Staff of the Office of Accessibility

Kathleen (Kelly) Kulick, M.Ed.,CRC

Kathleen (Kelly) Kulick is the Director for the Office of Accessibility. Kelly has 17 years of experience working with students with disabilities in higher education.  Fifteen years were spent at the Stark Campus of Kent State University where Kelly served as their Disability Coordinator.

Kelly previously served as the Director of the T.H.E.M.E. (Transitioning to Higher Education: Mentoring to Employment) Project at Stark State College.  The mission of THEME was to augment services supplied by Stark State’s Disability Support Services Office to at- risk students with disabilities.  During the two years as Director, the THEME Office had an 86% retention rate with students accessing services through THEME.

Kelly earned both her Undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Kent State University and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.  Kelly has worked extensively with the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation in Akron as well as other community agencies that work with individuals with disabilities. Kelly enjoys being part of The University of Akron family. 

Jessica DeFago, M.A.

Jessica is the Associate Director whose area of specialty is working with students with learning disabilities and ADHD. An alumnus of The University of Akron, Jessica has a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration. Jessica is dedicated to helping students learn how to navigate and succeed in higher education through developing study skills and self-advocacy skills. Jessica also works closely with University students, faculty, staff and area high schools through department outreaches and educational opportunities.

Tess Miller, M.Ed., CRC

Tess is a Disability Specialist and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The Ohio State University and earned her Masters of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. Tess is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, with strong interests in student advocacy and helping others. She is dedicated to both supporting students in the process of adapting to the post-secondary setting, and assisting them in working towards their higher education goals.

Ashley Haas, M.A.

Ashley is a Disability Specialist and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility. She earned a Master of Arts in Psychology from Cleveland State University. Ashley has experience in Special Education, assessments, and counseling. She is an advocate for students with disabilities. Ashley seeks to assist students in self-advocacy skills and towards achieving their full potential.

Heather Rose, M.A.

Heather is a Disability Specialist and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders and her Masters in Speech-Language Pathology, both from the University of Akron.  As a speech-language pathologist, she specialized in working with children and teens with hearing loss.  She has worked in private practice, schools, universities and hospitals.  Heather is excited to use her skills at the adult level, helping college level students fulfill their academic and career aspirations. 

Leigh Sveda

Leigh is the Adaptive Technology and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility. She graduated from The University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is responsible for the administration and implementation of alternative media for students with disabilities, the supervision of student assistants and administration of STARS. Leigh also oversees the adaptive technology lab housed in the office.

Natalie Bendel

Natalie is the Program Assistant for the Office of Accessibility, where she manages the front desk and coordinates testing. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hiram College, and decided to pursue a career in higher education after completing an internship in the field. Natalie is passionate about helping students succeed in their post-secondary goals.

Student Employees

Lauren Agra

Lauren is a senior studying psychology with a future focus in behavioral neuroscience. She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority and serves as the Director of Social Enrichment and Risk Management. She loves elephants, anything purple, sports, and Netflix. Jade Dragon is her favorite place to order food.

Cora Bair

Cora is a senior who has been working in the Office of Accessibility for 2 years.  She is currently studying Special Education with aspirations to be an Intervention Specialist at the high school level. She currently serves as the Vice President of New Member Education for Delta Zeta Sorority and loves Cleveland sports and cats.

Sydni Brown

Sydni is from New Washington, Ohio and is going into her third year at the University of Akron. Her major is Family and Consumer Science Education. Sydni is involved in Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Zips for Akron Hope, and CHAARG. Apart from school, Sydni spends her days practicing yoga and reading.

Falyn Davis

Falyn is a senior at The University of Akron majoring in Exercise physiology. She plans to attend graduate school to become a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist. She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and serves as the Director of Standards and Ethics. She loves coffee, queso, and anything sweet.

Nichole Santangelo

Nichole is from North Royalton, Ohio, and is beginning her second year at the University of Akron. Her major is speech-language pathology with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in American Sign Language. When she is not focusing on school work, she spends her time with friends, volunteering with her sorority sisters, or binge watching her favorite shows on Netflix. Nichole is excited to work in the Office of Accessibility because she loves meeting new people!

Cierra Simmons

Cierra is a senior studying Pre-Physical Therapy with a double minor in Child Development and Psychology. She has plans to move on to Graduate School to become a Pediatric Occupational Therapist preferably in a school district. She is involved heavily across campus with many leadership roles and a passion for service. She loves elephants, cats, and Jimmy Johns.

Zoë Sommers

Zoë is a senior studying Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Psychology.  She plans to attend graduate school to become a Speech Therapist and work with individuals with progressive diseases and neurological issues.  She is the Nature Coordinator at Akron Rotary Camp and a member of Delta Zeta Sorority.  Zoë loves to spend her free time volunteering, hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with animals.

Morgan Swinehart

Morgan is a junior majoring in Criminal Intelligence Analysis. She is planning to go to Graduate school for Forensics and is hoping to join the FBI in the future. She is involved with the American Sign Language Association (ASLA) here on campus. Aside from school, Morgan loves traveling and playing tennis.