Stakeholder Council Members’ Bios
Cindy Duch is the Director of Parent Advising for the PEAL Center, Pennsylvania’s Parent Training and Information Center. Ms. Duch is active in the Allegheny County (AIU3) Local Task Force (LTF) and was a previous Chairperson for that LTF. Cindy graduated from Robert Morris University with a BSBA in Economics. Cindy lives in Hampton Township in Allegheny County with her husband and two sons.
Gifted Education and Enrichment Coordinator for Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13. A primary focus of her role at the IU is to coordinate Student Enrichment Experiences (SEE Seminars) for gifted students in public and nonpublic schools. SEE Seminars offer a wide variety of topics and in-depth learning opportunities that are not readily available in the classroom. The interactive nature of the seminars allows students to become acquainted and exchange ideas with their peers from other schools as well as local experts. In addition to serving gifted students, IU 13 supports educators of the gifted through the Gifted Network. Janice facilitates collaborative experiences and professional development for teachers in the Lancaster and Lebanon area and works to provide live video streaming of these experiences across the state of Pennsylvania. A member of PAGE and the PAIU Gifted Liaisons, Janice works to strengthen an understanding of Chapter 16 and the special needs of gifted learners in the classroom.
Mary Beth Gustafson, Ed.D.
Dr. Mary Beth (Betsy) Gustafson is the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education in the Pocono Mountain School District in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. Dr. Gustafson has worked in the Pocono Mountain School District for 22 years as an IST teacher, Educational Consultant, Assistant Principal, and Assistant Superintendent for Special Education. She is an Adjunct Professor for Wilkes University and East Stroudsburg University teaching graduate courses in special education. Dr. Gustafson has presented at numerous state and local conferences on a variety of topics in the field of special education. In addition to her job responsibilities and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Gustafson serves as member on the local Special Education Task Force and the Educational Resources for Children with Hearing Loss (ERCHL) advisory committees. Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education, Master of Education Degree, Reading Specialist Certification, Special Education Supervisory Certification, Principal Certification, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Dr. Gustafson lives with her husband, Ken, in East Stroudsburg, PA and has a daughter, Jamie, who lives and works in Washington, DC.
Jill Hrinda-Patten lives with her husband, Kirk, and her eight year old son, Rudy, in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1991, she obtained a BA in psychology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She is the Executive Director of a grassroots nonprofit organization, Mission Empower that she founded in 2007. Mission Empower strives to integrate all children and youth with disabilities into their schools and communities, through education, advocacy and promoting inclusion. She was honored to be a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education Director’s Advisory Panel for the Least Restrictive Environment(Gaskin Panel), from 2008 – 2010.
Jill has been a lifelong advocate for individuals with disabilities, including for her son and herself. She believes one of the main reasons for her success in life was due to her parents having high expectations for her and that she was included in her neighborhood school.
Heidi B. Konkler-Goldsmith
Heidi B. Konkler-Goldsmith joined McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. in 1999. She became a Shareholder of the firm and Managing Shareholder of the Reading Office in 2006 and was named Supervising Partner of Special Education in 2010.
Ms. Konkler-Goldsmith is a frequent lecturer to the Pennsylvania Bar Association and parent groups in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Prior to joining McAndrews Law Offices, P.C., she amassed extensive experience in both litigation and legal writing.
Ms. Konkler-Goldsmith offers substantial expertise in the area of Special Education Law and handles a wide variety of special education matters, civil litigation cases and criminal justice issues. She has gained the respect of professionals throughout the administrative processes and the courts in the course of her comprehensive and capable handling of cases in her frequent appearances before the courts and administrative law judges.
James Salem has been employed as a certified special education teacher, administrator, and consultant to both private and public schools in Pennsylvania for 60 years. He has a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master of science degree from Gallaudet University.
In 1993, Mr. Salem was trained to be a mediator/facilitator by the Justice Center of Atlanta, and since that time he has been employed by the Office for Dispute Resolution, conducting hundreds of mediations, resolution meeting facilitations, and IEP facilitations. Mr. Salem has also chaired and/or participated in hundreds of special education program audits for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He is a former member and chair of the Pennsylvania Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP); a former member and chair of the Advisory Committee on Deafness to the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; a former member of the advisory committee to the Office for Dispute Resolution; and former member and co-chair of the Educational Resources for Children with Hearing Loss (an advisory committee to the PA Department of Education).
Dr. Gina R. Scala
Dr. Gina R. Scala is Chair and a Full Professor in the Special Education/Rehabilitation Department at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Scala teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs. She is a faculty member in the Professional Development Schools program assigned to schools within the collaborative training model. She supervises student teachers and coordinates administrative opportunities for the Special Education Supervisory candidates. Dr. Scala is a member of the Special Education State Advisory Panel (SEAP), Interim President of PA Council for Administrators for Special Education (PaCASE), a board member of Pa Council for Exceptional Children (PaCEC), a PaCEC Region Co-Director, and coordinates the awards for the organization. Dr. Scala is a compliance monitor for PDE and is active in the Creating Agreement initiative in PDE. She is a member of the Leadership Initiative for Administrators in conjunction with PDE and PaTTAN. Dr. Scala has been appointed as the Research Liaison for international CASE and an Executive Board member. She presents frequently at state and national conferences. She is a consultant to many school districts in various states. Dr. Scala received her Bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University, her M.Ed., Ed.S., and Ed.D. from Lehigh University as well as numerous certifications. She worked at Centennial School for 13 years before her employment at ESU. She is very active in her local community and is married and the mother of two daughters.
Edward Titterton has been practicing law since 1975, entering special education law almost at its inception and now serving as counsel to ODR. Mr. Titterton represented parents/students at due process hearings in those early days, and then served on the Special Education Appeals Panel from 1989 to 2005. He is a graduate of LaSalle University and Villanova Law School, and also works for Resolute Management, Inc., part of Berkshire Hathaway, handling environmental pollution and asbestos claims.
Ms. Trbovich is a graduate of Duquesne University’s School of Education and currently is Director of Advocacy and Family Supports at Achieva. Her work focuses on supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities/ autism and their families. This includes, but not limited to, advocacy for their educational needs and working with system partners to ensure proper programs and supports are available, along with understanding legislative issues that impact individuals and families. She formerly acted as co-chair for the Young Children’s Wellness Council for Project LAUNCH, the family co-chair for Allegheny County Coalition for Recovery and the education chair for Allegheny County Consumer Support Program. She is a member of the Conference of Allegheny Providers (CAP) legislative committee and has contributed to arranging successful legislative trips/ meetings for staff, families and individuals in Harrisburg. Prior to joining Achieva, Julie was employed as Program Manager for Children and Families at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)PA. Along with these positions, she has worked at a children’s psychiatric residential treatment facility (RTF) as well as having taught for several years in the field of special education in a public high school located in Allegheny County. Her professional experiences are obvious, but the driving force for her work is her role as parent to three children. She has the lived experience of raising a son with serious mental illness for the past two decades and understands the many systems that become involved with families.
Ms. Williams is a partner in the education law firm of Sweet Stevens Katz & Williams, LLP, and chairs the special education department of the firm. For over twenty-five years, she has provided assistance to public school entities in proactive preventative strategies as well as litigation defense. She has served as a hearing officer and advisor to school boards in student expulsion matters, and provided in-service programs to school boards and administrative teams in all areas of special education and student issues. Ms. Williams has served on numerous committees and advisory panels as well as leadership roles within the Pennsylvania School Boards Solicitors Association, including that of President. Ms. Williams received her J.D. from the Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia, and her B.A. from Northwestern University, Illinois.