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Meet Our People

Meet Our People

The majority of our staff members are people with disabilities; we share many of your dreams and struggles, because we have lived them ourselves.

Our Board

CDE’s Executive Director and Charter Board Members have more than 100 years of combined experience with disability, advocacy and the independent living philosophy. Meetings take place at 10 am, the first Monday of the month. Please call for this month’s location.

Board Members

Tiffany McClain – Chair
Freddie Weeks
Jane Perry
L. Scott Lissner
Kobe Osei
Jane Arata
Brandon Curry
Katherine Betts
Sue Hetrick

Susan HetrickExecutive Director
Sue Hetrick is the Executive Director of CDE and has more than 20 years experience advocating for individuals with disabilities. She served as advocacy and public policy director for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, as a parent advocate for the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities, and as regional leadership coordinator for ARC of Ohio. Sue has been honored with several national advocacy awards and has served on numerous disability-related coalitions, including the Ohio Olmstead Taskforce, the Secretary of State’s ADA Advisory Committee, and the Ohio Disability Employment Alliance. She holds a Masters Degree in Special Education from Bowling Green State University and is the parent of a young adult son who has developmental disabilities.

Derek MortlandADA and Community Outreach Coordinator
Derek Mortland is the ADA Coordinator as well as a Community Connector for CDE. Derek directs the work of our Access Ohio division and conducts ADA trainings and site assessments. As a Community Connector he assists consumers with Independent Living Skill development and Peer Support. His previous experience includes work in for ADA Ohio and the Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living, among others. He has consulted on access and inclusion with the Kennedy Center, VSA, Ohio Governor’s Council and the Ohio Arts Council. After a spinal cord injury he began using a wheelchair and has since completed five marathons, participated in martial arts and garnered accolades as a musician, photographer and writer.

Shari L. VelebaInformation & Referral Specialist
Shari Veleba is an Information and Referral Specialist with CDE. She also works on marketing and media-PR services for CDE as well as for VOICEcorps reading service. She has more than 20 years of experience in the disability advocacy field, promoting the independent living philosophy and other disability-related programming. She served as a writer with the AXIS Center for Public Awareness of People with Disabilities for many years. Shari has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University. She is also an artist specializing in digital photography and acrylic painting. Shari has had epilepsy for the past 44 years.

Marly SaadeYouth Coordinator
Marly Saade is CDE’s Youth Coordinator. She was born and raised (partly) in Lebanon. Her family moved to the U.S. in 2000. She is originally from Cleveland but moved to Columbus in 2012. She attended The Ohio State University, graduating with honors with a B.A. in Modern Standard Arabic and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. She became a paraplegic at 20 years of age and after ten years of being a manual wheelchair user she is ready to change the world for individuals with disabilities for the better.
Debra Hume PetermannAdministrative Assistant
Debra Petermann is CDE’s part-time Administrative Assistant . She also assists with the HOME Choice program as well as other CDE support needs.Debra is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Consumer Economics. Her internship was with former Ohio House Rep. Mike Stinziano Sr.

In 2015 she retired as Church Relations Manager from Joni and Friends International Disability Center, where she served 10 years training pastors/churches in four states as well as in Honduras and El Salvador, on how to intentionally include and empower people with disabilities.

For the past 20 years, Debra has served as the director of Bridge Builders, a disability ministry for people with disabilities, their families and friends at Vineyard Columbus Church. She occasionally speaks at churches and periodically serves as a support person for a national speaker on autism.

Debra is married, has two daughters and is the sibling of a man who had developmental disabilities and autism.


Olivia CaldeiraCommunity Connector
Dr. Olivia Caldeira is a Community Connector for the Center for Disability Empowerment and assists people with developing independent living skills, learning about advocacy, and networking with people and businesses in the community. She led a project to develop curriculum for the Speak Up ~ Stay Safe: Community Health and Safety project and facilitates trainings around Ohio for people with disabilities and parents and professionals. Olivia is particularly interested in inclusion and community access, relationships, abuse prevention and reduction, and advocacy. She earned her PhD from Memorial University of Newfoundland, has presented at multiple conferences in the US and Canada, and contributed a chapter to Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Disability, Health, and Trauma (2015).

Richard WagnerCDE's PCA Program Coordinator
Richard Wagner is CDE’s PCA Program Coordinator. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Communications.He has also served as a Technical Specialist at ADA-OHIO. Richard was a Paralympian, and marathon runner who previously coached junior athletes with disabilities in the discipline of wheelchair track and road racing. He has also worked as an operations manager and corporate liaison with Maxim Crane Works, the largest national crane rental company in the country.

Nathan BlackCommunity Connector
Nathan Black is a CDE Community Connector. He has worked the last four years providing support as lead employment consultant assisting people with disabilities prepare for and secure employment.  He has engaged with over 2,355 employers to help them meet their personnel needs by hiring talented employees. He was instrumental in strategically launching several new initiatives to include summer youth employment programs, building mutually beneficial partnerships with local employees, and adaptive recreation programs that empower people with disabilities to make noticeable community contributions.

He holds a specialized certificate in customized employment strategies as well as Certified Work Incentives Practitioner credential from the Yang Tan Institute at Cornell University. He is recognized as a specialist in helping people navigate a variety of complex government benefits. He volunteers with colleague Debra Petermann, the director of Bridge Builders, a disability ministry for people with disabilities, their families and friends at Vineyard Columbus Church.  He also volunteers as a conversation partner with international students at International Friendships Inc.  He is the single-parent of a beautiful nine-year old daughter and is an avid reader and runner.

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