Scott Flagel, MS Chief Executive Officer
Scott joined Lighthouse of Collier after completing a successful career in the Senior Living Industry. He spent 23 years with The Eddy Senior Living Communities in upstate New York. The Eddy is a comprehensive continuum of healthcare, supportive housing and community services that reaches 22 counties and serves more than 40,000 people yearly in the capital region of New York. Eddy services help maximize independence, quality of life and dignity of individuals, and help prevent the premature institutionalization of chronically ill, frail or disabled seniors.
Since moving to Naples, Florida in January 2015, Scott has been very involved in the Southwest Florida community. He completed the Bonita Leadership program and was a board member of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.
Scott has a passion for giving back to those less fortunate than him. He was very involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Southern Adirondacks for 10 years. He was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters twice as a “Big Brother” and also as a board member and board President.
Scott received his Bachelor degree in Business/Accounting from George Washington University and his Master of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Massachusetts.
He is currently the Treasurer for the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind which is a provider network of comprehensive rehabilitation services for Floridians living with blindness and visual impairments.
Wendy Olson Director of Programs
Wendy Olson is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). She brings more than 20 years’ experience in the field of education and rehabilitation for persons with low vision and blindness. Wendy has worked with individuals of all ages, abilities/disabilities and cultural backgrounds. Her experience includes working as a: part-time Parent Advisor for blind/visually impaired babies/toddlers, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired in the various school districts, an Assistive Technology Specialist (performing AT Assessments and training on screen readers, notetakers and screen magnification programs), an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (babies to seniors) and a VR College Counselor. Wendy’s passion for travel and cultural exploration brought her to China, the Navajo Indian Reservation (in Arizona) and Ghana, West Africa, where she also worked as a TVI/COMS. Ms. Olson holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Teaching for The Blind/VI and a graduate certificate in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University. She is also certified in the State of Florida as a TVI.
At the Lighthouse, Wendy is currently responsible for teaching independent living, orientation and mobility and braille skills to adults. She also organizes various recreation and leisure events, such as the Out and About monthly mobility group and the Unique Skills in Vision workshops. Wendy finds great satisfaction in having the opportunity to participate in her clients’ journey towards gaining hope and independence, while adjusting to their vision loss.
Jennifer Nieves Director of Children’s Programs
Jennifer was born and raised in Miami, FL. From a young age, she has been interested in the field of Vision Rehabilitation, due to her father being blind and a CVRT himself. While in high school, Jennifer volunteered in local rehab agencies, and continued this trend by serving as an intern at a local rehab agency while pursuing her Bachelor’s in Psychology at FGCU. Since then, she has completed her Master’s of Education in Vision Studies through University of Massachusetts Boston and has previously served as a Transition Program Coordinator. Jennifer is passionate about empowering youth and helping them realize, and achieve, their fullest potential.
Rick Hart Assistive Technology Instructor
Mentoring & Support Group Facilitator
Rick joined the Lighthouse of Collier in February 2015. Helping people who are blind or visually impaired is Rick’s passion. He knows firsthand what it is like to live with vision loss as he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age eight. He knows how difficult it can be to get along in a sighted world.
Rick holds a Master of Arts in Community Agency Counseling from Saint Xavier University (Chicago, Illinois). He is certified to teach screen reading and magnification software through the Florida Division of Blind Services. He also facilitates the support groups and provides individual peer counseling. His aim is to help clients (of all ages) gain confidence and skills needed to adjust to living with vision loss. Rick’s overall goal is to help clients enhance their quality of life by teaching adaptive skills which enable clients to continue to be productive and self-reliant.
Phyllis Dratnol Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist
She recently earned her Masters from the Northern Illinois University (NIU).
Phyllis was a graduate assistant for Professor Emeritus Dr. Gaylan Kapperman at NIU. She co-authored an article with Dr. Kapperman and another graduate assistant entitled “Improving the Level of Fitness using Kettlebells”. The article was written to provide individuals who have little or no vision accessible descriptions of kettlebell exercises that are commonly demonstrated by experts on videos.
Phyllis received Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in Illinois.
Sura Meinket Office Manager / Bookkeeper
With over 20 years’ experience in bookkeeping, Sura brings her organizational skills, joy of numbers and knowledge to Lighthouse of Collier, Inc. Adept at streamlining day to day tasks and processes, she is a welcome asset. She enjoys helping others and being part of the team. Her love of accounting started in high school and continued through University of Phoenix. Sura is the proud parent of two sons.
Stephany Estremadoiro Intake Specialist
Stephany prides herself on having excellent interpersonal communication skills. She is bilingual and enjoys living in Naples. Stephany has worked in customer service positions that have allowed her to assist people which she enjoys very much. She is currently working on her Associates Degree in Psychology from Florida Southwestern State College.
Cindy Bello, MA, OTR/L Rehabilitation Instructor
Cindy Bello received a Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and enjoys working with children of all ages at the Lighthouse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Susquehanna University and a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University. Cindy began her career in pediatrics, providing early intervention occupational therapy services to children from birth to three. Over the course of her year career as an OT, Cindy has served individuals of all ages in a variety of settings, including outpatient rehab, acute care hospital, school, and home health. Her experience at the Lighthouse began with volunteering at the Children’s Summer Camp and assisting adults with Activities of Daily Living Classes. Currently, Cindy works with the children and is committed every day to helping them reach their full potential through activities that are meaningful to them.
Kerry Birchall Transition Coordinator
Kerry Birchall holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts – Boston. She also has Graduate Certificates in Orientation and Mobility and Assistive Technology Instruction for the Visually Impaired. With over 15 years of experience as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments both in Boston and Rhode Island public schools, Kerry has worked with students of all ages and visual diagnoses.
Kerry is especially passionate about ensuring students with visual impairments are well prepared for post-secondary employment. This commitment comes from watching her own nephew, who has been blind since birth, struggle to find meaningful work despite having a college degree. As Transition Coordinator at the Lighthouse, Kerry is dedicated to teaching students necessary job readiness skills and providing students with the opportunity for job exploration, development and coaching.
Misty Phillips Assistive Technology Assistant
Misty is visually impaired, but nothing stops her from learning and assisting others. She has joined the team at Lighthouse of Collier to instruct clients with assistive technology. She has recently become certified in JAWS (Job Access With Speech) software.
Magali Saldana Receptionist
Maggie has been a Lighthouse client for almost three years. She suffers from glaucoma and damaged corneas, causing a great deal of pain and extreme light sensitivity. She administers eye drops multiple times a day and attends frequent eye appointments. Compounding these challenges, Maggie was recently let go from her job due to COVID-19.
Despite her circumstances, Maggie always sees the glass half full and never seems defeated. She shows up with a smile and a “can do” attitude. Maggie frequently networks with other Lighthouse clients to help them cope with their vision loss. She leads by example by lending a hand to those in need.
Maggie started as a volunteer at the Front Desk to learn and hopefully become a Receptionist. Maggie’s determination made her a strong candidate thereby earning a part-time position as receptionist. Maggie brings sunshine to the office and is a wonderful icon showing others how hard work and perseverance pays off. As she often says, “This is my new normal, so I’m going to have to figure out how to get it all done, but in a new way!”