The Florida and Virgin Islands (FAVI) Deaf-Blind Collaborative team are five professionals who combine our backgrounds of education and experience to develop trainings and resources that benefit Florida’s children, young adults, families, and educational teams affected by deaf-blindness.
We also work together to develop individualized, child-centered solutions that address the strengths and needs of children and young adults with deaf-blindness throughout the state.
Regina Bussing, M.D., M.S.H.S., Project Director
Regina Bussing has served as the Principal Investigator and Project Director since 2007. She has extensive administrative and grant management experience, and has closely collaborated with LEAs and State health agencies for many years. She is board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and has a degree in public health, with a particular emphasis on enhancing access to care for underserved minorities. Regina provides liaison to the College of Medicine, assists in strengthening connections to Children’s Medical Services and the Department of Health, and to provide expertise in the areas of behavioral management, seizure disorders, movement disorders, and neurological disorders, some of which cause deaf-blindness. Regina works closely with FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative staff to support implementation of program goals, mobilizes resources, improves use of technology to support the mission and guides program evaluation efforts. She received her medical degree from the Justus Liebig University in Germany, her public health degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed her residency and fellowship training at the University of Florida. Regina enjoys visits with her family in Germany, traveling, stained glass, and getting spoiled by her husband Tom’s excellent cooking.
Emily Taylor-Snell, M.Ed., Project Coordinator
Emily Taylor-Snell is Project Coordinator for the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative. She fulfills multiple essential roles, providing technical assistance to families, groups and in the schools, and leading FAVI’s interagency collaborations. Emily has also extended the resources of the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative into the Virgin Islands. Emily is helping to assess the needs of individuals and families in the islands who are affected by deafblindness. Also, Emily is helping educators and service providers determine the models of support that will best meet the needs of children and families in St.Croix, St.Thomas, and St. John.
Emily joined the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative after holding the Project Coordinator position for a federally funded deaf-blind project serving Ohio and Wisconsin for 11 years. In Ohio, she provided staff development for a county board on mental retardation and developmental disabilities and taught Advanced Behavior Management for Students with Multiple Handicaps at the University of Dayton. She also served on numerous committees for brain injury, vision and hearing, early intervention and transition. She is also a state trainer for SKI*HI, INSITE and VIISA early intervention curriculum models. In her native California, she worked for the State Department of Education conducting educational assessments. She also has 10 years of teaching experience with students who have mild to severe disabilities with a school district in San Diego. She received both her Bachelor and Master degrees from the University of San Diego. For fun, Emily enjoys traveling, reading, and scuba diving.
Michelle (Wahlmeier) Pearson, MA Deaf Ed, Gallaudet, Technical Assistance Specialist
As the project’s Deaf-Blind Education Specialist (Technical Assistance Specialist), Michelle provides technical assistance, consultation, and school reform to families, public school programs,educators, and service providers who have children and youth who are Deaf-Blind. She provides child/youth-specific consultations (early intervention through transition) with written program recommendations and other follow-up as needed. Michelle provides telephone consultations, with follow-up as needed, as well as makes referrals to appropriate agencies and individuals. Michelle disseminates information regarding project resources and FLDOE resources as needed. She provides assistance to plan and initiate systemic change initiatives by participating on planning committees, FLDOE priority projects, as well as the Deaf/Hard of Hearing National Agenda Florida Stakeholders, the Florida Summit on Childhood Deafness, and the North Florida Vision Initiative. Michelle designs and implements specialized training projects for families, educators, providers and others who work with children who are Deaf-Blind. She plans specialized training projects around high-priority topical areas. Michelle coordinates and delivers training activities with collaborative partners, to build state capacity around Deaf-Blind effective/promising practices (Support Service Providers and Interveners). Michelle assists in the development of content for training events and delivers training sessions, as well as technical assistance activities. Michelle comes to the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative after 10 years of teaching Deaf Ed, 3 years of teaching ASL at Central Florida Community College, and freelance interpreting, as well as interpreting in mass. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, going to deaf club, and sports.
Shelly Voelker, M.Ed., Ed.S., Family & Information Specialist
Shelly worked in the classroom as a Special Education teacher and reading specialist for eight years. She has also worked as a Medicaid Waiver Support Coordinator serving individuals and families affected by developmental and multiple disabilities. Shelly and her husband William are the directors of Noah’s Endeavor, Inc: Adapted & Inclusive Community Recreation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that celebrates the life of their late son, Noah Adam Voelker, who was affected by deaf-blindness and other disabilities.
Shelly received her doctoral degree in Special Education from the University of Florida in December 2013. She currently teaches courses in the College of Education–for the Disabilities In Society minor, TeachWell online advanced degree, and Early Childhood certification programs.
Shelly has served as a member of the Area 3 Family Care Council (FCC) and the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD-UF, Gainesville) constituency board. She collaborates with Children’s Medical Services, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Children’s Home Society, Parents Helping Parents of Florida, Partnership for Strong Families, the Special Olympics, and the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association to expand the opportunities available to individuals and families affected by multiple disabilities.
Shelly is a 2006 graduate of Partners in Policymaking. Her areas of expertise include literacy, assistive technology, augmentative and alternative communication, and transition. She draws on her experiences as a parent, special educator, and support coordinator as she advocates for children and families affected by disabilities. Shelly contributes 20+ years of experience and resources to the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative.
Pam Kissoondyal, Family Specialist
Pam Kissoondyal is a Family Specialist for the FAVI Deaf-Blind Collaborative. She has worked as a Parent Partner with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida . Pam is a 2005 graduate of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Partners in Policymaking Program. She received certification as a Behavior Assistant from Best Behavior in 2007. She is also affiliated with the Family Network on Disabilities (FND) and the Autism Society of America (ASA).