The Mission of the Zefer Foundation:
The mission of the Zefer Foundation is to shift society’s perception of individuals with Developmental Disabilities. We will accomplish this by collaborating with individuals and agencies to create unprecedented opportunities for inclusion and diversity in the areas of employment, housing and recreation.
The Zefer Foundation will provide the support and resources necessary and create an environment that ensures true inclusion is possible in all areas of the community for all its citizens for the betterment of society, as a whole. “The Zefer Foundation believes that it is our moral imperative to provide individuals with developmental disabilities with the benefits and opportunity to improve their quality of life, gain employment and have meaningful participation in the community.”
Meet the team creating opportunities for inclusion and diversity in all areas of the community and employment opportunities for individuals with autism.
Brandi E. Fishman
Brandi Fishman is the founder and President of the Zefer Foundation, here she brings together her passion of inclusion and years of experience heading charitable organizations. Fishman also founded the The Pioneer Autism Sensory Center Parent Teacher Organization. Fishman is currently also the Vice President of Mill Race Village Arts and Preservation Board.
In May of 2019 Fishman was named “ Strong and Selfless Woman of the Year” by Suburban Family Magazine. February of 2020 Fishman will be awarded “ Hero of the Year” by the National Association of Women Business Owners at their annual “ Beyond the Glass Ceiling Gala”.
Fishman is the CEO of Breaking Grounds Coffee and Cafe in Mount Holly, NJ. Breaking Grounds has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Burlington County Times, Courier Post, 6 ABC, CBS and Fox News for the employment program and business model. This year Breaking Grounds won 1st Place with the Burlington County Times “Best of” for “Cafe”, “Smoothie” and “Training Program”. Breaking Grounds also won “ Best Cafe” in South Jersey Magazine.
Fishman is a special education advocate and a member of The Council Of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates.
Fishman organizes several annual events including: Sensory Friendly Cookies and Milk with Santa, trips to Broadway with the Theater Development Fund, Family Fun Nights, parent support groups and outings and Sensory Egg Hunts.
Fishman lives in Medford, NJ , with her husband, Craig and daughter, Zoey.
Craig was born and raised in southern New Jersey. He is a graduate of Shawnee High School. Thereafter, Craig earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Bucknell University and his law degree from Nova University. Upon his graduation from law school, Craig began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable M. Allen Vogleson, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County. Thereafter, Craig entered private practice, where, for the past 22 years, he has concentrated onpersonal injury matters and workers’ compensation claims. Presently, Craig is the founding member of Fishman & Fishman, LLC, which maintains offices in Lawnside and Hammonton, New Jersey.
Craig is admitted to practice law in the State of New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. He is a member of the Camden County Bar Association, the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Association for Justice and the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Currently, Craig resides in southern New Jersey with his wife, Brandi, and his daughter, Zoey.
Lonnie is currently the Director of Athletics at Stockton University where he brings over 33 years of experience as a college administrator including 16 years as a head coach. He has been a New Jersey resident since 1999 having grown up in St. Louis, MO. He earn a Bachelor of Science degree and a MBA from Maryville University and is also a graduate of the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males. He’s a member of the National Association of D3 Athletics Administrators, the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He and his wife Eileen are residents of Ventnor, NJ.
His list of service includes: The Ventnor Go Green Committee; The Stockton University Sustainability Committee; Stockton University National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) Campus Contact; Stockton University Deputy Title IX Coordinator; Stockton University Student Affairs Executive Team; G. Larry James Legacy Fund Executor; Stockton University Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Faculty Secretary; Maryville University Athletics Hall of Fame Committee, NCAA Sports Committee in men’s soccer (regional and national chair), women’s soccer (two terms as regional chair) and the John Henry “Pop” Lloyd Committee, a group that celebrated the legacy and history of Negro League Baseball.
Dr. Eileen Conran-Folks, Ed.D.
Dr. Eileen Conran-Folks has served as an administrator in Higher Education for over 35 years, including nine years as a College Administrator at Temple University and 25 years at Stockton University. Her professional experience includes serving as Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs. She also served as a liaison for the Division of Student Affairs on major construction projects including: the Sports Center, the New Campus Center and two state of the art Housing Complexes, as well as a Project Manager for two of Stockton’s Instructional Sites. Currently, Dr. Conran-Folks serves as the Director for Stockton’s Hammonton and Manahawkin Instructional Sites and also serves as an Adjunct professor in the Division of General Studies. Her doctoral studies and teaching research include the application of Title IX and Equity in Athletics.
Dr. Conran-Folks is also actively involved in several community based partnerships and she serves as a Board member for several non-profit agencies including: Gilda’s Club South Jersey, Hammonton’s Eagle Theatre, The South Jersey Cultural and History Center, The Hammonton Art District and the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University.
As an avid community activist and a leader in several diverse community and non-profit efforts, Dr. Conran-Folks is most proud of her ability to connect students to meaningful projects and educational activities to ensure that the lessons of good citizenship are incorporated into their everyday lives.
Tessa Fishman was born on June 3, 1940 in Philadelphia. Upon graduating from Germantown High School, Tessa attended Temple University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Early Childhood Education in 1962. She married her husband, Arnold Fishman, Attorney at Law, in 1963. Tessa and Arnold settled in Medford Lakes where they had two children: Cindy Fishman (now 50) and Craig Fishman (now 48). She was a teacher for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade for almost 30 years in Philadelphia and New Jersey public schools before retiring in 1995.
Tessa became active in the Philadelphia Ethical Society in 1996; chairing the Education, Community and Ethical Action Committees and serving as a member, on the Board of Trustees, and then as president for two terms. She still remains active. She has also served as a Literacy volunteer for adults, a Bookmate for children in a Camden public school and has led a project to provide free dictionaries to needy children in Philadelphia public schools as a service of the Ethical Action Committee of the Philadelphia Ethical Society. She has recently become involved in environmental issues, especially those serving to protect the New Jersey Pinelands and remain active till the present.
When not busy with all of her interests, Tessa likes to spend time with her two grandchildren: Zoey Fishman (age 8) and Robin Fishman, (age 6).
Born in Baltimore Maryland, Jennifer Uhl-Bergman received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University in Baltimore. Jennifer has been working as a Speech-Language Specialist at Burlington County Special Services School District for over 25 years. In most recent years, she has focused primarily on her work with individuals with Autism. She is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the New Jersey Speech-Language and Hearing Association (NJSHA). Jennifer currently resides in Mount Holly, NJ and is the proud parent of 3 adult children. She enjoys volunteering in the soup kitchen at her church and is looking forward to working for the Zefer Foundation.
Adrienne is a special education teacher at Burlington County Special Services and has worked there since 2006. She has had the opportunity to work with students diagnosed with severe-profound disabilities and students diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). She received her Bachelors of Arts from Rutgers University, received her certification in special education from Rowan University and her Masters of Education in Instruction from The College of New Jersey.
Adrienne was born and raised in South Jersey. She is married and a mother to two active boys. When she is not teaching, she is usually running her boys around to their various sports and extracurricular activities. She enjoys spending time with her family and walking her dogs around her neighborhood. Adrienne is looking forward to being a member of the Zefer Foundation, helping those with developmental disabilities become active members of society!
Beth Parker has worked in the educational field for 23 years. She began her career in education working at Burlington County Special Services School District ten years ago. She started off in a Host classroom and, after 5 years, was moved to the PASC (Pioneer Autism Sensory Center). During her time at PASC, Beth helped begin and organize the PASC PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization). Prior to her career in formal education, Beth spent time serving on the board of Trustees for the Mount Holly Lyceum Library and was Director of the Summer Reading Recreation Camp.
Beth Parker has been a life long resident of Mount Holly, where she is very active in her community. Beth served as a Chairperson and eventually President of the Promotions Committee for Main Street Mount Holly for three years. The Promotions Committee of Main Street Mount Holly is a group that coordinates all of the Downtown Mount Holly Events each year, such as the Christmas Parade, First Night Burlington County, Daffodil Day, Armed Forces Day, Car Shows and the Fourth Of July Fireworks Show. Beth is also on the board for Mill Race Village Arts and Preservation Committee.
When not volunteering her time, Beth attends Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Mount Holly. Beth has been and still is very active at her church, serving as the Sunday School Superintendent for 15 years, teaching Sunday School for 20 years and currently serving on the Vestry. Beth is blessed to be married with three children, a dog and a cat. She feels very honored and excited to be joining the Zefer Foundation and looks forward to the greatness that will happen!
Donna was raised and educated in Pennsauken and graduated from Pennsauken High School in 1983. Upon graduation, Donna attended Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Camden County College earning her degree in nursing. Donna married her husband Michael and they have 3 children: Matt, Zach and Jamie. She work for 17 years as a critical care nurse at various South Jersey hospitals. In early 2001, after becoming burned out with Critical Care setting, she decided it was time for a career change.
After working at her local school district as a classroom assistant in a resource classroom, it was clear that working with special needs children was quickly becoming her passion. In 2010, Donna started working at Burlington County Special Services Pioneer Autism Center as a Teaching Assistant in the Autism program. The staff and students have become part of her family and working there has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She was honored to serve as Vice-President of the PASC PTO for 2 years and in 2015 she was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Phoenix to complete her degree in Special Education. Volunteering with students with Autism has become a family passion and it is a legacy that she hopes will continue for years to come.
Almost 20 years ago, Adell Valasek met a family that would change her life forever. This family had three sons diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is where Adell learned how to implement home programs and began to understand the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. This experience directed her down a whole new road in her life—inspiring her to pursue her Masters in Special Education at Widener University.
Adell became a certified special education teacher and taught a self-contained class for students with developmental disabilities. During this time, she continued her coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis at Penn State University. She then received her Board Certification as a Behavior Analyst in December of 2005. Continuing her career as an Autism Consultant, Adell continued her educcational trek by obtaining her Supervisor of Education certification at Rutger’s University. Adell has also just completed her principal coursework from the University of Scranton in 2015.
Today, Adell’s passion is to provide high quality services to persons diagnosed with autism and other related disabilities. She has also had the privilege over the last two years to provide consultation services to the International School of Brussels and their families. These types of experiences help her as a professional understand how important our mission is; to help support the families and staff who put their hearts and love into helping our students each and every day. Each student she works with touches her life forever. Adell feels grateful to be a part of the Zefer Foundation in it’s infancy and cannot wait to start yet another journey!
Shelli Marquette is native of Virginia, but since 2009, she has made New Jersey her home. She is married and has two teenage boys. Shelli currently works at Burlington County Special Services as an Autism Program Facilitator.
Shelli takes great pride in providing exceptional behavioral service to special needs individuals and families. Her greatest strength is her personal connection with Autism. Both of her boys were diagnosed with Autism in 2004. Their diagnosis led her to become very active in their development. Shelli began volunteering as a teacher’s aide while stationed in Germany with her family. This first step eventually led her to completing her B.S. in Psychology and becoming an Autism Program Facilitator.
Shelli is proud to be a part of the Zefer Foundation and continues to advocate for improving the lives of special needs individuals in our community. Shelli’s personal experience and behavioral skills enable her to assist and support families struggling to understand and deal with the challenges life has presented to them.
Erin Bertoli is a certified Special Education teacher and board certified behavior analyst. She has worked with individuals with autism, their families and educational team members for over fifteen years, as a teacher and consultant in private and public schools, as well as in the home and community. She is a firm believer that every individual can learn, succeed, and be happy; that education and intervention be natural and fun, 100% individualized, meaningful and socially relevant to the individual and his or her family; and that the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis be the primary philosophy and basis for treatment. Erin has worked with a number of young adults and understands the serious need for more inclusive opportunities both in the community and work place. She is thrilled to be a part of the Zefer Foundation so she can help create and support these opportunities, raise awareness and acceptance within the community, and bring a higher quality of life to individuals with special needs!
Katrina Jon Neeld-Flade
Born and raised in Hunterdon County New Jersey, received her degree in the Science of Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 1994. In the years that followed, Katrina has completed advanced has completed advanced training certificates in Fieldwork Education, DIRFloortime, Applied Behavior Analysis, and SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding. In May 2015, Katrina received an Advanced Practice Certificate from Thomas Jefferson University in Autism: Emerging as Leaders in Practice and Research, and is currently pursuing her post-professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
Katrina has worked as an occupational therapist at Burlington County Special Services School District (BCSSSD) for 20 years. In the last decade, she has focused primarily on working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Most recently, to assist in preparing occupational therapy students for their future role as evidence-based clinicians, Katrina collaborates with the faculty from Thomas Jefferson University’s Department of Occupational Therapy in the development of a PrEMO© (Promoting Environments that Measure Outcomes) fieldwork site. During their PrEMO© fieldwork placement at the Pioneer Autism Sensory Center program of BCSSSD, occupational therapy interns advance their knowledge and skills in the areas of autism, sensory integration, and school-based interventions. During this experience students use best evidence and data-driven decision making to steer their practice.
When not working, Katrina enjoys spending time with her family, renovating their 105-year-old home, traveling, camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, biking and walking their dogs around town. She views the wonderful, talented and supportive colleagues as an extension of her family and feels blessed to have them in her life. Katrina is honored to be a member of the Zefer Foundation and excited to be a part of all its future accomplishments.
Board of Directors
President: Brandi Fishman
Vice-President: Adell Valasek, BCBA
Treasurer: Jeff Barnett, CPA
Secretary: Donna Buono
Employment: Kelly Fletcher
Volunteer and Recruitment: Adrienne Arena
Recreation: Jen Bergman and Eileen Conran-Folks
Public Relations & Community Events: Elizabeth Parker
Fundraising: Brandi Fishman