Current Board Members

Karen Frank


Karen has worked at The Maryland School For The Blind for the past 40 years as a TVI and supervisor.  Her current position is the principal of the Early Learning program.  After graduating from Kutztown University (then known as Kutztown State College) as a TVI, she taught several years in a classroom before going “on the road” and providing statewide consultation services to families and school districts, including assessment of the developmental and literacy needs of young students.  In addition to a Masters degree in Special Education and Administration, she is also certified in Orientation and Mobility.  Karen lives in Baltimore County and enjoys watching her 5 grandchildren in their school and sports activities.

Al Kaufman, COMS


Al had previously been our treasurer for 5 years and we never had any legal problems. Al got his Master’s in Blind Rehab from Western Michigan. He taught O&M at Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta, GA for 13 years before moving to Maryland. He now teaches O&M in Prince George’s County Public Schools. Al is originally from Boston and bleeds Celtic green. He can play the William Tell Overture on his face. He will talk about the film Harold and Maude with you for hours if you let him.

Sharon Payne, COMS, CLVT


Sharon has been an Orientation and mobility specialist since 1984, teaching and traveling from Cleveland, Ohio to the Israeli-American Lighthouse in Haifa, to Miami, Florida, Philadelphia and lately in Maryland. She is now living in Baltimore and continuing to bring rehab services to people with vision loss, their family and friends.
Matt Spencer, TVI

Matt Spencer, TVI


Matt is a Teacher for the Visually Impaired. As a graduate of Kutztown University, Matt currently serves as a TVI for Prince Georges County Public Schools and has done so since February 2019. As a professional rather new to the world of teaching students with visual impairments, it is Matt’s goal to be a voice for all new TVI’s. It is his mission to try to provide them with the support they need to help them grow as professionals through AER. Fun Fact: Matt has played the cornet (similar to the trumpet) since he was eight years old! This lead him to being a member of a brass band for eight years!

Abby Gifford, TVI/COMS, M.Ed.


 Abby is a resource teacher for children who are blind and/or visually impaired for Anne Arundel Public Schools. Abby moved to Maryland and joined the AAPS team in 2017 after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Kutztown University in Vision Studies. In 2021, Abby earned her M.Ed. from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in Orientation and Mobility and Applied Behavior Analysis. In the summer of 2021, Abby spent time in Biloxi, Mississippi, working at the Gulf Coast Veterans’ Blind Rehabilitation Center as an orientation and mobility intern. She is eager to continue to collaborate with peers and colleagues to best support students, school teams, and families throughout Maryland. Abby resides in Baltimore City and enjoys spending time with her Chihuahua puppy, Daisy.

Sarah Wilkins, COMS


I graduated from Western Michigan University in 2015 with my Masters of Arts in Blindness and Low Vision. After completing my internship at Hines VA Hospital, I moved to Maryland upon getting a job offer at Prince George's County Public Schools. I have made Maryland my home and have done a vast array of work in the field of blindness and low vision, from working for DORS, to coaching at MSB for their summer sports program, as well as supervising several interns from Salus University, my love and passion for this field continues to grow. Outside of work, I am a mom of an extraordinarily talented child who keeps me on my toes. I am also an athlete and compete in weightlifting competitions across the country. One day I hope to merge my love of fitness and the field of blindness and low vision.

Ericka Tinsley, TVI/COMS


I am originally from Miami, FL. I have a B.S. in Education from FAMU and M.S. in Visual Disabilities from FSU. I am a nationally certified Orientation and Mobility specialist.  I have taught students with Vision Impairments for over 19 years (14 years in Cobb County Schools, Georgia). I am currently working for  Prince Georges County Schools as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialist.

Diane Ducharme


I am a Pennsylvania native, growing up in Lehigh Valley. I was one of those feisty Retinoblastoma kids who grew into a feistier adult. I have a B.S. in Psychology from Kutztown University (Go Golden Bears), and a M.Ed. in Counselor Education majoring in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from Penn State (Go Nittany Lions). I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and have been working in the field of services for people with sight loss for over 25 years. I have worked for Lehigh County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Sprint Accessibility, and am currently working for the Low Vision Shop and the LD Chesapeake Lighthouse. I live in Towson, Maryland with my husband and two sons. I am a fan of sports, Snoopy, and Nickelback. I look forward to meeting and learning from my fellow AER members.

Kinyatti Gakuhi, TVI, COMS, CLVT


Kinyatti is a Teacher of the Blind/Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialist in Prince George’s County Public Schools. He is originally from Kenya- “hakuna matata”. This is Kinyatti’s sixth year of teaching students with visual impairments and being an AER member. He joined the wonderful PGCPS Vision Program team in 2017. Kinyatti earned a B.S degree and MPH from Morgan State University and a M.Ed. in Blindness and Visual Impairments, and Certifications in Orientation & Mobility and Low Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Salus University. In 2021, he spent his summer as an intern for Polytrauma BROS of Washington DC VA Medical Center as a low vision rehabilitation therapist. Kinyatti has been an MSDE transition committee member, volunteer braille proctor, Maryland Braille Challenge, Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) Delegate and a mentor for new TVI’s for the next three years (2022-2025). Kinyatti loves soccer and resides in Carney, Maryland.

Jacqueline Otwell, TVI


Jackie is from Maryland. She graduated from the College of Notre Dame with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is also a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. She currently works at Maryland School for the Blind as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired in the Department of Statewide Services.