Meet The Team
Therese Ajtum-Roberts has devoted most of her career to creating inclusive, equitable, and engaging learning environments. For nearly twenty years, she has supported educators' use of technology, backwards design, and UDL principles to create a responsive, equitable, and inclusive curriculum for all learners. Therese's research interests focus on faculty and in-service teachers' professional development, teaching with technology, and how teachers create responsive, equitable, and inclusive learning environments. Therese currently serving on the Board of the New England Educational Research Organization as Conference Director and Technology in Education Strand Director.
Natalie is serving as the Chris Walsh Center’s Graduate Assistant for the 2023-24 academic year. She is enrolled in Framingham State University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program, working toward her long-term goal of serving neurodivergent and disabled clients as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Likewise, she completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, also at Framingham State. Natalie believes in a neurodiversity affirming, person-centered approach, and brings that perspective to her work as a student, volunteer, and parent. In her free time, Natalie volunteers with ArtRelief, helping facilitate their weekend kid’s programming and the ArtLab, their creative community space. She is also an avid roller skater, volunteering as a coach and official with New England Junior Roller Derby, supporting kids ages 10-17 in a neurodivergent and LGBTQIA+ friendly space as they build friendships, learn to work as a team, and strengthen their athleticism and resilience. Last, but not least, Natalie is the mother of two wonderful children and has six adorable pets: four cats, a dog, and an axolotl. When it’s time to slow down, she loves to snuggle up with her human and fur babies to read a good book.
Emily serves as the Chris Walsh Center’s graduate intern for the 2023-2024 academic year. She is currently undergoing the Master of Arts Program in Counseling Psychology at Framingham State University to become a LMHC. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Marketing and has worked as a full-time Events & Logistics Director for the past 8 years. At the Chris Walsh Center, Emily runs the center’s social media accounts and parent support groups in hopes to learn the unique needs and struggles of students and the community to better serve this population. She enjoys spending her downtime practicing yoga, playing with her niece and nephew, and walking her dog, Franklin.
Julia is a senior at Framingham State University, majoring in Political Science. Julia works with disabled adults and the elderly at work as a nursing assistant, and looks forward to carrying that care into work as an educator in the coming years. Julia’s internship with the Chris Walsh Center will strengthen her knowledge on creating equitable and safe spaces for her future students to pursue knowledge that will serve them in their later lives and careers.
Mackenzie is a senior at Framingham State University majoring in Criminology and minoring in sociology. During the school year, she works at PetSmart offering animal care services. Mackenzie is pursuing a career in victim advocacy. Growing up, she lived in Agawam, in the western part of Massachusetts. Her favorite fall activity is going to the Big E in West Springfield to try the various eccentric foods they serve. Outside of school, she enjoys taking care of her freshwater fish aquariums, and going to sporting events with her friends on the weekends. By interning at The Chris Walsh Center, Mackenzie will practice the advocacy skills she'll use in her future career, on behalf of the families we serve.
Education Department Chair
Dr. Cressey is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department at Framingham State University. He was the center's first coordinator in 2020-21. His scholarship and teaching are focused on inclusion and equity through evidence-based inclusive practices such as universal design for learning, social-emotional learning, culturally responsive practices, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and multi-tiered systems of support. Before coming to FSU, Dr. Cressey worked directly with children and families for several years as a licensed special educator and nationally certified school psychologist at Wediko Children’s Services and in the Boston Public Schools. He lives in Framingham with his husband and daughter and enjoys spending time with his family and friends, singing and playing musical instruments, cooking, and knitting.
Amanda is a junior at Framingham State University majoring in Early Childhood Education with an English minor. She is on the women’s cross country and track teams and enjoys spending time outdoors. Amanda looks forward to gaining a deeper understanding of how to better serve children and families in the community. With a focus on inclusive teaching and equitable practices in the classroom she is excited to strengthen her skills as a future educator through her work at the center.
Leighah is serving as the Chris Walsh Center’s first Center Assistant, hired to help launch the center during the spring 2020 semester. She is a senior at Framingham State University majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism, and minors in both Chinese and Political Science. Leighah is Editor-in-Chief of the school’s newspaper, The Gatepost. Leighah is interested in the community aspect of journalism and is looking forward to working with the community as the Center Assistant. Leighah also works as a Peer Mentor in the University's First-Year Foundations Program in addition to being this semester's Publications intern for the University and freelancing for The Woonsocket Call and Pawtucket Times.
Catie served as an intern for the Chris Walsh Center during the Spring 2022 Semester. She is a graduate of Framingham State and majored in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She hopes to one day pursue a career as a school psychologist or counselor. Throughout her internship at the Chris Walsh Center, Catie learned more about the unique needs of students and the community resources that are available to assist them. As an intern, Catie launched the "Ask the Expert" series.
Megan interned at the Chris Walsh Center for the Spring 2022 Semester. She was in the Diverse Scholars Program at Framingham State University and it was her first semester in this program. When she graduates, she would love to work at the library to clean the DVDs and books. As an intern, Megan create a catalogue for the Center's library in preparation for future loaning opportunities. Megan also created the bulletin board in Dwight Hall that is aimed at informing people of the work the Center does.
Chandler Farley is a graduate of Framingham State University, where she studied in the Commonwealth Honors Program while earning her Bachelor of Science in Business and Information Technology with dual minors in Computer Science and Marketing. While striving to complete her degree in three years, Chandler has also worked as an IT Help Desk Technician, an Admissions Representative, and has had an internship at a local technology company preforming Inside Sales. At the Chris Walsh Center in Spring 2021, Chandler managed the center’s social media, marketing, and website.
Breanna Huntley served as a Psychology Intern at the Chris Walsh Center during the Fall 2021 Semester. She is a graduate of Framingham State University where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She plans to get her master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Huntley’s semester project was to research and evaluate information on the topic of Down Syndrome. She used her research to add resources to the CWC website and to bring awareness to the subject through a series of social media posts.
Ella is served as an intern at the Chris Walsh Center during the Spring 2022 Semester. She is attending Georgetown University and majoring in Health Care Management and Policy. At school, she works as a research assistant contributing to childhood cancer survivorship research. She also serves as a deputy editor for her school’s newspaper, The Hoya. As an intern at the Chris Walsh Center, Ella used her interest in communications and research to support the Center’s work and helped connect students and families with meaningful resources. Much of this work was done through her creation of social media posts that doubled as resources.
Gaeun Lee attends Georgetown University majoring Psychology and minoring in Education, Inquiry, and Justice and Disability Studies. She is from New York. At Georgetown University, Gaeun is an organizer for Georgetown Mutual Aid, a student-led fund dedicated to redistributing community-collected monetary and non-monetary funds to students in need. Gaeun’s studies have strengthened her passion for equity in education and access to education for all, including students with disabilities.
Krysta is served as an intern at the Chris Walsh Center during the Fall 2021 Semester. She is a graduate of Framingham State University where she majored in Elementary Education with a coordinate in Psychology as well as member of the Honors College. She plans to get her master’s degree in Special Education or Elementary Education. Padellaro’s semester project was to research and evaluate information on the topic of Body Dysmorphia Disorder. She used her research to add resources to the CWC website and to bring awareness to the subject through a series of social media posts.
Hannah was the center's first intern, helping to launch the center in Spring 2020. Her psychology internship focused on researching and co-facilitating a series of parent/caregiver support groups. She also assisted with four events: the center's opening celebration, two lecture/webinar events, and an info session about the child life specialist career.
Philippe Raphael was a sociology major who graduated in December 2022. Philippe volunteered and interned at the Framingham Housing Authority after school program, where he played board games as well as sports, and helped the students with homework. Following graduation he hopes to do work that involves human service, sales, or a career that is focused on social and human works.
Ellen served as the the Chris Walsh Center’s first Graduate Assistant for the 2020-21 academic year. She completed her first year of the Masters of Arts Program in Counseling Psychology at Framingham State University. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Stonehill College, and worked as an Admissions Recruiter at Mass Bay Community College for 8 years. She lives in Ashland with her husband and her two children, who she had been homeschooling for the last 8 years. She is a member of the Ashland coalition, Decisions At Every Turn, working with parents and families to prevent, reduce, and solve the problems that can lead to youth substance abuse. She also volunteers as a call taker at Call2Talk, a mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program run by Mass211. At the Chris Walsh Center, Ellen worked with other parents as they help their children to be happy, healthy, successful learners. She enjoys spending her free time with family on a lake in New Hampshire, swimming, kayaking and taking her dog for walks
Kate Whitaker is a graduate of Framingham State University, where she studied Elementary Education with a Specialization in Earth Science and Geography. She has worked in two other centers at Framingham State University prior to joining the Chris Walsh Center team: the Christa McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning, and CASA (the Center for Academic Success and Achievement). Kate also has experience as a coordinator for at risk teenagers in Natick, MA. Her biggest goal as an educator is to spread her love of STEM through engaging and inclusive teaching practices.
Anni Xie is a graduate of Framingham State University, where she majored in Management. Anni previously completed an internship with Rep. Jack Lewis, working with him on legislation related to epilepsy. Anni is passionate about epilepsy awareness and created multiple events for the Center to host regarding epilepsy awareness during the Fall 2020 Semester. Anni has previous experience as a hospital volunteer, and is fluent in Mandarin.