Meet Our Staff
Meet Susan Gurcak
My name is Susan Gurcak. I am the new Education Director for the Easterseals School in Cranberry Township. I grew up and still live in Wexford PA. I received my special education/regular education degree from Mercyhurst University in 1995. I am married to my wonderful husband for 12 years, and we have two daughters. I have been with Easterseals for 23 years. I was temporarily hired as a special education teacher for the summer program in July of 1999. I fell in love with the students and asked if I could work for Easterseals full-time. Luckily for me the teacher that had the classroom I worked in over the summer chose to not come back and I was hired. Working as a team to help my students learn has been a wonderful experience. The best part of the job is seeing my students come in as a three-year-old, watching them grow, learn and succeed over the 5 years that they are typically with us. In this new role as Education Director, I look forward to working with our families, staff, IUs, School Districts and Management to help provide the best education for our students!
Meet Amanda Silcox
Amanda Silcox is the Director of Camping and Recreation, based out of the York Office. Before joining Easterseals one year ago, she was working as a massage therapist with an emphasis on compassionate care and complex medical conditions. Her passion for helping others started at an early age when she began coaching for Special Olympics. This has led her to job experiences in hospitality, education, youth sports, fitness, and program planning. She is looking forward to using these skills to create innovative programs and positively impact the lives of others. Outside of work, Amanda enjoys recreating in the form of body art collecting, stand-up paddleboarding, and going to the beach.
Meet Colleen Felentzer
I have over 30 years of experience with non-profit and community organizations. I began my career as a secretary for a school district before deciding to go back to school for a degree in Communications. I attended Point Park University while working full-time. After graduating, I began working for the Allegheny League of Municipalities as the Director of Communications and Events. It is there that I became very good at juggling many projects at one time. Event planning included banquets, board meetings, golf outings and 4-day conferences at Seven Springs. My most memorable career experience had to be getting to work on a fundraiser that raised $1 million dollars for the Flight 93 Memorial. Being a big part of the “Hearts of Steel” bracelet project was very rewarding, and even more so after fate put me seated beside one of the victim’s mothers on a flight to Tampa, who happened to be wearing her bracelet proudly.
I am married, and Dave and I have two “furbabies” named Chico and Archie. My hobbies include swimming, camping, going to the movies and shopping. I have 3 beautiful nieces that have me completely wrapped around their fingers. I volunteer at my church as part of the GenKidz Team, where I teach children in Kindergarten through fourth grade.
I am very excited to be the Communications and Events Specialist for Easterseals Western and Central Pennsylvania. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that doing a good job results in more help for others. I can’t wait to get to know the different areas and gush about all the wonderful things that Easterseals is doing!
Meet Jeri Brown
Jeri has been with Easterseals for three years April 2022. She was originally hired as the Administrative Program Assistant for the Franklin Division, which includes the Residential Program and the Erie Photo Center. She serves on the Safety Committee, the Wellness Committee and was the HR and Development Representative for Franklin. She is currently transitioning into a new position as Photo Center Coordinator for the five Pittsburgh photo centers, in addition to the Erie site. She will remain in the Franklin office and maintain about 10% of her administrative duties there. Sharon Bennardo, Administrative Assistant for the Pittsburgh photo centers, will be Jeri’s eyes and ears on site and will handle the majority of the day-to-day operations. Although Jeri says she will miss her role in the Residential Program she is looking forward to her new role and any challenges it might bring.
Jeri was born and raised in California and moved to Oil City, PA about seven years ago. She met her husband in college in CA, got married, had two children, purchased a home, and started a business. Her husband was born and raised in Oil City and they often visited his family there. Finally, after being with my husband for 36 years, they decided that CA had gotten too crazy and out of hand with the cost of living, traffic, gangs, drugs, and poor schooling. They sold everything and moved to his little hometown and Jeri has loved every day of it!
Jeri’s son, Nicholas, is 30, and her daughter, Melissa, is 24 have both moved to Oil City, also. Jeri has a one-year-old English Mastiff rescue pup named Nitro. Jeri enjoys fishing, hiking, drives in the country, eating out, and most of all she loves her church! Jeri says, "my church is very active in service to our community, so I have the opportunity to serve in many different areas that bring me much joy.”
Meet Dr. Sydney Black
Dr. Sydney Black earned her BS summa cum laude at Edinboro University and her doctorate from University of the Pacific. An appreciation of music led her to a career in audiology. Dr. Black has experience in a variety of settings, including the Phoenix Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. She is originally from western Pennsylvania and was excited to return home to help serve the community to better access hearing healthcare. Dr. Black has many fond childhood memories of spending time at her aunt and uncle’s farm in Somerset County.
In her free time, Dr. Black enjoys going to concerts and spending time with her dog and three cats. She is thrilled to join the team at Easterseals. She is passionate about improving access to hearing healthcare and improving one’s quality of life through better hearing. Easterseals is a nonprofit in the Johnstown/Somerset communities that helps Children and Adults with Hearing and Speech disabilities. Our services are available to everyone. To welcome our new Audiologist Dr. Sydney Black to our Johnston Division, we will be offering free hearing tests February 2022 through the end of May 2022. Call the office to make an appointment - 814-535-5508.
Meet Gretchen Confer
Gretchen Confer has been working at Easterseals Child Development Center for 4 years. Starting as a Personal Care Aide, then ran a Summer Camp, and now the Program Coordinator. at our State College Division. She loves to watch the children grow and learn as they enter our center and enjoys working with the families. Gretchen was born and raised in State College, PA and is a third generation graduate from Penn State, where she graduated with a Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management Degree. She is a devoted Steelers and Penn State Football fan. 😊 She enjoys spending time outside with her 3 dogs and her husband, as well as coaching gymnastics.
Danielle Corrigan-Gabler is a native of the State College area. She currently resides in Saint Mary’s with her family that includes her husband Sean and two sons; Bryce who attends Slippery Rock University and Grey son who is in his last year of pre-school. Danielle is a graduate of Penn State University and is a devoted Nittany Lion. She has worked in long-term care for the past 13 years and is looking forward to learning all the programs that Easterseals has to offer. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family.
Gwenn Miller manages fund development for the York region of Easterseals Western & Central Pennsylvania, serving donors and funders in achieving their philanthropic goals to support kids and adults with disabilities and their families through programs that allow them to experience freedom, independence and a sense of accomplishment. Gwenn is proud to work for America’s largest nonprofit health care organization, and knows that Easterseals Western & Central Pennsylvania’s focus on helping kids BE KIDS makes this the most important work she can be doing today.
Gwenn’s career in fundraising spans over 10 years. She previously directed the foundation, corporate and government fundraising efforts of a health and human service NPO serving the midstate and Lehigh Valley regions. Gwenn holds a master’s in public administration from University of South Carolina with a concentration in land use planning.
Gwenn is both a certified chillax practitioner (jk) and a progressive mom black belt. Gwenn and her son live in the capital region. A native Pennsylvanian, Gwenn’s wanderlust over 30 years has found her living in four states and one Mediterranean country. Central to Gwenn’s existence are love, mindfulness, and some chocolate.
Visit the York Region's event page by Clicking HERE.
Becky Helffrich loves Easterseals! It’s mission, her co-workers, the clients, working in the Development Department and the atmosphere of workplace. Shortly after retirement in 2016, Becky came to work in Easterseals’ Development Department, the fundraising branch of the organization. There she has the opportunity to implement special events, manage the website, write grants and work with all of our generous donors. Working with her co-worker, Olivia Harris and her boss, Lori McCann has made the job fun, interesting and filled with team fellowship. Becky believes that whether you are a client, a donor, a volunteer or an employee, Easterseals will make you smile.
Prior to retirement in 2016, Becky was Executive Director of Neighbors in the Strip (NITS), a community-based organization whose mission is to promote economic development opportunities while maintaining the personality, integrity and character of Pittsburgh’s Strip District. During this time Neighbors in the Strip has been the recipient of a number if awards including the State Mainstreet Townie Award for Promotional Events, State Mainstreet Townie Award for Safe, Clean and Green, Excellence in Organization, Citywide Mainstreet award for Overall Excellence and the Citywide Mainstreet Award for Excellence in Organization. Among other accomplishments, NITS was particularly pleased with the creation of the NITS Emergency Response Team has resulted in the reduction of crime by 65% during Becky’s time.
Prior to returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh in 1993, Becky resided in Palm Beach County, Florida for 15 years where she was employed as Vice President and Branch Manager for two banks respectively - First American Bank and Trust and Prime Bank. Finding her volunteer work within the community more stimulating than her professional career has led her a career as a community advocate and tireless worker. Becky enjoys reading, sketching and collecting just about anything, but focusing primarily on antique toys and dolls (as storage room, on shelves, in her closets and beneath her bed continues to decline). Becky lives with her cat, Bella who is happy and content, to just lounge around, chase mummies and bite Becky.
Erin is a summer intern with Easterseals Western and Central Pennsylvania, splitting her time between the Adult Day Services program in Harmarville and the Development department at headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. Erin was born and raised in Lancaster County and moved to the North Shore of Pittsburgh earlier this year to complete an internship and hopes to find a full-time job in the area once she has completed school. Erin is an avid Steelers fan and enjoys watching the Penguins and Pirates as well. Erin is currently a student at Penn State University – Hazleton. In January 2021 she obtained an Associate’s degree in Physical Therapy Assistant. At the conclusion of her time with Easterseals, she will graduate with her Baccalaureate degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services. Erin has a strong passion for helping others and wants to make sure everyone - no matter their age or level of ability – access to the resources they need to live a fulfilling life.
Erin says, "getting to work directly with participants of Easterseals’ programs and services and seeing how much the clients all benefit from them, is so rewarding. The clients at Adult Day Services have so much happiness just radiating from them constantly. It is never a bad day with them!
Interested in interning at Easterseals Western and Central PA? Contact Lori McCann via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Lori McCann
When Lori joined Easterseals 3 years ago, she brought over 15 years of non-profit fundraising and development experience. She enjoys working with the Easterseals staff & Board to maximize fundraising efforts while overseeing development staff in ESWCPA’s five divisions.
Before coming to Easter Seals, Lori was the Executive Director for the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania. Areas of responsibility included Board and Committee management, planning and implementing fundraising events (walks, golf tournament. Etc.), overseeing patient services, marketing and communications (including Social Media), and Corporate Sponsorship and grant support. She was also responsible for developing content for the Annual Appeal. Additionally, she worked with the Board President to seek out and recommend potential Board members. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, she had worked as the Development Director for the foundation and returned after several years away to take over in the role of Executive Director.
She has also worked as the Walk Manager for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA) successfully organizing 4 walks, which included Pittsburgh, Erie, Altoona and Morgantown, WV. Prior to CCFA she had been the Individual Support Manager for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and worked for WQED-TV/Radio in the On-air fundraising department. Lori received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Communications from Point Park College.
Lori was an 8th year Girl Scout Leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and njoys being outdoors and spending time with her family. She has 2 children, 3 adult step-children and a step-granddaughter. She resides in the Elizabeth Township area.
She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-281-7244 x 1272.
Visit Easterseals Event pages at https://www.easterseals.com/wcpenna/get-involved/events/.
Meet Annette Shearman
Easterseals was my first job after completing my degree for speech and language pathology. Since beginning over 30 years ago, I have grown as a therapist and administrator. Taking over as the division manager in 2009 and continuing my role as speech therapist has been both challenging and rewarding. The staff at the Johnstown Office has been very supportive to the many changes that have occurred over the years. My role as a speech therapist is my favorite since working with kids has been and continues to be so rewarding. I get to see the children learn to communicate better with their family and others at school or in the community. Our outpatient speech therapy incorporates parent involvement which has allowed me to establish many great relationships with my families making my job more rewarding with their help in reaching therapy goals. I plan to continue working to help Easterseals meet its mission.
Find our more about our Speech and Hearing Services by going HERE. If you are having concerns about speech and language give us call at 814-535-5508. We will be more than happy to help with any concerns you may have.
Meet Miss Norma
My name is Norma, and I have been working for Easterseals for 15 years. I first started at Easterseals when my two adopted children, who have special needs were attending and I would drive them every day.
I enjoy working in the Zebra room at the Child Development Center in Easterseals' State College Division as a personal care aide! I love being able to watch all of the children and help them learn and grow. Outside of Easterseals, I like spending time with my children and grandchildren. My husband and I also love camping, especially at the Great Grange Fair!
Meet Emily Newby
Hi, my name is Emily Newby and I am the lead teacher of the Lion Cub Room at the Child Development Center in Easterseals' State College Division. I have been working at Easterseals since January 2013, when I started as an intern in the Lion Cub room.
I graduated from Penn State in May 2013, with a B.S. in Kinesiology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Since then, I have spent time in both the Elephant Room and the Zebra Room, before returning to the Lion Cubs on November 2016. I became the lead teacher in January 2018 and absolutely love it. This is my favorite age to work with and love seeing the kids grow throughout the year.
When I am not at work, I love being outside and going on adventures, anywhere I can go. My hobbies also include reading, archery, coloring, doing puzzles and spending time with my family and 2 cats.