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, and worked her way to becoming Office Manager.  Meghan then accepted the position of Vocational Services Specialist in August 2010, working with local school districts, assisting students apply for ACCES-VR Services.  In 2014 she was promoted to Assistant Director under the guidance of Chris Zachmeyer.  Upon Chris’s retirement in December 2016, Meghan was appointed as Executive Director in January 2017.  Meghan has experienced many different roles within the Agency, but her most favorite is being able to work with individuals and their families.

She moved to Oneonta from the Herkimer area in 2006.  This was never meant to be a permanent move, but Meghan quickly planted “roots” and now calls East Meredith home. She has been with her partner, Jeremy since she was a junior in high school! In early 2021 they welcomed their first child together, Riekyn. Meghan enjoys spending time with her son, camping, and enjoying the great outdoors. 

Meghan loves working with the Center and the people we serve.  She continues to grow within the agency, and is always looking to expand on current programs & services.

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 in the communities we serve.   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.

While at CCFI, Pamela has had the privilege of chairing the Schoharie County Human Services Coordinating Council for over five years, watching it grow larger and stronger with each passing year.  The purpose and mission of the Council is to consider the needs of all Schoharie County residents, develop partnerships to decrease gaps in services, to enhance program collaboration and reduce program duplication. 

She has been happily married to the same wonderful man for close to 50 years. They have two incredible sons that continue to make them more proud every day. They are a Lieutenant in the Schenectady City Fire Department and an Assistant DA in Suffolk County.  The “boys” are as alike as they are different. The Levy’s have been blessed with two wonderful grandchildren that are truly the lights of their lives. 

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 feels that even after all this time, she learns something new every day, and is passionate about the Center and the work done here.

Don Wyckoff | Director of Community Relations

Don is our director of community relations. Don has been here at the Center for 18+ years. He has always been passionate about helping people and fighting for the rights of the often disregarded members of our communities. Don is a comic, musician and most recently a radio host for new upcoming artists @ Parlor City Radio. Don loves history, so he is always looking for new lands to metal detect. Don says that it is such a rush finding items that are over 200 years old and knowing he's the first person to hold it since the day it was dropped. Soooo, if you have an old home/property and wouldn’t mind uncovering history with Don, please drop him a line.

Finally, Don is a father of three awesome kids and a step father to two more. He loves being a dad. Don says that it’s the most personally gratifying part of his life as he knows each day is an opportunity to shape our kids with something more meaningful than “just getting through life”. Don and his fiancé Erin have a beautiful home in Binghamton and just welcomed their newest addition, Claire Elizabeth Wyckoff to make their family complete. Claire is currently OWNING the heart of everyone who meets her.

 

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.

Saralee Keegan | Employment Specialist

Saralee joined the Catskill Center for Independence in May 2014.  She transitioned as a Workforce Advisor to Employment Specialist for Catskill and built on her existing skills to assist those who seek employment through the A.C.E.S. (Assistive Competitive Employment Services)  Program.  She has been ever thankful for what she continues to learn from those she serves. It is truly through trust and collaboration that she can assist and it is a privilege.  She is a graduate of SUNY Cobleskill and resides in Schoharie County.  Sara held various occupations but generally they were all customer service/human service based.  She has been married for over 20 years to her husband, Barry.  They both care for and love their two babies, Red & Charlie, brother & sister rescue kitties. 

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 & 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 & in 2021, will celebrate her 51th anniversary with her wonderful husband, Bob, who is retired. She is a 2002 graduate of SUNY College at Oneonta with a BS in History.

They have three grown children & a son-in-law. Their oldest daughter is now a stay at home Mom raising two of Debbie’s grandchildren, Neil, age 5 & Zoey Mae, age 1! Her son-in-law is employed with the NYS Court System. Their younger daughter is a pastry chef in the Capital District & their son is a professional firefighter in San Antonio, TX. They couldn’t be more proud of all three of their kids & their son-in law.  Debbie & Bob are also raising their terrific granddaughter, Schuyler who is 17, and is a senior in high school.  They have four dogs, Fritzie, Sophie, Jack and the newest member, a German Shepherd, Jasper, who joined the family on Thanksgiving 2019.  At almost 2 years old, Jasper is already 90+ pounds, so as you can see they have a busy household!

Debbie had worked in the health insurance field for over 12 years before coming to CCFI & is thrilled to be able to assist the residents of Schoharie County enroll in affordable health care, something she strongly believes in. An important part of her job is to make sure that everyone enrolling understands their plan & 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 NYSOH Exchange Health Plan. She feels she is making a difference for the 900+ families she has assisted over these 9 years & hopes to keep reaching more people every day.

Susan Rorick | Employment Specialist

Susan is an Employment Specialist with the Assistive Competitive Employment Services (ACES) program for Schoharie County residents with mental illness. She started with the Catskill Center for Independence in May of 2018 as a part-time ACES and Health Insurance Navigator. She enjoys getting to know people and watching them pursue and obtain their goals and dreams. Susan is a board member for Schoharie County Council for Alcohol and Substance Abuse (SCCASA) and participates on the Human Services Coordinating Council (HSCC).

She lives in Schoharie County with her husband, two kids, two cats, and their dog. Some of her favorite things are camping, reading, trying new things, and laughing.  

 Shelly Vanderwerken | Operations Coordinator 

Shelly is the Operations Coordinator for the center. She started working with the center in August of 2019 as a health insurance navigator. Before working for the center, Shelly was a stay at home mom to her three awesome kids. Elon (9) Carole (7) and Abby (5). As her youngest went into school, she decided to enter the workforce and what better place to work than an independent living center?! Shelly resides in Hobart NY with her boyfriend, Kyle, who also has 2 children. Together, they have 1 dog, a bearded dragon, 3 kitty's, 2 geckos, a pac man frog, a russian tortoise and a beta fish. Since working for CCFI she has taken on the role of SRI Investigator for our waiver programs as well as Employment Specialist with the ACCES-VR program. Shelly has enjoyed her time thus far at the center and is excited to continue to learn and grow here.

Heather Merrill |Transition & Housing Specialist

Heather is the  Transition and Housing Specialist for both Otsego and Delaware County Through the Open Doors and Olmstead Housing Programs. Heather started working at CCFI in March 2019. Prior to her start at the center, Heather attended Mount Saint Mary College where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Heather continues to be an asset to the center as she has helped transition many people back into the community where they feel most comfortable. She feels her work is very fulfilling and she looks forward to the relationships she forms with each client she encounters. At her home in Downsville, Heather enjoys crochet, puzzles, and reading. However, she is most content being outside spending time with her cows at her family farm, “Jerbie Farms."

Jena Parker | Service Coordinator

Jena is one of our Service Coordinators with the NHTD and TBI Waiver program. Jena started with the center in July of 2019. Preliminary to, Jena attended and graduated from Saint Rose College in 2015 with a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. She resides in Davenport along with her 3 beautiful daughters, Eliana (6), and the twins Addison & Madelyn (4). You can usually find Jena outside grilling up food and hanging with her children and dog Skye. Jena truly believes in the center and in helping those with disabilities achieve their goals of reaching independence.

 Cheryl Plant | IPA Navigator / Employment Specialist

Cheryl is the Employment Specialist/IPA Navigator for Schoharie county. Cheryl started working at the center in November of 2019. Prior to working at the center Cheryl worked in the human service field. She did many different things ranging from workforce advisor/youth coordinator to early intervention and domestic violence/crime victims. Cheryl also worked for child protective services and was a disaster case manager when the flood devastated Schoharie County. She is excited to work and use the skills she has gained over the years, as well as to learn and gain new knowledge here at Catskill Center for Independence. Cheryl was also a stay at home mom for 16 years before reentering the workforce when her youngest child started school. She loves working and advocating for individuals that may have some challenges, and times where a little assistance is needed. Cheryl lives in Montgomery county in the country with her husband they have 5 grown children. She loves being outside working around the house, some crafting, and being with her family and fur baby Bella. 

 Vince Baker | NY Connects Outreach Specialist

Vince is our outreach specialist. He is a veteran of the U S Navy, and moved to New York in 1996. Vince worked in the juvenile justice system for 20 years and is married to wife Theresa residing in Sidney NY. He has 5 kids and 7 grand kids. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his grand kids and playing golf. Vince looks forward to serving the communities well.

 Sandi Hansen | IPA Navigator

Sandi is our health insurance IPA/Navigator for Delaware County. She joined the CCFI team in June of 2021, bringing with her several years’ experience working as an IPA/Navigator with NY State of Health Marketplace. What drew her to the Center is the camaraderie, and how we all work together for the different needs of all of our clients. Sandi grew up on the west coast, but loves upstate New York and would not want to live any place else. Sandi works fulltime but volunteers at a local nursing home on the weekends.

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