Our Team New


Kinga E. Czegeni, Executive Director

Kinga co-founded The Avalon Academy in 2005. She holds a master’s degree in Special Education (with an emphasis in Physical and Health Impairments) as well as a California teaching credential. She was a Lecturer at San Francisco State University for over a decade, where she taught a graduate course on the Implications and Management of Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairments. Kinga entered the field of special education at the International Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary. She graduated with High Honors in 1996 with a degree in elementary education majoring in special education of motor-disabled children. Kinga was recruited to California in 1997 where she contributed to the establishment of two programs for children with cerebral palsy. Kinga is a certified practitioner in the Anat Baniel Method®. She is a graduate of the Mastery Program which encompasses children with special needs. Kinga has an established private practice dedicated to children and teenagers with special needs.


Chris Layne, Director of operations

Chris moved from New Jersey to California in 2005.  He was trained at the New York Restaurant School, and worked as a cook in New York and New Jersey, then transitioned over to retail management.  Upon moving to California; Chris worked as Office Manager/ Account manager for a small benefits firm where he became certified in Payroll and HR administration.  When a position opened  with a small non-profit in the East Bay; Chris took on a dual role as Supported Employment Coordinator/ Office Administration.  He remained there for 3 years before continuing onto The Avalon Academy.  Chris brings patience, responsiveness, and a sense of commitment to any job he holds.  Chris brings a degree of understanding about “disability” that comes from personal experience.  Growing up in a large family; including a younger brother with cerebral palsy.  Today, he is committed to providing the same quality of support that he would want his brother to receive. Chris joined Avalon in 2012.


erika delgadillo-perez, office manager

Erika has over 15 years experience in the field of administration. She is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Erika has previously worked with children with autism spectrum disorder. She enjoys contributing to the special education community. Erika joined Avalon in 2018.


rosette el qutami, accountant

Rosette joined Avalon in 2005.

The Avalon Academy
Special Education Team

sara hawkinson, head of school

Sara holds a master’s degree and a California teaching credential in Special Education (Moderate to Severe Disabilities) along with an Orthopedically Impaired Added Authorization from San Francisco State University. Sara participated in the University California Deaf-Blind Services Partnership Program and the Autism Spectrum Endorsement Program at SFSU. Sara happily joined the Avalon team in 2008.


lizz Schoelen, director of education

Lizz holds a master’s degree and a California teaching credential in Special Education (Moderate to Severe Disabilities) along with an Orthopedically Impaired Added Authorization from San Francisco State University. Lizzie participated in the University California Deaf-Blind Services Partnership Program and the Autism Spectrum Endorsement Program at SFSU. Prior to joining the Avalon team in 2008, Lizzie worked with children, teenagers and adults impacted by autism and intellectual disabilities for 9 years. Lizz has a special interest in multi-sensory teaching approaches and integrating music (and events!) into curriculum. Lizz joined Avalon in 2008.


karla alcantar, director of transitional services

Karla holds a master’s degree and California teaching credential in Physical and Health Impairments from San Francisco State University. She has over 10 years of experience working with children with special needs. Prior to working at Avalon, Karla worked as an AAC/AT special day class teacher and Orthopedically Impaired Specialist. From 2009-2011, she served as a special education Peace Corps volunteer for the Ministry of Education in Grenada where she developed special education needs programs in primary schools and provided training for teachers and administrators serving students with special needs. Karla joined Avalon in 2014.


claire pohle, special education teacher

Claire holds a M.A. in Special Education and a Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Moderate/Severe Disabilities from San Francisco State University. During her graduate coursework, she completed the Deafblind Specialization Program in which she specialized in the education of learners with sensory disabilities and deafblindness. Claire joined the Avalon team in 2016 as an instructional assistant, and joined the teaching team in 2018.

The Avalon Academy
Communication Intervention Team

joey hamlin, director of speech language therapy and aac services

Joey Hamlin is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist who earned her Master’s from San Jose State University and Bachelor’s degree from Smith College. She has received specialized and advanced training in the areas of augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology (AAC/AT), feeding and swallowing disorders, and bilingual language development. She has experience delivering services to both adult and pediatric populations in clinic, hospital and school settings, and provides mentorship and training to SLP graduate students and clinical fellows. Joey has enjoyed presenting locally on topics related to AAC assessment and implementation, and the use of AAC strategies and AT tools to facilitate language and literacy development for individuals with complex communication needs and cortical visual impairment. Joey joined Avalon in 2011.


andrea song, speech language pathologist

Andrea is a licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist, who earned her Master’s degree from San Jose State University. She completed her undergraduate studies in Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Andrea has extensive experience in treating and assessing individuals with complex communication needs within clinical, educational, and community settings. Andrea was a recipient of the Project AACES (Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Educational Settings) Grant at SJSU during which she received comprehensive training in AAC assessments and interventions. She has successfully procured multiple speech-generating devices through various funding sources, including private insurance and California Children's Services. She has also spoken to graduate students at San Francisco State University on AAC/AT (Assistive Technology) related topics. Andrea has also had opportunities to mentor undergraduate and graduate level students in the field. Andrea joined Avalon in 2014.


michelle markowitz, speech language pathologist

Michelle holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders from San Francisco State University. While earning her Master's degree, Michelle participated in the Project CLLASS (Collaborating for Language and Literacy through Augmentative Systems) Grant in which she received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with complex communication needs. As part of this program, she also attended the Building Bridges Camp and Training Institute where she collaborated with other professionals in the field to develop and implement AAC systems for children ages 5-17 years. After graduating, Michelle completed both her student internship and clinical fellowship at The Avalon Academy, and is now a full-time speech-language pathologist providing speech, language, and AAC services to Avalon students. In addition to working with children, she has experience working with adults with complex communication needs in both clinical and community settings. Prior to her time at Avalon, Michelle worked for 4 years at Behavioral Intervention for Autism (BIA) with a variety of children with autism spectrum disorders as an interventionist and case manager. Michelle joined Avalon in 2015.


amy lee, speech language pathologist

Amy is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist who earned her Master’s degree from San Jose State University. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s of science degree, magna cum laude, in Human Development. Amy worked as a research assistant at the UC Davis MIND Institute for over a year, gaining experience in assessing school-aged individuals diagnosed with ADHD and/or Autism Spectrum disorder. Throughout her graduate career, Amy successfully completed comprehensive assessments and provided speech therapy for individuals with complex communication needs within clinical, educational, hospital and community settings. She has experience treating individuals with Cerebral Palsy, Aphasia, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Mild Cognitive Impairment. Amy was also a recipient of the Project AACES (Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Educational Settings) Grant, during which she received extensive training in research-based AAC assessments and interventions. After completing a graduate internship at The Avalon Academy, Amy is thrilled to continue working together with staff members to provide the highest quality services to all students that enter our doors.  Amy joined Avalon in 2017.

The Avalon Academy
Physical Therapy Team

brenda huey, director of movement education

Brenda graduated with her Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from University of the Pacific in Stockton, Ca. Brenda has taken various professional training courses on pediatrics and the neuromuscular system including: NDT, myofascial release, reflex integration, breathing and postural mechanics, and orthotic management. Every summer Brenda coordinates the Avalon Olympics program where she creates adapted games that every student can participate with the utmost independence.


magda gorecka, senior physical therapist

Magda Gorecka holds a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from Poland as well as a license from the Physical Therapy Board of California and has over a decade’s experience in PT working with children with physical disabilities including those with cerebral palsy. Additionally, she holds a Diploma in Sports Medicine from California. Magda is a certified practitioner in the Anat Baniel Method® and a graduate of the Mastery Program which encompasses children with special needs, as well as a Masgutova Method (MNRI) Core Specialist. Magda joined Avalon in 2007.


anna moskovits, senior physical therapist

Anna is a California licensed physical therapist with over 20 years of experience with newborns, infants, children, and adults with neurological impairments. Anna has helped her patients by leveraging a wide range of techniques, including soft tissue mobilization (Deveny Method), Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT), Kinesio Taping, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), and Vestibular Rehabilitation. Anna holds a B.Sc. degree in Physical Therapy from the Semmelweiss University in Budapest, and a second diploma in Soft Tissue Mobilization (Deveny Method), and is a member of the Association of Pediatric Therapists. Anna joined Avalon 2012.

The Avalon Academy
Vision Support Team

Terena Scott, Teacher of the visually impaired (STSP), orientation and Mobility specialist

Terena is a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist with a Master’s Degree in Special Education/Orientation and Mobility from SFSU. She is currently adding her second credential as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired, also from SFSU. Terena began working with children with disabilities in 1998 as an Early Interventionist with Easter Seals. However, she states that her greatest training came from her own daughter, born with multiple disabilities, including deaf-blindness. Terena was also a Parent Advocate for the Lake County Special Needs Family Resource Center as well as the Parent Liaison for Mendocino County CCS. She brings more than 20 years of real life experience to her teaching. Terena joined Avalon in 2018.


alisa stegmaier, orientation and mobility specialist

Alisa is an experienced Orientation and Mobility Specialist dedicated to working with students who are visually impaired. She enjoys being able to connect students with their environment so that they are able to travel as independently as possible and enjoy meaningful interactions with the people and nature they encounter. Alisa holds a M.A. in Special Education (with an emphasis in Orientation and Mobility) and a Clinical Rehabilitative Services Credential from San Francisco State University. Her B.A. is in International Studies (with an emphasis in Cultural Anthropology) from the University of California, San Diego. Alisa’s career in the field of Orientation and Mobility began in 2013. She values positive interpersonal relationships, experiential learning, physical movement… and having fun! Alisa joined Avalon in 2018.


janet macks, teacher of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialist - consultant

Janet holds an M.A. in Special Education as well as a California teaching credential, a VI credential (Teacher for the Visually Impaired) and a rehabilitation credential in Orientation and Mobility.   Janet has been teaching students (pre-K to 22 years old) with visual impairments for 30 years.  For 20 years she was the assistant instructor at San Francisco State University in the Orientation and Mobility Program.  Janet has taught and trained teachers and teaching staffs in both Thailand and Sri Lanka.  Janet joined Avalon in 2010.

The Avalon Academy
Student Health Support

Maureen Howard-kiely, coordinator of student health

Maureen has been a pediatric RN for over 20 years, with a Master's of Nursing in Case Management.  She has worked in ambulatory care, home care, and various school sites throughout her nursing career.  She enjoys working with families in various capacities.  Maureen has two sons and a daughter, and has a unique perspective on children with special needs as her oldest son has cerebral palsy, hydrocephaly, epilepsy, and other medical conditions.  She is happy to join the Avalon team and provide support to staff and families. .

The Avalon Academy
Media and Art
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sean adams, media and art specialist, instructional assistant

Sean has been working with children who have special needs since 1997. He holds a BA in Communicative Disorders and enjoys helping to develop communication strategies for children who are non-verbal. As Avalon’s art and media specialist, Sean is in charge of  documenting the life at Avalon. Sean joined Avalon in 2006.


nadia love, media and art specialist, instructional assistant

Nadia has helped raise her two nieces who both have special needs. She holds a BA in Graphic Design and is currently pursuing her BS in Nursing. She is passionate about art and is driven with a deep desire to teach and help others. As Avalon’s art and media specialist, Nadia helps document the life at Avalon. Nadia joined Avalon in 2018.

The Avalon Academy
Instructional Support
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The Avalon Academy
Board of Directors
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Annie Noonan is a Co-Founder of Avalon. Annie was awarded an Honours Degree in Law from the University of Westminster School of Law in London, England in 1981. She graduated as a Barrister-at-Law from the Inns of Court School of Law the following year and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in July 1982. After relocating to California, she worked for six years in the Employment Law Department of a large San Francisco law firm. She passed the California Bar Examination and was admitted to practice in June 1991. Practicing for several years at two San Francisco law firms, Annie advised employers on a wide variety of employment matters. She represented employers in litigation and authored several legal articles. Annie was Vice-Chair in 1993 and Chair in 1994 of The Labor and Employment Law Committee of the Barristers Club of San Francisco. In 1995, she was certified by the Human Resources Management Program at San Francisco State University. Annie is a member of the Board of The Community Alliance for Special Education, a non-profit advocacy organization based in San Francisco. Annie has two children, a boy and a girl. Her son, who has had cerebral palsy since an illness at 14 months, inspired her vision of this brand new school so that he, and children like him, would have the opportunity to excel and be happy and productive in a fully supportive environment.



Lynette Mullens is a Co-Founder of Avalon. Lynette qualified as an M.D. with Honours from the University of London, England, in 1987. She was awarded a Ph.D. from the same university in 1993 and subsequently joined the headquarters of GlaxoWellcome, a major multinational pharmaceutical company. Lynette specialized in clinical research and development of drugs for the treatment of neurologic and psychiatric disorders. She was the principal physician on the international team responsible for the development of the antiepileptic drug Lamictal in both the U.S. and Europe . This drug is commonly used for the treatment of seizures associated with conditions such as cerebral palsy in both children and adults. After moving to California in 1999, Lynette worked for a start-up company which collaborated with non-profit organizations to provide patients with online access to clinical trials. This experience inspired her to contemplate a new venture aimed at enhancing the lives of children who have cerebral palsy. Lynette has three children, the eldest of whom has cerebral palsy.



Bill Wolf is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Lobo Leasing a specialized aircraft financing company focused on leasing commercial helicopters to U.S. and international rotorcraft operators. Bill graduated in 1987 from Amherst College with a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in Economics. Prior to business school, Bill was a financial Analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. After graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1991 with a Master’s in Business Administration, Bill was an investment banker and financial advisor. From 1991 to 2004, Bill was in positions of increasing responsibility at Goldman, Sachs & Co., retiring in 2004 as a Managing Director of the Investment Banking Division and Head of the U.S. Retail Industry Practice. Subsequently, he became a Managing Director and Global Sector Head for the Retail and Distribution Industries at HSBC and later joined Credit Suisse as Managing Director and Co-Head of the Americas Retail Group. Bill left investment banking in 2008 and entered private practice, where he invested on behalf of a family office based in Austin, Texas in service, energy, retail, aviation and financial private companies. In this connection Bill and members of his family have formed Wolf Partners and Lobo Leasing to invest in and arrange financing for private companies in the energy, aviation, and financial services among other sectors.



Ann Wilson Green earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1983. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1986. Upon graduating, she began practicing law with the firm of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran and Arnold (now Sedgwick) in New York City where she specialized in medical device and pharmaceutical products liability litigation. During that time, she was also actively involved in the New York City Bar Association’s Special Committee on Legal Issues Effecting People with Disabilities. As part of that committee work, she prepared comments on the draft legislation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ann transferred to Sedgwick’s San Francisco office in 1991 where she was promoted to partner. In 1998, Ann retired to explore other pursuits. Interested in continuing her work with people with disabilities, she worked as an aide to a freshman student at Stanford University who has cerebral palsy. In 2014, Ann earned a Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) degree from Stanford University. She is currently serving on the Alumni Advisory Board for Stanford's MLA program. She is also pursuing a PhD in English from Claremont Graduate University. She is married and has two children.



Kinga is a Co-Founder of Avalon. Kinga holds a master’s degree in Special Education (with an emphasis in Physical and Health Impairments) as well as a California teaching credential. She was a Lecturer at San Francisco State University for over a decade, where she taught a graduate course on the Implications and Management of Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairments. Kinga entered the field of special education at the International Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary. She graduated with High Honors in 1996 with a degree in elementary education majoring in special education of motor-disabled children. Kinga was recruited to California in 1997 where she contributed to the establishment of two programs for children with cerebral palsy. Kinga is a certified practitioner in the Anat Baniel Method®. She is a graduate of the Mastery Program which encompasses children with special needs. Kinga has an extensive private practice dedicated to children and teenagers with special needs.



Russell Vernick was awarded a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University in 1990 and a Masters in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 1993. Since 1994, he has worked as a systems developer and manager in the San Francisco Bay area, primarily with Barclays Global Investors (BGI). Russell has two sons, his eldest having cerebral palsy due to a stroke in utero. His family’s experience in seeking medical and therapeutic assistance for his son inspired him to create more enriching, welcoming places for those with special needs. He was first introduced to The Avalon Academy in 2005 and joined the board in 2008.

The Avalon Academy
Advisory Council


Anat Baniel has gained an international reputation as the originator of the Anat Baniel Method® Neuromovement for Infants and Children, an innovative, scientifically based approach that enables children with developmental challenges to more fully access their abilities.

While working as a psychologist in Israel, Anat became apprenticed to Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, a renowned physicist who developed a method of somatic education to promote self-rehabilitation and awareness through movement. At the center of this philosophy was movement as a self-referencing, highly effective means of communicating with the brain to promote change.

For 15 years, Anat continued her close association with Dr. Feldenkrais, teaching, studying, and traveling with him all over the world. Concurrently, Anat opened her own practice and created her own method for working with children who had developmental problems.

In the past 25 years, Anat has trained over 1000 practitioners.
Anat holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tel Aviv.


Stephen G. Dilly, MBBS, PhD, is Chairman of Cognoa Inc, a company at the forefront of digital behavioral health for children. Cognoa's precision health platform is designed to support early identification and treatment of pediatric behavioral health conditions including autism spectrum disorders. He was formerly the CEO of Aimmune Therapeutics (NSDQ: AIMT) and APT Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Dilly was previously Senior Vice President, Head of Development, and Chief Medical Officer at Chiron BioPharmaceuticals, Vice President of Development Sciences at Genentech and before that head of clinical neuroscience at SmithKline Beecham.

Dr. Dilly played important roles in the development and approval of numerous drugs, including Kytril®, Requip®, Kredex®, Paxil CR®, Cathflo Activase®, Raptiva®, Xolair®, Avastin®, Lucentis®, Cubicin® and Tarceva®. He is on the Board of Sangamo Therapeutics. Dr. Dilly received a PhD in Cardiac Physiology from the University of London and holds an MBBS, graduating as a physician from the University of London.


Joe Feldman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE), a non-profit advocacy organization based in San Francisco. A former special-education teacher and one of California’s leading special-education advocates, Joe has devoted himself to the special-education process for almost thirty years. Assisting families at Individual Education Plan meetings, Mediation Conferences, and Due Process Hearings, CASE also provides free technical assistance consultation and training about special-education rights and services to students, parents, educators, and community professionals throughout California.

Prior to starting CASE in 1979, Joe taught students with severe disabilities at Fairfield School in San Francisco. An Actor from 1971-1976, Joe performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Napa Valley Theater Company, and the Montgomery Theater in San Francisco.

Joe received his B.A. in Education and Drama from the University of Iowa in 1971, and earned his Teaching Credentials (Learning Handicapped and Severely Handicapped) from San Francisco State University in 1977.


Matt Noonan is a Director of the San Francisco accounting firm of Lautze & Lautze where he assist clients with their numerous accounting, auditing, taxation, and business consulting needs. Serving a wide variety of closely-held companies in fields such as manufacturing, transportation and wholesale distribution, Matt also works with non profits including several trade associations and private schools. Prior to joining Lautze & Lautze, Matt worked with Ernst & Young (formerly Arthur Young & Company) and local accounting firm Rooney, Ida, Nolt & Ahern.

Matt is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, and is Chair of the California CPA Society Credit Grantor’s Committee, East Bay Chapter. He also serves on the Board of Directors of several non profits, and is a past director of San Leandro Industrial Roundtable and North Oakland-Emeryville Rotary Club.
Matt graduated from Santa Clara University in 1971 with a B.S.C. in Business and received his M.B.A. in Accounting from Golden Gate University in 1978, where he continued his post-graduate education in taxation, and retirement and estate planning.

ELAINE PICO, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.P.M. & R.

Dr. Elaine Pico has been an Attending Physician at the Children’s Hospital, Oakland for the last decade. Additionally, she is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medical Expert for Life Care Plan Needs.

In her extensive practice of over 700 patients, Dr. Pico is a Medical Consultant and Provider for California Children Services in 9 counties, including 12 different clinics. Her special interests include the management of children with a variety of neurological conditions including cerebral palsy, spasticity, neuromuscular disorders, traumatic brain injury and spina bifida.

Dr. Pico holds a Specialty Certification in Pediatric Rehabilitation. She is also Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is a regular presenter at both national and international conferences.

Dr. Pico completed her residency in Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. She earned an M.D. from U.C.L.A. School of Medicine in1991.


Dr. Gloria Soto has been involved in Avalon since before its inception and was the first member of its Advisory Council. Dr. Soto is Professor in the Department of Special Education at San Francisco State University. She teaches graduate coursework in special education, cultural diversity, augmentative communication and curriculum-based language and communication intervention.

Her area of professional expertise is in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Her areas of research interest include applied educational issues such as multiculturalism, collaborative teaming, inclusive education and professional preparation, as well as more basic areas such as narrative language in AAC, language development through augmented means and the impact of graphic symbol use on language development. She is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences related to communication intervention and special education. She has published numerous articles and book chapters.

Gloria holds an M.S. from Universidad Pontificia, Spain and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.


Jeff Wohl is a partner in the San Francisco office of the international law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, where he specializes in employment law. Prior to joining Paul Hastings, he was a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he headed its San Francisco Employment Law Group and served as its first General Counsel. Recently inducted into the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Jeff has been named one of the best employment lawyers in the Silicon Valley.

A frequent speaker and moderator for The American Bar Association, National Employment Law Institute, Society for Human Resources Management, Practicing Law Institute, and California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), Jeff also provides legal commentary for the San Francisco Chronicle and other general interest and legal publications, and has appeared in television and radio broadcasts.

Jeff serves on a pro bono basis as a judge pro tem for the San Francisco Superior Court and is an accredited mediator with the Northern District of California. He is also Chair of his office’s United Way Campaign and provides pro bono counsel to non-profits.

Jeff received an A.B. with highest honors from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977 and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1980.

The Avalon Academy