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Meet Your TA Consultants

John Agosta

Dr. Agosta is a Vice President at the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI). He has worked under contract for state and federal agencies on a variety of projects focusing on community integration for people with developmental disabilities. He has conducted analyses of state systems, and studied specific facets of the field (e.g., supported...

Mary Lou Bourne

Ms. Bourne recently joined the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Inc. Previously, she was Managing Partner at Support Development Associates (SDA), where she spent many years training and mentoring on person-centered planning and practice....

Barbara Brent

Ms. Brent is Director of State Policy at National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Inc. She has extensive experience with LTSS at the state and local government levels, including as director of Arizona’s Division of Developmental Disability Services, where she oversaw the state’s acute/medical...

Elizabeth Coombs

Elizabeth Coombs contributes to training and TA, project management, quantitative and qualitative research, and communication activities. Ms. Coombs served as part of the SPHERE/Acumen team for four years. She has served as the project manager for numerous complex projects with HRSA, CMS, the California Department of Health Care Services, and El Dorado County in California. Ms. Coombs also has...

Robin Cooper

Ms. Cooper is Director of Technical Assistance at National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Inc.
She works with state, county, and local governments as well as advocacy and provider organizations on issues in long-term community services for people with disabilities. Her main focus is...

Merle Edwards-Orr, PhD

Merle Edwards-Orr, PhD is a senior consultant with Applied Self Direction. After a career in higher education and health care, Dr. Edwards-Orr led the Cash and Counseling program in Vermont in 2005 and oversaw all of Vermont’s self-direction programs. In 2012, he moved to the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NCRPDS) at Boston College to lead its work with the...

David Hughes

David Hughes, PhD, is the president of Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and a nationally recognized expert in the field of behavioral health services, with particular expertise in evidence-based practices, outcome and quality measurement, and cost simulation models.  He has worked on more than 30 projects for SAMHSA,...

Edward Kako, PhD

Edward Kako, PhD has experience managing policy analysis, quality assurance, report writing, TA, and strategic planning, both as PD and as a task lead on various projects. Dr. Kako’s recent and current work has focused on approaches to rebalancing LTC. Currently, he directs a project for the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation to conduct a preliminary analysis of how states are...

Jane Lawrence

Jane Lawrence is a senior FMS consultant at Applied Self Direction. Throughout her career, she has focused on identifying ways to build inclusive communities that support people with disabilities to live full and meaningful lives. Ms. Lawrence has been a leader in providing training and TA in person-centered planning to individuals, organizations, and Government agencies. Her work as an...

Mary Lee Fay

Mary Lee Fay is the Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS). Mary Lee joined NASDDDS in 2012 as the Director of National Core Indicators and the NASDDDS coordinator for the Community of Practice project on Supporting Families. Her main focus is working with states to create sustainable systems that will fully engage...

Linda Leiding

Linda Leiding is the readiness review manager at Applied Self Direction. She has been an advocate for people with disabilities throughout her career and has managed residential, vocational, and participant-directed programs. Ms. Leiding was an early collaborator of participant-direction in Minnesota and was among the first providers in that state to offer fiscal services in 1998. She has also...

Mollie Murphy

Ms. Murphy is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Annkissam, a company providing software and consulting for mission-driven organizations and government. In addition to her role as CEO of Annkissam, Ms. Murphy serves as the Financial Management Services Director at the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services at...

Katherine Murray

Katherine Murray has deep expertise relating to regulatory compliance in Medicaid-funded self-direction programs. Ms. Murray is the director of policy at Applied Self Direction and previously served as a senior policy analyst at NCRPDS, with a continued focus on innovative, practical TA for self-direction stakeholders. She was a primary author of the Center’s FLSA Home Care Rule Tool Kit...

Peggy O’Brien-Strain, PhD

Peggy O’Brien-Strain, PhD brings almost 20 years’ experience in health services research, TA, and policy analysis. Her current work crosses topics in developmental disabilities, health care policy, child and family support, and HIV/AIDS. Among other aspects, her projects focus on promoting agencies’ ability to use their data for analysis and program improvement. For the current Developmental...

Jami Petner-Arrey, PhD

Jami Petner-Arrey, PhD conducts research and provides consultation services to help states develop individualized supports budgets. Prior to joining HSRI, she earned her doctorate in special education from the University of New Mexico with an emphasis on advocacy, social justice, and public policy. Her dissertation work focused on promoting autonomy for adults with intellectual disabilities...

Adam Sass

Adam Sass brings over 25 years of experience in the field of disability employment and community life engagement. His career has focused on creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities to be fully engaged in their communities. This priority has been constant; whether focusing on direct service work, program management, policy-making, or systems change initiatives and implementation...

Mary Sowers

Ms. Sowers is Director of Special Projects at National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Inc. She has experience in both the public and private sectors, having worked at Mercer Government Human Services Consulting providing...

Alena Vazquez, JD/MSW

Alena Vazquez, JD/MSW, has almost 10 years of experience working in the field of IDD. She manages a number of supports budgeting projects as well as projects focused on communicating directly with stakeholders. Prior to joining HSRI, Dr. Vazquez worked in Protection and Advocacy with Disability Rights Oregon and Illinois’ Equip for Equality, as a developmental disabilities support services...

Laura Vegas, MPS

Laura Vegas, MPS, has more than 24 years of experience working in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Laura began her career working for a private, nonprofit community based provider as a program coordinator. While working there, she was part of a team that lead the effort to close the sheltered workshop and connect people to their community through person centered...

Rebecca Wright, MSW, LCSW

Rebecca Wright, MSW, LCSW is the President of the Consortium on Innovative Practices.  Rebecca’s career spans more than 40 years in the field of developmental disabilities, aging and long-term care services, and has included policy development and implementation, management of large and complex projects, clinical assessment, development and administration of facility and...

Ric Zaharia

Ric Zaharia, Ph.D., is currently serving as Vice President for the Consortium on Innovative Practices.  His most recent work with the Consortium has involved expert consultation on case management systems, mortality and serious incident reviews, transportation systems, eligibility determination processes, and Employment First.

From 1990 to 1995 Ric served as Director of the Utah...

Jeanine Zlockie

Jeanine Zlockie is the Director of Communications and Educational Programs for National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS). Jeanine has been working in the field of developmental disabilities (DD) since starting her career as a waiver supports coordinator which provided her with valuable experiences and connections that laid the groundwork for a...