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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

Sue Hetrick – Executive Director
Eileen Asher
Dr. Kristen Jackson
Katie Robinson
Julia McLaughlin
Christie Karnes
Courtney Walker
Mike Phillips

Our Staff

The CDE staff includes people from all walks of life who are dedicated to helping you make a plan to succeed through information and resources.

Susan HetrickExecutive Director
Sue Hetrick is the Founder and Executive Director of CDE and has more than 30 years of experience advocating for individuals with disabilities. Prior to opening CDE she served as advocacy and public policy director for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo,. Sue has been honored with several national advocacy awards. The Justice for All Award was presented by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the National Council on Independent Living presented the Region V Advocacy Award. She has served on numerous disability-related coalitions. Sue is a successful grant writer. She holds a Masters Degree in Special Education from Bowling Green State University and is the proud parent of two adult sons, a favorite daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Her younger son is the inspiration for her life’s work.

Debra Hume PetermannTransition Coordinator/Community Connector

Debra is a CDE Transition Coordinator and Community Connector. She is also the Project Manager for CDE’s Ohio Family Network grant from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. In 2021 Debra has become an Ohio Ambassador for Charting the LifeCourse.

In 2015 she retired as Church Relations Manager from Joni and Friends International Disability Center, where she served 14.5 years training pastors/churches in four states (Ohio) as well as in Honduras and El Salvador, on how to intentionally include and empower people with disabilities.

Debra had served 26 years as the Director of Bridge Builders, a disability ministry for people with disabilities, their families and friends at Vineyard Columbus Church. She continues to lead the Body Builders Sunday School Class for teens/adults with disabilities. 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.

Marly SaadeProgram Facilitator
Marly Saade is the Program Facilitator for the PCA Program, funded through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.
She graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Modern Standard Arabic and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. She began working at The Center for Disability Empowerment because “I wanted to learn how to help and give back”. She states that her journey has been a wild one so far, but she continues to appreciate the many connections she is creating between people with disabilities and the resources available in the community. People want peace of security, and she hopes to be a supportive presence in that goal. Marly has been a “wheeler girl” for 11 years. (In other words she uses a wheelchair!)
Ann HeilbrunnEmployment Specialist
Originally from Rochester, NY, Ann later moved to Dayton, Ohio where she graduated High School.  She is an Ohio University graduate, and there she met her husband. She began her career as a Recreational Therapist at The Department of Youth Services, eventually becoming a certified Training Officer.  Ann worked for Franklin County as a Program Facilitator/ Employment Coordinator helping incarcerated individuals learn Time and Money Management, Job Readiness and assisting the individuals to find employment.  Upon leaving the Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility she began working at The Center of Vocational Alternatives, helping consumers with Mental Health and other barriers to find and maintain employment. Immediately prior to joining CDE Ann worked at Alti Initiative focusing on employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has 2 grown children. Her oldest lives in New York City and is a journalist for Business Insider and the youngest works at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Day Care.  She is also a proud Dog and Cat mom!
Zoe WenkYouth Transition Coordinator
Zoe holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The Ohio State University where she graduated with research distinction. She has worked with youth with disabilities as a teacher for three years and has volunteered in various ways within the disability community in Columbus for more than nine years. Zoe is very passionate about the empowerment of people with any type of disability of any age. She is a strong advocate for the equal opportunity of those with intellectual disabilities in higher education. In her free time Zoe creates art, music and loves to read.
Joscelyn BaezPCA Coordinator, Housing Assistant
Joscelyn graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology.  She has been employed as an Animal Specialist at COSI. She has mentored and assisted individuals with disabilities in the use of technology for communication. She has been a public speaker on the topic of Domestic Violence Against Women. She is also a professional dancer and dance instructor.
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