Susan Fox, M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D., is the President and CEO, Westchester Institute for Human Development, and Director, Center on Disability and Health, School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College. Previously, she served as Associate Director of the Institute on Disability and Co-Director of the Center on Aging and Community Living at UNH. A key aspect of her lifelong work has been the development of and advocacy for person-centered home and community-based services for older adults and adults with disabilities to prevent unnecessary institutionalization and to support all citizens to live within their home communities. She has a strong interest in the experience of family caregivers. Her Master’s thesis researched the mental health of family caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities and her doctoral work focused on the experience of family caregivers of older adults. She is currently a member of the NY State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and the NYS Department of Health, Disability and Health Program Stakeholders Group. She serves as a peer reviewer for the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Jennifer Canter, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, CLCP, is a board-certified general pediatrician and subspecialty board certified in child abuse/forensic pediatrics. Since 2002, Dr. Canter has been the director of clinical and academic programs for forensic/child abuse pediatrics at New York Medical College, the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at WMCHealth (Westchester Medical Center) and the Westchester Institute of Development’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC). Dr. Canter has well-balanced consulting and expert witness testimony experience in domestic and international criminal, family and civil proceedings in the areas of physical abuse (bruises, burns, fractures, head injury, abdominal injury), neglect (medical neglect, medical child abuse, failure to thrive), fatalities, sexual abuse, sexual assault, abuse in the school setting, abuse in individuals with developmental disabilities and outcomes/future risk of harm subsequent to missed abuse. Given her interest in long-term health consequences of catastrophic injury, she became a certified life care planner in 2017. From 2004 to 2018, she served as the co-director of Safe Babies NY, a safe sleep and abusive head trauma prevention program in all New York State. Dr. Canter has conceptualized and consulted on various successful legislative efforts in the areas of safe sleep, child abuse education and abusive head trauma.
Jenean A. Castillo, Ph.D., is the Director of the federally funded Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) interdisciplinary training program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development. The LEND program at WIHD is one of 52 university-affiliated interdisciplinary leadership training programs nationally and helps graduates, post-graduates, family members, and self-advocates develop leadership knowledge and skills to work with and on behalf of children with disabilities and other special health care needs and their families. Dr. Castillo also serves as WIHD’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, actively supporting and enhancing WIHD’s efforts to promote cultural and linguistic competency to ensure equitable outcomes for children with disabilities and special healthcare needs and vulnerable populations. Dr. Castillo is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Center for Disability and Health in the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College. She is the course director of the 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Children with Special Health Care Needs, which is offered as a component of the LEND Training Program.
Christine Estes, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders, including phonotraumatic injury, neurological voice disorders, upper airway disorders, and care of the professional voice. Christine developed an interest in the anatomy and physiology of the voice while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Crane School of Music and a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from McGill University. To further her knowledge of the voice and voice disorders, she earned a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Hofstra University, where she later returned in the role of Adjunct Instructor of Voice Disorders. She is involved in clinical research for the Sean Parker Institute for the Voice, and several of her studies have been published and presented at international conferences and educational programs. An experienced performer, clinician, educator, researcher, and presenter, Christine enjoys being an active part of the medical and performing arts communities, collaborating with performers, voice teachers, and medical professionals to foster an multidisciplinary approach to vocal rehabilitation.
Jenna L. Lequia, Ph.D., serves as Education and Training Researcher, Westchester Institute for Human Development, and Assistant Professor, Center on Disability and Health, School of Health Science and Practice, New York Medical College. Dr. Lequia is a special educator with expertise in the areas of autism, behavior management, implementation science, and research methodology. Her professional experiences consist of providing instruction to young children with autism spectrum disorders in the home, teaching in an inclusive preschool setting, consulting with and coaching parents to develop and implement behavior intervention plans for their children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and consulting with educational teams to improve the inclusion of students with severe disabilities across the school day. In her current role, Dr. Lequia leads and assists with various social/behavioral and educational research projects. She also serve as core faculty in the LEND Program where she teaches the Special Education Module addressing topics such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), inclusive education, social skills interventions, and strategies to promote self-determination. She serves on the executive board of the New York State Council for Exceptional Children (NYS CEC) as the President-Elect and is also the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education.
Izel Obermeyer, OTR/L, ATP, FAOTA, was appointed Chief Clinical Officer at the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD), in 2020. She previously served WIHD as the director of the assistive technology program since 2006. She is an occupational therapist (OT) who graduated from the University of Pretoria, Vona duToit OT school in 1987. She was a LEND fellow at WIHD in 2006/2007. She completed her post professional Master’s degree in 2008, and started working on her PhD in 2017. She has worked in South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Kenya and the USA. In her current role, she oversees and manages the adult health services, the behavioral health program, the dental program, the speech and hearing center, the early intervention program and assistive technology and occupational therapy services for WIHD. She coordinates all graduate level assistive technology courses, which are being taught for masters programs in special education, for a number of colleges in the area. She is involved in the development of smart technology initiatives within WIHD and is an active advocate for assistive technology inclusion in schools. Izel is the project leader for the Multimedia Technology Center at WIHD and has been working on developing and using multimedia for person-centered work as well as instruction for the past number of years. She often presents papers at conferences, colleges and schools. She recently co-authored a chapter on cognition and executive function in children, for the 3rd edition of the book “Cognition across the life span”. She was always actively involved in the professional associations for OT in all the countries she worked and lived in. She is the Past-President of the Namibian OT Association as well as the New York State Occupational Therapy Association (NYSOTA), and the 2006 NYSOTA conference at the United Nations was her brain-child. She is also a past Chairperson of state association presidents at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Izel was awarded her Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association in 2017. She is currently involved in three research projects: Executive Function for middle school students, fine motor enrichment in Kindergarten and First Grade as well as the development and evaluation of multimedia technology for individuals with cognitive impairment to promote person centered practice.
Patricia A. Patrick, Dr.P.H., is is the Chief Academic Officer and Co-UCEDD Director, Westchester Institute for Human Development, and Associate Professor, Center on Disability and Health School of Health Sciences & Practice, New York Medical College. In her current role, Dr. Patrick oversees all research and training activities at WIHD; identifies and guides the organization’s research agenda; collaborates with faculty in formulating research topics, drafting research protocols, and writing abstracts, manuscripts and grants; supports student engagement at WIHD; and, facilitates relationships with affiliated universities and colleges. She also serves as Project Director on numerous contracts with the New York State Department of Health that target improving accessibility to and quality of care and services for individuals with disabilities and their families. In addition to her research experience, Dr. Patrick has over 15 years of experience with public health program development, management and evaluation. From 2004-2018 she served as Data Manager for the Safe Babies New York program (formerly the New York Shaken Baby Prevention Program), which was successful in educating parents/caregivers of over 1 million babies born in the targeted areas of New York State.
Trupti Rao, Psy.D., is a NYS licensed psychologist and Director of Child Welfare Services & Psychology Training at the Westchester Institute for Human Development. Her responsibilities include leading and managing WIHD’s continuum of Child Welfare programs, coordinating and supervising post-doctoral training activities, evaluating young children with developmental delays, and providing clinical services to families involved in the child welfare system. She is also the coordinator for an intensive in-home parenting program serving parents with intellectual disabilities. The program uses a curriculum co-developed by Dr. Rao to specifically address the specialized needs of this population. Dr. Rao has presented information about the program and findings about the efficacy of the model at both local presentations and national conferences, as well as in a special issue of the Journal of Public Child Welfare.
Beth Reiman, Ph.D., LCSW-R, has been a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker for over 30 years and a forensic social worker for the past 15 years. As the coordinator of forensic and clinical services at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), Dr. Reiman conducts forensic interviews and evaluations and is responsible for the daily operations of the CAC. Dr. Reiman completed her doctoral education in social welfare at the Silberman School of Social Work and City University of New York (CUNY). She is an adjunct faculty member at Silberman School of Social Work in the Masters of Social Work program teaching Practice Lab class using an social justice model and part of the Child Trauma Program where she teaches a trauma class. Dr. Reiman has conducted trainings nationally on forensic interviewing of children with disabilities, issues of child sexual and physical abuse and secondary trauma and implicit bias about disabilities.
Nicole Turygin, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in the state of New York with a background in Clinical Psychology. She has over 10 years of experience working with challenging behaviors and co-occurring psychiatric conditions in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She uses an individualized approach to treatment using methods based on Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and related treatment modalities. Her practice includes adults and children all ages and ability levels using evidence-based behavioral interventions. Her clinical interests include treatment of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and psychotic disorders, and challenging behavior in individuals with autism and developmental disorders.