Paulette Purdy

Executive Director

I love gardening and traveling!

Paulette has 22 years of experience in the field of assisting individuals with disabilities. She has an MBA from LeMoyne College and serves on multiple boards, committees and councils. Most notably she is 2nd Vice President of the Human Services Leadership Council and a Board Member of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York State. In 2013 Paulette was named Executive of the Year by CNY Business Journal ‘s NonProfit Awards. When asked why she chose to work in this particular field, Paulette ‘s response drew from her personal experience: “I know some pretty incredible people who have learning disabilities but did not let that hold them back from achieving great things. They inspired me to work hard to help others with learning disabilities also work toward their life goals.”

Chris Rhinehart

Business Director

Amie Zwecker

Marketing and Development Manager

Amie has her Bachelor’s Degree from the College at Brockport, SUNY and her Master’s Degree from Syracuse University, both in public relations. Previous to this position, Amie was an intern for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Central New York Chapter. She has a passion for helping people and animals and has always wanted to work for a nonprofit organization. Over the summer, she works at a summer camp for children and adults who are differently-abled. She also has ADHD and hopes to serve as an example that no one should ever let their disability define themselves.

“I have had this desire my whole life to prove people wrong, to show them I could do things they didn’t think I could do,” – David Paterson

Contact info: azwecker@LDACNY.org  315-870-9444

Dianne Pennings

Director of Children's Services

“Know me for my abilities, not my disability.” ~Robert M. Hensel

Dianne has a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Learning Disabilities from Calvin College in Michigan. While in Michigan, Dianne trained in Schools Attuned through the All Kinds of Minds Institute. Dianne has over 25 years’ experience in the field of special education, from classroom to administrative experience. In her time with LDACNY she has advanced the summer programs, secured new funding opportunities, expanded services and received her ADHD Coaching certification through JST Coaching and Training. Dianne’s choice to work at LDACNY is almost ingrained: “Celebrating differences has always been my passion. I began my teaching career in a self-contained classroom and within that first year began visiting schools implementing inclusion programs. My experience in part includes classroom teaching, team teaching, facilitating teaming approaches, implementing a mentoring program for students with ADHD and more. I now have the opportunity to continue following my passion as I support staff, teachers and parents in meeting the needs of children.”

Lisa Bianchi

Director of Adult Services

“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on our experience”. Jim Dewey

With over 25 years’ experience in assisting individuals with disabilities, Lisa has made her mark on the industry. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Slippery Rock University. She is a member of multiple committees and associations, including Post-Secondary Disabilities Consortium, CNY Placement Consortium and Oswego County Chamber of Commerce. Lisa completed her ADHD Coaching certification in Virginia through JST Coaching. When asked why she works for LDACNY, Lisa responded: “My passion has always been assisting individuals with disabilities to achieve their personal goals. Working at LDACNY has given me the opportunity to assist individuals in a variety of settings such as high school, college, employment and independent living. The greatest accomplishment is when we are able to create or expand services to assist more individuals.”

David Haas

Community Services Manager

I’ve given a TED Talk!

You’d never know David had only 6 years related experience in his field—everyone he comes into contact with would think he had decades, not only due to his Masters Degree from SUNY Cortland. David began his career supervising staff and clients in a containedenvironment at another agency. Since coming to LDACNY, David has broadened not only his responsibilities but clients’ goals: he supervises individuals transitioning into independent living, gives his staff autonomy to work on goals with clients, and covers a county’s worth of clients. He’s also taken on a second program, Adult Social Rec. David belongs to a number of associations, most notably: the National Stuttering Association (Syracuse Co-Chapter Leader), Bishop Grimes Alumni Committee, Eastwood Neighborhood Association, and the Democratic Committee of Onondaga County. When asked why he chooses to work at LDACNY, David’s response was team-spirited, reflecting who he is: “I’m blessed to manage a program that empowers adults to grow independently and achieve some of their life goals and dreams. Our staff is a group of hard working individuals who truly care for ourparticipants and we relish in their accomplishments.”

Linda Nellis

Employment Services Manager

Proud mother of a beautiful girl, 2 dogs and a cat. Was a small business owner for 16 years and have worked at the LDA in employment for 7 years. I love being able to help individuals reach their employment goals.

BJ Brang

Administrative Assistant

Nicole Luebke

Lead Adult Group Facilitator

I was born and raised in Tuscon, AZ and moved to Syracuse in 2007 after my husband and I got married. I have been working with children and adults with disabilities for over 15 years. I received my bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Columbia College. “Never stop doing little things for others. Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.”

Elaine Ferguson

LIFE Counselor/Adult Group Facilitator

“It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to has the power over you, if you allow it,”  Leon Brown

Krystal Edmonston

LIFE Counselor

I own 4 dogs and am a hobby breeder

Seth Grossman

LIFE Counselor

I’m currently working on my Masters Degree in Therapeutic Recreation.

Jamie Tomushunas

LIFE Counselor

Theresa Collins

Employment Consultant

Everyone’s life has a purpose. Find yours and make it count.

Joanne Almanzi

Employment Consultant

I have been a teacher for over 30 years, both in the Syracuse area and also down in SW Florida. I’ve also done some mentoring at the college level and developed a passion for helping others set and meet their personal goals, educational desires, as well as employment ambitions. LDACNY is the perfect place to foster these skills and I am happy to be part of such an exceptional team!

“Improvement begins with I”

Erin Wilsch

Employment Consultant/Adult Group

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Lauren Sauve

Literacy Coach

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada

Dennis Killian-Begnigno

Educational Consultant/Tutor

I’m a Southerner – born and raised in Tottenville, Staten Island – the southernmost site in NYS! If I don’t sound like a Southerner, blame the speech and language teacher I had when I was a student!

Eileen E. Lutz

Educational Consultant

I worked in B’Ville as a special education for 32 years. 3 weeks before I retired I took my job here!