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Advocates

Nicole Bauer

Nicole is a Representative Payee Reviewer.  She graduated from Clarion University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology/sociology. Prior to joining DRP, Nicole spent more than 10+ years advocating for elderly persons to be able to remain in their homes with independence. Nicole is working to obtain her master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology from Capella University. She is happy to be part of the DRP team.

Lyle Cope

Lyle is the Facility Advocate assigned to Ebensburg Center. He has been an advocate for DRP since 2018 and has over 40 years of experience supporting people with intellectual disabilities. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science Degree in Human Exceptionalities from the University of Indiana of Pennsylvania. He spent 38 years working for Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs, initially in the capacity of direct support and ultimately in the administration of one of the Commonwealth’s ICF/IDs. He also provided private consultation services with agencies and teams providing community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities and those transitioning from State Centers to community-based services.

Kimberly Edman

Kim has worked for DRP since 2006. She began as an intake coordinator and quickly moved into an advocacy position. Prior to working for DRP, Kim received her Bachelor’s Degree at Millersville University and completed some graduate studies at Penn State University. She worked in human services for more than 14 years in both direct care and managing a residential home. Kim’s focus has been on advocating for individuals with disabilities to access services in the community.

Samirah Gross

Samirah graduated from La Salle University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  She went on to work in the child welfare systems in Philadelphia as a case manager in 2016 and 2017. Samirah also worked as a probation officer in Montgomery County between 2017 and 2019. Samirah enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and traveling.

Phyllis Hilley

Phyllis has served as Program Director for DRP’s Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program (WIPA) since 2007. She has a degree in organizational management and more than 20 years of experience in human services. Phyllis has one daughter and resides in Delaware County.

Desiree Krick

Desiree, an advocate for people with disabilities, ensures that people have the opportunity to speak up for themselves and determine the life they would like to live. Since 2015, she has been employed by DRP as a facility advocate at Hamburg Center. Desiree earned an A.A. in psychology from Reading Area Community College and is currently pursuing her B.S. in psychology at Kutztown University. Desiree’s work experience with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities includes: seven years of direct care, two years as a team leader, and one year as a residential supervisor for a community provider. Desiree attends ISP meetings for self-advocates to ensure the development of their ISP reflects their rights, choices, preferences, interests, and enhances their quality of life. Desiree has facilitated monthly self-advocacy meetings and self-advocacy activities at the Hamburg Center. During these meetings and throughout the year, she educates self-advocates on advocacy and rights. Desiree has been instrumental in the development of the Self-Advocate of the Month Program at Hamburg Center. She feels that it is very rewarding for self-advocates to be recognized and celebrated for their achievements. Desiree is currently involved in supporting people who live at Hamburg Center transition into homes in the community. She meets independently with team members including families and participates in transition meetings. She is helping those who are moving determine what supports they need and want in a community life. Desiree ensures that every person who is planning to move to the community is given an opportunity to provide input regarding his/her new home and to learn as much as possible about the residences that are being offered. Desiree also makes sure that the services that are being offered by providers are person centered and adequate to meet the person’s needs.

Martine De Lorenzo

Martine is a Certified Work Incentive Coordinator. Martine started her career at DRP in 2005 with the Community Advocacy Project, providing advocacy to individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Southeast Region of PA.  She later joined the WIPA team, originally to provide much needed administrative assistance and eventually completing the rigorous training necessary for obtaining a certification as a CWIC. Previously, Martine worked at Vision For Equality as an advocate where she also volunteered for the IM4Q in Philadelphia. She was also a member of the Developmental Disabilities Council in PA and held an appointment on the Planning and  Advisory Committee to the Deputy Secretary of (currently) ODP. This advocacy career chose Martine; she has six children, two of whom were born with disabilities, all of whom make her proud.

Ronece Martinez

Ronece has worked for DRP since 2003. She began her work as an intake advocate and has led the intake team and intake process since 2008. Before joining DRP, she worked in the human services field for 10 years as direct care staff and a residential home supervisor. Ronece provided training for central Pennsylvania staff in conjunction with Riverside Associates for several years. Topics included rights of people with disabilities and community inclusion. In her role at DRP, Ronece has supported thousands of clients with technical and short-term assistance. She works on protective services issues, provides resources for those in need, and helps people understand their rights.

Beth Mulligan

Beth is a 2011 graduate of Thiel College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Communications. Upon graduation, she interned  with the United States EPA in Washington, D.C. While with the EPA, Beth  was introduced to protection and advocacy agencies that dealt with environmental issues. She has spent many years working for law firms focusing on Immigration Law.

Karen Pasqualicchio

Karen graduated summa cum laude from the University of Scranton with a degree in Counseling and Human Services.  She has been a community developmental disabilities advocate since 2005. She is dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of people with developmental disabilities. She has worked in the human service system since 1979 as a direct care staff, case manager, supervisor of day activities, director of residential services, and as an advocate.  DRP advocates support individuals with developmental disabilities’ right to be heard and to be healthy and safe while enjoying full community inclusion.

Ryan Rader

Ryan is a Representative Payee Investigator at the Harrisburg office of Disability Rights Pennsylvania. He graduated from DeSales University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has spent the last 5 years helping adults in the mental health community overcoming barriers and achieving independence. He lives in Carlisle with his wife Ashley and daughter Adele.

Norma Realpe

Community Work Incentives Coordinator with the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance  (WIPA) team at Disability Rights PA.  Norma has worked in this position since 9/2015.  She has a master’s in business from University of Phoenix.  She has worked for Virginia Commonwealth University/National Training Center under the WIPA project. She also worked for Ticket-to-work/Employment Network AHEDD and held a dual role as Employment Specialist/CWIC for consumers with disabilities. She is the mother of 2, one child with special needs and the other one serving our country ( USA Marines).  She resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Marcos Rios-Nieves

Marcos has served individuals with disabilities as a Community Partner Work Incentives Counselor for Social Security Beneficiaries looking for employment. He has also served as a Job Coach in the Philadelphia area since 2011. He is now a Representative Payee Investigator at DRP. He is a North Philadelphia native who graduated from Temple University in 2010. Marcos is also obsessed with comic books and Latin percussion.

Coleen Sassaman

Coleen is the Facility Advocacy Team Leader as well as the advocate assigned to Selinsgrove Center. She has approximately 30 years of experience supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Coleen has worked as a facility advocate since March of 1999 and prior to that, was employed for more than 10 years in numerous professional and managerial capacities with a community provider agency. In her tenure at Selinsgrove Center, Coleen has been instrumental in expanding the leadership and self-advocacy groups and has focused much attention on rights training and activities at all the centers.  Moreover, Coleen has helped transition many men and women from state centers to homes in the community.  Coleen holds several degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Thomas A. Edison State College and a Master of Business Administration from California Coast University.

Jean Searle

Jean has been with Disability Rights Pennsylvania and its predecessors since 1994 following her discharge from an institution. Jean started in the Philadelphia office where she was a receptionist and provided administrative support to staff. In 2014, Jean became an advocate focusing on policy matters impacting people with disabilities. Jean often visits with legislators and members of their staffs to raise awareness of disability rights issues. Ms. Searle is also a self-advocate. Jean moved to Harrisburg and now works in DRP’s Harrisburg office.

Chanel Smith

Chanel is a graduate of Morgan State University. She has been an advocate with DRP since 2012. She provides direct advocacy to individuals with disabilities to ensure their rights are protected and they are free from abuse and neglect in their in the community and residential facilities. She educates families about the behavioral health resources that are available to their children in the least restrictive setting. She also works with individuals in out-of-home placements to ensure that they receive appropriate behavioral health treatments. She collaborates with residential providers to decrease lengths of stays in out-of-home placements and to coordinate appropriate discharge planning resources.

Dale Verchick

Dale is the coordinator of the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) grant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Bachelor’s degree in Education through the University of Mumbai, India. She is also an accredited elementary teacher through the American Montessori Society. After many years of teaching, Dale joined DRP in 2008. Dale has advocated for the rights of people with disabilities in various matters, including assisting inmates in accessing disability services; addressing barriers to employment for beneficiaries of Social Security; and guiding clients on how to best achieve results by using self-advocacy methods. Dale is presently completing her Master’s in Law and Public Policy at the California University of Pennsylvania.

Renee Wagner

Renee Wagner is currently the Representative Payee Team Lead.  She started her career with Disability Rights PA in 2008 as a Facility Advocate at Polk State Center.  She worked in this role until 2018.  At this time, she began working with the representative payee team as a reviewer.  She strives to lead with excellence, passion, integrity, and kindness.  Prior to Renee’s employment with DRP, she spent 10 years working with a community residential provider.  Initially Renee provided direct care support to people diagnosed with intellectual disabilities,  later being promoted to the Director of Residential Services.