AUCD Welcomes New Staff

October 16, 2014

AUCD is pleased to welcome several new and talented staff to our Central Office! We are excited about the expertise they bring and the contributions we are confident they'll make in working for the network and people with disabilities.





Abigail (Abbey) Alberico, MPH
Project Manager

Abigail Alberico is the Project Manager for the Public Health team. She supports and creates capacity development activities in the areas of birth defects, developmental disabilities, and health promotion for people living with a disability. She provides technical assistance to the UCEDDs and LENDs network centers, State Disability and Health programs, and Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassadors and State Systems Grantees. Abigail received a Master of Public Health degree in Communication and Marketing in the Department of Prevention and Community Health from The Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Prior to joining AUCD, Abigail worked as a Research Assistant for The Empowering Latino Youth Project at The George Washington University, and as a School Health Curriculum Reviewer at The Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Before she started the MPH program at The George Washington University, Abigail was a Supervisor in the National Broadcast Department at Optimedia in New York, NY. During her time at Optimedia, she assisted in developing, implementing, and evaluating strategic communication campaigns for clients including Curves Fitness and Birds Eye Vegetables.



Leon Barnett, MSEd
Program Specialist

Leon Barnett is currently serving as a Program Specialist for the OSEP Promise TA Center. He received his Master's degree in Leadership for School, Family, and Community Collaboration from The Johns Hopkins University. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Public and Community Engagement from George Mason University. During his tenure at George Mason University he served as a teacher and counselor for The Mason Life Program (a postsecondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities). Prior to joining AUCD he was a special education teacher in Baltimore City, Maryland.Leon prides himself on being optimistic and challenging each opportunity that he encounters, realizing that leadership is embodied within the walls of strong networks and relationships.


Lane Falcon, MFA
Director of Development & Communications

Lane Falcon comes to AUCD from Acacia Network, Inc., the largest Latino-founded Organization in New York State and the second largest in the country. She brings diverse experience to AUCD, including a proven track-record of successful major gift solicitation from corporate, individual and private foundation sources, and a life-long passion for writing and communications. As Director of Development & Communications, she hopes to enhance and diversify AUCD’s funding streams and shape campaigns that directly benefit the Disability Community. She received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College.



Jessica Finkel
Program Assistant

Jessica Finkel is the Program Assistant at AUCD. She assists with general office and administrative operations, including cross-departmental needs and web services. She also works with the development opportunities as needed. Jessica is currently working on her Master's degree in Public Policy with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to joining AUCD, Jessica moved to the DC-area from Indianapolis to work at the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. There, she worked both with the development and program departments, working with fundraising and volunteer events, coordination of grant materials, and annual meetings. She holds a strong and personal interest in the disability community.


Maria Isabel Frangenberg
Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Maria Isabel is a Diversity and Inclusion fellow who works on AUCD's Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) Technical Assistance team. She is working on developing a blueprint for cultural and linguistic competence (CLC) across the UCEDDs. The blueprint seeks to expand diversity within the entire UCEDD network and the developmental disabilities field to ensure that the network is well-positioned to address growth in diverse communities, as well the growing number of people with disabilities.Maria Isabel brings extensive experience in working with diverse and underserved populations. Prior to joining AUCD, she worked at the Partnership for People with Disabilities, the Virginia UCEDD, as the Latino Community Liaison. There, she designed and implemented educational programs for Latino parents of children with special healthcare needs to enhance their meaningful participation in their local school districts. Additionally, Maria Isabel designed trainings and conferences to educate and build capacity for providers within the commonwealth of Virginia to enhance the cultural responsiveness of their organizations. She was the first parent LEND trainee in VA, and continued her connection to LEND as a co- instructor for the Interdisciplinary Teamwork course.


Michael Gamel-McCormick, PhD
Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy

Michael Gamel-McCormick will serve as the Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy. Michael will be directing the OSEP-funded AUCD PROMISE TA Center; directing AUCD's efforts in RSA-funded Job Driven Voc Rehab TA Center (JD-VRTAC) and providing leadership in research, policy, and evaluation projects. Michael was a disability and education policy advisor with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions under the chairmanship of Senator Tom Harkin. He is also a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Delaware with specialties in disabilities, early childhood education and early intervention, and family supports and policy. Prior to his current position, Michael was professor and Dean of the College of Education and Public Policy at the University of Delaware and the Direcor of the Delaware UCEDD. Additionally, he served as President of the AUCD Board of Directors in 2008-2009. He will join AUCD on October 28, 2014.


Paul Gottlich
Meetings Intern

Paul Gottlich serves as the intern for this November's AUCD UNLEASED Annual Conference. He received a Bachelor's degree in Middle East Foreign Policy and International Business/Marketing from The Johns Hopkins University where he focused on US-Turkish relations and marketing/event planning for start-up companies. Prior to joining AUCD, Paul worked for the US Senate supporting Middle East Policy and constituent services. Additionally, Paul worked as a sales and corporate relations team member of Gable Vision, a Baltimore based Visual Communications company. He has worked with the developmental disability community since the age of 6 while growing up in Overland Park, Kansas.


Shannon Haworth, MA
Senior Program Specialist

Shannon Haworth is the new senior program specialist for the LEND team. She most recently worked for the Partnership for People with Disabilities as the Project Manager for the Virginia state autism implementation grant. She is a former Virginia LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) trainee. Shannon has a Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, and a graduate certificate in Autism from Ball State University. She has also earned a Post Baccalaureate Graduate Certificate in Disability Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is currently a doctoral candidate (DrPH) studying Public Health at Walden University.


W. Ben Jackson III, JD
Public Policy Fellow

W. Ben Jackson III is currently serving as the AUCD Disability Policy Fellow for 2014-2015. He graduated from The Dickinson School of Law at The Pennsylvania State University in May of 2104. Prior to joining the AUCD he worked with Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law) at the Kennedy Krieger Institute as a law clerk. As a law clerk with Project HEAL he was responsible for researching and drafting memorandums on special education law. He directly advocated for clients by drafting complaints for the Maryland State Department of Education for alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004). He also worked to ensure his clients had appropriate accommodations and placements by advocating during Individualized Education Program meetings. As the Disability Policy Fellow he will work with AUCD's Legislative Affairs Committee to formulate and promote the legislative goals of AUCD; provide policy updates and technical assistance to association members, and participate in meetings with Congressional offices related to particular policy issues.



Benjamin (Ben) Kaufman, MSW
Program Manager

Benjamin (Ben) Kaufman is joining the AUCD staff after more than two years at the Organization for Autism Research. As their Director of Programs and Community Outreach, Ben managed initiatives aimed at increasing access to practical, evidence-based information among parents, educators, clinical professionals, and other members of the autism community. In 2011, Ben earned an MSW in management and community organizing from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, where he received the Julee Kryder-Coe Award for outstanding achievement in advocacy and social action. He also holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan. A former education policy advocate and brother to a young man with special needs, Ben is a Maryland native who now lives with his wife, Ashley, in Arlington, Va. In his spare time, he enjoys distance running, watching baseball, and pretending to be a gourmet chef. He will join AUCD on November 3, 2014.