Selima Ani Hargadon, Executive Director
Selima joined the P.A.C.E. Program in 2013. Most recently, she served as Associate Director of Community Initiatives for Aspire of Illinois Belle Center Program in Chicago, a provider of inclusion-based services for children with disabilities, their families, and schools. She has also served in leadership positions representing multiple facets of the disability field, including the residential and employment arenas. Selima has presented to conference audiences and chambers of commerce as an advocate for the employment of people with disabilities. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago with a concentration in schools and children with disabilities. She is licensed to practice in Illinois.
Fabio Buda, Transitions Team Leader
Fabio Buda has joined the P.A.C.E. Program in 2006. He graduated from the University of Rome, Italy in 1997 and shortly after moved to Chicago to pursue a career in business. After several years spent between the US and Italy working as a financial consultant for a major insurance company, in 2006 Fabio decided to change careers and was hired at P.A.C.E. to work with young adults with multiple learning disabilities in the Transition Program. In 2010, Fabio earned a Masters in Special Education from National Louis University and a teaching certificate (LBS I). In September 2010, Fabio became the P.A.C.E. Transition Coordinator. He has been working with his students in several different settings, (Vocational, Life Skills, Academics and Social) to help them achieve their independent living goals. He also continues to work as an academic instructor for the P.A.C.E. second year students.
Wendi Gearing, Vocational Team Leader
Wendi has been a special education teacher for 21 years. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree in art education at Illinois Wesleyan University and her Masters Course work at National- Louis University. Wendi has been with the P.A.C.E. program for 20 years, starting her career at PACE as a life skills instructor. From there she moved to the position of the Program Manager for the PASS-AGES Program for 5 years. Then she found her true calling when she moved into job coaching for the P.A.C.E. Program. She currently teaches Internship Seminar to the first year students, Human Development to the second year students and her great passion for Art is satisfied in teaching the PACE art elective class. Prior to working at P.A.C.E, Wendi worked with special educations individuals at Little City Foundation in Palatine.
Christopher Khalid, Residential Life Coordinator
Christopher is a Social Worker with in expertise in adolescent health and community practice, holding a B.A. in Sociology and a Master’s of Social Work degree from DePaul University. He currently manages the dormitory experience for the P.A.C.E. program. Christopher also facilitates the Boys2Men guys group.
Lynn Weingardt, Academic Team Leader
Lynn brings over 20 years special education experience to the PACE Program, with the Fremont District and SEDOL as a reading specialist, resource, as well as life and vocational preparation skills teacher. She is a trained Executive Functioning skills instructor through Rush Neurobehavioral Center, and is highly skilled at modifying curriculum, utilizing modifications, and integrating assistive technology into her classrooms.
Faculty and Staff
Claire Carter, Residential Advisor, Academic Instructor
Claire has been working with young adults with disabilities for 15 years. She has a Masters degree in Secondary Education as well as a BS in Mathematics from the University of Montevallo. She has experience teaching Math at the high school level. Claire is currently a Money Management and Life Skills instructor as well as an R.A. in the P.A.C.E. dorm.
Joe Connelly, Academic Instructor Assertiveness Training
Master Joe Connelly has over 40 years experience in martial arts and is a 6th Degree Black Belt martial arts instructor in Taekwon-do. He is the Midwest regional director of Kidpower International, a padded-assailant violence-prevention skills training organization based in Santa Cruz, Calif.; and director of Connelly’s Academy of Martial Arts, an Evanston, IL. He has designed and taught programs that empower populations with special needs since 1981. His background includes 15 years of work experience in business education with IBM and The Fortune Group International, a training firm serving Fortune 1000 companies. Joe has his Master’s Degree in Human Services.
Amanda Culig, Residential Advisor
Amanda has been working at a Therapeutic Day School for the past 5 years. The program's focus is on children with Autism. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at DePaul University with a minor in Sociology.
Sharon Curran, Life Skills Coach and Job Coach
Sharon joins the PACE team as Life Skills Coach and Job Coach. She received her BA in Psychology and began her career working with children and teens on the Autism Spectrum implementing Applied Behavioural Analysis principles to teach academic, social skills and life skills. After completing her Master's in Gender and Women's Studies from Trinity College Dublin, she became involved in health and well-being issues. Most recently, she worked as therapeutic support worker and advocate at a domestic violence and abuse centre in Ireland. She has just recently moved to Chicago from Ireland.
Kathy Felice, Job Coach
Kathy received her bachelor's degree in Sociology and her master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She has worked in the field of vocational rehabilitation for several years providing counseling, vocational assessment and job placement services to individuals with disabilities. She has also worked as a vocational specialist for the Office of Disability Determination and has worked as a research associate in the field of rehabilitation. Kathy joined the PACE program in 2012.
Georgia Gikunoo, Indepedent Living Coach
Georgia joined the P.A.C.E. Program in 2011. She worked as an RA for 2 years before joining the P.A.C.E. Transition program. She holds a BA from Illinois Wesleyan University, an MA from Middlebury College, and completed her MAT in secondary education at National Louis University. Georgia is a full time kindergarten teacher.
Patricia Kessie, Shakespeare and Greek Myths Instructor
Tricia came to teaching after a first career in international travel, and a second as a stay-at-home mom. She taught history and the humanities at the high school level for 17 years, specializing in Shakespeare and methods of teaching classes “In Action!”, many of which were adapted for students in special education courses. These methods were presented in workshops and courses given by members of the staff of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the ‘Shakespeare in the Schools’ projects of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England, as well as the Folger Shakespeare Theater and Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the States. Tricia came to P.A.C.E. in 2004 and has greatly enjoyed working with P.A.C.E. students in “Greek Myth & Legend in Action!” and “Shakespeare in Action!” classes.
Lauren Kornhauser, Student Life Coordinator, Academic Instructor
Lauren Kornhauser has over 10 years of experience working with people with disabilities. She spent her first two years at PACE as an RA while completing her MAT in Special Education at NLU. Lauren has been the Student Life Instructor at PACE since 2011, coordinating the social activities, service learning projects, and clubs for students. She also teaches several PACE classes and is the faculty advisor to the PACE Student Body Government
Nicole Loughran, Life Skills Coach
Nicole Loughran is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Psychology at University of Wisconsin and her Masters in Clinical Psychology at Roosevelt University. Nicole works as full time counselor at a high school for students with learning and behavior issues in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Reanna Perrera, Residential Advisor
Reanna works full time in the Family Guidance Center at a therapeutic high school for teens and young adults with autism. She is a recent graduate of Trinity International University where she played with the Women’s basketball team, and received her Bachelor degree in Sport and Wellness Management.
Megan Pudela,Residential Advisor
Megan earned her Bachelor degree in Social Work from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and is currently working on her Masters of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. As an undergraduate, Megan worked at a Brehm, a program for high school students with multiple learning disabilities. At the University of Illinois, she was a Disability Advocate at Beckwith Residential Support Services, a residential dorm for students with physical disabilities. In addition to her work at P.A.C.E., Megan is completing an internship at Ray Graham Association.
Robin Sowl, Job Coach
Robin joined the PACE Program in 2004. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois and her Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to working at PACE, Robin coordinated respite services at the Jewish Children's Bureau in Chicago.