Staff

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Donna Riccobono, M.Ed.

Project Director
E-mail Donna Riccobono, M.Ed.

Counseling, Higher Education & Special Education Dept.
Benjamin Building 3214
3924 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Voice/TTY: 301-405-0482

donnaric@umd.edu

Donna Riccobono has worked with individuals with sensory impairment and multiple disabilities for more than two decades. Born and raised in New York, she began her training at the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point, Long Island. Donna transferred to the University of Arizona where she obtained her BA in Deaf Studies and M.Ed. in Severe/Multiple Disabilities. From 1997 to 2002, Donna taught children with sensory impairments and multiple disabilities in Arizona.

In 2002, Donna decided to return to the East Coast to be closer to family. She taught for one year in the Montgomery County Public Schools, and was excited to join the Connections staff in September of 2003 as the Project Coordinator. In 2012, she became the Project Director.

As Project Director, Donna is responsible for managing the activities of the project, including technical assistance, programs and trainings, the Delrey Demonstration Project, the Mini-grant program, and the annual Maryland Deaf-blind child count.

Donna lives in Frederick, MD. She has two children, Hakeem and Maya.

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Sandra Newcomb, Ph.D.

Technical Assistance & Education Specialist
E-mail Sandra Newcomb, Ph.D.

Counseling, Higher Education & Special Education Dept.
Benjamin Building 3214
3924 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Voice: 301-405-6476

snewcomb@umd.edu

Dr. Sandra Newcomb is the Technical Assistance & Education Specialist on the Connections Project. Although she officially joined the staff in 2005, she has been a valuable member of the CBSS team for many years prior to that, serving on the Advisory Committee since 1993. Sandy earned her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in 2009, and holds certification in Early Childhood Special Education and in Visual Impairment. After several years of teaching in North Carolina, Sandy moved to Maryland and worked as an Infants/Toddlers teacher from 1986 to 2000, in the District of Columbia and then in Prince George’s County, where she also served as a vision specialist for five years. In addition, she maintained a position at the University of Maryland since 1985, serving as Coordinator of various grants, and teaching courses in the Department of Special Education. Sandy’s particular areas of interest include working with families, family support, and Cortical Visual Impairment.      

With Connections, Sandy provides targeted and specific technical assistance, consultation, and training for parents, educators, and related service providers, focusing on the needs of infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children with deaf-blindness and/or CVI.

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Jennifer Smith Stepanek, Ph.D.

Education & Technical Assistance Specialist
E-mail Jennifer Smith Stepanek, Ph.D.

Counseling, Higher Education & Special Education Dept.
Benjamin Building 3214
3924 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Voice/TTY: 301-405-0482

DrJeni2008@gmail.com

Dr. Jeni Stepanek serves as an Education Specialist for CBSS and provides Universal Technical Assistance. She became a member of the staff in 2012, after serving as a consultant to the project and a member of the Advisory Committee since 2008. In addition to developing resources, newsletters, brochures, and other forms of universal TA, she is involved in training development and program evaluation for CBSS. She brings diverse insights on many issues related to working with children with disabilities and their families and service providers. Jeni has worked in the field of education, advocacy, and family support for more than three decades, and earned her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her specific areas of research and practice include family needs and supports, psychosocial care, and grief and bereavement.

Jeni is the parent of four children who had disabilities, all of whom are now deceased, and one of whom had Cortical Visual Impairment. Jeni also has a disability which necessitates the use of a wheelchair and ventilator, and which impacts her hearing and vision. A published author and editor of numerous books, articles, and chapters, Jeni is a noted motivational speaker on topics ranging from disability and collaboration to bereavement, peace, and spirituality. She serves as the Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, a National Vice President for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and a Governor for the We Are Family Foundation. When she grows up, Jeni wants to be a “83 and a beach chair philosopher.”

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Lauri Triulzi, M.Ed.

Education Specialist

Counseling, Higher Education & Special Education Dept.
Benjamin Building 3214
3924 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Voice: 814-571-8577

ltriulzi@umd.edu

Shortly after moving to Washington, DC, Lauri Triulzi began working with Connections Beyond Sight and Sound. She entered the field of deaf-blindness through the “significant disabilities door.” The formative and  foundational first ten years of her career were spent teaching students who had  the label “significant disabilities” — some of those students also had deaf-blindness. During these years Lauri worked with elementary, middle, high school, and  transition age students in both community-based and inclusive educational  settings. She learned many life lessons and really enjoyed those ten years of  daily contact with students, families, and professionals. In 1997, she began  working on the Florida Deaf-Blind Project and has been working with the  deaf-blind community ever since.

When joining CBSS in 2011, Lauri served primarily as a liaison for the DC Deaf-blind Project. When the Maryland and DC projects merged with the new 2013-2018 grant cycle, she began serving as CBSS Project Coordinator. During late winter, 2015, Lauri accepted a position within the DC school system, and her work at CBSS is now primarily with the Open Hands, Open Access (OHOA) Intervener Modules, which she helped develop. She also continues to support CBSS through a collaborative relationship between DCPS and the Maryland & DC Deaf-blind Project, which enhances the services and supports available to both the state and the District, and expands the impact of the work for students.