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Meet Our Team: SIS Trainers

Karen Golem

Karen Golem earned a Developmental Service Worker Diploma from Fanshawe College, 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.  She has 35 years of experience working in the developmental service sector that has inspired her to design and implement specialized services to assist persons in reaching their goals in life. Past senior management responsibilities include implementing of Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services legislation, developing policy and procedure standards, and developing and implementing financial accountability processes.  In 2007, she began developing expertise in the field of the SIS in Ontario, Canada by providing assessment services and implementation of the Quality Assurance (QA) plan to individuals and organizations across the province. 

Ms. Golem qualified as an AAIDD SIS trainer in 2012, and provided training and evaluations using IRQR evaluations throughout the United States and Ontario, Canada. Her expertise is in providing essential elements to maintain high training standards of professional excellence while developing SIS assessment services in a responsible and ethical manner. Her international work includes assessment services to residential and day service users at Aras Attracta (2015) and St. Raphael’s Center (2016) with Ireland’s Health Business Services.

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 SIS Training and Development Specialist for AAIDD. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Wyoming, and a master’s in social work from the University of Denver. Since 2005, she has worked with individuals, provider agencies, advocacy groups and states, and other large- scale enterprises toward effective SIS implementation. Her work focuses on an array of SIS training, assessment, consultation, technical supports, and on-line curriculum development and training. This includes 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, Ireland, Jamaica, and Latvia.  In her role as the Coordinator for the School-to-Work Alliance Program/Department of Education, Colorado, she assists young people with disabilities to find and maintain community employment.

Kathy Varner

Kathy Varner graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree and has over 30 years’ experience working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has experience working with individuals who have extensive medical and behavioral support needs, as well as dual diagnoses. These individuals lived in various residential settings, ranging from individual apartment settings to large institutional settings. Kathy also has extensive experience in day program centers and connecting people with their communities.

Trained as a Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) Interviewer in 2006, Kathy has worked with AAIDD since 2007. In 2014, Kathy trained as an Interviewer and then Trainer for the Supports Intensity Scale –Children’s Version (SIS-C). In her current role as an AAIDD SIS Trainer, Kathy has worked in various capacities---trainer, assessor, and project coordinator across the U.S. and several Canadian provinces. Internationally, Kathy has facilitated training in Ireland, and in 2015 and 2016, was the Project Coordinator/Lead for two high profile support needs assessment projects in Co Mayo and Co Cork, Ireland, respectively. In her role as a Project Coordinator for large-scale pilot projects in Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia, Kathy has had responsibility for coordination and oversight of project tasks, supervision of SIS assessors, and ensuring timely and successful completion of over 4000 quality assessments.

Throughout her training career with the Supports Intensity Scale (Adult and Children Versions) at AAIDD, Kathy has facilitated over 1000 quality assessments and has trained extensively with many different groups. Training includes Respondent/Stakeholders, Train-the-Interviewer, Train-the Trainer, Quality Assurance, Advanced Interviewer, Quality Lead, Information Lead, and the facilitation of numerous Interviewer Reliability and Qualifications Reviews (IRQR). Her experience also includes the development of both SIS-A and SIS-C training curriculum, the SIS-C online training program, and SIS-C Training videos.

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 Vriend

Christine has focused her work and career on support and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and care givers.  She has over 30 years of experience in the intellectual and developmental disability field, with progressively responsible positions in the Ministry of Community and Social Services in Alberta, Canada.  Her work has offered her extensive experience assisting individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with complex support needs to be supported and included in their communities, and also assisting their families and caregivers in successful planning and support.  Ms. Vriend’s work in Alberta included the provision of training and on-going support for a provincial team of SIS interviewers, interviewer reliability review testing, information sessions, stakeholders’ training, SIS project management, quality assurance and management of the SIS program for the province.  Within her work, Ms. Vriend has also had extensive involvement in developing SIS policy, process, and quality assurance measures. She has developed and delivered much training, such as SIS in Service Design and Planning, SIS and the Quality of Life Framework, Understanding Individual Support Needs, and more. 

Ms. Vriend joined the AAIDD SIS team in 2011 as a SIS assessor, and in February 2013 as an AAIDD Senior Trainer. She has provided a range of training for SIS interviewers, trainers, quality leads, information leads, stakeholders and respondents in Manitoba, Ontario, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Maryland, Iowa, and Hawaii.  She also assisted with large-scale assessment pilot projects in New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ireland.  Qualified in 2009 as a SIS Assessor, and then SIS Trainer, Ms. Vriend has since performed over 1300 SIS assessments and has overseen many more as a trainer.  She has trained close to 200 assessors and trainers, in addition to significant development of AAIDD SIS training curriculum.

Ms. Vriend earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alberta and a second bachelor’s degree in music from The Kings University in Edmonton, Alberta. She has a passion for music and feels her experience as a musician compliments her work as a SIS Trainer – it keeps creative juices flowing, presentation skills sharp and helps her to “think outside the box”.