About the Zale Program

In 2016, the Zale Program was generously funded by the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation. The program strives to increase the Brandeis University Waltham Group’s capacity to support the goals and aspirations of young adults with intellectual disabilities. Through this program, the Waltham Group will develop a professional, sustainable training program and support network that will increase the effectiveness of student volunteers and community partners working with young adults with intellectual disabilities. The Waltham Group's Brandeis Buddies and SPECTRUM will particularly be involved in the program, but the initiatives will invite in members of the local community who volunteer with this population of individuals. 

The Zale Program consists of two half-day conferences (Training & Support: October 21, 2017 & Train the Trainer: March 3, 2018), a student leader networking night, and a series of local community discussion meetings. The Department of Community Service and Waltham Group will partner to create a resource library and digital resources that will remain available for years to come. Mentor-to-mentee support will create opportunities for individuals who attend the conference events to continue to train others in the community as well. 

We are proud to have the Greater Waltham Arc and You're With Us as co-sponsors of this initiative.


The second Zale Conference: Train the Trainer will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2018, from 11am-3pm on Brandeis' campus in the Hassenfeld Conference Center. Registration is available on this Google form. This conference is designed to help prepare you to train others to volunteer with individuals who have intellectual disabilities and will join you up with a mentoring and support network of individuals who lead similar trainings.

March 3rd Facilitator Bios

Kevin Russo, Owner and President, Arise Consulting Service, Inc.
Kevin received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports/Fitness Administration from UMASS Boston in 1988 and a Master’s Degree in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMB in 1996. Kevin’s professional career began mostly at the Walter E. Fernald State School, where he gained invaluable experience supporting people with Intellectual Disabilities, including Autism and Down Syndrome. Kevin is also a Life Coach through the American Counseling Associatio and became a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) in 2012 and became a Licensed Behavior Analyst (LABA) in 2015.

Michael Plansky, Founder and CEO, You’re With Us!
Michael is a skilled coach in secondary and higher education with 20+ years of experience. He is dedicated to helping solve problems that arise around us along with helping people get to their desired destination. Michael’s organization, You’re With Us!, works to create inclusion opportunities with able-bodied college groups for young adults with disabilities. You’re With Us! supplies support, education, training and employment resources to participants and their families.

CC King, Interplay Leader and Trainer
CC King is a certified InterPlay Leader and trainer, Boston-area coordinator and a memory play specialist. She has been practicing the joyous unfolding of Interplay for over 15 years. Play with elders and Memory Cafes are a special interest. CC is an expressive therapist, visual artist, teacher and community activist. As the co-founder of a local arts and environment program, she facilitates workshops in organic sculpture and organizes public performance.
March 3rd Panelist Bios

Dianne Lescinskas, Autism Commission: Inspired by her oldest daughter, who has an intellectual disability, Dianne Lescinskas has become an indispensable advocate for children with special needs. For over two years, Dianne served as the Director of Inclusive Services at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, overseeing Project B.I.N.D. (Boston Inclusion Network for Disabilities). Dianne is a member of the Boston Public Schools Special Education Parent Advisory Council and the Boston Public Schools’ Inclusion Task Force. Dianne brings a deep sense of personal commitment to her work and consistently makes time to help families of children with special needs

Michael Mullins, Recreation Coordinator, GWARC: A graduate of University of Massachusetts at Boston with a Master’s Degree in Education and the School of Public and Community Services with and Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services.  Over 25 years of experience in community based human services working with persons with developmental desabilities and psychiatric diagnosis with an emphasis of inclusion and maximizing each individual potential.    

Amber Travers, Special Education Teacher, Waltham Public Schools: Currently a Special Education Teacher in the Waltham Public Schools.  Amber has worked as a behavior analyst and a language based teacher with students in grades 3-8.  She has received her undergraduate degree from Stonehill College and then went on to get a Masters in Reading Education from Gordon College.  Most recently she received her Education Specialist degree in Special Education Administration from Gordon College in the hope of holding a directorial role one day.  She has a passion for education and working with diverse learners. 

If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Shortall.