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.
Christina Carroll, Director of Program Services at Career & Employment Options, Inc. She participates in the operations of school district transition and ACCES-VR job placement. In addition, she actively trains and supervises staff to ensure the oversight of quality work- related performance.
Christina Carroll previously worked for the NYC DOE as an Education Director. She held this position for over eight years. As a leader, she developed and motivated staff by providing individualized support along with appropriate, positive behavior models.
While conducting research about effective leadership practices and project-based learning-instruction, Christina was selected for a unique mentorship program at Queens College in 2018. That experience led her to become a Certified Danielson Evaluator. At the completion of this program, Christina was chosen as the recipient for the Irene P. Moore Mentorship and Service award for her efforts and dedication to the college students she supported.
Christina attended Queens College for her master’s degree in Early and Childhood Education where she received Professional Teaching Licenses from grades B-6th grade. She received an additional master’s degree in School Building Leadership with advanced certification in District Leadership. Christina currently holds Initial Certification in SBL.
Dr. Cavanagh, Executive Director Workforce Development Initiatives 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.
Rolande Toussaint worked at the Office of Global Affairs at the State University of New York coordinating the Sustainable Village Learning Community (SVLC) project in Arcahaie, Haiti. In addition to her significant involvement in the SVLC project, Rolande operated as a liaison for SUNY system administration and the community of Arcahaie, as well as an assistant to the director of Learning Through Development. She is currently working for Career and Employment Options, Inc. (CEO) as a Regional Business Coordinator. She will occupied various roles during her involvement in this project, including create and maintain a network with other organizations, coordinate and implement services for the project and establish ways for constant communication, with increasing responsibility throughout the completion of the project.
Rolande attended Nassau Community College and transferred to Long Island University (at C.W. Post) where she acquired her Bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education with a Concentration in Mathematics. She is also completed her Master’s Degree in International Education, Management, and Leadership from SUNY Albany.
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 Administrator of Marketing and School Business Partnerships. 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. Joelle does CEO’s marketing outreach by developing quarterly newsletter, marketing materials and videos.
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.
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.