Team Bios

Sheila L. Fesko, PhD
Program Director of the National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP)

  • B.S., Rehabilitation Services, Boston University
  • M.S., Rehabilitation Counseling, Boston University
  • PhD, Rehabilitation Administration and Special Education, Boston College

Sheila Fesko has 25 years of experience working on the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. As the director of National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP) Sheila is working with the Corporation for National Community Service on increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities through community service and volunteerism. Areas of her research include inclusion of people with disabilities in the generic workforce development system, effective job development strategies and universal strategies to support inclusion of all employees in the workplace.

Karen Flippo
Program Manager of the College of Employment Services and the Partnership in Employment Technical Assistance Center

  • BA, American University
  • MRA, Rehabilitation Administration, University of San Francisco

Karen has 30+ years of experience in disability services including direct service, program, project and organizational management, program evaluation, state and Federal government service, and education and training. Karen lends her training and T/A expertise to the NextSTEP project and acts as a liaison for the project to state and national disability trade organizations.  She is currently the Immediate Past President of CQL, Council on Quality and Leadership and is the State Teams Liaison for the Alliance for Full Participation.

Linda Freeman
Training Associate

  • M.B.A., Boston University
  • M.S., University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., Wellesley College

Linda uses her background to insure that various projects of the ICI are informed by the parent perspective and voice. Linda’s contributions to the NextSTEP project include preparation of materials for the family and individual audience. Linda has authored and co-authored several publications, most recently “School Days to Pay Days: An Employment Planning Guide for Families of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.” Prior to her work with the ICI, Linda was Director of Family Initiatives at New England SERVE, a health policy and planning group.

Suzzanne Freeze
Project Manager of the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN)

  • Bachelors, Sociology, Muskingum University
  • Masters, Public Policy and Management, The Ohio State University

Suzzanne Freeze has been working in the developmental disability field since 1993. In 2006 she joined the staff at the ICI to manage the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) and member state relationships.  Suzzanne brings her expertise on developmental disabilities to NextSTEP and works as a liaison for the team to the SELN.  Suzzanne has been a member of AAIDD since 2001 and is currently serving as vice-president of Massachusetts’ AAIDD Chapter Board, is a member of Massachusetts APSE chapter, and was recently tapped to be on a Siblings Employment Interest Group.

Allison Hall, PhD
Senior Research Associate

  • B.S., Special Education, Boston University
  • M.A. and Ph.D., Social Policy, Brandeis University

Allison conducts a variety of research projects and facilitates a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Community of Learning for the NextSTEP Project. Allison has conducted case study research within the One-Stop Career Center System, state and community rehabilitation provider agencies that serve individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and within the business community. Before joining ICI, Allison worked as a policy analyst for the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Mental Retardation.

Nancy Keeler
Training Associate

  • B.A., Economics and Art History, Roanoke College

Nancy serves as a training associate for the National Service to Employment Project, where she is responsible for developing demonstration projects in 2 states on the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in national service.  She conducts and analyzes qualitative interviews with individuals with disabilities on the impact of service on their future employment opportunities. Ms. Keeler provides training locally and nationally on the topic of service and works with the US Business Leadership Network on educating employers on the value of service experiences for their future employees. Prior to joining the ICI, Nancy worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Lancaster, PA.

Jaimie Timmons
Research Associate

  • B.A., UMass Amherst
  • M.S.W., Salem State College

Jaimie conducts research on transitions from school to employment through Project Impact and NextSTEP’s Service Models.  She also coordinates data collection for the project. Jaimie has written numerous publications designed for individuals with disabilities and their families to use as resources when considering employment and transition planning. Prior to joining ICI, Jaimie received her master’s degree in social work from Salem State College and spent several years in various direct service roles.

Agnieszka “Agnes” Zalewska
Research Study Coordinator

  • B.A., Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • MPH, Northeastern University

Agnes works as a research and data coordinator on the NextSTEP project.  Agnes also works on various projects related to improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. These projects include evaluating interventions, researching practices conducive to transition from school to employment, and supporting collection of the state data on employment outcomes. Prior to her work at ICI, Agnes worked for several years as a mental health counselor and then received her Master of Public Health degree at Northeastern University. Her primary professional interests include mental health and transition to adulthood.