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Raf chose to work with Respect Ability Foundation because the messages they deliver to children of all ages spoke to Raf's heart. Raf's favorite part of the program is working with the kids and teachers in all the schools and watching them all become UPstanders. 

Raf describes UPstanders as someone who understands empathy and shows this in their behavior, respects and values all individuals and is grateful every day for the awesome opportunities life has to offer.

Raf loves working with Ms. Tanya. Together they talk about expressing and managing feelings, bullying and conflict, building caring communities and celebrating diversity with the kids.  

Arlene Berkman

Arlene Berkman felt there was a need to make people aware of the pervasive issue of "bullying" and founded the Foundation for Respect Ability. Arlene taught Health and Physical Education at the middle and high school level for several years. She did her student teaching on the elementary level. This work exposed her to how children interact with each other under all kinds of circumstances and at all age levels. It gave her an opportunity to observe their social, emotional and physical growth. Her students nicknamed her "Mother B", always there to listen and not to judge. This helped to prepare her for her next job at Montefiore Hospital. It is at Motefiore Hospital that she was introduced to the Cranio-Facial Center. She was the liaison between the Department of Dentistry and Department of Plastic Surgery. The Cranio-Facial Center evaluated children and adults with facial deformities and provided coordinated multi-disciplinary treatment plan for correction of those deformities.

Arlene served on the Board of Directors of the Colony Condominium in Westchester County, New York and held the positions of President of the Colony Condominium as well as other offices on the Board. She served for ten years on the Board of Directors for the Greenburgh Hebrew Center in different capacities. An additional five years was spent in the designing, fundraising and building of a new building for their religious worship. In addition, Arlene, over a period of 34 years, designed, built and managed every aspect of her husband's Orthodontic practice in Scarsdale, New York.

Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Milton Berkman

Dr. Milton Berkman is celebrating his 50th reunion from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in April 2015. His pediatric / orthodontic career has included many years of clinical experience, teaching, research and professional publications regarding children and adults with dental, oral and facial deformities, disorders and birth defects i.e., cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies, and his passion and devotion to resolving these complex problems through interdisciplinary teamwork.  Teamwork is the “it factor” in successful resolution of so many problems and issues in life and this may be his most important asset he brings as a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Respect Ability.

In1977 Dr. Berkman moved his private practice from Montefiore Hospital to Scarsdale, New York where he practiced until June 2009.  He had an illustrious career treating both children and adults with conventional orthodontic problems, temporomandibular and craniofacial disorders. For seven years Dr. Berkman lead the Roth Legacy Fund, the charitable arm of the Roth Williams International Society of Orthodontists and raised over $400,000 for educational and research projects and publication of a textbook by the Fund.

With his background in integrative teamwork activities and fundraising Dr.Berkman brings special life skills as a Board Member for the Foundation for Respect Ability and the organizations motivation and inspiration to improve culture and climate in select schools and communities in the Charlotte region through social and emotional learning and character education programs.

Vice Chair and Founding Board Member

Susan Vaseleniuck

Susan has had over fourteen years teaching experience. Her teaching included incorporating the Orff/Kodaly method which is a style of teaching music based on methods created by Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly. It combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are similar to a child's world of play. The Orff Approach is now used throughout the world to teach students in a natural and comfortable environment.  Her teaching also involved creating curriculum in a Middle School Magnet setting (Grades 6-8) incorporating academics and the arts (music, art, drama).

Susan is also a program leader and facilitator. She has had eleven years of experience as leader for “Created by God” Human Sexuality program for 4th-5th graders. She has also facilitated program called “Caught in the Middle” for divorcing couples with children. As the Education Outreach Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Eastern Tennessee, she spoke to high school and college students and wrote curriculum for presentations and interacted with the Adolescent Pregnancy Council.  In addition she also presented programs to college audiences regarding date rape/decision-making options. 

Susan has a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Minor in Music Ed. from the University of Georgia. She has sung in choirs all her life and loves to play the piano.

Board Member

Sandra K. Beetner

Sandra Beetner was a pioneer in the Computer Graphics Industry. In her early career, she worked in New York for General Electric on the development of Genigraphics; a computer graphics technology used to produce business graphics. As Vice President of Genigraphics, she led a joint venture with Microsoft to develop the presentation templates and clip art for the original Microsoft Powerpoint product.

In 1996, Sandra relocated to her home state of Ohio, to raise her young family. She started a Digital Printing Company, producing event graphics for major retail and service clients headquartered in the Columbus market. While in Ohio, Sandy served on the Board of Directors of the Powell Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Dublin Ohio Chapter of Rotary International. She served for ten years as the advisor for the Dublin Interact Club; a Rotary organization of over 200 teens providing community service. In 2005, she founded Laps for Life; a non-profit organization dedicated to leadership development for teens in community service. The Laps for Life non-profit was active for eight years, and local teens raised over $280,000 to support area cancer patients.

Sandra sold her digital printing company and moved to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2011. She quickly affiliated with The Iredell County Children’s Home working as a volunteer beginning in March of 2012 and serving on their Board of Directors from October of 2012 to September of 2014.

Board Member

Katie Kosobud

Katie is a passionate educator and mother of three children.  She has a B.A. in International Studies and B.A. in Spanish from Miami University, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Elementary Education from National Louis University, and has taken many post graduate classes. She has eight years of classroom teaching experience, including five at a technology model school.  During her time in the classroom in Illinois and Wisconsin, she mentored student teachers and developed and delivered presentations for classroom teachers on a literacy program. Creating a classroom community with respect and acceptance being the central focus, has always been a goal. 

Katie lives in Davidson with her husband of 22 years and her three children.  She is new to the RAF board and is thrilled to have an opportunity to serve with professionals that share a passion for children.

Board Member

Christina Wells

Chrissy Wells is a mother and a passionate educator who thrives on providing a healthy learning environment for school-aged children.  With a combined 10 years of classroom and leadership experience and 15 years of dance education, she serves as a board member for the Respect Ability Foundation.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the Ohio University.  She lives in Davidson, NC with her husband of 18 years, 2 adorable children and one lovable dog named Cleo.

Operations Consultant

Tanya Chartier

Tanya holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Denison University and a M.A. in the Teaching of Reading from Western Michigan University between which she was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study literacy in Japan. She has taught at the elementary, middle school, and collegiate levels. Concurrently to her Respect Ability Foundation work, she is an Educational Therapist at The Davidson Center where Tanya enjoys empowering readers and writers following diagnostic work from which she crafts individualized plans to remediate literacy skills and build critical strategies for understanding. A professionally trained mime, clown, and puppeteer, Tanya also delights in using her expertise in the performing arts as a medium for learning. She and her husband Tim perform locally, nationally, and internationally. Tanya is passionate about structuring learning environments that ignite students’ intrinsic initiative as well as guiding each child to become a lifelong learner who finds joy in reading, writing, and learning. She loves hiking and camping with her family, reading, and scrapbooking.

Director of Educational Programs

Lindsay Lavalette

Lindsay has a bachelor's in Fine Arts degree from Rowan University. She worked at Lowe's Companies for 5 years in their Marketing/Advertising Department. In 2008, she decided to put her career on hold to raise her 2 boys. During that time, she started doing custom cookie decorating.