meet the staff
Allison Kleinman, LCSW, Director of the Center for Special Needs + Adaptations
Allison Kleinman is the founding director of the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, where she focuses on creating individual paths for people to appreciate and connect to community. She has launched a workforce development program that provides services and support to job candidates with learning and communication challenges; developed a young adult social community called Connections for people with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities; and grown the Adaptations social community to over 400 participants and their families. Prior to working with adults with developmental disabilities, she worked at the United Jewish Communities in customer service, recruitment and retention, and training and development. Allison graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in psychology and received her Clinical LMSW from Fordham University in 2009.
Dorsey Massey, LMSW, Associate Director of the Center for Special Needs
Dorsey has been a part of the Center for Special Needs since 2010; she has been involved as a volunteer, coordinator, program director, and now as associate director. She strives to ensure that individuals are supported, comfortable, and connected within the community. During her time at the JCC, Dorsey has developed a robust internship program for young social work and mental health counseling students to expand their understanding of the field in a supportive learning environment. Before starting her journey at the Center for Special Needs, she worked at children's welfare and domestic violence agencies, as well as at an alternative weekly newspaper and as a barista. Dorsey has a BSW from San Jose State University and an MSW with a focus on programming and advanced general practice from Columbia University School of Social Work.
Hannah Cohen, Director of Special Needs Parenting + Support Programs + The Shabbat Shop
Hannah first came to the JCC more than 15 years ago, as a teacher for toddler classes. In this position, she was able to see the need for support for parents whose children were being diagnosed with developmental delays, leading to the start of support programs at the JCC. Hannah has developed and now facilitates the support groups within the Center for Special Needs for parents of children, teens, and adults, as well as a unique group tailored specifically for fathers. She established the volunteer-run Parent2Parent Resource Center, which gives parents an opportunity to speak with other parents of children with special needs for guidance and support. Hannah has brought experts from every field and modality within the special needs community to present to both our staff and and the community of families with whom we work. The Shabbat Shop, a pop-up shop in the JCC lobby which sells products for Shabbat and holidays and is a training ground for learning job skills for our Adaptations participants, is her most recent project.
Liza Galler, M.A., Director of Adaptations Job Services
Liza Galler joined the Center for Special Needs staff in February 2014 as coordinator for Adaptations social programs, and now heads up the vocational services. Liza received a BS in anthropology and performing arts from Western Kentucky University and an MA in performance studies from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where her focus was in disability, movement, and social theory.
Hannah Badain, Director of Connections
Hannah Badain has worked with the Connections program since its inception in 2011. In her role, she has developed a flourishing young adult social community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hannah has increased the programming to include a variety of trips, overnight retreats, art groups, and cooking classes. Prior to joining JCC Manhattan, Hannah worked with individuals at residential treatment facilities, camps, and afterschool programs. She graduated from Scripps College with a BA in psychology in 2011 and is trained in traumatic crisis intervention.
Caitlin McInerney, MSW, Program Director of Adaptations and 40+
Caitlin McInerney joined the Center for Special Needs in 2014. She has since been involved in the coordination of Adaptations programming, 40+ programming, Boost! afterschool classes, SibFun groups, and summer camp. Prior to coming to the JCC, Caitlin worked with children with a variety of abilities at elementary schools, and helped launch a nonprofit organization that supports access to arts education for New York City youth. Caitlin earned her master's degree at New York University's Silver School of Social Work, and currently serves as the program director for the Adaptations and 40+ groups.
Alex LoPinto, LMSW, Adaptations + Ha Dereckh Coordinator
Prior to coming to the JCC, Alex LoPinto worked with children, adults, and the aging population with varying abilities in school, camp, and therapeutic settings. Alex earned a master's degree from the Columbia School of Social Work, where she spent her first year placement at Selfhelp Community Services, providing in-home support services for Holocaust survivors. Her final year of graduate school was spent interning at JCC Manhattan's Center for Special Needs. She has worked with members of our Adaptations, Connections, Boost!, and Community Cooks programs. Alex currently serves as the Adaptations and Ha Dereckh program coordinator.
Marny Smith, Adaptations Employment Specialist
Marny joined the Center for Special Needs in June 2015 as a job coach/developer. Marny has worked in several industries—including human resources and recruiting—and considers the breadth of her experiences to be one of her greatest assets. In addition to her work with the JCC, Marny is on the advisory board for FindSpark—a community she helped build from the ground up—which is dedicated to providing young creatives with the tools and resources needed for career success. She is also on the committee for Madison’s Collective, an organization uniting diverse professionals in creative industries. Marny holds a BA in literature from The New School and is currently pursuing her master's degree at Baruch College's School of Public Affairs.
Andrea Goodman, LMSW, Adaptations Employment Specialist
Andrea joined the Center for Special Needs in February 2015 as a job coach/developer. She has experience working with people of various ages and stages of life, including teens, young adults, and older adults. The common thread connecting all of her jobs is her passion for helping individuals maximize their independence and quality of life. Andrea holds an MA and an EdM in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University.
Kelley Bligh, LMSW, Teens Program Coordinator
Kelley started at the JCC in 2014 as a social work intern for programs for children and adolescents with the Center for Special Needs. Since then she has been the lead facilitator for Boost! Sr. and is now the teen program coordinator for Foodie Friends and Girls Night Out. Outside of the JCC, she serves as the program manager at the Friends for Governors Island. Kelley received her BA in English and media studies from Sacred Heart University in 2012 and her MSW from Fordham University in 2016.
Ariella Epel Tabick, Boost! + Transitions Coordinator
Ariella Epel Tabick received her bachelor’s degree from Colorado College with a major in sociology focusing on deaf culture. She moved to New York in 2010, where she received a master’s degree in autism and intellectual disabilities from Teachers College at Columbia University. She has taught special education at several schools in Manhattan and currently teaches preschool at Roosevelt Children's Center, a United Cerebral Palsy affiliate. She has worked with the Center for Special Needs at the JCC since 2012 in the Boost! programs, Matan, Kulam, and Transitions. She is an NYS-licensed special education teacher in both early childhood and elementary education.