Board Members

Jennifer Wheeler
President
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Jenny Wheeler is a teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility instructor, and assistive technology instructor for Desert Valleys Regional Cooperative, as well as a braille transcriber and SHARP technology instructor for Foundation for Blind Children. She continues to work toward achieving a PhD in special education through University of Northern Colorado, which she hopes to finish before the end of the millennium. Jenny is an Arizona native; loves exploring new places and talking with people from around the world; collects visits to battlefields, rose gardens, and natural wonders; would like to be able to carry on a presentable conversation in Chinese before the end of the school year; and has a special interest in technology education for children with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

 

Cody Franklin
Vice President
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Cody was introduced to the field of blindness in 2005 when she started at the Foundation for Blind Children as a para-educator. Her previous work experience was for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation department which helped her to become the coordinator of the SHARP Program (Sports, Habilitation, Art and Recreation Program). She completed her bachelor’s degree in Special Education in 2010 at Arizona State University. After 11 years at FBC she is now the Youth & Family Services Director and oversees the Parent 2 Parent program, SHARP program, Teen to Work Program, College Readiness Program and family events.

Julie Rock
Treasurer
Term: Nov 2016 - Nov 2018

Julie was born in Phoenix, Arizona and is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelors in Agribusiness. She received her Master’s in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Western Michigan University and re-certified in March, 2015. Julie has been an independent contractor for the State and is currently working for the Foundation for Blind Children as the Team Leader of the Adult Comprehensive Program. Julie has been instructing, assessing, and making equipment recommendations for the ADL and Technology components of the Adult Program since 2011. On her time off, Julie trains and competes with dogs and enjoys spending time with her daughters and various animals and travelling with her husband of 35 years.

Tamara Bishop-Amavilah
Past-President
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Tamara is an Arizona native, raised mostly in Tucson. She is a teacher of the visually impaired and a certified orientation and mobility specialist. She received her Master’s degree at the University of Arizona. She is currently a TVI and O&M for ASDB-DVR.  She worked as a TVI in a variety of positions at the Foundation for Blind Children for 25 years, as well as at the ASDB Main Campus for three years before that. She likes to do O&M with adults, and is also an O&M contractor with Rehabilitation Services Administration. She has mentored many TVI student teachers over the years. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Voxi, and daughter, Madie; reading; watching movies; traveling; and watching soccer.

 

Sunggye Hong
Secretary
Term: Nov 2014 - Nov 2018

Dr. Sunggye Hong is an Associate Professor of the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies and the program coordinator of the visual impairments teacher training program. He received both his master’s and doctoral degrees from The University of Arizona in Special Education/Education of Students with Visual Impairments. He has conducted research in the areas of braille reading, assistive technology, and expanded core curriculum of students with visual impairments. His research agenda is aimed at promoting equal access to educational opportunities including curriculum materials, classroom activities, and other school programs of students who are blind or visually impaired with or without additional disabilities. Dr. Hong teaches classes on braille, literacy development, Nemeth code, and instructional strategies and  daptations of educating students with visual impairments. He has been an active member for AER from year 1999 and served for Northern California Chapter Board member for the last 3 years. He is affiliated with AER DIV17, CEC and CTEBVI.

 

Melanie Audet
Board Member

Melanie Audet is a Certified TVI/O&M that graduated from Florida State University. Starting in May 2017, she interned at Foundation for Blind Children in their Adult Training Services Department and Itinerant Services Department and began employment after graduating. She serves students in K-12 across the valley in Phoenix providing dual services. Melanie recently joined the AZAER board. When not working, Melanie enjoys photography and fitness.

Spencer Churchill
Board Member
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Spencer Churchill is a Phoenix native who got his start in the field of Visual Impairment while at Arizona State University's Disability Resource Center. There, under the tutelage of Teresa Haven and Jessicah Newton, he converted textbooks into E-text, braille, and tactile images. He received his undergraduate degree from ASU in Business Communication in 2014. Since then, he went on to complete dual master degrees in TVI/O&M through the University of Arizona and Stephen F. Austin State University respectively. He now works in FBC’s transition services
department year-around, and is dedicated to preparing students for successful independent living. Outside of work, Spencer loves spending time playing ice hockey, hiking, camping, travelling and being with family.

 

Chris Hawk
Board Member
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2018

Chris graduated from NAU with a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems. He has worked in the IT field since 2009.  Chris started working at the Foundation for Blind Children 2013, where he currently serves as IT Manager. Chris enjoys working with adults and students of all ages, providing them with effective technology setups, ongoing support, and encouragement to succeed. When he is not working, Chris enjoys spending time outdoors--hiking, camping, kayaking, and more.

 

Jared Leslie
Board Member
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Jared has a mixed professional background that brought him to his current role as the Director of Media Services at the Foundation for Blind Children. He attended Arizona State University with a BS in Business Management from the W.P. Carey School of Business. Jared in his previous roles worked with families that faced major life changes at the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Esperanca an international health organization based in phoenix that provided relief in Phoenix, Nicaragua, Peru Bolivia and Mozambique. In Jared’s current role he serves as the Ex Officio Trustee for accounts 8 and 9 for the Federal Quota Program and helps teachers and students ensure that they have access to alternative formats at the same time as their sighted peers.

 

Cecilia Onaiyekan
Board Member
Term: Nov 2016 - Nov 2018

Cecilia was born and raised in Nigeria along with her seven siblings. She relocated to Arizona in the early 1990s and has called Arizona home since then. She is married and blessed with three sons and four grandchildren. Cecilia completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Education at the University of Arizona (U of A) in 1996. In the following year, she completed the Master of Arts degree in Visual Impairment from the same university. In 2007, she became certified as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. She topped this up the following year with an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree at the U of A. Cecilia has many years of experience working with children with visual impairments. This career path
started in Nigeria. After relocating to Arizona, she joined the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB) as a teacher assistant in 1995. Upon the completion of her Master’s degree, she worked as an itinerant teacher in Yuma and Tucson. Since 2005, she has been working with the “Birth to 3” population. Cecilia has been a member of AER since 2005 to present. She likes watching news, playing Scrabble, traveling, and spending time with her family.

 

Garrison Tsinajinie
Board Member
Term: Nov 2017 - Nov 2019

Garrison Tsinajinie is of the Black Streak Wood People (Tsi’naajinii) born into the Big Water Clan (Tótsohnii) from the Diné Nation. Garrison completed both his Psychology B.A in 2010 and Special Education M.A in 2011 at the University of Arizona (UA). After completing his M.A, he worked as an Itinerant Teacher of the Visually Impaired with the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind - Eastern Highlands Regional Cooperative for 5 years. As an itinerant TVI, Garrison primarily worked with students between the ages of 3-21 within the Diné Nation. During summer breaks, he also worked with adults with visual impairments through the Navajo Nation Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Independent Living Services Program. Most recently, he has worked with young adults transitioning from high school to employment or higher education as an  Orientation and Mobility Intern with the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired in Tucson, AZ. As of 2016, Garrison returned to Tucson as a PhD student in the UA Special Education Doctoral Program and a National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities Scholar. Garrison has returned to the UA to conduct further research to justify the improvement of services for children and adults with visual impairments
in Indigenous rural communities. In his spare time, Garrison enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and taking road trips.