Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI) has grown with the addition of three new team members. The latest additions to the team reflect TPI’s commitment to creating cutting-edge practices to increase inclusion in schools and communities for those who have often been underserved, including youth and adults with disabilities, those who are Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, as well as those experiencing poverty. The new positions will expand TPI’s ability to provide technical assistance to PK – 12 schools, universities, and service organizations, while engaging in research and program evaluation.
Linda O’Neal, M.A., leads TPI’s transition initiatives as the Transition Specialist. Ms. O’Neal earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree in Special Education from California State University, Los Angeles. She has worked in the education field for 40 years and has experience teaching in grades K-12 as a General Education Teacher, Special Education Teacher, and Transition Specialist. She is also a consultant for the Regional Center of Orange County supporting workforce development programs, including Project Search. Her work focuses on programs that develop competitive integrated employment, career development and post-secondary education/training with a goal of promoting adult self–sufficiency and quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
Shayne Brophy-Felbab, Ph.D. is the K – 12 Learning Specialist for the inclusive schooling initiative – Advanced Practices in Learning (APL). Dr. Brophy-Felbab is an educator with 10 years of experience working with students with disabilities in middle and high schools. She holds a doctoral degree in education with an emphasis in disability studies and a master’s degree in special education. In higher education, she lectured in the teacher education program at Attallah College of Educational Studies and the COAST Program at Coastline Community College. Her expertise includes inclusion, co-teaching, curriculum design, vocational and life skills training, and transition for students with mild/moderate disabilities.
Laura Cervantes, Ph.D. is TPI’s new Evaluation and Research Manager. Dr. Cervantes holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work centers on dismantling harmful environments, practices, and policies that amplify the achievement/opportunity gap and disparities for marginalized groups and communities. Her areas of research expertise have focused on creating rigorous, accessible, and equity-minded methodologies that inform data-driven and action-oriented recommendations. Specifically, the projects she has been involved with include the topics of discipline disparities, examining the achievement gap in urban school systems, college readiness, persistence and completion in higher education and STEM pathways, and organizational change to increase diversity among talent in government agencies nationwide. Dr. Cervantes’ work is grounded in creating equitable and inclusive spaces and practices through an anti-racism and inclusivity lens.
TPI is excited to welcome leaders committed to improving equitable outcomes in education and transition for students and adults from marginalized communities. Ms. O’Neal, Dr. Brophy-Felbab, and Dr. Cervantes further TPI’s mission to engage in technical assistance and research to work towards a world in which all people in the disability community thrive.