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Meet Our Team: SIS Trainers

Ruth Pellman

Ruth PellmsnRuth Pellmann has worked with people with intellectual and development disabilities for almost 20 years. Her early work began as a clinical supervisor in an intensive therapeutic program that focused on the use of arts therapies (music, movement, dance, drama, art and sand play therapies) and sensory integration therapy with children to young adults with dual diagnosis. Her work evolved to specialize in training and mentoring those who work in the service of people with developmental disabilities as well as health and mental health workers.

She began work with the Supports Intensity Scale as part of a special project, in Ontario, in the spring of 2006 and then joined the AAIDD, SIS Trainers Team later that year. Currently she works full time for the Government of Ontario as a Policy Advisor heading up the Ontario Application for Developmental Services Training and Quality Assurance Program. The new application process is a comprehensive three part process which includes: a specialized assessment the Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS), the Supports Intensity Scale and a Summary Report. The Application and Summary Report are designed to work in concert with SIS.  Ruth continues to be an active member of the AAIDD training team, leading training outside of Ontario for the AAIDD, as well as working on updates, best practices and new tools for the AAIDD Supports Intensity Scale training and quality assurance programs. Ruth is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and the Toronto Art Therapy Institute.

Karen Golem

 Karen has 35 years of experience working in the developmental service sector which has inspired her to design and implement specialized services to assist persons in reaching their goals in life. Past senior management responsibilities include consistent implementation of Ministry legislation, development of policy and procedure standards and developing and implementing financial accountability processes. 
In 2007 she began developing expertise in the field of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS®) Assessor Program in Ontario Canada by providing assessment services and implementation of the Quality Assurance (QA) plan to individuals and organizations across the province. 

 In the past two years, Karen has become a Trainer for AAIDD and has provided training and evaluations using Interviewer Reliability and Qualification Review evaluations throughout the United States and Ontario Canada.  She is passionate in providing essential elements to maintain high training standards of professional excellence while developing SIS assessment services in a responsible and ethical manner.  

In addition to being a certified AAIDD SIS Trainer, Karen is a graduate of the Developmental Service Worker program and holds certifications in Strategic Communication, Assessment Strategies and Best Practices Administrator, Collaborative Conflict Resolution, Policies and Procedures in Multiple Work Environments and Data Interpretation Strategies. Further skills include developing motivational training packages and presentations.

Karen Hoffman

Karen HoffmanKaren Hoffman is a senior trainer for the Support Intensity Scale® (SIS®) with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). For the past seven years, she has worked in over ten states with their usage/implementation of SIS. SIS training activities include pilot assessments, Train-the-Interviewer, Train-the-Trainer, and Interviewer Reliability Review testing. Internationally, Karen has provided SIS training in Taiwan, Ireland, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario. As a trainer, Karen demonstrates expertise in her ability to provide complex information in a fun and clear manner.

As an executive leader, Karen has 30+ years of administrative and managerial experience with community based programs for persons with developmental disability. These programs ranged from small (34 persons served) to large (500 persons served); both rural (Nebraska) and urban (Seattle).  She led turnaround efforts, both financial and programmatic in these agencies.

Professional activities include advocating at the federal, state and county level for persons with disabilities on employment issues; developing school-to-work transition programs; strategic planning; and designing outcome management programs.    

In addition to a certified AAIDD SIS Trainer, Karen holds certifications with CARF, MODAPTS, and ADA. She has a Master's degree in Human Development/Business Management from the University of Nebraska, in addition to several publications and presentations. 

 Natalie Ihli

Natalie Ihli is a Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) Senior Trainer for AAIDD.  Since 2005, she has been working with individuals, provider agencies, advocacy groups and states to effectively implement SIS.  The greatest emphasis of her work is SIS Interviewer and Trainer training and the development of techniques to incorporate into system transformation.  Her international experience includes training and consultancies in Australia, Taiwan and Ireland.  Ms. Ihli is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Coordinator for the School-to-Work Alliance Program, serving young people with disabilities to find and maintain community employment.  She received her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wyoming and Master of Social Work from the University of Denver specializing in leadership, strategic planning, and community development.  She currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO.  She continues to enjoy witnessing the positive changes that occur in the lives of people with I/DD because of the SIS process.  

Kathy Varner

Kathy Varner’s experience with the Supports Intensity Scale began in 2006 in Colorado and with AAIDD since 2007.  Since that time, she has worked on projects in various places in the United States, Canada, and Ireland.  In addition to facilitating over 1000 quality assessments, Kathy is also a Trainer and Project Coordinator with AAIDD.  Kathy has conducted training with many different groups, including Respondent/Stakeholders training, Train-the-Interviewer, Train-the Trainer, quality assurance, advanced interviewer training, Quality Lead Training and extensive Interviewer Reliability and Qualifications Reviews (IRQR). In addition to training, Kathy has coordinated assessment projects in several states. These projects involve supervising and quality assurance with 25 - 30 SIS assessors and over 4000 assessments.

Jennifer Bohne

Jennifer Bohne has spent more than a decade providing supports for individuals with developmental disabilities as a caregiver, job coach, paraprofessional, supports coordinator, clinician, and SIS interviewer. She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Music and Psychology from Alma College and a Master’s of Science Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. Jennifer is driven by a strong belief that all individuals, regardless of their strengths and challenges, are entitled to live as full citizens in our society. She feels privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the use of an assessment tool that furthers this mission.  Jennifer began her involvement with the Supports Intensity Scale at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc. where she serves as the Director of their SIS Program as well as an interviewer and trainer.  Jennifer currently lives near Detroit, Michigan with her husband and their lovable but high-spirited beagle.

Christine Vriend

 Christine VriendChristine’s work has been focused on providing support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 25 years.  Her early work was in direct services as a rehabilitation practitioner, and evolved into a variety of roles such as a Direct Services Supervisor, Social Worker, Client Services Coordinator, Family Managed Services Specialist, and SIS Specialist/Master Trainer.  She is currently in her 26th year with the Government of Alberta (Ministry of Human Services,   Persons with Developmental Disabilities, or PDD).  She leads the SIS and Intake teams in the Edmonton region, and is also a leader in Alberta’s provincial SIS program for PDD.  Christine’s work has included the provision of training and on-going support for interviewers, quality assurance and interviewer reliability review testing, information sessions and SIS training for all stakeholders, as well as SIS project management and quality assurance for the Edmonton region. 

Christine has also been an active member of the AAIDD team – she joined the team in 2011 as a SIS Consultant and in February of 2013 she was thrilled to join the team of Senior Trainers – finding them to be a passionate, collaborative and supportive group of SIS experts.

 Christine has a Bachelor of Arts degree (major in psychology) and also a Bachelor of Music degree (both from the University of Alberta).  She has a passion for music and feels her work as a musician compliments her work as a SIS trainer and assessor – keeps her creative juices flowing, presentation skills sharp and helps her to “think outside of the box”. 

Christine lives in Edmonton with her husband, Ray.