiving SEEC supports.  The Board meets quarterly to provide oversight for our agency operations.

President — Tom Schaufelberger
Secretary — Dianne Niedner

Treasurer — Keith Jennings
Past President —  Arlene McCrehan


Directors —
Lennie Gladstone

Seth Kaplan

Teresa Kendrick
Sean Rao

Bruce Romer
Robert Scott
LaVonna Vice

Richard Barsky, Emeritus

Leslie Kaplan, Emeritus

Alex Ratnofsky, Emeritus
 

Executive Director — Karen J. Lee

For information on joining SEEC’s Board of Directors, contact Karen Lee, SEEC’s Executive Director at (301) 576-9000.

 

Project SEARCH Partner Liasons

Director of Post High School, Ivymount School
Lu Merrick

Lu Merrick has more than 30 years of educational experience including teaching in regular and special education, public and private schools, and day and residential programs. She has been a classroom teacher, a supervisor, conference and workshop presenter, educational consultant, and school administrator. Lu came to Ivymount School, then Christ Church Child Center in 1982 as a Head Teacher in the Multiple Needs program. Within two years she became the coordinator of the Multiple Needs program and went on to develop the Adolescent Program, then the High School and now the Upper School which includes the High School and the Post High school programs at Ivymount School. In 2010 she was appointed to the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities.

Chief of Hospitality Services, NIH Clinical Center
Denise Ford

Denise Ford advocated and was the lead in opening doors to the replication of Project SEARCH at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.  Working closely with SEEC Workforce Development staff, Denise helped create internship opportunities throughout the Clinical Center for the inaugural class of Project SEARCH-NIH in 2010. Under her leadership, Project SEARCH expanded NIH-wide to 10 interns at seven Institutes and Centers across the campus in 2011. Ms. Ford was instrumental in the Clinical Center’s recognition as the 2011 Employer of the Year by Maryland Works, Inc., for its 2010 pilot NIH-Project SEARCH program. Maryland Works, Inc., is a statewide membership association that advocates for increasing employment and business ownership opportunities for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. On Oct. 18, 2011, the Clinical Center also earned the Employer Leadership Award from the Maryland State Department of Education for “remarkable leadership in promoting the employment, independence, and economic self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities."

 

Ms. Ford also provided technical assistance to Montgomery County Government representatives during their first year of replicating the Project SEARCH model in their offices and facilities.

 

Business Liaison Project SEARCH-Montgomery County
Karen Hochberg

Karen Hochberg has more than 30 years of experience in the  disability management and human resource management fields.  Employed with Montgomery County Government since 2000, Karen has worked as the County’s Disability Program Manager, Human Resources Specialist and since 2013, as the County’s Targeted Recruitment Specialist where she has oversight of the County’s hiring initiatives for people with disabilities; which includes Project SEARCH, the Montgomery County Public Intern Program and the County’s non-competitive hiring process for people with severe disabilities.    

 

With collaboration from the SEEC Workforce Development Team, Karen helped create partnerships with the City of Rockville, City of Gaithersburg and Montgomery College to further promote and Project SEARCH within Montgomery County. 

Director of Accessibility Program, Smithsonian Institute
Beth Ziebarth

As director of the Accessibility Program, Ms. Ziebarth is responsible for making all Smithsonian visitors feel welcome by providing consistent, effortless access to the Institution’s programs, collections and facilities.  Her duties include: advising on and implementing policy, practices, and procedures related to access for people with disabilities; reviewing facility and exhibition designs; providing technical assistance; conducting outreach to the disability community and other cultural arts organizations; providing staff education on disability topics; and working with Smithsonian museums and offices to provide direct visitor services, including sign language interpretation, real time captioning, and alternate formats of publications.
 

Ms. Ziebarth will work with representatives from SEEC and Ivymount to implement Project SEARCH-Smithsonian slated to begin in September of 2013.

 

This page was last updated on 2/23/17.