How two women brought change to the Intellectual Disabilities System.

It started with two women and a vision. A vision that everyone belongs in the community, everyone deserves the right to a happy and meaningful life, and everyone’s voice should be heard.  Audrey Coccia and Maureen Devaney created Vision For EQuality (VFE) in 1996 to change the lack of understanding and support people with disabilities and their families experienced in the community.  What we take for granted; the sense of belonging and acceptance for who we are; being treated with respect; the opportunity to express our own spirituality; have the power, authority and resources to control our own destiny; and having options and security in our lives are not the norm for people with disabilities.  Audrey Coccia and Maureen Devaney vowed to change that reality. Vision For Equality was one of the first agencies in the nation to develop programs that enabled people with disabilities and their families to directly monitor services provided to the disabilities community.

In the over 20 years since Vision For EQuality was founded, we have had many success stories.  We have worked tirelessly every day to look for avenues of support for people with autism and disabilities, all of which need support through no fault of their own.  Unfortunately, our struggle is far from over. Today over 16,000 people with autism, and other disabilities in Pennsylvania receive no help or support which would allow them to live a decent life.  Unless we provide alternative solutions, many of these people will have no option but to be separated from their families and friends, uprooted from their community, and moved to an institution miles away from home.  Vision For EQuality has worked for, and will continue to work for solutions until we have created One Community For All.

View below to learn more about our history, dedicated people and continued mission.

OUR MISSION

The torch must be carried by the parents of the younger generation. The tools I give to them to overcome their obstacles are the following: never-ending hope, perseverance and unequivocal belief that all people are created equal.– Leona Fialkowski

To assist and empower people with disabilities and their families to seek quality and satisfaction in their lives as well as equal access to supports and services.

WE BELIEVE that all people have a right to live a happy and meaningful life, which include

  • The power, authority, and resources to control their own destiny
  • A sense of belonging and acceptance for who they are
  • Being treated with dignity and respect
  • The chance to participate as valued members of their community
  • Options, creativity and security in their everyday lives
  • Meaningful and loving personal relationships
  • The opportunity to express their own spirituality
  • Access to good health care

A vision grounded firmly in community.

OUR TEAM

Board of Directors

 

LarryC_Board

IN MEMORIUM

CHARLES L. CONWAY, SR., CPA

Founding Board Member

Vision for Equality was deeply saddened by the passing of Charles L. “Larry” Conway in May of 2016. Larry and his wife, Ginny, have been passionate advocates for persons with disabilities for many years beginning with the birth of their son Andy. Mr. Conway applied his professional experience as a CPA specializing in taxes, auditing and non-profits by lending his expertise and volunteered at several organizations. His background as a Board Member started with Northeast Growth & Development Center; KenCrest, Lutheran Social Services; The Arc of PA , Board President, Finance Chair, Treasurer, etc.; The Arc of US; PA Protection and Advocacy, Treasurer; Disabilities Rights Network, Treasurer, Police and Fire Association and the best – Vision for Equality where he was a founding Board member, past President, Treasurer, Finance Chair and ardent Advisor.
His passion and drive in this field continues by the commitment and dedication of his sons Paul and Chuck who contininue to volunteer their time for non-profit organizations who serve persons with disabilities.
Most importantly Larry was a cherished friend to the Directors, Board and all of us at Vision for Equality. We will miss him greatly and cannot thank him and his family enough for his dedication, steadfast support, advice and presence over the years. Larry used his gifts and talents to assure that people and their families would have a full life in their homes and communitiies. He is sadly missed.

Jennifer Logan

President

Ms. Logan has been a member of the Board of Directors from the beginning of Vision. she earned her BA from York College of Pennsylvania in 1995 and her JD from Temple University in 1998. Since 1998 she has been the Senior Legal Assistant in the City of Philadelphia Law Department Claims unit.

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Bernadette Lennon

Vice President

Mrs. Lennon started her career as an activist for children and adults who are members of the Disability Community when her third son, Christopher Michael was born with Moebius Syndrome 38 years ago when no help was available. Lennon found a program at UCPA and was told 2 weeks later Christopher could not attend anymore since it was financially dependent. As a result, she went to Harrisburg and told them they were discriminating against and she won him the right to attend the Infant Stimulation Program for a weekly fee. Since that time Bernadette has worked for the School District in Special Education and as Supervisor for the Family Support Coordinators who help families to understand their rights and responsibilities. Upon retiring at 65, she took a consulting position with Mental Retardation Services and then moved to Vision for Equality where she worked for 7 years. Bernadette is President of the Hall Mercer Community Council, Member of the Mayors Board for BH & IDS, Board Member at Vision for Equality and Parent Coordinator for South/West Parents Support Group and has received A Brighter Futures Award. She is a member of Parent to Parent and initiated Grandparent to Grandparent. She is also past Chairperson of the Public Awareness Committee to advocate the capabilities of all people.

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RICHARD RUSSO

SECRETARY/TREASURER

Rich Russo is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Wharton School with a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. After a 44 year career with UGI Corporation, a utility company with headquarters in King of Prussia, he retired from his position of General Accounting Manager. He was formerly a Board member of PARC and DELARC. Rich is currently member of the family association of Cardinal Krol Center, an intermediate care facility, located in Springfield Pennsylvania. Mr. Russo has been a Board member of Vision for Equality since 2008 and is currently serving as Treasurer.

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CARLOTA BOKER

BOARD MEMBER

Carlota Boker was born in Venezuela, South America. Carlota grew up in a very large home with seven sisters, five nieces, and two nephews. Ms. Boker currently lives in Philadelphia’s Center City area. She enjoys spending time with her best friends and she is a volunteer at Manna where she prepares food for individuals and families who are at nutritional risk due to life-threatening illnesses. Carlota is learning how to cook and also enjoys traveling. Aside from traveling, Carlota loves to swim, listen to music, and watch baseball. Ms. Boker is involved in several organizations that advocate for people and family members with disabilities. She is a member of the Vision for Equality Board of Directors and is the president of Speaking for Ourselves, an organization that encourages people with disabilities to become more independent. Over the years she has received several awards for her active role in advocating for herself and others. She has also worked at several locations within the Philadelphia region as an Office Assistant and Environmental Service Attendant.

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KRISTIE GONZALES

BOARD MEMBER

Kristie Gonzales joined KVUE in 2016 as President and General Manager, leading one of the top stations in Central Texas. She manages a staff of more than 115 employees who produce 33 hours of award-winning live news and programming each week. KVUE, an ABC affiliate, is part of the TEGNA family of 46 television stations across 38 markets.
“Kristie is a rising star in this industry…” – TEGNA Media President Dave Lougee.

Before moving to Austin, Kristie was the Promotion and Digital Brand Manager at WABC in New York, the most-watched local station in the country. Previous to WABC, she held management positions at various television stations across the country, including Creative Services and Local Programming Director at WTVD in North Carolina and Creative Services and Public Affairs Director at KSFN in Fresno, California. She also spent 5 years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a Promotion Producer, creating marketing campaigns for WPVI.

Kristie is a dynamic and adept leader with experience creating strategic campaigns that harness the power of digital platforms to grow audiences in highly diverse markets. Committed to her professional and personal communities, Kristie is member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and serves as a Board Member for Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas, and for Vision for Equality, a non-profit that advocates for people with disabilities.

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LYNNE M. RYAN YOUNGMAN

BOARD MEMBER

Lynne Youngman was born in Iowa in 1947. She attended HLV Community High School in Victor, Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa with a B.S. in History and Political Science. She became a Philadelphian in 1971.Mrs. Youngman previously has worked for Fitzpatrick & Smith, criminal defense attorneys; District Attorney of Philadelphia Emmett Fitzpatrick; and Herbert B. Newberg & Associates, as an author Newberg on Class Actions, legal secretary, researcher, and paralegal.Involved in progressive politics since youth, she has worked on the following causes: organization of farm workers, gaining reproductive choices for women, ERA, ending the Vietnam War, unionization of private secretarial workers, improving neighborhoods, preserving public libraries and local politics. In addition she has advocated for the rights of individuals with disabilities in connection with services, housing and education, by educating the public as to the abilities and contributions of individuals with disabilities in their local communities, and training caregivers how to effectively navigate the system for their family members, to end segregation in all areas of community life. Lynn has received various awards and citations for her endeavors. Married to C. Van Youngman for 32 years and the proud parent of an amazing, handsome young man who happens to have intellectual and developmental disabilities who every day proves to her that everyone has something to contribute to society if they are just given the chance to do so.

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NICHOLAS SAIDEL, JD, MA

BOARD MEMBER

Nicholas Saidel received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Saidel has contributed opinion pieces to publications including Fox News, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and the Jerusalem Post, and he has an ongoing “Ops & Blogs” column at the Times of Israel.Before his role as Associate Director at the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis & Response (ISTAR) at the University of Pennsylvania, he was an Associate at the law firm of Wolf, Block LLP, a Legislative Aide to United States Congressman Robert A. Brady (1st. Pa), and a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security.His sister Jackie attends SPIN and she has instilled a passion for issues pertaining to Intellectual Disabilities.

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KATHY L. SYKES

BOARD MEMBER

Kathy is the former Director of Intellectual disAbility Services (IDS), a component of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services of the City of Philadelphia. She held a variety of positions in her 34 years with the office.During that time, she had the unique opportunity to lead in the development of an ever evolving community service system, one that has supported people to move from institutions to the community, from workshops to employment in the community, and recognizes the essential role and contributions of individuals and families in shaping the life they want to live.

She is a strong proponent of “Employment First” and recognizes the value of work and individual contribution. She fostered the development of independent supports coordination in Philadelphia and promoted person centered services. She served as a co-chair of the Philadelphia Interagency Coordinating Council in its early years and was active in transitioning early intervention services into home and community settings.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Education from Penn State University.

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EDWARD G. TITTERTON, III, ESQUIRE

BOARD MEMBER

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Edward G. Titterton received his BA from LaSalle College and his JD from Villanova Law School. He has Bar Memberships to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.Mr. Titterton has a part-time involvement with estates, representation of for profit and non-profit corporations, will drafting with concentration in special needs field, counsel for small businesses and nonprofit organizations, educational law with concentration in special education, and pro bono activities for local civic organizations. Currently he is employed by Cigna/Ace USA/Resolute Management Inc. and works in managing the investigation, adjustment and litigating of environmental claims. He previously worked in the, Homeowners’ Warranty Claim Division (HOW), supervising litigation on a nationwide basis for a program that provided certain specific types of insurance coverage for new residential construction. Activities involved pleadings, discovery and other litigation related activities, as well as providing advice and analysis to other supervisors and management.Additionally, He has also been a member and chair of the Pennsylvania Special Education Appeals Panels which hears administrative appeals of hearing officer findings in special education due process hearings, a consultant to Pennsylvania Special Education Office for Dispute Resolution and a member of Pennsylvania Special Education Advisory Panel. He has also taught graduate level course in Education Law.

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ELEANOR ELKIN

EMERITUS

Involved in the Pennhurst story from the very beginning, Eleanor was very active in the movement to close Pennhurst and move people with Developmental Disabilities out of institutions. She worked tirelessly as an advocate on both the state and national level. She was instrumental in ensuring that all children had the right to an education regardless of their disabilities. Eleanor has served in her long career as President of the ARC of PA, PILCOP worker on the Pennhurst litigation, and as one of the founders of the international movement to address proper treatment of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Mrs. Eleanor Elkin was honored with the first Eleanor Elkin Lifetime of Service Award at the 62nd annual meeting of The Arc of Philadelphia.

Executive Directors

A Letter From Our Directors

Our journey began with a vision focused on the importance of people with disabilities and their families believing they are valued members of our service system and community and that they should be treated with both dignity and respect.

We seek change that reflects the importance of the people being served, seeing the customer as the focal point. We envision a service system that seeks customer satisfaction, a revolutionary idea.

Our hope is that teaching by our example and being inspired through our efforts, others grow to understand and welcome this paradigm shift. Opportunity and self-determination are our goals, erasing barriers and boundaries our objectives, full membership in community our determined outcome.

We are a unique organization born out of a collective desire for systems change. We interface daily with the service system to set a presence in people’s lives and to bring the perspective of the “customer” and their family to the forefront. We define our roles as advocates and monitors promoting quality and equality in the system and one community for all.

Along with our local impact we have achieved state and national recognition. We recognize that what we have accomplished, big and small, is through the committed hard work and leadership of our Board of Directors, our staff and our volunteers. We believe we can and do make a difference!
-Maureen Devaney and Audrey Coccia
Executive Directors

AUDREY COCCIA

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

acoccia@visionforequality.org

Audrey (Dee) Coccia is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Vision for EQuality, Inc. She has been active in the disability movement for over 35 years. She is well respected and regarded as a major force in upholding the rights of people with disabilities. Dee Coccia has served as a Governor appointed member of the Developmental Disabilities Council, a member of the Pennsylvania Planning Advisory Council and a past board member of the Pennsylvania Protection & Advocacy Agency. She served as Chairperson of the Pennsylvania Community Advocacy Coalition, a statewide advocacy network. Mrs. Coccia serves on many additional State and County committees representing the issues of people with disabilities. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for her advocacy efforts and has appeared publicly on National and Local TV and radio shows discussing disability rights. Mrs. Coccia has fought for social change, while bringing the view of people with disabilities and their families to the forefront.
Mrs. Coccia is married, the mother of two daughters and grandmother to three grandsons. Her daughter, Gina, is at the heart of her work. She has been the catalyst in her life that brought her to the field of disabilities and motivates her each day to continue the work that she does.

MAUREEN DEVANEY

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

mdevaney@visionforequality.org

Maureen Devaney is the Co-Executive Director and co-founder of Vision for EQuality, Inc. She is also Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign. Maureen has volunteered and worked for over 30 years as an advocate in the disability movement and has served in numerous capacities on Boards and local and state planning and policy making committees. She has received numerous awards for her leadership, advocacy and work around waiting list initiatives. She has extensive experience in community organizing, networking and building coalitions. She served in various capacities on committees and councils dedicated to: Self Determination, Inclusion, Systems Change, Early Intervention, Education, Family Support, school to adult life Transition, Waiting Lists, Closing Institutions, Recruitment/ Retention, etc. She is presently the Co-chairperson of the Pennsylvania OMR Planning Advisory Committee, Chairperson of the PAC/OMR Recruitment/Retention Workforce Development Committee and member of the Philadelphia Supports Coordination Steering Committee. She was appointed by previous Secretary of Public Welfare Estelle Richman as a member of the Stakeholders Planning Team and People Stat. Maureen and her husband, Tom, are proud parents of their 3 children, Jim, Tom and their daughter Colleen. Colleen has been Maureen’s main inspiration to help create a better service system for all.

SHEILA STASKO

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, Vision For Equality
DIRECTOR, PA WAITING LIST CAMPAING
PA FAMILY NETWORK CONSULTANT

sstasko@visionforequality.org

Sheila Stasko coordinates PA WL and directs the PA WL Campaign Training program. She has been an outspoken advocate and organizer for the rights of persons with disabilities for 25 years. Sheila founded Parents of Down Syndrome in 1978 and served as President for 8 years. She served as chair and co-chair of the Right to Education Task Force for 19 years. In 1991, Sheila created “Life After High School.” Sheila is a member of the PAC and served as co-chair of the Planning Advisory Committee of the Office of Mental Retardation 2001-2002. She was a member of the Multi-Year Plan, Waiting List Planning Committee. She is currently co-chair of the Waiting List Committee, a sub-committee of the PAC and the Waiting List Oversight Committee. Sheila is the mother of six children; her youngest son John works in the community. He has intellectual disabilities.

 

LISA TESLER

DIRECTOR, PA FAMILY NETWORK

ltesler@visionforequality.org

Lisa Tesler is the Director of the PA Family Network for Vision for Equality. Lisa will lead a team of Family Advisors to inform, connect, and support families of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Lisa began working for Vision for Equality in 2005. She worked for 10 years providing information, resources and trainings through The Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and Families, and did advocacy work as the Policy Coordinator for the PA Waiting List Campaign. Lisa is a 2002 graduate of Confidence and Competence: Partners in Policymaking and a 2004 graduate of Partners in Policymaking: Advanced Leadership Training. Lisa completed training to become an Essential Lifestyle Planning (ELP) facilitator in 2006 and is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware.
Lisa currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Education for All Coalition, and was appointed to the Information Sharing and Advisory Committee to the Office of Developmental Programs in 2014. She participated in the Pennsylvania Autism Task Force, and was President of the Harrisburg Area Chapter of the Autism Society of America for many years. All of Lisa’s work emphasizes a person centered approach to supports for individuals with disabilities.

Staff Directory Administrative

PATRICIA ARMSTRONG

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Email: parmstrong@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5283

Audrey Coccia

AUDREY COCCIA

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Email: acoccia@visionforequality.org

Maureen Devaney

MAUREEN DEVANEY

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Email: mdevaney@visionforequality.org

Nicole Enderica

NICOLE ENDERICA

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Email: nenderica@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0300

Jill Long

JILL LONG

ADMINISTRATOR

Email: jlong@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0310

Rosette Proodian

ROSETTE PROODIAN

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

Email: rproodian@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5293

Juan Vargas-Cano width=

JUAN VARGAS-CANO

OFFICE LIASON

Email: jvargascano@visionforequality.org
Phone: (215) 923-3349

KENDRIA CLARK-DAVIS

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/IM4Q SCHEDULER

Email: kclark-davis@visionforequality.org
Phone: (215) 923-3349

Advocacy

ED MCNICHOLAS

ADVOCACY MANAGER

Email: emcnicholas@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0315

Ryan Fillers

RYAN FILLERS

COMMUNITY ADVOCATE

Email: rfillers@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5299

MARIA MELENDEZ

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/ADVOCACY INTAKE COORDINATOR

Email: mmelendez@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0309

suemoore

SUE MOORE

COMMUNITY ADVOCATE

Email: smoore@visionforequality.org
Phone: (215) 923-3349 ext.131

Consumer and Family Satisfaction Team

SHEILA MCLEOD

CFST MANAGER

Email: smcleod@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5290

Elyse Rosen

Elyse Rosen

CFST TEAM MEMBER

Email: erosen@visionforequality.org
Phone: (215) 923-3349

Independent Monitoring for Quality

Jim Hutchinson

JIM HUTCHINSON

IM4Q MANAGER

Email: Jhutchinson@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0302

William Brewer

William Brewer

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (215) 923-3349

Teri Brewer

TERI BREWER

IM4Q DATA COLLECTOR

Email: tbrewer@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 702-1603 x128

KENDRIA CLARK-DAVIS

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/IM4Q SCHEDULER

Email: kclark-davis@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267)773-5294

Vince Coccia

VINCE COCCIA

IM4Q CLERICAL ASSISTANT

Phone: (215) 600-1654 ext. 142

Carol Costello

CAROL COSTELLO

IM4Q MONITOR

Email: ccostello@visionforequality.org
Phone: 215-923-3349 ext. 204

Lisa Dowdle

LISA DOWDLE

IM4Q PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Email: ldowdle@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0319

Mark Costello

MARK COSTELLO

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (215) 923-3349

Laverne Dwight

LAVERNE DWIGHT

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (215) 923-3349

Patricia Greenwood

PATRICIA GREENWOOD

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (215) 923-3349

Barbara Jackson

BARBARA JACKSON

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (215) 923-3349

Tamar Riley

TAMAR RILEY

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (267) 765-3349

Beatrice Saddic

BEATRICE SADDIC

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone: (267) 765-3349

Anita Wright

ANITA WRIGHT

IM4Q MONITOR

Phone:  (267) 765-3349

PA Family Network

Lisa Tesler

LISA TESLER

Director PA Family Network

Email: ltesler@visionforequality.org
Phone: (717)-233-2424

Teri Brewer

TERI BREWER

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: tbrewer@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Tom Carasiti

TOM CARASITI

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: tcarisiti@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Tina DiBliaso

TINA DIBIASO

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: tdibiaso@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Darcy Elks

DARCY ELKS

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: delks@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Ginny Flynn

GINNY FLYNN

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: gflynn@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Beatrice Saddic

BETTY FROMETA

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: bfrometa@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Nicki Habecker

NICKI HABECKER

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: nhabecker@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Francine Hogan

FRANCINE HOGAN

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: fhogan@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Lisa Butler

LISA BUTLER

PA FAMILY NETWORK COORDINATOR

Email: lbutler@visionforequality.org
Phone: (717)-839-5437

Christa Joy

CHRISTA JOY

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: cjoy@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Melissa Morgan

MELISSA MORGAN

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: mmorgan@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Diane Pepper

DIANE PEPPER

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: dpepper@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Diana Smaglik

DIANA SMAGLIK

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: dsmaglik@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Paulette Testani

PAULETTE TESTANI

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: ptestani@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Julio Nieves

JULIO NIEVES

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: jnieves@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Marisol Ramos

MARISOL RAMOS

LATINO SERVICES COORDINATOR/PAFN ADVISOR

Email: mramos@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5296

Ned Whitehead

NED WHITEHEAD

PAFN ADVISOR

Email: nwhitehead@visionforequality.org
Phone: 1-844-PAFAMILY

Latino Services

Marisol Ramos

MARISOL RAMOS

LATINO SERVICES COORDINATOR/PAFN ADVISOR

Email: Mramos@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5296

MARIA MELENDEZ

ADVOCACY INTAKE COORDINATOR

Email: mmelendez@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0309

Julio Nieves

JULIO NIEVES

LATINO SERVICES COORDINATOR 

Email: jnieves@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-3349

Juan Vargas-Cano width=

JUAN VARGAS-CANO

TRANSLATOR

Email: jvargascano@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-3349

PA Waiting List Campaign

Sheila Stasko

SHEILA STASKO

DIRECTOR

Email: sstasko@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-0301

Tom Carasiti

TOM CARASITI

COMMUNITY ADVISOR

Email: tcarasiti@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-0301

Mary Saunders

MARY SAUNDERS

PROJECT ASSISTANT 

Email: msaunders@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-0301

Ned Whitehead

NED WHITEHEAD

COMMUNITY ADVISOR

Email: nwhitehead@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 765-0301

Philadelphia Parent Support Groups

Barbara Nattile

BARBARA NATTILE

MANAGER PHILADLEPHIA PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS

Email: bnattile@visionforequality.org
Phone: (267) 773-5288

Carol Costello

CAROL COSTELLO

PHILADELPHIA PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS CLERICAL ASSISTANT

Email: ccostello@visionforequality.org
Phone: 215-923-3349 ext. 204

Doreatha Davis

DOREATHA DAVIS

PHILADELPHIA PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS CLERICAL ASSISTANT

Email: ddavis@visionforequality.org
Phone:  (267) 765-3349

Our History

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”
Margaret Meade

Coccia McNicholas FamilyVision for Equality was founded in 1996 out of a deep personal desire to serve people with disabilities and their families by two mothers from Philadelphia: Dee Coccia and Maureen Devaney. These ladies and their husbands were balancing the many joys, adventures and blessings of raising families, Dee with her husband Vince and daughters Denise and Gina; Maureen and her husband Tom with their children Tom, Colleen and Jim. Their daughters Gina and Colleen were born with developmental disabilities and Dee and Maureen lovingly juggled multiple roles as wives, parents, professionals and community members.

img72As their daughters grew into adulthood, the families wanted them to become independent in order for them to live the lives they chose as active members of their communities. Yet the systems and supports in place at the time did not always support and encourage this independent person and family-centered life they dreamed about for their daughters, their families and others.

 

These ladies soon learned that directly becoming involved in active discussion about changing the system of support, government and regulations was the only way to achieve their goals. The paths they took would be an uncharted journey every step of the way. However, they, along with their daughters and family, needed to be in the forefront of charting their own path of how they should and could live their lives, while helping others along the way. Always forging forward with sheer determination and the knowledge that all people should live, work and enjoy an Everyday Life in their homes, neighborhoods and communities.

 

Dee and Maureen’s personal experiences laid the groundwork and seeds that blossomed into a dream wedded with a deep desire to assist all people with disabilities and their families to become central in the universe that encompasses their lives, making them the driving force that influences the outcomes in their own journey. Up until today, their work with a dedicated staff of 51 and 31 volunteers, continues to be their passion and a labor of love.

 

 

Gina-ColleenToday, both Gina and Colleen, are doing great advocating for themselves and others, living happy and productive lives in their neighborhoods and communities. Dee and Maureen’s families remain their steadfast support allowing them the freedom to continue their work. They not only help their own daughters but continue their deep involvement by assisting thousands of others obtain supports and services needed to live the life they choose with dignity and respect.

Vision for Equality – A Timeline

1996

Dee and MaureenVision for Equality was established. A federal judge ordered the closure of Embreeville State Hospital in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The state institution housed people with disabilities from 1938-1997. In 1996, VFE was awarded a contract to establish the Consumer and Family Satisfaction Teams to initially meet people at Embreeville and participate in their Person Centered Planning process. Once the person moved to the community CFST assessed the person’s satisfaction with supports and services to assure their lives were going well and plans were successfully implemented. While Embreeville closed almost twenty years ago, the Consumer Family Satisfaction Teams work is ever-present, assuring a good quality of life for those who left the state center. CONTINUES TODAY.

…Supporting people living in community.

 
 

1996

Eddie testifyingThrough ongoing Advocacy efforts, Vision for Equality’s goal from its founding until today is for people with disabilities to live safe and productive lives and to assure that they are given every opportunity to gain full citizenship in their home communities. Advocacy activities include: educating public officials, support systems and the general public on issues related to Intellectual Disabilities and Autism and to promote and support changes in practices and policies that enhance the quality of people’s lives. CONTINUES TODAY.

 

…Serving individuals and families when they need assistance.

 
 
 

1997 – 1998

img78Vision for Equality was awarded a PEW Grant when Health Choices came into Pennsylvania. Peer Mentors were trained throughout the City of Philadelphia to provide accurate, up to date information to families and self-advocates.

Supporting families as they navigated the new Health Choices System.

 
 

1998

chrisbernhubbyVision for Equality was amongst agencies chosen in 13 counties throughout Pennsylvania to participate in a pilot project of Independent Monitoring Teams in Philadelphia which became the impetus for the development of the state-wide Independent Monitoring for Quality program.

…Serving as the impetus to introduce families and self-advocates, for the first time, as official system observers.

 
 

1998

Sheila TalkingVision for Equality established the “Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign” in response to an outcry of individuals and families in crisis throughout Pennsylvania who were waiting for state funded supports and services in their own communities. Their battle cry is “End the Wait!” CONTINUES TODAY

…Persuading the powers that be of the need for quality service and support expansion.

 
 

1999

IM4Q Department-2014 for website no logoVision for Equality was named an Independent Monitoring Team, IM4Q. IM4Q is a Pennsylvania initiative which collects information from people and families across the state to assess their levels of satisfaction and improve the choice and quality of life and outcomes of people who receive Intellectual Disability services. CONTINUES TODAY

…Serving as members of Monitoring Teams measuring customer satisfaction.

 
 

1999 – 2013

img80Vision for Equality began the only HIV/AIDS Prevention Training for individuals and their families in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The curriculum was designed by VFE to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

…Serving as trainers to inform and educate to keep people safe.

 
 

2000

img81Vision for Equality began providing training for families and self-advocates in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Trainings are offered for individuals living with Intellectual, Developmental Disabilities, Autism, their families, caregivers, support groups, staff and agency employees. CONTINUES TODAY

…Supporting the advancement of knowledge and empowerment for all.

 
 

2000 – 2016

Murt's Office-DC (3)Over the years Vision for Equality has been instrumental in educating City Officials and State Legislators so that critical Legislation is passed on behalf of people with disabilities. In addition they were a part of many law suits to further the rights of those with disabilities. CONTINUES TODAY.

…Assuring that people gain entitlement to their Civil Rights.

 
 

2004

img82Vision for Equality formed The Philadelphia Parent Support Groups which are individual grassroots groups throughout the City of Philadelphia who share and network with each other to inform families about resources and address issues in Philadelphia, the state and in their local communities. CONTINUES TODAY

…Empowering families in their quest for knowledge and position of importance.

 
 

2004

ppsgVision for Equality began providing technical assistance to the Latino Family Support Group in Philadelphia. This bi-lingual group was established for families in the Latino communities. CONTINUES TODAY

…Serving families in the Latino Community so they have a voice in the services and supports their sons and daughters need.

 
 

2005

Philadelphia City Council, through the efforts of Vision for Equality, passed an Ordinance entitling ALL public employees to allow retirement benefits to be paid to trusts for their disabled children and adopted disabled children thus passing a portion of their pension onto them when the employee passes away. CONTINUES TODAY

Serving people with disabilities so that they have support in their future.

 
 

2005 – 2015

Mentors for Self-Determination joined Vision for Equality to mentor and train families in Central Pennsylvania and provide Mentor Family Connections statewide.

…Supporting families to connect with each other within their homes and community.

 
 

2005 – 2015

Vision for Equality was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and their Families – empowering people and families about how to “navigate” the intellectual disability and autism systems, which included: Vision for Equality, Temple University, ACHEIVA, Mentors for Self-Determination, Self-Advocates United as 1 and Latino Services.

…Serving as a vehicle for families and self-advocates in their thirst for information.

 
 

2006

10th AnniversaryVision for Equality celebrated their many accomplishments at their 10th Anniversary Gala with 500 friends and allies in attendance.

…Celebrating people with disabilities and their families many achievements.

 
 

2008

Vison for Equality was instrumental in forming Self-Advocates United as 1 (SAU1). This self-advocacy group brought together people with developmental disabilities throughout Pennsylvania to break down walls and build bridges to an Everyday Life.

…Supporting the rightful role of self-advocates in shaping their own future.

 
 

2008

Vision for Equality participates in the “Money Follows the Person”program that encourages states to look at ways to facilitate nursing home residents’ transitions into living in the community.CONTINUES TODAY

…Supporting people moving from Nursing Homes back to their community.

 
 

2009

The Latino Project was formed to assist people, families and caregivers who have sons and daughters with disabilities in the Latino community who often have a language barrier to receive accurate up to date information and support so that they can effectively obtain services they so desperately need. CONTINUES TODAY

…Supporting Latino families in their reach for breaking down language barriers and full inclusion

 
 

2010

Adult Protective Services, Act 70, was finally enacted by the state of Pennsylvania after Vision for Equality fought for ten long years to create a system which addresses abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59. CONTINUES TODAY

Assuring that people are safe in their homes and in their communities.

 
 

2012

Family Forum CoverThe Family Forum, the quarterly print newsletter published for Philadelphia Intellectual disAbility Services commenced publication under Vision for Equality. It provides up-to-date information on development in advocacy, events, activities and trainings. In 2016, the first edition of the Spanish Family Forum was published.  CONTINUES TODAY

…Providing Families and Self-Advocates with current information and news.

 
 

2015

Vision for Equality fought for a successful Alert System, after the tragic death of Christina Sankey, putting into place in the City of Philadelphia a safety net to protect vulnerable adults with disabilities when they go missing so they are found and returned before tragedy occurs. CONTINUES TODAY

…Serving as a voice to bring about Legislation that ensures the safety and future well-being of individuals with disabilities.

 
 

2015

The Needs of people with Autism who are waiting for supports and services are included in the work of the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign. Our teams educate the Legislators about the needs for those with Autism and their families and their extensive wait for services. CONTINUES TODAY

…Working feverishly on their plight to receive services and telling stories of those with Autism who wait bringing them hope for their future.

 
 

2016

WebsiteVision for Equality launched its new website. Visit our website at: www.visionforequality.org, which provides helpful resources and links to trainings, support groups and information to support families and self-advocates. CONTINUES TODAY

…Advancing a platform of information to support and empower families and self-advocates.

 
 

2016

PrintVision for Equality began the Pennsylvania Family Network. Under the leadership of Vision for Equality, the Pennsylvania Family Network provides family workshops and networking opportunities throughout the Commonwealth, led by trained Family Advisors, all of whom have family members with disabilities. CONTINUES TODAY

…ALWAYS Serving, Supporting, Empowering people with intellectual disabilities and autism and their families throughout their lives.

 
 

2016

Creative Community Living ArtworkThe Creative Community Living Initiative was established by Vision for Equality with the support of Philadelphia Intellectual disAbility Services. The project is developed to listen to families and people with disabilities about their family’s dreams and desires and provide the necessary tools to design a different way of living designed by each family individually using a person centered approach to developing an Everyday Life for all. CONTINUES TODAY

…Opening up Doors for people to live where they would like to live and with whom they would like to live so they can have an Everyday Life like everyone else.

 
 

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Vision for EQuality, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from qualified applicants including minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons whose family members have disabilities. Vision for EQuality, Inc. is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities that enable them to perform the essential functions of their position.