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 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.
Jessica Queener, Ed.D., is a Vocational Rehabilitation Program Specialist at the US Department of Education. For nearly 20 years, Jessica has collaborated with key stakeholders in assisting youth and young adults with disabilities transitioning to adult life. Previously, at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), Jessica delivered technical assistance to Vocational Rehabilitation professionals and providers to effectively serve opportunity youth with disabilities. Prior to joining IEL, Jessica managed the 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 as well as 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.
Dr. Daniel Biegun is excited to join the VADCDT team and collaborate with leaders from across the state. Daniel offers a range of perspectives, having experienced the transition process as a special education teacher, specialist, and parent. In his present role as an Educational Specialist for the Virginia Department of Education’s Training & Technical Assistance Center (T-TAC) at Old Dominion University, Daniel’s areas of focus include post-secondary transition, self-determination skills, academic instruction for students with intellectual disabilities, and Universal Design for Learning. As Vice President, Daniel is proud to contribute to VADCDT’s tradition of building collaborative networks that lead to successful outcomes for students with disabilities.
Katherine (Katie) Brendli is a PhD Candidate studying Special Education and Disability Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests include self-determination, culturally-responsive practices, post-secondary transitions, and inclusive higher education for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). As a lover of learning, with a passion to make positive change, Ms. Brendli’s ultimate goal is to conduct quality research, to make influential contributions to the special education field, and to develop innovative means to best support individuals with IDD in the post-secondary transition process. Specifically, Ms. Brendli hopes to foster greater opportunities and experiences in post-secondary education for individuals with IDD through powerful advocacy, research, and collaboration.
Treasurer: Wanda Bass
Wanda Bass is the Regional Coordinator of Youth Services for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys located in Roanoke. Wanda earned a Master of Art from East Carolina University and a Master of Science from the University of Kansas. She also earned a certification in Vocational Evaluation from East Carolina University.
Wanda’s history of working in Special Education for 35 years both in North Carolina and Virginia lends itself to her role as Regional Coordinator of Youth Services. At the present time, Wanda oversees YouthHQ@Goodwill, Youth Work Experience, Youth Mentoring Programs in Roanoke and Franklin County, Community School to Work Transition Programs in the Roanoke Valley and Franklin County area, Project SEARCH, and Pre-Employment Transition Services programs to include work readiness training and work-based learning experience.