At 7pm this Monday, 6/7, we will meet to vote in the new members of SEPTA’s executive board: Joanne Colón, Stephanie Otero, Kristen Whalen, and Amy Lienert. Please click on each name to view that person’s bio.
- Joanne Colón, nominated for co-president
- Stephanie Otero, nominated for co-president
- Kristen Whalen, nominated for secretary
- Amy Lienert, nominated for treasurer
Joanne’s professional background includes Financial Services and Education. She holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and a Masters degree in Secondary Special Education. During her previous life in the financial sector, Joanne worked for Fortune 500 Companies until she decided to change careers and become an Educator, working in neighboring districts, the NYC DOE, and a charter school network. She has served in different capacities inclusive of teaching, coaching, and leadership. Her experience in Education extends to teaching students with moderate-to-severe disabilities; teaching students with disabilities in the inclusive setting; coordinating the CSE process; Special Education Department Chairperson; Instructional Coach and Network Academic Lead for Special Populations. Supporting and advocating for parents and students while liaising with District and School based staff is a notable part of her work in her professional career and on the SEPTA Executive Board. In keeping with her level of dedication, her mantra, coined by Confucius says, “If you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
Joanne loves nutrition and is a Certified Health Coach who volunteers to host workshops within her school communities. In her spare time, she loves to spend quality time (QT) with family playing board games, card games, and always taking time out for music and singing.
Stephanie graduated with a BA in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice from C.W Post, Long Island University. Stephanie has been Hutchinson school’s PTA President and has chaired many committees within the Hutchinson school community. She currently sits on the Site Based Council, and represents Hutchinson school at PTA Council here in Pelham. Stephanie is also a part of the Reopening Task Force for Pelham school district, and continues to pop into many budding committees benefiting our children.
Stephanie and her family volunteer their time to biweekly midnight runs in Manhattan. She is a Girl Scout leader for the last 6 years, as well as the current Pelham Service Unit Manager, overseeing all Girl Scout troops within town. Stephanie is currently the Membership VP for the Junior League of Pelham, and will be chairing the DE&I and ending hunger committees within the league to further her passions of inclusion and ending food insecurity. Stephanie is the current SEPTA representative for Hutchinson and has been a lifelong champion for the community in which it serves. Stephanie is a firm advocate for children and marginalized groups, and looks forward to continuing to raise her family here in Pelham, and teaching her children by example.
In her free time Stephanie loves to read, tend to her plants, travel the northeast, cook and spend time outside.
Watching my mother, as a PTA President, dedicate her time to our school, community, and her children instilled in me, a sense of hard work and commitment to caring for others. I would go on to provide care as a babysitter, nanny, counselor at the NYAC, volunteer at New Rochelle Hospital and eventually work for the Pelham Recreation Department as a Basketball coach for Colonial and Siwanoy schools.
After graduating from The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, I found my way back to the then Sound Shore Medical Center. I spent 16 years, full-time, learning from my mentors and colleagues how to efficiently navigate the Healthcare and Insurance Systems. During my time as a Supervisor/Trainer over two hospital campuses, I worked closely with the Mental Health/Psych unit, their nurses, administrators, and community outreach programs. I served on several Teams and Management Groups as well as the Studor Initiative Communications Team as Recording Secretary, championing the American Heart Association fundraising campaign for Go Red Day, pursuing Patient Education initiatives and Insurance navigation assistance. Because of the proximity to Pelham, I have been privileged to serve and assist numerous members of our community.
Over the past 18 years, I have been a Hutchinson, PMS, and PMHS parent. I have served as a Class Parent, PTA and SEPTA member, and am currently Recording Secretary for the Hutchinson PTA Board. Each school and each of my 3 childrens’ experiences have afforded me invaluable insight into our education system. I have been honored to work with the caring and efficient CSE and CPSE boards for our own childrens’ needs. They have been a guiding light and steadfast supporters for our family.
Since making the decision to stay home to support my children further, I have resumed my passion for creating custom cakes and continue to provide my local customers with delicious and exciting creations for their events. I continue my commitment to service by providing freelance insurance and medical bill assistance to those unfamiliar with the healthcare inner workings in order to alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with numerous bills and paperwork in already difficult times. I am also a huge sucker for almost any animal and adore walking dogs most days for some fantastic families as well as my own beautiful German Shepard.
After all my time here, I have come to love and admire our small town and community and how we can come together, in good times and tragic events, to empathize with each other and work towards common goals. I am very excited to potentially serve our community and children with the SEPTA Board to continue the work and advocacy within my beloved Pelham.
It is my passionate belief that all children, regardless of physical or neurological differences, should be provided with a free public education that is fun, challenging and suits their individual needs. I would like to be part of continuing the amazing work SEPTA has been doing to provide resources and support to families. Additionally, I would like to advocate for greater transparency within the district on provided services, and work towards improving the satisfaction level of families whose children require additional support services in their education. I believe this can be accomplished with diplomacy and compromise.
While in college, I was a Big Sister in the Big Brother/Big Sister organization. Additionally I served as the volunteer liaison to the Board of Directors and as a Mentor for incoming volunteers. Later, I volunteered for SafeSpace, a homeless organization that specialized in helping kids who had been disowned by family for being LGBTQIA. I served on the Junior Board and worked in organizing large scale events for fundraising. I also volunteered for Safe Horizons, The Red Cross and other collaborative non-profits at the Family/Victims Center after 9/11. These experiences allowed me to provide immediate assistance to those in need, especially underserved children. Professionally, I have had my own business as a Project Manager for almost 15 years. In the fall, I will transition to being a full time graduate student, pursuing my Master’s Degree in Child Development at Sarah Lawrence College.