DC-MD Chapter of AER

Current Board Members

Al Kaufman, COMS

President

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.

Karen Frank

PRESIDENT-ELECT

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.
Matt Spencer, TVI

Matt Spencer, TVI

Treasurer

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.

Secretary

 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

MEMBER-AT-LARGE

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

Member-at-large

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

MEMBER-AT-LARGE

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.
Rebecca Hommer

Rebecca Hommer

Member-at-Large

Becky began her career as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment in 1999 after earning her M.Ed in Vision Services from the University of Pittsburgh. She has served the birth through 21 population in both Howard and Frederick Counties and has taught in the Early Learning Program at The Maryland School for the Blind. Becky currently works as an Education Specialist for Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, the Maryland & DC Deaf-Blind Project. She believes that her time spent with students, peers, and colleagues has uplifted her, challenged her, and taught her how to be a teacher who is “hands on and all in.” Becky has an amazing wife, three wonderful children, and two beautiful grandchildren.

Krista Harris-Hermann

Member-at-Large

Krista Hermann is a lifelong resident of Harford County with a passion for education and real estate. She has worked for over 25-years as an educator. Krista is a Teacher of the Visually Impaired for Harford County Public Schools, a board member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a board member of the Bel Air Middle School PTA, a board member of the Churchville Lions Club and a co-director of Friday Night Live. In addition, she is a Maryland realtor. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with English certification and has obtained masters’ degrees for Reading Specialist and Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Krista resides in her hometown of Bel Air with her husband Ron, sons Aidan, twins Landon and Ryder, and dogs Arlann, Karly, and Waldy.

Hannah Kleinschmidt

Student Representative

Hannah Kleinschmidt is a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston in the O&M M.Ed. program. She has a BA in psychology from the Catholic University of America. In college, Hannah worked at the Disability Services Office converting textbooks into accessible formats.  Hannah has presented on her experience with O&M and guide dogs at workshops and to students.  Hannah chose to go into the field of O&M because of the impact that it has had on her independence and confidence in traveling.  She lives in Frederick Maryland with her guide dog Tessa. Hannah likes traveling with her guide dog, baking, and skiing in the winter.