Meet the Board


Jessica Queener, Ed.D., is a project manager at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL). For the past 17 years, in Tennessee and D.C., Jessica has collaborated with key stakeholders in assisting youth and young adults with disabilities transition to adult life. At IEL, Jessica works closely with providing Vocational Rehabilitation professionals and providers technical assistance to effectively serve opportunity youth with disabilities. Previously, Jessica managed communications and outreach for the Youth Transitions Collaborative (YTC) at The HSC Foundation and served as project director of The George Washington University’s HEATH Resource Center. Jessica began her career as the self-determination coordinator at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she provided technical assistance to general education and special education teachers and transition coordinators to implement the self-determination curriculum and career-planning approach. Jessica holds a doctorate from the Special Education and Neuroscience Excellence program at The George Washington University.


Seb M. Prohn is the senior research and evaluation specialists in Virginia’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, The Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University. He earned his doctorate in psychology from North Carolina State University while developing and evaluating inclusive postsecondary education programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities in North Carolina. While his interests are varied and have included transition to postsecondary education for students with IDD and autism spectrum disorder, he currently participates in projects to assess quality of services and care for individuals receiving Medicaid supports. He also evaluates trainings and interventions for improved early intervention services, communication and health advocacy, wellness projects directed by Special Olympics International. He is the past president for VADCDT.


Dr. Karen Akom has been working in the field of K-12 Special Education since 2001.  Currently serving as the Lead Teacher Specialist for Secondary Special Education in Hanover County Public Schools in Virginia, Dr. Akom is passionate about inclusion, collaboration, and positive transition experiences for all students.  She is excited to serve as the Vice President of the VADCDT and proud to continue supporting collaborative practices focused on transition among K-12 educators, post-secondary educators, employers, service providers, families, and, most importantly, students.


Ms. Katherine (Katie) Brendli is a PhD Candidate, studying Special Education and Disability Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Ms. Brendli is a Research to Policy Advocacy (RTPA) scholar, funded by an Office of Special Education Programs leadership training grant. Her research interests include self-determination, post-secondary transitions, culturally-responsive practices, and inclusive higher education for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).