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Think College Team Members

Think College is a project of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston, a University Center for Excellence in Disability. The staff have many years of experience in the areas of postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability, person centered planning, employment, transition, universal design for learning and inclusive education. The Think College team is led by Debra Hart and Meg Grigal.  Think College projects are coordinated by Cate Weir.  We are also supported by key team members at ICI in evaluation, marketing, online resources, and instructional design.

fphoto of Think College staff taken in June 2016
Back row (L to R) Rebecca Lazo, Daria Domin, Carole Carlson, Frank Smith, Debra Hart, Lori Cooney
Front row (L to R) Clare Papay, Maria Paiewonsky, Brenda Brooks, Meg Grigal, Cate Weir
not pictured: Molly Boyle, Miwa Tanabe, Nancy Hurley, Stel Gragoudas

DSC_6945Molly works as a trainer and technical assistance provider for Think College.   Molly provides professional development to college faculty, administrators and disability support personnel on Universal Course Design and effective teaching strategies for ensuring equal access to all students, including those with disabilities. Previously, she coordinated the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment project for students with intellectual disabilities at MassBay Community College in Wellesley, MA. Molly's expertise includes the provision of individual supports for postsecondary education for people with intellectual/ developmental disabilities, universal design for learning, online teaching, and adaptive technologies.
Brenda BrooksBrenda is returning to the ICI as Program Assistant to the Education and Transition Team.

I first worked here in 1993 when it was a part of General Pediatrics at Children's Hospital. I began as a receptionist and worked closely with different projects throughout my tenure. When ICI separated from Children's, I remained with the hospital until 2008. After leaving Children's, I decided to attend culinary school (Le Cordon Bleu) to hone in on my baking skills and explore the world of cake decorating. And while I remain passionate about my art, I have decided to delve back into office administration and there is no better place to be then here at ICI.

A mom of 4 and a grandmother of 6 (yes 6), my eldest grandchild graduating from Suffolk U. in late May and my youngest (twin boys) graduating from high school in June 2017. My first born, Sheri, lives in Newton with her husband and two sons and my second daughter, Monique, lives in New Rochelle, NY with her fiancé, two sons and a daughter. Affectionately known to my close friends and family as "Martha Crocker," I am always tuning into my creative/artistic side whether it be cake decorating, party planning and home décor and design. I currently live in the Upham's Corner neighborhood of Dorchester (in the same house for the last 23 years) with my 17 year old twins, Anthony and Austin and two cats, Eros and Hestia.
Carole CarlsonCarole 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. Previously, she worked as a Program Assistant at the Cutting-Edge Program at Edgewood College in Madison, WI and developed the first inclusive college housing program in WI there. Her experience is grounded in community-based residential and employment supports, natural supports – including peer mentorship, and advocacy work.  Carole has a Master of Arts in Education with an Adult Learning focus.
Cooney_LoriLori Cooney is a Project Coordinator & Instructional Design Specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Prior to joining ICI, Lori served as an Instructional Designer at a postsecondary institution and a secondary Coordinator of Technology Integration. 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 (i.e. iPad), and open-source applications. Lori has received the 2012 MassCUE Pathfinder award, a Technology Humanist Award from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is recognized as a Christa McAuliffe Teacher by the Challenger Learning Center at Framingham State University. Additionally, Lori was a respite care provider for children with special needs, is a board member of the EGID Boston group, and has two children with special health care needs.
Daria DominDaria is a Research Associate for the Institute on Community Inclusion. She manages and performs quantitative data analysis and develops publications for a number of projects including the TPSID National Coordinating Center, Access to Integrated Employment, and Ms. Domin holds an MSW in social and economic development from Washington University in St. Louis.
Meg GrigalMeg Grigal is a national expert on inclusive higher education and transition for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities I/ DD. Meg has spent the past 15 years trying to advance the field of inclusive higher education, working with colleges, schools, families and students to develop, expand, and improve inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disabilityDr. Grigal conducts research and provides evaluation and technical assistance on exemplary practices for supporting students with disabilities in the community, employment, and postsecondary education settings. At Think College, she serves as a principal investigator on a variety of research grants including: the I3Think College Transition Model Project, the National Coordinating Center for the Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) Model Demonstration Programs and the Future Quest Island Stepping Up to Technology project. She co-authored the groundbreaking book, THINK COLLEGE, with Debra Hart as well as many other book chapters, journal articles, and research to practice briefs and recently produced a short documentary on inclusive higher education.
Debra HartDebra Hart is the Director of the Education and Transition Team for the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She serves as the Principal Investigator for the AIDD funded Consortium on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Office of Postsecondary Education funded National Coordinating Center. Debra has over 25 years of experience working with youth and adults with disabilities, their families, faculty, and professionals that support youth in becoming contributing valued members of their community via participation in inclusive secondary and postsecondary education, and competitive employment. Since 1997, Ms. Hart has directed five federal grants designed to create access to postsecondary education for youth with intellectual disabilities.

Stelios has over 20 years experience in the special education field. His research centers on the transition of youth with disabilities from high school to adult life. In addition Stelios provides professional development to educators across Massachusetts on topics such as transition, self-determination, career development and post-secondary education for youth with intellectual disabilities.

Nancy HurleyNancy is the project manager and an instructor for the Transition Leadership Program at UMass Boston. She has worked on several other projects including Future Quest Island, Think College, and Professional Development Institutes. Nancy has developed and conducted trainings for diverse audiences, including teachers and professional school staff, students, families, community providers, and disability advocates on various topics including transition assessment, person-centered planning, access to postsecondary education, youth development, career development, resource mapping, and differentiated instruction. Nancy is also co-chair of SGISD's Training and Technical Assistance Leadership team.
Rebecca LazoRebecca Lazo is the Knowledge Translation Associate for the Think College National Coordinating Center. She comes to this position with 20 years of experience in academic publishing in the fields of inclusive education and access and rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, most recently at Brookes Publishing. She worked with Debra Hart, Meg Grigal, and others to develop and produce the seminal work, Think College. Since that time, Rebecca has become increasingly passionate about access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities.
Maria PaiewonskyMaria Paiewonsky is the Participatory Action Research Coordinator for Think College. She uses a number of inclusive research methods with students, transition staff and college personnel to evaluate postsecondary education initiatives and to develop training and technical assistance materials for Think College. In addition, Maria serves as a transition specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion, where she oversees numerous transition related projects with teachers, interdisciplinary team members, students and families to develop positive transition outcomes. Her work also includes online course development and teaching, as well as face-to-face training and technical assistance on transition and postsecondary topics. These training topics include youth development and self -determination, career development, access to postsecondary education, school-college partnerships, and, most recently, inclusive research and dissemination.
Clare PapayClare Papay joins us from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA, where she was assistant professor and director of inclusive special education programs. She has a PhD. and an M.Ed. in Special Education, both from Lehigh University. Her research focuses on the transition to adult life for students with disabilities. She has a particular interest in inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 2012, she was recognized by Think College as an Emerging Scholar for her work in this area. She was the founding co-Director of the Raising Expectations for Academic Learning (REAL) Certificate at Arcadia University, a two-year program for students with intellectual disabilities that focuses on academic coursework, employment, and social inclusion in college life. For her dissertation research, Best Practices for Transition to Adult Life for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: A National Perspective Using the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, she was the runner-up for the Pat Sitlington Student Research Award for the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Career Development and Transition. She has taught undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses that focus on topics such as supporting students with significant disabilities, disability studies and special education law, positive behavioral approaches, transition to adult life, and research methods. Clare is also the Northeast Regional Representative to the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Career Development and Transition (CEC-DCDT).
Frank SmithFrank A. Smith, M.A., is a Research Associate at ICI and the Evaluation Manager for the TPSID Coordinating Center. Frank has experience in survey research methodology, data management, data analysis, and data systems design. He is one of the authors of StateData: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes, 2010. He has also made multiple presentations on the use of employment outcomes data to State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Directors. Frank is a two-time graduate of the UMass system, having earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies at the Amherst campus and a master's degree in applied sociology at the Boston campus. Email:
Miwa Tanabe, Program CoordinatorMiwa Tanabe is Program Coordinator for the Leadership Training Institute for Japanese Higher Education Professionals, a project of Think College. Prior to joining the ICI in 2014, Miwa worked as a residential director at a community organization serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disability. Her expertise includes training program implementation and coordination, leadership and advocacy, multicultural issues in disability, and adult transition services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disability. She is fluent in Japanese.
Weir_CateCate is the program director for Think College and the National Coordinating Center for Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Previously, she served as project coordinator higher education-related projects at the Institute on Disability at the University of NH. She also has experience as a disability support coordinator and faculty member for the NH Community College System. Cate’s expertise includes the provision of individual supports for postsecondary education for people with intellectual disabilities, person-centered planning and strategic planning for organizations.