Our Staff

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LaWanda H. Cook, Ph.D.

LaWanda Cook joined the staff of the Northeast ADA Center as an Extension Associate/Training Specialist in July 2010. She has extensive experience in vocational counseling and personnel management within public and non-profit organizations. She holds a BS in Rehabilitation Services from the University of Connecticut, a MS in Human Resource Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a PhD in Recreation, Sport and Tourism, from the University of Illinois. A certified rehabilitation counselor, her research interests include work-life balance of people with disabilities and social inclusion in integrated work and leisure settings.

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Hannah Rudstam, Ph.D.

Hannah Rudstam is the Northeast ADA Center's Director of Training. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Hannah worked as a program planner and evaluator at the Royal Adult Learning Academy in Stockholm, Sweden. Back in the U.S., she became a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Wisconsin, researching a state-wide health risk prevention program in Wisconsin. After re-locating in the upstate New York area, she took a position as a Senior Organizational Development Consultant at United Technologies and then at Eagle Consultants in Syracuse. In this capacity, she designed tools for hiring, performance management and employee development systems. Also, she developed a turnover prevention program that has been adopted by a number of national and global organizations. In 2005, she took a position as Senior Extension Faculty with the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She has primarily worked for the Northeast ADA Center (formerly known as DBTAC) project and has designed and implemented programs on a broad range of topics related to disability and employment. Most recently, she has focused her work on researching the role of face-to-face leaders in disability inclusive workplaces and on preparing employers for a workforce that includes veterans with disabilities.

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Erin Sember-Chase, M.A.

Erin Sember-Chase joined the Northeast ADA Center in 2008 and serves as the Center's Project Coordinator and as the Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Employment & Disability Institute. She is responsible for coordinating the team of Technical Assistance Specialists who provide information and answer questions related to the ADA through the Center's toll free 800 line and email. She also oversees the publication of the monthly Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin, coordinates management of the Center's Web site, and assists with training development. Erin holds a Masters degree in Community Clinical Psychology from Mansfield University, PA. She has designed and implemented several presentations and trainings on Disability Culture at the campus, regional, and national levels. She serves as a co-teacher of Introduction to Disability Studies at Cornell, Advisor to the Cornell Union for Disabilities Awareness, and a member of the Ithaca City Disability Advisory Council, the City of Ithaca Workforce Diversity Advisory Committee, and the Cornell University Student Disability Services Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Finger Lakes Independence Center Board of Directors.

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Luz Semeah, Ph.D.

Luz Semeah joined the Northeast ADA Center in January, 2012 as a Technical Assistance Specialist. She is a native Spanish speaker and has extensive experience with ADA compliance issues. She previously worked for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) as ADA Coordinator. In addition, she served as an ADA Consultant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Services office at Virginia Tech University. Luz is working on completing her PhD in Housing from Virginia Tech and her research concentration is on the needs and accessibility issues experienced by OEF and OIF veterans regarding multifamily rental housing. She earned a MPA degree from Virginia Tech and a bachelor's in business administration from Shaw University.

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Katie Steigerwalt

Katie Steigerwalt joined the Northeast ADA Center in 2011 as Project Assistant after working for two years on the New York State Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. She is responsible for coordinating meetings, creating and maintaining registration sites, updating Technical Assistance Entries, as well as material development and dissemination. Katie holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Penn State University, and an Associate's degree in Graphic Design.

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Wendy Strobel-Gower, M.S.

Wendy Strobel-Gower is the Director of the Northeast ADA Center. She holds a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Ms. Strobel has worked extensively in the application and training of issues around assistive technology in work and school environments. She also has a great deal of experience in the area of employment and transition from school to work for people with disabilities. Other areas of interest include person centered planning philosophy and tools, disability legislation and its impact on services, and the identification and accommodation of the functional limitations of disabilities across the lifespan.

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Joe Zesski

Joe Zesski became the New Jersey affiliate of the Northeast ADA Center in 2009. He provides ADA technical assistance and conducts trainings as needed. He is the Community Education Coordinator at Resources for Independent Living, a disability advocacy organization in Burlington, New Jersey. In this capacity, he builds community relationships between Resources for Independent Living and other disability related organizations. He develops and delivers presentations on a variety of disability related topics to interested groups. He has an extensive background working with youth with disabilities to prepare them to enter the workforce or college, to know about community resources, to understand their rights, and to learn how to self-advocate. He serves as the Chair of the Burlington County Disability Issues Committee. Prior to his work in the disability field, Joe received his Bachelors degree in English Communications from Cabrini College and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University.

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Yessica M. Guardiola-Marrero

Yessica M. Guardiola-Marrero joined the Northeast ADA Center in February, 2010 and provides technical assistance on our behalf to our constituents in Puerto Rico through our affiliate agency, The Movement towards Achievement of Independent Living (MAVI according to its initials in Spanish). She assists Spanish-speaking callers and participates in ADA and disability related educational activities in Puerto Rico. Yessica holds a Juris Doctor Degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PUCPR) and a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). Since 2005 she has been the President of the Persons with Disabilities Rights Commission of the Puerto Rico Bar Association. She is a member of the Help America Vote Act Committee of the Puerto Rico's State Election Commission, and is part of the Board of Directors of the Special Education and Services for People with Disabilities Cooperative.


Yessica M. Guardiola Marrero colabora con el Centro de la ADA del Noreste desde febrero de 2010 y provee asistencia técnica a nuestro nombre a nuestros constituyentes en Puerto Rico a través de nuestra organización afiliada, el Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente (MAVI). Ella atiende llamadas de personas hispano-hablantes y participa en actividades educativas sobre la Ley de Americanos con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés) o relacionadas con la comunidad con discapacidad en Puerto Rico. Yessica posee un Juris Doctor de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico (PUCPR) y un Bachillerato en Trabajo Social de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR). Desde el 2005 es la Presidenta de la Comisión para los Derechos de las Personas con Impedimentos del Colegio de Abogados de PR. Es miembro del Comité Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) de la Comisión Estatal de Elecciones y es parte de la Junta de Directores de la Cooperativa de Educación Especial y Servicios a Personas Discapacitadas de PR.

In order to effectively serve the diverse needs of ADA Stakeholder across our region, the Northeast ADA Center has developed a network of affiliates and partnerships across Region II. Our primary partners include:

Resources for Independent Living, New Jersey Affiliate:

Resources for Independent Living (RIL) is a community based member organization whose purpose is to serve people with disabilities. Membership is open to all people with disabilities, their able-bodied friends, and supporters. RIL promotes personal growth and empowerment through choice, self-determination and participating programs providing information, education, skills development, and networking opportunities.

Joe Zesski, a Resources for Independent Living staff person, provides training and technical assistance on behalf of the Northeast ADA Center. Through his efforts as a TA Specialist, trainer, and staff person at an ILC, he has been able to provide us with insight into the needs of ADA Stakeholders in New Jersey, help to promote ADA implementation, and ensure training and information needs are being met, throughout New Jersey.

Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente (MAVI), Puerto Rico Affiliate:

MAVI serves as our affiliate organization in Puerto Rico. This partnership is invaluable to promoting increased implementation of the ADA in Puerto Rico. It is critical that the Northeast ADA Center provide staff that not only speak Spanish, including Puerto Rican Spanish, but also understand the unique culture in this territory. Yessica M. Guardiola Marrero, an attorney with a vision impairment serves as a trainer and technical assistance specialist on our behalf across Puerto Rico.

The Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands (DRCVI)

The DRCVI serves as our affiliate in the U.S. Virgin Islands. DRCVI was created on October 1, 1977 and was then known as the Committee on Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled, Inc., and later as Virgin Islands Advocacy, Inc. In their role as a Protection and Advocacy agency, they provide legal advocacy services to eligible person with disabilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As well as filling the role of the protection and advocacy agency for the U.S. Virgin Islands, DRCVI offers information and training about the ADA in the Virgin Islands on behalf of the Northeast ADA Center. The DRCVI staff involved in this project include Amelia Headley Lamont, Archie Jennings, and Kishma Creque.

United Spinal Association, Accessibility Services

It's vital that the built environment is accessible to people living with disabilities so that they can be active members of their communities and live with greater independence. United Spinal Association's Accessibility Services program provides consulting services devoted exclusively to making our built environment accessible to people with disabilities. United Spinal Association's goal is to assist property owners and designers as they navigate the myriad of accessibility requirements that apply to any given facility — both at the state and federal levels — accessibility consulting including plan review, site assessment and training. United Spinal Association's group of professionals, including certified accessibility specialists, plan examiners, attorneys, architects and code enforcement officials is skilled in applying state and federal accessibility requirements, including, American with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing, Section 504 and state/local accessibility requirements to any project.