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ABOUT US

Guidelight Group is a collective of seasoned professionals specializing in person-centered services for transition-aged teens and adults with developmental disabilities.

Together our team has decades of expertise in person-centered planning, advocacy, community resource navigation, service coordination, benefits counseling, special education and more.

We are innovators who are setting the standards of excellence for the future of disability services. We love what we do.

MEET OUR TEAM

 

SONNI CHARNESS, Founder

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Sonni Bendetson Charness brings over a decade of experience serving teens and adults with developmental disabilities and is an expert in community integration and employment supports. Sonni leads the team at Guidelight Group and also works personally with clients. 

Sonni's work on transition-to-adulthood and employment has been published in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation and in Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. Sonni has been a featured expert on the Lomah podcast and as a presenter at countless conferences including TASH, the Supported Life Conference, and the Statewide Conference on Self-Determination. 

Sonni is a member of the Board of Directors for California APSE, the state chapter of the nation’s leading advocacy organization promoting employment for people with disabilities. Sonni is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP), and is trained in Person-Centered Thinking and Independent Facilitation.

Sonni obtained her master's degree in special education at Vanderbilt University, where she specialized in transition-to-adulthood and employment outcomes for students with moderate/severe disabilities. Sonni earned her bachelor's degree in child development from Tufts University.

DEBRA JORGENSEN, client coach & independent facilitator

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For over 20 years, Debra Jorgensen has focused her career on advocating for the rights of the disability community, and she carries that same focus to her role as Client Coach and Independent Facilitator at Guidelight Group.

 

As a former attorney at Disability Rights California and the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego, Debra has deep knowledge of disability, employment, and public interest law and expertise supporting underserved communities. As a consultant, she continued to collaborate with self-advocates, families, providers, and government and other non-profit agencies to identify the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and tackle system reforms to increase access to those services and supports. 

Debra is a member of the Board of Directors for California APSE, the state chapter of the nation’s leading advocacy organization promoting employment for people with disabilities. She is also a member of San Diego's Local Advisory Committee on Self-Determination Program (SDP) implementation and the Cardiac Family Advisory Council at Rady Children's Hospital. Debra is trained in Customized Employment by the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE), Person-Centered Thinking and Independent Facilitation.

Debra earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at San Diego, and her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. In addition to her work at Guidelight group, she is currently an Adjunct Professor at University of San Diego School of Law. 

WHITNEY WILLIAMS, client coach & independent facilitator

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With a focus on helping each client to pursue their individual goals through the Self-Determination Program, life coaching, employment support, and advocacy, Whitney packs a powerful punch in her role as a Client Coach and Independent Facilitator at Guidelight Group. She specializes in navigating and accessing public benefits, community resources, and post-secondary education supports.

 

Whitney has dedicated her career to advancing the landscape of options for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a guardian of and sibling to an adult with autism and intellectual disability, she decided at an early age to pursue a career that would align with her deep-rooted passion for advocacy and inclusion. Prior to joining Guidelight Group, Whitney served as Regional Center Service Coordinator, where she went above and beyond the job description, advocating on the consumer's behalf to guarantee that they receive the services and supports consistent with their concerns, desires, and priorities. 

 

Whitney is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary's University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. She is certified in Person-Centered Thinking by the Learning Community for Person Centered Practices and an alumna of the Guidelight Group Independent Facilitator Coaching Program. 

taleen khatchadourian, client coach & independent facilitator

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As a parent of a transition-aged teen, Taleen brings a personal touch to her role as a Client Coach and Independent Facilitator at Guidelight Group.  Advocacy is a critical component to her work with clients, focusing on bridging the gap to meet each client’s unique needs.  As a result, Taleen has successfully transitioned numerous clients into SDP and continues to support them and their Circles of Support by creating a collaborative, person-centered environment. 

Since entering the world of the Self-Determination Program, Taleen has taken the stance that “it takes a village” and has shared her knowledge on SDP topics for the regional centers, Disability Voices United (DVU), Foothill Autism Alliance (FAA) and the Armenian Autism Outreach Project  (AAOP).  She has been invited to moderate panels, contribute to focus groups and assist in sharing best practices to FMSs, fellow IFs and other relevant providers and agencies.  

Taleen has had the privilege to sit on the Board of the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center (FDLRC).

 

In addition to her years of service, Taleen currently serves as a Peer Support Partner and an active member of three parent support groups. She is a parent member of the FAA, and on the Board of Directors for AAOP, where she supports families throughout their journey and helps the community promote an atmosphere of inclusion.  Taleen spent ten years as a leader in supplemental education, contracting with school districts to provide specialized programs, working with families to tackle the effects of learning and developmental delays, supporting them through the IEP process.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Taleen received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. She is certified in Person-Centered Thinking and has completed all relevant training for Independent Facilitation in California.  Taleen also holds certifications from FDLRC, DVU, State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD), Autism Society of Los Angeles (ASLA), Council of Parents, Attorneys & Advocates, and Guidelight Group (COPAA) and Parents-Helping-Parents (PHP).   

KRISTIANNA MORALLS, client coach & independent facilitator

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Sharing a deep commitment to advocating for the civil rights of people with disabilities and a passion for person-centered planning, Kristianna brings dedication and thoughtfulness to her role as a Client Coach and Independent Facilitator at Guidelight Group. With life experience both advocating for her Autistic son as well as supporting foster youth with disabilities, Kristianna has firsthand knowledge of the challenges of this community and has many years of experience navigating these systems. 

 

Kristianna has over a decade of professional experience with Special Education Advocacy and Regional Center Advocacy through private and non-profit organizations. She supported disabled foster youth as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and as an Educational Rights Holder through Children’s Law Center Los Angeles. 

 

Kristianna completed training for Independent Facilitation with SCDD and The Guidelight Group. She completed her COPAA/USC UCEDD Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) and is a member of Council of Parents, Attorneys & Advocates. Kristianna has Dispute Resolution Program Act (DRPA) certification from Loyola Law School.  She is a certified Olweus Bully Prevention trainer and QPR Gatekeeper Instructor.  

Born and raised in Los Angeles and Orange County, Kristianna obtained her master’s degree in organizational leadership at Colorado State University, where she specialized in leadership through change.  She earned her bachelor’s science degree in non-profit/public/organizational management.

TAMMI BRADLEY, client coach & independent facilitator

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As an individual living with a developmental disability, Tammi offers a unique perspective in supporting our clients through lived experience in the areas of independent and supported living, disabled parenting, employment, accessible travel, and transportation.

 

Tammi's passion for life fuels her commitment to work in a disciplined life of service. Helping people realize their potential in a creative and nurturing way is what motivates her to work in this field. Her private sector work experience includes the San Juan Unified School District where she worked as a Special Education Paraeducator. As a civil service employee, she worked for the Board of Equalization as a Statistician, the California Department of Social Services as an Analyst in the IHSS Operation and Technical Assistance Unit, and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities where she worked as a contracted Quality Life Assessment Surveyor. 

 

Tammi has served on several boards including the Board of Equalization’s Disabled Advisory Committee, the Alta California Regional Center’s Board of Directors where she served on their Legislative and Executive Committees, the Association of Regional Center Agencies’ Legislative Committee and Disability Rights California’s Office of Clients Rights Advocacy Advisory Committee. As a Patient Ambassador for Biogen Pharmaceuticals, she traveled throughout the United States presenting to groups of individuals with congenital neurological disorders seeking a costly life sustaining orphan drug and developed a support group for patients navigating the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Healthcare system to obtain that treatment. Additionally, she created and is administrator of the Risdiplam Facebook Group with over 5k members. Currently, she is serving a two-year term as President of the Sacramento United People First chapter, a peer-to-peer run support group for individuals with developmental disabilities.

 

Tammi has an educational background in business and is certified in Person-Centered Thinking and People Planning Together by the Learning Community for Person Centered Practices. She received training and certification as an Independent Facilitator from Progressive Employment Concepts and is an alumna of the Guidelight Group Independent Facilitator Coaching Program.