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 Alvarez
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.

 

Chris Hawk
Secretary
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.

 

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.

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.

 

Megan Mogan
Board Member

Megan is a Deafblind Specialist with the Arizona Deafblind Project. She is responsible for providing training and consultation to families and educators of deafblind children and youth. Megan graduated with a degree in Communication Disorders from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL and a Master’s in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona. Instead of moving back to Illinois, Megan decided to live and work and have a family in Tucson for the last 20 years! Megan is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and travels nationally to teach early communication and literacy techniques for students with sensory impairment(s) and additional disabilities.

Meg Amster
Board Member

Meg Amster has been teacher of students with visual impairments for 23 years. She works for Desert Valleys Regional Cooperative, and enjoys teaching students with a wide range of abilities.

Tarik Williams
Board Member

Tarik graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Masters in Guidance and Counseling with certifications in Orientation and Mobility, (NOMC) and Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind (NCRTB). Mr. Williams received his Bachelors from West Chester University in English with a minor in secondary education. Mr. Williams has been in the field of O&M for the past 4 years. Mr. Williams is currently the Student Service Coordinator as well as an O&M instructor at SAAVI Services for the Blind in Tucson. Mr. Williams teaches using Structured Discovery principles. Mr. Williams is currently a board member for the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona as well as past board member for the National Association of Blind Students. Mr. Williams has worked closely with blind students around the nation in coordinating leadership programs and mentoring.