Yellow flowers

Career Climbers

Staff Member Promotions
Every DDI employee touches the lives of the individuals and families we support. While our 1,900 employees have diverse roles, we are all inspired by our collective purpose to help children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities experience personal growth and fulfillment.
Please join us in congratulating these talented staff members for excelling in their roles and being promoted within the agency. They are a shining example of the potential you can achieve when you are people inspired by purpose.
Adam Bamba


Adam was promoted from a Community Instructor to an Assistant Residential Manager.

Tiana Cureton


Tiana has been a DDI family member for two years, 10 months. She is currently the Assistant Residential manager at one of our adult residences.


“I love being able to create connections and relationships with the people I work with. I feel rewarded knowing I contribute to their ability to live the best life they can while maintaining the highest level of independence they're capable of. Working in a residential setting, the individuals I support and the staff I work beside feel like family,” said Tiana.


To Tiana, this promotion is a stepping stone that shows to herself and others that she can handle not only being a DSP but also managing a team and creating new ideas to best support our individuals. “I look forward to coming up with new ideas with my team and my manager that will help make the quality of life even greater for those we support,” Tiana said.


Linda Fuller Miller


Linda has been a DDI family member since October 1994 (almost 27 years). She is an Education Behavior Specialist in the Early Childhood Program at the Ronkonkoma Campus and is also now the Day Care Director.


“At DDI, I get to work with amazing children, families, educators, and staff. DDI continues to lead the field of Early Childhood Education in Innovative, Best Practice and Developmentally Appropriate Practice. We service typically developing children and children with special needs, and I am proud to be a part of being a leader in the field of Early Childhood Education,” said Linda.


To Linda, this promotion means that she has been recognized as a leader and entrusted in making sure the Ronkonkoma Early Childhood Services Campus is performing above and beyond the expectations of the Day Care Regulations.

Lacey Goodstadt


Lacey has been a DDI family member since January 2012 (9½ years). She has been a Behavior Specialist at the Children’s Day Program (CDP) in Huntington since 2012. She was recently promoted to Clinical Coordinator at our Smithtown Campus.


“My favorite part about working at DDI is working with all of the incredible staff every day.  Even in the most challenging times, the DDI/CDP family has come together for the benefit of the children we serve.  The creativity, compassion, and dedication of each team member are truly remarkable.  It is so rewarding to celebrate student progress with the amazing people that make it happen,” said Lacey.


To Lacey, this promotion has meant so much to her and has been a professional goal of hers. She looks forward to continuing to grow and be part of all the amazing things to come for CDP!


Meryl Halfon


Meryl has been a DDI family member since January 1994 (27 years). She has always worked in Early Childhood Services at DDI and started out as a Speech and Language Supervisor in Huntington and transitioned to Associate Director positions within the division. Having been promoted to the Director of Early Childhood, I am charged to ensure that the students are receiving excellent instruction that will prepare them for their elementary school experience.


“My favorite part of working at DDI is working with the families and helping them to navigate the world of early childhood special education,” said Meryl.


To Meryl, this promotion means everything and represents the pinnacle of her career. “To know that my predecessor, as well as DDI’s executive management, trusts me to take on this huge task is very special,” said Meryl.


Heather Kuhn


Heather has been a DDI family member for 13 years. She oversees employee health and has been the main point of contact for all programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also oversees the total rewards packages for employees. Total rewards are the combination of benefits, compensation, and rewards that employees receive from DDI.


Heather enjoys the people that she works closely with and really feels that her ideas and opinions are valued.


“I feel really fortunate to have been able to grow my career at DDI, and it makes me feel appreciated that DDI has invested in me,” said Heather.


Madeleine Louis-Jean


Madeleine was promoted from a Community Instructor to an Assistant Residential Manager.

 Davonte Mayes


Davonte has been a DDI family member since September of 2020. During that time he was hired as an Assistant Residential Manager. In April 2021, he was promoted to Program Manager at Lake Avenue.


“My favorite part about working at DDI is working with all of the different people supported. There are many different people supported at DDI, and they are all special and unique in their own individual way,” said Davonte.


This promotion means a lot to Davonte because he is now in a higher position to help further advance the lives of the people supported and to better support the staff.


Jada Miley


Jada was promoted from a Community Instructor to an Assistant Residential Manager.


Karen Pastore


Karen has been a DDI family member for 33 years. She started out as a Classroom Teacher when DDI was the Suffolk Child Development Center and, over the years, she has advanced her positions to Education Coordinator and Education Behavior Specialist and now to Day Care Director/Education Behavior Specialist.


“As a member of the Early Childhood Services Leadership Team, I am involved in planning and supporting all aspects of student education and staff training.  Most recently, in my new responsibility as Daycare Director, I am responsible for ensuring compliance with all OCFS Daycare Regulations,” said Karen. In this new role, she hopes to continue to support the staff in their implementation of the regulations, while always considering Best Practice in Early Childhood Education.


“Over the decades, I have had the opportunity to work with numerous talented, intelligent, dedicated, and fun employees and students.  Together, we’ve made a difference in the lives of so many families.  I am happy to continue to pursue my professional goals with Developmental Disabilities Institute,” said Karen.


Javier Reyes


Javier was promoted from a Community Instructor to an Assistant Residential Manager.


Mary Ann SanFilippo


Mary Ann started as a graduate student from St. John’s University in the late 1980s at DDI’s Smithtown Campus. When she graduated, she was hired as a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) from 1991-1994. She returned as a Speech Supervisor in Huntington in the summer of 2004 and has been there ever since (15 years).


"I supervise the OT, PT, and speech supervisors across the Early Childhood Services (ECS) sites in addition to a team of SLPs in Huntington.   It is my responsibility to ensure related services are appropriately provided across all the sites. I am also a team leader for an ECS classroom, which involves making sure each child's IEP is being implemented effectively.  My favorite part of my job is playing with the children...really I am doing speech therapy,” said Mary Ann.


To Mary Ann, this promotion is not about money but recognition of her contributions to DDI.


Katheryn Sorto


Katheryn was promoted from a Community Instructor to an Assistant Residential Manager.


 Denise Tuckruskye


Denise has been a DDI family member for 33 years. She is the Coordinator of Behavioral and Evaluation Services.


“My favorite part about working at DDI is helping the children learn social skills that help them make friends and have success in school,” said Denise.


Denise believes this promotion is an exciting opportunity to broaden her responsibilities to help the program in a new way.


Erika Villaherrera 


Erika has been part of the DDI family since 2005 when she had just graduated from college. She was first hired as a Teacher Assistant in the Young Autism Program (currently Early Childhood Services), where she fell in love with teaching little people on the spectrum.


Currently, she is the Coordinator of Educational Services for Early Childhood Services. “I have the privilege of working with amazing people who share the same vision of teaching all of our students to prepare them for kindergarten,” said Erika.


One of her favorite things about her job is getting to provide support for our Spanish-speaking families, especially when they first come into the buildings (pre-COVID). “And now I get to support even more families as we offer them a strong Early Childhood Program across our three sites,” said Erika.


 Lara Wanlass


Lara was promoted from an Education Behavior Specialist to a Coordinator of Educational Studies.