SERC has a history of supporting prevention efforts in collaboration with and funding from the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Service, DMHAS. The creation of the new School-Based Center for Prevention, Education and Advocacy is part of that collaboration and a natural extension of SERC’s work with DMHAS. Under the 2018 State Opioid Response Grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SERC has developed programming and materials and held conferences, virtual workshops, and technical assistance on school-based substance use.
This new resource was developed by SERC and funded by the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Funding is made possible in part by a State Opioid Response Grant (SOR) from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).
School Based Center for Prevention, Education and Advocacy
Bianca Irizarry has been with SERC for over 13 years and is a Consultant and Coordinator of the School Based Center for Prevention, Education and Advocacy at SERC. She has her Masters in Social Work whose work within the agency has focused on Prevention, SEL/Trauma, Racial Equity, Youth Leadership, and Family Engagement. She is a proud Puerto Rican Latina who was born and resides in Hartford, CT and has an 11-year-old daughter.
Ann Marie Cordisco, an educator for 20+ years, joined SERC in 2020 as an IDEA Consultant. Her experience began as a Speech & Language Therapist, IEP Coach, and Assistant Principal for the NYC Department of Education. Ann Marie was a former Assistant Director of Special Services and Supervisor of Special Services in Connecticut. She is currently working on completing her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.
Malik Champlain is a Consultant at SERC with a focus in racial equity. In his previous role, Malik served as a Peace Office for the State of Connecticut focusing on cognitive behavior therapy and effective practices in community supervision. Malik also has experience in the K-12 school system as a Special Education Teacher in Massachusetts and as a behavior technician in Hartford Public Schools. He resides in the Greater Hartford area with his wife and three children.
Christina Simms is a consultant at SERC with a focus on Racial Equity. In her previous role, she served as the Director of Youth Services for the Town of Southington focusing on positive youth development, substance use prevention, suicide prevention, leadership development, community support, and adolescent counseling services. She enjoys spending time outdoors and with her husband and three kids.
Kara Gavin is a Consultant at SERC with a focus in program evaluation. She has an Ed.D. with a background in elementary and special education, curriculum development, and educational research. Kara enjoys spending time with her family and hiking with her dogs.
Megan Devine is a member of the SERC Library team. Prior to working at SERC, she taught English for seven years in a middle school setting. Outside of work, she gravitates toward all things coffee-related, has a passion for sewing, and loves to travel.
Peter Williams is a member of the SERC Library team. Prior to becoming a librarian, Peter worked in Special Education for 14 years under titles such as job coach, teacher’s assistant, and ABA tutor. In his spare time, Peter enjoys writing, recording, and performing music with percussion being his primary instrument.
Sanna Cheema is the newest librarian to join the SERC Library team. She previously worked at a public library for seven years. She grew up in New York but recently moved to Connecticut with her husband after living abroad for a year in Brazil. In her free time, Sanna enjoys reading classic literature, watching period dramas, and seeing her favorite bands perform live.
Emma Velasquez is part of the SERC Project Specialist Team. She joined SERC shortly after graduating college in Missouri with a B.A. degree in Fine Arts focusing on Graphic Design. She enjoys volunteering with youth programs, traveling, and being amongst friends and family during her spare time.