Our Staff

Liberry POST Staff, Laura E. Zaferakis, Liberty POST Regional Program DirectorLAURA E. ZAFERAKIS M.S., Spec.Ed., CAS Ed. A. |  Vice President - Liberty POST


  • Bachelor's in Early Childhood Development, Masters in Special Education, CAS in Educational Leadership.
  • Adjunct Instructor, School of Education, Syracuse University

Prior to her current role as Vice President, Laura served and continues to serve as Regional Director for the Syracuse area.  Laura has been working in Special Education for over 25 years and in Early Intervention and Preschool for 19 of those years. Her areas of special interest include Early Childhood Development, Autism, Assessment and Screening and providing professional development for those working in the field of Early Education. Laura has been working as the Syracuse Program Director for almost 9 years and became the Director of School Administration in 2014.  Laura sits on several professional committees and organizations including the NAEYC, the LEICC, the Onondaga County Preschool Coalition and several special interest groups in the area.

Laura’s passion is working with children and families to develop relationships with them and supporting them through the Special Education process, which can be an overwhelming. Laura grew up in Auburn, NY and attended college in southern Virginia. After college, Laura returned to Central New York, where she lives with her husband and two sons, Ian and Cole. In her spare time, Laura enjoys reading, gardening and spending time at her favorite beach spot in Wells, Maine. 

Buffalo Team

Liberry POST Staff, Gari-Sue John, Liberty POST Regional Program Director

GARI-SUE JOHN, PT, MS, MBA | Regional Program Director

Gari-Sue has been the Regional Program Director for the Liberty POST Buffalo-Niagara region for over 10 years. She has a Master of Science in Physical Therapy and an MBA through Syracuse University. Gari-Sue has worked with children and families, both as a provider and program manager, for nearly 20 years. She has been involved in the development of fitness programs for children with and without disabilities. In addition to working with children and families, Gari-Sue has served as adjunct faculty and guest instructor at local colleges and universities. She has also provided health and fitness assessments and wellness training for various organizations and corporations. 

Gari-Sue lives in Kenmore with her son. Prior to college, she attended a professional training school for ballet and tries to keep dancing and exercising as much as possible. Gari-Sue is an avid Buffalo Bills fan and enjoys riding the motorcycle with her boyfriend whenever Western NY weather permits.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the Liberty POST team which offers a wealth of support from our multiple locations across NY State. I have always been proud of our providers’ commitment to excellence and the commitment, at a corporate level, that Liberty POST makes to our providers as well as the children and families that we serve.”

Liberry POST Staff, Lori Ciesielski, Liberty POST Related Services Supervisor

LORI CIESIELSKI | Related Services Supervisor

Lori has been the Related Services Supervisor for nearly 10 years. She earned her BS/MS in Occupational Therapy in 1995 from D’Youville College and has spent her career working with children and their families. She has had extensive training in sensory integration, neurodevelopmental treatment, and DIR Floortime.  

Lori is an active member of the DIR Floortime community in the Buffalo region, working with professionals and families from Liberty POST as well as other area agencies. When not working, Lori enjoys spending time with her wife and family, chasing after her pets, travel, and all things Buffalo.

“I feel so fortunate to work at Liberty POST.  Our Buffalo team is filled with providers who have a true passion for the work they do and it’s a privilege to help support them in their efforts.”

Liberry POST Staff, Jodi Jones-Wolf, Liberty POST Special Education Supervisor

JODI JONES-WOLF | Special Education Supervisor

Jodi has worked for Liberty POST Buffalo-Niagara for nearly 10 years. She has a Master of Science in Special Education as well a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance. She has many years of experience working with children birth – 18 years old throughout Western NY; both as an ongoing service coordinator for medically fragile children as well as a special education teacher.

Jodi is married and she and her husband care for a few animals, many of them rescued from local shelters where she volunteers her time. Jodi is an avid hockey fan and can often be found working in her office with sports radio on in the background. Jodi always tries to enjoy each day by doing simple things like go for walk or spending time at the gym. Her weakness is orange chocolate.

“I can’t say enough great things about the company and my coworkers.  I love my job and how different each day is. The children and families I work with give me inspiration and I love how we work as a team in the Buffalo Office.”

ADAM KEHRER | Evaluation Team Supervisor

Adam is the Evaluation Team Supervisor for the Liberty-POST Buffalo-Niagara region. He has been a school psychologist since 2005 after graduating with his Masters from Niagara University.  He is also certified in Triple P Parent Training through the University of Queensland.  His career has focused on helping children birth to five years old and their families complete eligibility evaluations through both Early Intervention and Preschool programs.  Adam has worked with multiple school districts and other professionals throughout Western NY to help families gain access to needed educational services. 

In addition to working at Liberty POST, Adam also teaches Preschool Evaluations at Niagara University to help the next generation of school psychologist learn how to best work with this age-range of children.  In his free time, Adam enjoys traveling the world as much as possible. 

Rochester Team

LISA DIEHL, MSEd  | Regional Program DirectorLiberry POST Staff, Lisa Diehl, Liberty POST Regional Program Director


  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Education
  • Master Degree in Special Education
  • Special Education Permanent Certification Pre-K – 12
  • Prior Special Education and CPSE Evaluation Team Department Head
  • Leadership Rising Management Development Program
  • Providers in Partnership Member Monroe County
  • LEICC Member

Lisa is a New York certified Special Education PreK-12 teacher and has over 25 years of experience working with children at the early childhood age and over 15 years of supervisory and leadership experience. Lisa completed the Leadership Rising Management Development Program via McArdle Ramerman Inc. in 2006.

Lisa has been married for over 26 years. She and her husband have 2 daughters; both attending college in the Buffalo area. Lisa enjoys early mornings at the gym, hiking, and vacations on the beach! 

NELLIE YANDEK, M.S. CCC-SLP | Speech/Language Team LeaderLiberry POST Staff, Nellie Yandek, Liberty POST Speech/Language Team Supervisor


  • Degree in Linguistics, Minor in American Sign Language, University of Rochester, 2002
  • Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nazareth College of Rochester, 2004
  • Completed Basic DIR Training through ICDL
  • Enjoys using a total communication approach, ASL, Visual Phonics, and working with children on the autism spectrum and their families

Nellie has been working within the Early Intervention and preschool programs with Liberty POST (formerly ITG) since 2005, serving as the Speech Team Leader since 2013. She currently provides direct therapy to children as an itinerant therapist, while supporting the speech department from a clinical perspective. Nellie lives in Fairport with her husband, daughter and son. Outside of work, Nellie enjoys outdoor activities and doing just about anything with her family.

MELANIE M. CHALACHAN, OTR/L | OT/PT Itinerant Team LeaderLiberry POST Staff, Melanie M. Chalachan, Liberty POST OT/PT Team Supervisor


  • Bachelor of Science Occupational Therapy, Minor in Psychology, Keuka College 1997
  • Special Interests include:
  • Working with low-income and minority families;
  • Navigating challenging behaviors, treating the anxious child, exploring sensory processing and implementing unique treatment plans;
  • Treating delays in bilateral integration and motor planning;
  • Addressing needs of the whole child within the family and community

Melanie has been working in Pediatric Occupational Therapy for the past 18 years. She worked with school-age children for 3 years prior to working with an Early Intervention and Preschool Program in Wayne County for 10 years. Melanie has been with Liberty POST for 8 years, first part-time and then full-time as the OT Team Leader. She is currently providing direct therapy to children within the Webster Stars Preschool Program, supervising 12 OTs here at POST and has adopted 9 PTs while POST is seeking a PT Team Leader. Melanie lives in Penfield with her husband, son, and daughter. Outside of work, Melanie enjoys camping, watching live music and attending outdoor festivals with her family. Melanie's 130lb English Mastiff is registered as a Canine Good Citizen and accompanies the family on all their indoor and outdoor adventures!

MELISSA MARR, MSEd  | Educational Specialist (STARS Preschool)


  • Degree in Management from St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
  • Degree in Education from Nazareth College, Rochester, NY
  • NYS Certified in both Regular Education and Inclusive Education (B- gr. 2 and gr. 1-6)
  • Completed basic DIR training through ICDL
  • Enjoys working with children with medical fragility, those who are on the Autism Spectrum, and challenging behaviors.
  • Special Education Team Leader

Melissa has been working in the field of early childhood special education for the past 14 years. Her professional background has included teaching in an integrated preschool setting, leading an 8:1:1 classroom for two years along with several years of working as an itinerant teacher. She had the pleasure of working for Daystar For Medically Fragile Children, Inc. as the Center Director for three years where her leadership role was instrumental in the development of a more education centered curriculum and building stronger partnerships with the children’s early intervention providers to enhance the growth and carry over of therapeutic interventions as needed. Melissa returned to POST four years ago and has held the position of the Special Education Team Leader since August of 2014. She is a play-based therapist who understands that each child and situation is unique and embrace the differences and potential challenges one may face when working in the early childhood special education field. In addition, it allows her to spend time developing a quality relationship with the child, their teachers, caregivers, and their families.

Personally, Melissa enjoys being a mother to her two children Lily and Samuel. When not attending various sports activities that her children are involved in, they enjoy spending their days together at the zoo, The Strong Museum of play, taking hikes together, and their annual vacation to Rehoboth Beach, DE. Melissa also enjoys attending concerts and area festivals, is an avid runner, and enjoys coaching cheerleading.

PAMELA GRANT, MSEd, Ed.A   | School AdministratorLiberry POST Staff, Pamela Grant, Liberty POST School Administrator


  • Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education, Early Childhood
  • Master Degree in Special Education, Learning and Behavioral Disorders
  • Certificate of Advanced Studies, School Building/District Administration
  • Elementary/Early Childhood Permanent Certification N-6
  • Special Education Permanent Certification Pre-K – 12
  • School Building Leader (SBL) Initial Certification
  • School District Leader (SDL) Provisional Certification
  • NAEYC member
  • RAEYC member
  • Chairperson RAEYC Committee on Inclusion
  • Prior Evaluation Team Leader
  • UPK and Special Education
  • Provides Professional Development (PD) for Autism, Inclusion, Special Needs, Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Behavior Support and other areas for staff and community.

Pamela has worked in the early childhood/Special Education field for over 35 years. Working from being a teachers’ aide, one to one aide, teacher assistant to classroom teacher has allowed Pam insight to assist in her current role as school administrator. Pam has had experience with direct service and administration in a variety of programs including Head Start, Child Care, Special Education- Inclusion and Self-Contained, Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) and Universal Pre-K (UPK) settings. The focus has always been on the needs of the children and seeing each child’s individual strengths and needs as crucial to planning in the classroom. Parent involvement and communication are also key aspects of programming for children. In her current role as school administrator for STARS Preschool, providing support and Professional Development for staff are key areas of focus. Dedicated pursuit and sharing of the love of learning at all levels are factors in Pam’s goals for the program.

Personally, Pam has been married for 38 years and has three grown children. Two live in the Rochester/Fingerlakes area and one in the South. She also has five grandchildren in the area. Pam enjoys antiquing, gardening, walking, swimming or just relaxing with a good book.

Syracuse Team

ANN WASHELESKI, OTR/L | Occupational Therapy Supervisor


  • Bachelor's of Science in Occupational Therapy, Utica College, Utica, NY
  • Advanced training in Sensory Integration
  • SIPT certified 2014
  • Continuing education consultant for AOTA
  • Engaged in on-going professional mentorship

Play is a child’s primary occupation and has been the main focus of therapy for children and families for many years under Ann’s guidance. Ann enjoys working as an occupational therapist with children birth through five, providing both home and center-based services. For Ann, family centered therapy, team collaboration, and child-directed play have been staples in supporting children in reaching their developmental goals. Ann has a strong passion for continuing education, knowledge and staying abreast evidence-basedsed practice. She has advanced training in Ayres Sensory Integration, has studied the Developmental, Individual-differences, Relationship- based model (DIR) of practice for working with children with social-emotional challenges, and participates in regular mentorship experiences with experts in their field of study.   As part of Ann’s role at Liberty POST, she acts as a supervisor for her department, provides mentorship and support to fellow co-workers, serves as the fieldwork clinical coordinator, and presents on sensory processing development. Ann is Liberty POST’s continuing education consultant for AOTA, supporting staff development and trainings, collaborating and developing topics for both internal and community based workshops.

Ann has a love for animals, which include her two horses, two dogs, and two cats. During her free time, Ann enjoys both recreational and competitive horseback riding, staying physically active around her small farm, and engaging in the study of yoga and mindfulness. Ann loves spending time with her family and friends.

JILL GILLETTE, DPT  | Physical Therapy SupervisorLiberry POST Staff, Jill Gillette, Liberty POST Physical Therapy Supervisor


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy, Daemen College, Buffalo, NY
  • Doctorate Physical Therapy, DesMoines University, Iowa
  • Specialize in Praxis
  • Member of CARES Diagnostic Team

Jill loves working in the field of physical therapy as it allows her to share in first milestones with families year after year. Physical therapy challenges her to constantly think about what that next step or goal is that is needed to be achieved. She loves working with families as it allows her to spend quality 1:1 time with them in their most natural environment…their home. She loves the accomplishments that each of her clients makes, but she also loves being able to help the families be an active part of that success with a child that is struggling developmentally. Jill’s approach to children and their families is very child directed. She challenges herself to treat each child as an individual and really attempts to allow their individual interests shine during their sessions together. She enjoys the challenge of using a toy that a child is interested in to help them reach their goals together.

Personally, she has a wonderful family that includes her husband, son, and daughter. She feels very blessed every day to have her family. They enjoy camping together and many other outdoor activities including kayaking and hiking. Jill is on track to have climbed all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in 2018. They are a family that truly enjoys their pets! One of her most favorite pastimes is walking her dogs on her country road. 

SUSAN SCOTT, M.S., CCC/SLP | Speech/Language Pathology SupervisorLiberry POST Staff, Susan Scott, Liberty POST Speech/Language Pathology Supervisor


  • S./M.S., Speech Pathology, SUNY Fredonia, Fredonia, NY
  • Certificate of Clinical Competence, American Speech-language Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • ACE Award in Continuing Education, ASHA
  • ASHA Continuing Education Administrator for Liberty POST

Susan has treated infants, children, and adults with a variety of speech-language disorders for over 18 years. She has performed evaluations and treatment of feeding and swallowing disorders, articulation, and speech-language disorders in the itinerant population as well as at the school aged level and previously in care facilities. Susan enjoys working with medically fragile children, premature infants, children with Down Syndrome, and particularly children presenting with difficulties with feeding and/or swallowing. She a part of the Liberty POST C.A.R.E.S. diagnostic team as well as an MDE Core evaluation team. Her approach to evaluation and therapy with children is relationship based and child-directed while appreciating the use of behavioral strategies to teach skills for feeding in a natural environment. She has been working as a supervisor for most of her career in various capacities and feels proud of the accomplishments that Liberty POST has made in terms of teaming and collaboration. Susan enjoys speaking to, mentoring, and supervising students at the high school and university level and annually presents continuing education topics in feeding and swallowing for staff and students. She is part of the Continuing Education Unit at Liberty POST to plan events for staff and serves as the CE Administrator for ASHA in order for Liberty POST staff to receive required continuing education hours for certification/licensure.

Susan is married and she and her husband, Dave, have five children. They have enjoyed attending many sports and band events over the years as the oldest three completed high school and continue to be busy with two teenagers still at home. Susan loves to travel and has been throughout the US and Canada, as well as travel to Europe and Africa. Her family enjoys a variety of outdoor activities and sports including; hiking, surfing, biking, and swimming. Susan loves animals and has rescued several animals over the years, finding many loving new homes including the family’s own cat and dog. At one point, the family had two dogs, a cat, a toad, crickets, and hermit crabs.

TARA PIENKOWSKI, M.S., Spec.Ed. | Special Education SupervisorLiberry POST Staff, Tara Pienkowski, Liberty POST Special Education Supervisor


  • Teacher Team Supervisor
  • Evaluation Team Leader
  • DIR/Autism Team Leader
  • S. Special Education SUNY Albany * Suma Cum Laude
  • S. Elementary Education Minor British literature College of Saint Rose * Magna Cum Laude
  • Teaching certificate: Birth-21 Special Education
  • Certified DIR Expert/ Trainer

Tara is the Special Education Teacher Team Supervisor for Liberty POST. Her work at POST also includes leading the evaluation team and the DIR Autism team. Her role as a special educator includes both evaluating and direct treatment of children birth to five. Her work history has also included facilitating a toddler developmental playgroup for Early Intervention and teaching in a SCIS (inclusion) classroom for many years.   Her 15+ years of experiences reflects her passion for working with young children, the evaluation process, belief and advocacy for Early Intervention, and belief in the value of strong family support for the children she works with. Tara’s philosophy in all of her work from the supervision of the teachers to evaluations to direct therapy is rooted in the belief that social emotional development and relationship are the foundation and key to all other areas of development. Her interactions are play based and follow the child’s lead while taking into account the child’s areas of strength and unique individual differences to support whatever challenges the child may have. Tara is a certified Expert/ Trainer DIR provider. Ms. Pienkowski also teaches online courses in DIR through ICDL. Tara’s undergraduate degree is from The College of Saint Rose; while she received her Master’s in Special Education from SUNY Albany. Tara completed 2 1/2 years of a PhD program through Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental Learning Disorders providing her with the breadth of DIR knowledge she has.

Tara originally from a small rural town, Hornell NY, is now married to her college sweetheart a Syracuse native who works in IT security operations. Their family includes two lovely girls ages 16 and 14 as well as two chocolate labs and a black cat. When Tara is not writing evaluations or feeding/ cleaning up after her teenagers or animals, she loves good books, good wine, and warm sunny days. Tara also loves organizing, decorating, and cleaning. Tara completed a marathon in 2014 and continues to use fitness as a form of stress relief including yoga, walking, hiking, and running. 

Hudson Valley Team

APRIL CASTELLANO | Regional Program Director


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
  • Spotlight on Excellence Award, Liberty Resources

April has been working with families since 1990 in various capacities, beginning her journey as a Case Manager. She later became an Ongoing Service Coordinator and then an Ongoing Service Coordinator Supervisor. April joined Liberty POST in November of 2013 as an Ongoing Service Coordination Supervisor. In December 2015 April received the Spotlight on Excellence Award which recognizes employees that perform at a level above and beyond the agency’s expectations. April was honored by this award because it was a result of her excellent work and her concern for the quality within the agency. In May 2016 April was promoted to the position of Regional Program Director for Liberty POST Hudson Valley as a result of her commitment to excellence. April’s motto is “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. April lives by this motto and does all she can to ensure that her employees that she values enjoy their work and love what they do too. Outside of work April loves spending time with her family and friends. April enjoys yoga, exercising, hiking and running. April believes in living a balanced life and living well.

SUSAN CARSLEY | Special Education Team Supervisor


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz NY
  • Master’s Degree in Special Education, Long Island University, Sparkill NY
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Manhattanville College, Purchase NY
  • Specializes in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis

Susan loves working in the field of special education and has been providing early intervention, preschool age, and school-aged special education services for the last 10 years all throughout the Hudson Valley. Susan is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and NYS Licensed Behavior Analyst and specializes in autism spectrum disorder. Working with children and their families is a passion of hers and it brings her great joy. She believes family training is the key to a child’s development works very closely with the caregivers of the children she works with. Susan believes in the whole child approach and therefore incorporates play, language development, social interactions, and adaptive skills when working with her clients. Susan also strongly believes in individualized education.

Personally, she has a lovely family that includes her husband, daughter, and new baby boy. They enjoy spending time together watching movies, taking walks, swimming, and they recently decided to take up skiing!

FRANK NUTT, MS CCC/SLP | Speech and Language Team Supervisor


  • Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, Misericordia University PA
  • Specialize in early childhood language, development and feeding
  • Member of POST Hudson Valley Evaluation Team

Frank enjoys working in the field of speech and language therapy as it allows him to share in children’s first words, language production and feeding with families year after year. Speech and language allows him to hear children use their voice and help them interact with the world around them. He loves working with families as it allows him to spend quality 1:1 time with them and their families. Frank enjoys working with the families and giving them strategies to help them successfully target language production, use of language, increasing understanding and starting them on their way to communicating with their loved ones. He also enjoys working with Clinical Fellow’s and helping them complete their path to becoming Speech Language Pathologists.

Personally, Frank recently got married to his wife Lauren and they enjoy traveling, playing golf and tennis and spending time with friends. Frank coaches high school varsity basketball for Valley Central High School and has helped over 30 high school basketball players get full and partial scholarships to continue their education at the college level.  



  • Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Studies, Russell Sage College, Troy, NY
  • Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, Sage Graduate Schools, Troy, NY
  • OT supervisor

Cindy was drawn to Occupational Therapy due to the diverse and varied settings this field provides. She began her career working in a sub-acute rehabilitation setting and has transitioned to working with families and children in their home and school environments. She enjoys being part of a profession which focuses on the individual and fosters creativity in order to participate in daily living tasks. Being part of the process which allows children and families to reach their goals and strive toward increasing independence has proven to be truly rewarding for Cindy. Creating individualized treatment plans for each child and family is challenging and pushes Cindy to become a successful therapist.

Cindy enjoys spending time outdoors and with her family and friends. She married her high-school sweetheart in 2010 and together they have a son, Ethan. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and running.

NYC Team

JACQUELINE SEARSON, MS, OTR/L  | OT/PT Team LeaderLiberry POST Staff, Jacqueline Searson, Liberty POST Occupational Therapy Supervisor

  • Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, Ithaca College

Always having a passion for helping others, Jacqueline knew she wanted a career in helping children and found OT was the perfect fit for her. Having many years of OT and PT as a child, Jacqueline uses her personal and professional experience to help children become the best version of themselves. Jacqueline has worked with children from 6 months to 18 years old with varying levels of abilities. Jacqueline has experience in sensory integration, NDT, and feeding therapy. She has worked with children with ASD, Cerebral Palsy, Down's syndrome, developmental delay and neurological and genetic impairments. Jacqueline believes every child has a beautiful light inside of them and is lucky to be one of the people to help them discover it.

Join Our Team

We believe in helping people overcome their obstacles and in advocating for their well-being. We provide treatment, information and a commitment to do whatever it takes to give our clients the service they deserve.

Visit the Liberty Resources Careers page to learn more about our open positions.

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