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

Dr. Jeni Stepanek serves as a Technical Assistance and Education Specialist for CBSS. 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 with program evaluation, needs assessment, outreach, and training and development for CBSS. She brings diverse insights on many issues related to working with children with disabilities and their families and service providers. During 2017, she began collaborating with NCDB staff on a nationwide online support project for bereaved families whose children were impacted by deaf-blindness.

Jeni has worked in the field of education, advocacy, and family support for more than three decades, and earned her MEd and PhD 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, trauma and resiliency, and grief and bereavement. She has training in the fields of deafblindness and CVI, and has earned a Perkins/Roman CVI Range Endorsement.

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 has resulted in both hearing and vision impairment. A published author and editor of numerous books, articles, and chapters, Jeni is an award-winning advocate and motivational speaker on topics ranging from disability, family support, and collaboration to bereavement, peace, and spirituality. She serves as the CEO & Chief Peace Officer 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 “83 and a beach chair philosopher.”