Rebecca School - NYC

Rebecca School - NYC

Rebecca School held their "Transitions Panel" on Tuesday November 8, 2016. Joshua Noble, LCSW is the Transitions Coordinator at the Rebecca School was the host, and he was able to gather a diverse group of parents, a former student, and professionals to discuss and network for the post-21 era of their students and other students. 


Dustin Sweeney was one of the original students at Rebecca before switching to Hawthorne Country Day School, and Rebecca School has always been a leading beacon of innovation for the Autism population:

Rebecca School was created to address the needs of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders who were underserved in New York. Tina McCourt was chosen as Program Director, having had extensive experience with DIR®/Floortime™, attending trainings since 1994. She had a strong belief that a relationship-based approach was the best way to serve and help children diagnosed on the spectrum relate and communicate. The program at Rebecca School would fully integrate the DIR® model.
— Rebecca School

Below is the speaker list and some comments in bold italic by me:


Frank Bresnick, Jespy House - Frank received an MA in Learning Disabilities from Teachers College. He taught for 10 years at the Midland School in NJ, a private special education school. He has worked at Jespy House in South Orange, an independent living facility for adults with learning and developmental disabilities, as the Assistant Director for the past 28 years.

Allison Sanchez, Jespy House - Allison has been at JESPY House for 11 years. During her time at JESPY she has held many positions which include Job Developer, Day Program Coordinator, Director of Quality Assurance and Medicaid Oversight and most recently, Transitions Coordinator. She received a Master's in Counseling from Montclair State University in May 2009

This was a really interesting model to learn about. It sounded like it sits in "Urban Keyring" model of communities and I hope to visit Jespy House in 2017. 

Martin Gitt (plaid shirt) @ Camphill Triform

Martin Gitt (plaid shirt) @ Camphill Triform

Meg Henderson & Martin Gitt, Camphill Triform - Meg Henderson (President) and Martin Gitt (Day Hab program facilitator and teacher) are from Triform Camphill community where they met 25 years ago as short term volunteers. Meg is from South Africa and Martin from Denmark. Together they have raised a family of 5 children at Camphill and have worked as care givers, administrators and as teachers.   

The Sweeney Family has purchased a weekend home in Hudson, New York and we look forward to working with Meg and Martin in 2017. 

Joe Campagna

Joe Campagna

Joseph Campagna, Home Connect - Joseph Campagna is a principal at HomeConnect  a special needs consulting firm that facilitates housing for the intellectually and developmentally delayed populations (I/DD), including Autism (ASD). Joe is a father of an autistic son and is committed to using his 30 years of corporate and public financing experience to integrate the population into existing housing and promote the development of new housing. Joe is certified by NYSACRA (NY State Association of Community and Residential Agencies) as a New York State Housing Navigator Housing Navigators are trained to assist those with disabilities and those that support them in planning and executing housing strategies. Joe is a founding member of the NYC Mayor’s Disability Housing Coalition. The Coalition’s mission is to foster the exchange of information and ideas to develop solutions and access resources for the improvement of housing options for all those living with disabilities in New York City.  A current project of the Coalition is to develop a revolving loan program to enable eligible OPWDD recipients to have start-up funds when they are securing leases. 

Joe is a "regular" here and a friend in real life. If you need a Housing Navigator in New York City, Joe is an excellent option. 


It was great that Rebecca included this group which included a former student now in the post-21 era and parents who have made the transition. Not always easy, but it can and will be done. 

Sam Wilkinson - Sam Wilkinson was a member of the founding group of students at the Rebecca School, and in 2015 became a proud graduate.  He is currently a student at BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College), supported by the Melissa Reggio Higher Education Program, through AHRC.  He is studying studio art, and hopes to have a career as an artist or a toy designer.  

Gina and Donald Barone, Parents - Gina and Don are parents to Alex Barone who graduated from Rebecca School in 2016. Gina is a native New Yorker, and has been in the modeling industry for 36 years and is a Director at Wilhelmina Models. 


Nadine Daley, Center for Family Supports - Ms. Daley has worked at the Center for Family Support for nine years. Ms. Daley has experienced on-going recognition as a leader creating innovative projects and pushing changes that enhance quality of life. In Ms. Daley’s current roles as Coordinator of Innovative Planning and Staff Development, she is responsible for: 

  • Developing and leading creative methodology to meet the varied needs of Individuals with Intellectual, Physical and Mental Health Disabilities. 
  • Supporting the Residential and Community based programs in developing best practice methods to assess the quality of Treatment plans and Program Services.
  • Designing curriculum and conducting trainings to enhance staff productivity and agency operations.
  • Advising leadership on policies, practices, and their potential influence on organizational efficacy.

Samantha Feinman, New Frontiers in Learning - Samantha Feinman, MS. Ed., TSHH, graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland with a BS in Speech Pathology and Audiology, and a minor in Psychology of the Exceptional Child. Her Master's degree, from Long Island University's C.W. Post campus is in Special Education, with a concentration in autism spectrum disorders. Her experience includes: Teacher of the Speech/Hearing Impaired at the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Suffolk County, NY, Special Education Teacher in Nassau County, NY, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Special Education Program in the School of Education at Pace University. Samantha sits on the Executive Board for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) of Nassau County and is a member of the Long Island Professionals ADHD Consortium, as well as the Long Island Specialists' Group. Samantha has presented research, workshops and professional development seminars and webinars at various national conferences, CUNY and private colleges, high schools, SEPTAs and local organizations. As Director of New Frontiers in Learning, Samantha believes that building a strong academic and social skills foundation, coupled with the development of executive functioning skills, are the keys to success for our students in college and beyond.

Raul Jimenez, New Frontiers in Learning - Raul Jimenez II, MST, is a graduate of the Autism Specialist Post-Graduate Program at Pace University. He earned his Master's Degree in Special Education, while serving as a New York City Teaching Fellow. His undergraduate degree in Psychology was received from Connecticut College. His experience includes classroom teaching, as well as residential management. His strong commitment to community service and to young people with disabilities has been evidenced through his outstanding contributions, including his work as a member of AmeriCorps NCCC, a national community service program, whose projects included working at a homeless shelter in Utah and building homes for migrant farm workers in Southern California. Raul is someone who has found his passion of working with students through his experience teaching, studying and researching the ever-changing field of autism spectrum disorders. He is a strong advocate, and has a natural ability to build relationships with young adults. He brings a multi-faceted experience to the NFiL team to help the students to reach their fullest potential.

Kathy Kelly, AHRC, New York City - Kathy Kelly has been involved with supporting individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities for many years.  For the past 20 years, she has been employed with AHRC, New York City and currently oversees their Entitlements & Placement Department. In addition, Kathy has co-chaired the Manhattan Transition Committee for the past 19 years.  The Manhattan Transition Committee is a sub-committee of the Manhattan Developmental Disabilities Council which is an advisory group to state & local government on services & supports for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities.  As co-chair of the Transition Committee, Kathy has had the opportunity to work with family members, school representatives & adult service provider representatives to improve the Transition process for students aging out of the NYC Department of Education services into adult services offered through NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. On behalf of AHRC, New York City as well as the Manhattan Transition Committee, Kathy has presented at Family Education Workshops and NYC Department of Education Schools on the Transition Process and how to effectively access services through the OPWDD system.

Allison Kleinman, JCC - Allison Kleinman is the founding director of the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, where she focuses on creating individual paths for people to appreciate and connect to community. She has launched a workforce development program that provides services and support to job candidates with learning and communication challenges; developed a young adult social community called Connections for people with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities; and grown the Adaptations social community to over 400 participants and their families. Prior to working with adults with developmental disabilities, she worked at the United Jewish Communities in customer service, recruitment and retention, and training and development. Allison graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in psychology and received her Clinical LMSW from Fordham University in 2009.

Amy O’Hara, Littman Krooks LLP - Amy C. O’Hara is a partner with the law firm of Littman Krooks LLP.  Amy’s practice is focused in the areas of special needs planning, guardianship, trust administration, estate planning and administration, personal injury settlement consulting and elder law.  Amy is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.  Amy lectures frequently to advocacy organizations and families on the importance of proper planning for families of children with special needs and also regularly publishes articles relating to estate and special needs planning. Amy is a member of various bar associations, including the Special Needs Alliance, a national, invitation-only, not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting families with special needs planning. Amy is a member of the board of directors of Westchester Disabled on the Move, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life and the rights for all people with disabilities.  Amy received her Juris Doctor degree from University at Buffalo Law School and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Binghamton University.  Amy is married and the mother of two boys.

Katrina Roberts, Job Path - Katrina Roberts is the Associate Director of Employment Services at Job Path, Inc. and has eight years of experience assisting individuals with disabilities transition to work. She oversees the Transitional Employment Department working with youth and assisting them in their transition from school to work.  Ms. Roberts utilizes the model of Customized Employment to help job seekers by creating opportunities for them within their communities for internships and employment.  

Gil Tippy, Rebecca School - Gil Tippy, PsyD, is the Clinical Director of the Rebecca School in Manhattan. As one of the founders of the school, he has been responsible for evaluating over 300 children, and has been central in creating both the academic and clinical programs. He creates the training for the entire staff, and consults on their interventions with the children in the school. He was directly supervised by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, creator of the Developmental, Individual difference, Relationship-based (DIR®) model from the beginning of the school until Dr. Greenspan's untimely passing in 2010. He co-authored a book with Dr. Greenspan, Respecting Autism: The Rebecca School DIR Casebook for Parents and Professionals.

Amel Whiteside, YAI - Amel has a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College. She has been in the Social Service field for 15 years and has worked for the past10 years at YAI as an MSC and now as a Supervisor in the Manhattan YAI MSC Department. Amel also conducts psychosocial evaluations at YAI.