Meet the Team
Front Desk Staff
Lori, a graduate of Catherine Scott Secretarial School, has been a member of the ADS team for 24 years. Lori grew up with a several family members and friends who have disabilities - which made this a natural and rewarding field for her to enter. She began learning ASL in the 1980s for a friend who was going deaf, and loved being able to communicate in a new way, with more people. Her husband is Deaf-Blind and attended Harper before starting his own business. After serving as a department secretary for salespeople for twelve years, Lori started working for a psychosocial rehabilitation organization; her eyes opened to non-profit and she never looked back.
Samantha Almeida Ortega
Samy has gained her secretarial experience by working in K-12 institutions around the Palatine area. She moved from her country, Ecuador, in 2019 to pursue her higher education. Currently, Samy is a full-time student at the University of Illinois in Chicago where she focused on Political Science, but is now changing her major to Social Work. Outside of work, She enjoys spending time with her daughter and her grandmother, reading and exploring new restaurants.
Teagen, a graduate of DePaul University, has always been passionate about helping others and advocating for people and organizations that call for action. Upon graduating, Teagen took time to travel and spend time with family before she began working in at Plum Grove Junior High School. She went on to work for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Be The Match. In 2020, Teagen worked in the Center for New Students at Harper College. She is happy to be back as the Accommodations Assistant in the Access and Disabilities Services Office. Teagen loves to read, bake, and spend time with her friends and family in her free time. If you have a book recommendation, she is always looking for more to add to her list.
Assistive Technology Lab
Nick graduated from Loras College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He then attended National-Louis University in 2010 and graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching - Special Education degree with a Learning Behavioral Specialist I certification. Prior to Harper College, he worked in law enforcement and then began working in education in 2006 as a Special Education Teacher at private therapeutic day schools and the public school system. Nick held the role of Special Education Teacher, working with a wide range of students ranging from 5th grade to 12th grade, and in both urban and suburban settings. Nick is passionate about working and advocating for students with disabilities, with a focus that students are given proper resources, opportunities, and skills to fulfill their goals and potential. His role here at Harper as the Assistive Technology Coordinator is to provide assistive technology and document conversion for accessible materials to students. Outside of work, Nick enjoys spending time with his kids and his hobbies. He has been involved in the sport of wrestling for over 30 years and was a four-year varsity wrestler at Loras College. He volunteers his time as a wrestling coach at the high school and youth levels.
When Sara first set foot on the campus of Western Maryland College in 1998 she didn't know she'd begin a life-long journey into the Deaf Community. An American Sign Language interpreter for twenty years, Sara has worked in a variety of settings before coming to Harper. Sara also holds a Master's degree in Organizational Management. As a member of the Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, volunteerism has always been important to Sara and she continues to serve in various volunteer roles.
Stephanie Wootten Austin
Katie discovered a passion for working in accessibility services as a graduate student at The Ohio State University, where she received her Master of Public Health. Prior to joining the team at Harper College, she worked as a Disability Services Specialist at Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Katie loves working directly with students, focusing on academic skill-building, wellness, and mindfulness. Outside of the office, Katie enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and volunteering in the community.
April (pronouns she, her, hers) is currently an Access Advocate at Harper College since January 2019. April notes that the greatest joy is offering support, engaging, empowering, and encouraging students to succeed during their time at Harper College. Her professional area of interest includes disability culture, inclusion and equity, mental health, social justice, self-advocacy, and universal design. When not in the office, April enjoys yoga, meditation, reading, check out new restaurants, spending time with fur-kid, and travel.
Anita has a bachelor's degree in Child and Family Studies from Northern Illinois University and master's degree in Counseling/Higher Education from Emporia State University. Before working at Harper, she worked as a Hall Director in residence life, an Academic Counselor, and a Student Activities Director. Anita has been working at Harper since 2010. Before joining the ADS team, Anita worked in the Center for New Student as an Academic Advisor. In ADS, she enjoys working with ADS Students and encouraging each student's academic, personal, and professional success. In addition to serving as an Access Advocate, Anita coordinates the Transition Autism Program (TAP) and advises the ADS Success Club. When not working, Anita enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys. As a family, they love to camp, hike, and visit National Parks.
Robert Uhren grew up closely with his Apple Macintosh Classic and has always viewed technology from within the enabling scope. In terms of digital accessibility, Robert is fascinated with variability behind the end user, has worked with and observed a wide range of individuals with disabilities and has always observed how they use technology to enhance their quality of life. As a deafblind technology trainer intern briefly prior joining higher education disability services, it was then Robert realized that contributing to digital accessibility is equal to contributing to the enabling and transformative nature that technology is.
Rebecca Ramirez - Malagon
Rebecca has fourteen years of higher education experience spanning several different institutions and areas including disability services, admissions, and student involvement. She notes that her passion for serving students with disabilities began in her childhood, as her mother worked at a school that was specifically for children with Autism and Down Syndrome. Throughout her youth, Rebecca was able to volunteer at the school, even serving as an aide during their summer program. When she decided to go to college, Rebecca knew that her major had to focus on helping individuals with disabilities. She assumed that would lead her to becoming a special education teacher, but she landed on the higher education route instead. Fourteen years later, and in a position that allows her to review procedures and better serve students with disabilities, she is happy with her decision.