Nicholas A. Villani, President and CEO has worked in the field of vocational training and employment for people with special needs since 1982. He has administered programs, written grants, designed programs and was influential in much of the progress in the field of supported employment and transition for individuals with disabilities. As a presenter, he has trained hundreds of professionals in the field of vocational services across the United States. Mr. Villani was the administrator and oversaw the operations of services in the field of transition, vocational rehabilitation and day programs for major not-for-profit agencies on Long Island. Nick has been a leader in the field serving on the associations for the employment of individuals with special needs and has worked for not-for-profit and for-profit organizations performing transition services since 1990.
He has been an Adjunct Professor at Dowling College since 1997 teaching masters level “Transition Services for Students in Special Education” for Dowling graduate students becoming special education teachers. While in the not-for-profit sector, he developed some of the earliest programs for individuals with autism in employment that included one of the first service models sponsored by ACCES-VR (then VESID) for adults with high functioning autism.
While working with students and adults with high functioning autism, he realized that many had struggled in their college experience. To address that need, Nick developed the first in the nation College Support Program for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome at Dowling College.
Nicholas and CEO have received several awards from varying organizations since its inception. He was featured on National Public Radio’s “Sound Medicine” regarding his work with individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and employment. CEO received the “Best Practices in Transition” from the New York State Rehabilitation Association, for its work in collaboration with the Amityville School District. The Western Suffolk Guidance Counselors Association awarded Amityville and CEO its best practices award for the development of the Amityville School/Business Partnership. Amityville provided Nicholas Villani the SCOPE Award for Community Leader for his work in that district. This spring, Nicholas wrote an article for the “Autism Spectrum News” regarding the issues facing individuals with disabilities in the workforce.
In 2005, Nicholas founded Career and Employment Options, Inc. as a means to address the ongoing issues of transition and employment needs for individuals in special education. Since that time, we have expanded our services to include adults who require assistance in career planning as well as securing and maintaining employment.
Dr. Cavanagh, Director of Program Services was an Assistant Professor for the Vocational Independence Program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. He has been working with individuals with disabilities for over thirty-five years. Dr. Cavanagh has both PhD and MS degrees from Columbia University, with a focus on Social Welfare Policy as well as an MSW from Stony Brook University.
Dr. Cavanagh is the former Senior Director of the Vocational Independence Program at NYIT. Prior to his time with NYIT, Dr. Cavanagh was an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University teaching in both the Master’s of Public Administration and the Master’s of Healthcare Administration programs. Earlier in his career he was an Assistant Director for Adult Services at the Developmental Disabilities Institute on Long Island and was the Coordinator of Advocacy Services for AHRC-NYC. In 2019 Dr. Cavanagh was co-principle investigator for an NYC Economic Development Corporation grant which resulted in the report: Opportunities and Collaborations: Creating a Pipeline of Individuals with Disabilities for Employment in the Technology Sector.
Dr. Cavanagh’s current research focus is on identifying the outcomes of comprehensive transition programs that predict success for individuals with a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum.
Brian Levine, Administrator of Vocational and Evaluation Services. Brian is a certified Assistive Technology Professional through RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America). He provides Assistive Technology evaluations and consultations.His high level consultation services involve school personnel, family and student.While working with a wide range of diversified populations, Brian has garnered the ability to work well in implementing assistive technology solutions for each student to better reach their IEP goals.
Additionally, Brian has worked for various not-for profit organizations in several capacities, such as Vocational Evaluator, Manager of Employment Services and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Brian earned his Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hofstra University.
Joelle Kronberg is the Marketing and Partnership Coordinator for CEO. She coordinates and develops the organizations that participate in CEO’s Business Advisory Council (BAC) as well as working with districts in our School Business Partnership Program. She is a licensed School Counselor with Life Coach training. As a Career Consultant with Career & Employment Options, Joelle will provide career development and training to students in school districts and ACCES-VR services.
Joelle earned a Masters in Counselor Education from CUNY at Queens College and a Bachelors in Psychology at SUNY Albany and has experience in a wide array of industries. She worked as a Marketing Assistant for Conde Nast and was promoted to Promotions Associate for GLAMOUR Magazine. Following publishing, Joelle joined a start-up software company as their Marketing Manager. She also taught 7th grade, is trained as a Life Coach and conducted job applicant interviews for a company called TALENT+. Joelle has 3 years school counseling experience specializing in at-risk students.Joelle has a passion for helping people find and realize their life and career goals. It is this passion as well as experience from varied careers that she become the liaison between businesses, districts and CEO.
Dr. Heather C. Robertson joined CEO in July of 2018 as the Leadership and Training Coordinator. In this role, Heather focuses on curriculum design, staff training and development, and staff support. As a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Heather also provides vocational counseling, career development services, vocational evaluations, and job placement services. Heather is dedicated to helping students and consumers achieve their career and vocational goals.
Heather has worked as a career counselor and employment specialist in not-for-profit, for profit, and college settings, as well as, a high school special education teacher. She has previously served as a corporate trainer for organizations such as Bank of America and Capital One, and has developed curricula for school-to-work transition programs, as well as graduate counseling programs. Heather has Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Counseling & Guidance from Texas A & M University in Corpus Christi.
Dr. Eric Shyman has joined Career and Employment Options Inc. as an educational consultant. Eric’s role is to visit classrooms, worksites, community access sites where CEO provides services and provide feedback to the development of more effective instruction as well as staff training in pedagogical techniques.
Eric Shyman, Ed.D. received his doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2009. He worked as a classroom special education teacher for 10 years in both public and non-public schools, and has also served as a staff trainer, seminar leader, and consultant for schools and school districts. His main areas of consultation involve educational strategies for children with disabilities (with a special expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorder), inclusive education strategies, data collection and analysis, and curricular and instructional modification and adaptation. In 2014, he was chosen to receive the Teachers College, Columbia University Early Career Award. He is the author of multiple peer-reviewed articles appearing in state, national, and international journals, as well as two books: Beyond Equality in the American Classroom: The Case for Inclusive Education and Besieged by Behavior Analysis for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Treatise for Comprehensive Educational Approaches. His third book, which will explore the history and potential future of wide-scale educational reform in the United States, is forthcoming.
Diane Vernoia, Office Manager joined CEO September 2018. Her role at CEO is to maintain office services by organizing office operations and procedures and managing contracts and correspondence. In addition, Diane conducts phone interviews with applicants, schedules interviews and handles onboarding process.
Diane has worked in the corporate environment for over 25 years. She has previously worked with Pfizer, Inc. as an Asset Manager, managing all logistics of training events for the sales force. At JPMorgan Chase & Co., Diane’s role as an Associate Compliance Officer involved overseeing anti-corruption compliance training to all employees worldwide. Diane’s versatile experience brings cohesiveness to the office environment.
Janet Mangafas is the Fiscal Manager. Janet began her career in mortgage banking where she managed the secondary market department for various banks and oversaw the sale of loan portfolios. She also spent many years as a data and financial analyst where she utilized her data mining skills to streamline processes and provide key data to management to help in decision making. To manage her work and family balance, Janet began a consulting service business which placed her in many fields, including banking, education and law offices. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Finance from Fairfield University.