Leadership

Sue Ruzenski, Ed.D.

CEO, Helen Keller Services

Dr. Ruzenski serves as the H​elen Keller Services Chief Executive Officer since February 2021. Prior to this, she had been the Executive Director at Helen Keller National Center ​from October 2014 – 2020. Dr. Ruzenski was​ also interim ED for 2 years and Director of Direct Services for 22 years at HKNC. During her 40-year tenure at HKNC, she has led and worked with employees across the organization to implement innovative services and meet the identified priorities of the community.

As CEO, Dr. Ruzenski leads the HKS executive team by setting organizational goals, implementing strategic learning initiatives, support​ing development activities, and being the liaison with the U.S. Dept. of Education while work​ing collaboratively with NY state and national partners. She has high enthusiasm for leadership development and mentoring, adult learning strategies, and management and organizational learning tools.

She received her B.A. degree (1980) from Dowling College in Special Education, M.A. degree from New York University (1985) in Deaf Education and Doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University (2019) in Adult Learning and Leadership.

Mary Fu

Chief Development and Marketing Officer, HKS

Ms. Fu joined Helen Keller Services in January 2015 as part of the HKNC Helmsley Grant development effort and has continued in that position after grant support ended. Ms. Fu has over 20 years of experience in development and prior experience in the financial sector. She earned her B.S. degree from Hofstra University and M.B.A. degree in Finance from LIU. Ms. Fu heads up the HKS Development Team and is responsible for all day-to-day development operations and will supervise and manage the entire development team.

Ms. Fu has responsibility for all HKS’ IT infrastructure, contracting, policy, logistics and change management and continue to act as liaison to LISS Consulting, our IT service firm. Also, she continues her role as liaison to the HKS Board of Trustees.

Ms. Fu currently serves as the President Elect of the Association Fundraising Professionals, Long Island Chapter.

Deborah Harlin

Executive Director, Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths & Adults

Ms. Harlin has been recently named Executive Director of the Helen Keller National Center as of May 2021. She was previously the Director of Information, Research and Professional Development where among other responsibilities, she supported the development of Helen Keller National Center's variety of online courses and facilitated the HKNC DeafBlind National Community of Practice. Ms. Harlin has held a variety of positions at HKNC over a total of 28 years. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Colgate University and Master's degree from Long Island University/CW Post. She holds NY State teaching certifications as a teacher of the blind and low vision and as a special education teacher. She has also worked as an itinerant teacher of the low vision on Long Island and as a pre-school program supervisor for United Cerebral Palsy Association.

Sharona Hebroni

Chief Financial Officer, HKS

Ms. Hebroni has been appointed Helen Keller Services Chief Financial Officer effective July 2020. She joined Helen Keller Services in June 2010 as the Director of Accounting for the Helen Keller National Center. In this role, she was responsible for all financial operations of HKNC, including accounting processes, compliance, financial reporting, budgeting, and oversight of all Federal & state grants and contracts.

Ms. Hebroni comes to this newly appointed role with over 20 years of experience in nonprofit accounting. Prior to joining Helen Keller Services, she worked as an auditor, specializing in the non-profit and healthcare sectors. She has vast knowledge of all guidelines and regulations in both, state and federal regulatory compliance. She brings to HKS extensive knowledge of nonprofit accounting, with a focus on developing policies and procedures to improve internal controls, performance and productivity. Ms. Hebroni will be responsible for the overall direction, coordination and operation of the Accounting department of HKS as Chief Financial Officer.

Ms. Hebroni graduated from Queens College City University of New York with a B.A. in Accounting and Economics.

Chris Mastrangelo

Director of Facilities, HKS

In his role as director of facilities for Helen Keller Services (HKS), Mr. Mastrangelo manages the operation and maintenance of the physical plants of the agency’s two divisions, the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults (HKNC) and Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB). Mr. Mastrangelo, who has been with HKS for more than 25 years, oversees the work of outside contractors; manages his area's budget; and supervises employees in the maintenance, landscaping, housekeeping and dietary departments. He also handles union-related staff issues.

Mr. Mastrangelo’s previous experience includes the installation and servicing of fire and safety equipment as well as the wiring of electrical installations in industrial, commercial and residential settings. He completed coursework at the Nassau Technological Center and the Buildings Technical Training Center, and holds an Air Conditioning Contractors of America certificate in refrigerant transition and recovery.

Gary Messina

Chief Facilities Officer, HKS

Mr. Messina is the Chief Facilities Officer for Helen Keller Services (HKS), where he coordinates the operation and maintenance of the physical plants of both the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) division and the Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB) division. Mr. Messina works closely with the director of facilities to ensure optimal operation of HKS’ buildings and premises, and to maintain a safe and cost-effective environment for all who utilize the facilities and grounds.

Mr. Messina joined HKS in 2014, bringing with him a wealth of experience and knowledge in construction management, building materials, workmanship standards, municipal codes and safety regulations. He has managed projects ranging from new construction to restoring historic landmarks; has implemented cost controls to improve efficiency and productivity; and has conducted training programs to develop staff, facilitate efficiency and improve performance. Mr. Messina also owned and operated a private residential and commercial renovations business for nearly 20 years.

Mia Murro

Chief Human Resources Officer, HKS

Ms. Murro is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Helen Keller Services. Ms. Murro is an executive team leader with over 20 years’ progressive experience working across all areas of Human Resources. Prior to being appointed to the Chief Human Resources Officer position, she held the position of Director of Human Resources at the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC). Ms. Murro currently oversees all aspects of Human Resources Management for the organization including as Recruitment, Organizational Development, Benefits and Compensation, Training and Employee Development, Safety and Labor Relations.

Before joining HKNC, Ms. Murro was the Human Resources Manager at Bertelsmann Direct North America, the largest direct-to-consumer distributor of media products in the United States. She was responsible for HR services to over 1,000 employees and held several Human Resources roles of increasing responsibility including staffing, employee relations and employee engagement.

Ms. Murro graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Psychology and Business Management. She also earned a Certificate in Human Resources from LIU Post and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Laura Rocchio

Director of Direct Services, HKNC

Ms. Rocchio joined the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in 1984, serving in a variety of capacities witha real penchant for supporting consumers with DeafBlindness and intellectual disabilities. Ms. Rocchio currently serves as director of direct services. In this role, she provides oversight to Destiny Home, New York State’s first home for individuals with DeafBlindness and intellectual disabilities. She also supports students in HKNC’s training program, coordinating adult learning, peer learning and mentoring opportunities to help them lead their own lives. Ms. Rocchio is an advisor to the HKNC Town Hall Committee and a board member of the New York Parent Association for DeafBlind.

Laura Thomas

Director of Field Services, HKNC

Ms. Thomas is the director of field services for the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC). Based in E. Moline, Illinois, Ms. Thomas provides support, guidance and supervision to 12 regional representatives, covering ten regions throughout the United States. As a member of HKNC’s senior leadership team, she participates in the organization’s strategic renewal process.

Prior to assuming her current role in 2014, Ms. Thomas was HKNC’s Region 5 representative, covering six states – Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In this capacity, she provided information, referral, assistance, linkages and consultation; conducted assessments; and collaborated with other entities. Previous HKNC positions include case manager, supervisor of case managers, direct services supervisor, and professional and consumer relations national representative.

Ms. Thomas has extensive experience working with individuals who are DeafBlind, state and national agencies/organizations, rehabilitation and academic programs, and consumer groups, including serving these constituencies as a workshop trainer and as a consultant.

Ms. Thomas earned a B.A. from Gallaudet University and an M.A. from New York University, and completed post-graduate coursework at San Diego State University and Northern Illinois University.

She holds professional-level certification with the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) and has taught ASL and deaf studies for the last 25 years in the New York City/Long Island area; Chicago, Illinois; and Moline, Illinois. During a 15-year period, Ms. Thomas held various board positions with ASLTA, and she is currently an evaluator on the National ASLTA Evaluation Team.

Christopher Woodfill

Associate Executive Director, HKNC

Mr. Woodfill was appointed associate executive director at the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in 2014. In this position, Mr. Woodfill supervises 60 employees in five departments --vocational training, admissions, interpreting, residence life and the community service program-- and monitors the budgets of each department. He also facilitates HKNC’s Professional Learning and Leadership Institute, DeafBlind self-advocacy training, the Young Adult Summer Program, and cultural diversity and sensitivity training programs.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Woodfill, who joined the organization in 2012, served as HKNC regional representative for the Mid-Atlantic Region, where he provided assessment, consultation, training and technical assistance, and information and referral. Before joining HKNC, he spent nearly 20 years as an educator, teaching such subjects as history, social sciences, Spanish and ESL.

Mr. Woodfill earned an M.S. in deaf education from McDaniel College, an M.A. in Latin-American studies from George Washington University and a B.A. in history and Spanish from Gallaudet University. He serves on the boards of the World Federation of the DeafBlind and of the American Association of the DeafBlind.