Governor Parnell appoints new
Link to Official Announcement
Governor Parnell appointed Jeanne Gerhardt-Cyrus, Susan Kaplan, Terese Kashi, and Karli Lopez to the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and reappointed Dean Gates, Taylor Gregg, Kaleene Lamb, Margaret Lanier Kossler, Sharon Miranda, Amy Simpson, and Justine Sheehan. The council serves as the interdepartmental planning and coordinating agency of the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Education and Early Development, and other departments that deliver services to people with disabilities or provide special education.
Jeanne Gerhardt-Cyrus, of Kiana, is the coordinator for the Developmental Disabilities Program with Maniilaq Association. She is also a former parent navigator with the Stone Soup Group, as well as a former member of that organization’s board of directors. She is currently a trainer for FASD Into Action and FASD 101 and 201. She has also worked as a peer navigator with the Alaska Youth and Family Network, and as a tribal education program coordinator and grant manager. Gerhardt-Cyrus is a retired teacher, having spent the bulk of her career in rural Alaska. She chairs the family/peer workgroup of the FASD Partnership and is a member of the partnership's steering committee. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education and rehabilitation from the University of Maine at Farmington. She is also a member of the Education Alliance for the Bring the Kids Home Initiative. Gerhardt-Cyrus is appointed to a seat reserved for a parent of a consumer of disabilities services.
Susan Kaplan, of Anchorage, is the administrative dean of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) College of Health. She has worked in a variety of roles at UAA, including associate dean and occupational therapy liaison. Her long career in occupational therapy and academia includes work as the chair and graduate coordinator of the occupational therapy department at Florida International University and as an occupational therapist for a series of health care providers in Alaska and Florida. She is appointed to a seat reserved for a representative of higher education.
Terese Kashi, of Soldotna, currently works as a school psychologist with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Over her extensive career, she has worked in a variety of settings as an educator in elementary, secondary and university settings, as a school psychologist, and as a mental health care and substance abuse treatment provider throughout the Northwest. Active in her community, Kashi served as the president of the Alaska School Psychologists Association and currently serves as the ethics committee chair of that organization, as a member of the Rural Special Education Quarterly editorial board, and as a member of Rotary. She holds a doctorate in education psychology from the University of Idaho, where she also earned her education specialist degree in school psychology and a second education specialist degree in special education administration. She earned a master’s degree in family/child counseling from the University of North Dakota, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Kashi is appointed to a seat reserved for a secondary consumer of services.
Karli Lopez, of Anchorage, is the former co-chair of the United Way of Anchorage Emerging Leaders Advisory Council and a member of the Stone Soup Group Board of Directors. She has worked as a regulatory compliance analyst with Alaska Communications Systems and in a variety of other professional roles for NANA Development, QC Financial, and H&R Block. Lopez holds an associate degree from the University of Maryland. She is appointed to a seat reserved for a parent of a special needs child who is under the age of six.
Dean Gates, of Anchorage, has been an assistant municipal attorney for the Municipality of Anchorage since 2003. He previously worked as a law clerk for Superior Court Judge Michael Jeffery and was a part-time legal research associate for the Institute of the North. Gates has also worked as a student living center program aide for The Arc of Anchorage from 2000-2003, and as a marketing coordinator from 1994-1997. He has served as an officer or board member of the Alaska Deaf Council since 2002, and was a member of the Alaska Advisory Board on Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students from 2001-2005. Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University-Northridge and a law degree from Northwest School of Law in Portland, Oregon. Deaf since about age 10, he is reappointed to a seat reserved for a self-advocate, or consumer of services for the disabled.
Taylor Gregg, of Ketchikan, experiences a developmental disability. She graduated from Ketchikan High School and has worked as a volunteer preschool aide and as a paid substitute aide. A participant in Special Olympics, she has won national weightlifting competitions through the organization, and holds other state weightlifting records in Alaska. Gregg has served on the council since 2003, and was reappointed to a seat reserved for a consumer of services for the disabled.
Kaleene Lamb, of Fairbanks, experiences a developmental disability. She graduated from high school and attended college. Lamb has advocated for Alaskans with disabilities through her participation in the Key Coalition and the People First organization. She is reappointed to a seat reserved for a consumer of services for the disabled.
Margaret Lanier Kossler, of Anchorage, has served in numerous public health positions in Alaska. Recently, she was the family school services coordinator for the Anchorage School District. Prior to that, she worked for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services as an adolescent health coordinator and program manager for early hearing detection and intervention. Kossler is also affiliated with the Stone Soup Group and the American Lung Association of Alaska. Kossler, who holds a master’s degree in public health from Loma Linda University, is reappointed to a consumer seat.
Sharon Miranda, of Anchorage, has been an employment specialist with Alyeska Vocational Services since 2006 and an American Sign Language adjunct faculty member at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 1989. She previously worked as a community resource counselor for The Arc of Anchorage and a rehabilitation specialist for the Alaska Center for Blind and Deaf Adults. Miranda has been a member of the Alaska Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Council since 2008, an officer of the Anchorage Club of the Deaf from 1983-1990, and a board member or executive with the Alaska Association of the Deaf from 1985-1994. Miranda earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. and took post-graduate American Sign Language classes from Gallaudet. She is reappointed to a seat reserved for a consumer of services for the disabled.
Amy Simpson, of Eagle River, is executive director of Programs for Infants and Children, Inc., a non-profit service agency for developmentally disabled children, and has worked there since 1995 as a speech-language pathologist, program services manager and associate director. Her volunteer work includes service on the Statewide Positive Behavioral Support Task Force, on the Early Intervention Committee of the Governor’s Council, and as chair of the Alaska Infant Learning Program Association. Simpson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications disorders from Colorado State University, and a master’s degree in non-profit management from Regis University in Denver. She is reappointed to a seat reserved for a provider of services to infants or toddlers with disabilities.
Justine Sheehan, of Barrow, received a certificate of attendance from the Kiita Learning Center. Currently in Anchorage to access specialized services, she is serving as an intern at KACN TV and living at Hope Community Services' Saratoga House. Sheehan has participated in the Key Campaign and is reappointed as a consumer of services.