Yesterday's Dream, Today's Reality, Tomorrow's Vision

STAFF BIOGRAPHIES

Meghan Staring |Executive Director
Meghan started working at Catskill Center for Independence in June 2007. She started as Clerical Support, then became a Vocational Services Specialist.  In 2014 she was promoted to Assistant Director.  In January 2017 she became the Executive Director of the Center.  Meghan has a passion for helping others and being involved in her community.  

She moved to Oneonta from the Herkimer area in 2006 and in her free time, she enjoys being outside, and being with her friends and family. She especially enjoys camping, motorcycle rides, and bon fires.   Meghan looks forward to all the adventures here at the Catskill Center for Independence.

Please feel free to contact her and let her know how your experience was with the Center, or how we can better meet your needs. 

Pamela Levy |Assistant DIrector 
Pamela joined the staff at the Catskill Center for Independence in April 2009 as an Independent Living Specialist and has  been fortunate enough to participate in many of the diverse facets and services the Agency has to offer to our community. Her experience and passion has always been working with a population that faces challenges in education, community integration, independent living and employment. She spent almost ten years at Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany where she developed and directed the Neil Hellman School’s vocational program. After being awarded a grant from Work Appreciation for Youth, the program expanded into the community affording students real-life work experiences in a School-To-Work setting.

She has been happily married to the same wonderful man for 37 years. They have two incredible sons that continue to make them more proud everyday. They are a firefighter and an attorney, and are as alike as they are different. A few years ago, they were blessed with they're first grandchild.  Pamela's personal interests include a love of cooking (she had her own baking/catering business for many years), reading and spending time with family and friends. She looks forward to learning more about the people and places in our area, and hopes to be a valuable addition to The Center.

Chris Zachmeyer | Administrative Specialist
Chris has been working at the Center since 1989...YIKES!! She is originally from the Rochester, NY area but moved here with her husband by way of a short 7-year stint in Lexington, KY. She started working at the Center on a very part time basis while she continued to work at a local hospital as an RN. However, the more she learned about IL, the more intrigued she became and the more involved she wanted to be. Finally, in 1996, Chris left her nursing career behind and came to work at the Center full time as the Programs Manager. In 2001, she assumed the position of Executive Director and has said that she "has been extremely lucky to have inherited and hired some of the most dedicated and passionate people you will find working in this business." In December 2016, Chris began her retirement, and continues to work for the Center on a part time basis as an Administrative Specialist. She continues to assist Meghan Staring in her transition to Executive Director.

Don Wyckoff | Director of Community Relations
Don is the Center’s Director of Community Relations. He lives in Otego with his beautiful wife Kimberly and his three children, Dakodan, Noah, and Hope. Don  has worked with people with disabilities for over 20 years. He's been with the Catskill Center for Independence for 11 of those years and constantly finds himself amazed at the many great opportunities that have presented themselves to him. In his time here he has been a part of many great moments in advocacy. He's witnessed the passage of new laws that will help people with disabilities and has even sat back dumbfounded when State Budgets took dead aim at some of the most vulnerable citizens of N.Y. He has shared in moments of triumph as 3rd grade students became mini super advocates, writing their senators and assemblymen and garnering their support for the Disability History Week Bill.

There are many reasons why Don loves his job here at the Center, but perhaps the most rewarding thing for him is working with elementary students through a project called “Through Children’s Eyes” In a nutshell, we have elementary students “try on” a disability for an entire school day. The result is an astounding story that turns sympathy and fear into empathy and understanding. If you would like to know more about this amazing program, please feel free to contact Don. He would be happy to share with you. In summary, he is a very passionate advocate who believes we have but a few moments in our existence to truly take the reins of our lives and do something that makes a difference for others. Hopefully we can do our jobs so well there is no longer a need for Independent Living Centers. Until that day comes Don will work tirelessly towards ensuring people with disabilities get the fair shake they deserve.

Selena Granata| TBI/NHTD Service Coordinator
Selena is the Service Coordinator for the TBI and NHTD waiver programs. She has worked for 20 plus years in human services. Selena has a Masters Degree from SUNY Binghmaton. She lives in Oxford NY and enjoys her scenic drive to Oneonta in the fall. She has three  grown children, and three grandchildren.  Selena and her husband live in their 150 year old home with their two dogs, Maxwell and Nicki both Yorkies. She enjoys cooking, reading, and traveling to any place that has a beach. She loves the ocean.

Bruce Niles | Employment Specialist 
Bruce has been an Employment Specialist for the Center since May 2012. He has been married for 38 years and has three grown children. He also has two grandsons. He has worked as a DSS Children’s Services Caseworker in Schoharie and Montgomery Counties for a combined 13 years. Bruce was also a Medicaid Service Coordinator. Bruce has 18 combined years working with children with disabilities and their families at Clover Patch Program as a social worker and case manager, at the Schoharie County Head Start Program as the Coordinator of Mental Health and Special Services, and at the Schoharie County Department of Health as an Early Intervention Service Coordinator.

Saralee Keegan | Employment Specialist
Saralee joined the Center as an Employment Specialist in May 2014. She is a Schoharie County resident and has been  since the late 70’s. SUNY Cobleskill brought her into the area from Long Island . She has been employed in various occupations from milking dairy cows, vet technician, various clerical positions at several different businesses, museum interpreter, and the latest was  with Private Industry Council-Workforce Solutions, reemployment services. As far as her private life, she is happily married to her husband Barry since 1997. They met at a hide tanning class at the Tom Brown’s Tracking, Survival Skills and Nature Observation School.

Barry continues on the course of teaching various skills from fire making, wigwam construction, cordage making, etc. Sara has a passion for helping animals.  Sara, along with her husband, have adopted two stray kittens.  They are brother and sister, and they call them Red & Charlie (Charlie is the female-she sports a Charlie Chaplin mustache).  Sara became familiar with the A.C.E.S. program while working for PIC. It is with the knowledge base that she gained while employed at PIC that she hopes to continue to build upon while working here at the Catskill Center for Independence .

Rachael Halstead | Long Term Care Coordinator
Rachael joined the staff here at the Catskill Center for Independence as an Employment Specialist in May 2014. Her passion is working with youth in the community and giving them the tools they need to lead independent lives later on. Rachael enjoys going for walks with her pit bull mix, Sidney , fishing, and being with her family and friends.

Debbie Martin | IPA Lead Navigator for NYS of Health

Debbie joined the staff at Catskill Center for Independence as the IPA/Lead Navigator on 9/23/13. Debbie has said that "It's wonderful to come to work each day at CCFI because all of my colleagues are as passionate about their work as I am about mine. In addition, CCFI has a wonderful and well-deserved reputation for being active in the communities it serves, so I am proud to be a part of this organization." She lives in Schoharie County and has been married for 46 years to her wonderful husband, Bob. They have three grown children and one terrific son-in-law. Their oldest daughter is now a stay at home Mom with Debbie’s newest grandchild, Neil Robert, born on 1/1/16! Their younger daughter is a pastry chef and their son has just started his career with the San Antonio, TX fire department as a professional fire fighter. They couldn’t be more proud of all three of their kids (and son-in-law) and the wonderful people they all are. Debbie and Bob are also raising a terrific granddaughter, Schuyler who is 12, and she really keeps them hopping!  They have four dogs, Sadie, Fritzie and Sophie, who are mini-dachshunds and Jack who is a dachshund/terrier mix. As you can see they have a busy household!

Debbie has worked in health insurance for over 12 years and is thrilled to be able to assist the residents of Schoharie County enroll in affordable health care, something she strongly believes in. She is able to enroll consumers in Qualified Health Plans, Medicaid and Child Health Plus on the New York State of Health Marketplace as well as small businesses to enroll in the Small Business Marketplace. An important part of her job is to make sure that everyone enrolling understands their plan and how it will work for their individual situation. Her goal is to see that everyone in Schoharie County who wants affordable health care is able to enroll in a NYS Exchange Health Plan.


Jade Pendolf | Community Liaison
Jade joined the staff at the Center in January 2015 as the Community Liaison.  Jade previously worked at the Center from 2004-2010.  For the past 4 years, she worked for the United Way located in Oneonta.  While there, she learned many things about fundraising and marketing and plans to bring those ideas and skills to the Center to raise money and awareness about the agency.

Jade lives in Otego with her two daughters, Lily and Rubi.  She enjoys a range of activities that include beer tastings, softball, concerts, and reading. Jade is also the treasurer of the Harris Memorial Library in Otego and is always looking for opportunity to help where she can.

Carol Piechnik| Employment Specialist/IPA Navigator for NYS of Health

Carol joined the staff at CCFI in July of 2016. She has lived in Schoharie County for the last 27 years with her husband and considers herself very blessed to have raised two wonderful daughters there. Her eldest daughter is an Instructional Designer at GE and her other daughter is an Engineer with General Dynamics in Massachusetts.

Carol is proud to be part of the CCFI family as she feels it is the, "perfect fit" for her experience and background in education. Carol holds Associates and Bachelor's degrees in education with a focus in working with individuals with disabilities Carol has a long history working with children, youth and adults in programs for Basic Literacy, ESL, HSE/GED and/or employment. She is excited about her dual role as an Employment Specialist and part-time IPA Navigator for NYS of Health, assisting individuals in Schoharie County.

In her free time Carol enjoys traveling, fishing, biking, gardening and is an avid sports fan!

Hey Folks! ***Job Opportunity*** We working with a college student who needs a personal care aide at SUNY Oneonta for the morning shift (M-F 6am -1pm). They would have to assist with bathing, making...

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