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The Hatlen Center

The Hatlen Center Staff

Patti Maffei, Executive Director of Northern & Central California Programs

Patti Maffei is the Executive Director of Northern & Central California Services at Junior Blind, supervising and ensuring the success of Junior Blind’s two major programs in the region, Blind Babies Foundation and The Hatlen Center, as well as transition services state-wide. Prior to assuming this role in 2015, Patti had been the Program Director for The Hatlen Center since 2006, following 15 years of experience as an Orientation & Mobility Instructor. A respected authority in the field of transition for those who are blind or visually impaired, Patti has lectured and presented workshops at numerous professional conferences. She is the author of Quick & Easy: Expanded Core Curriculum, published by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in 2014, and has been an expert reviewer and consultant for APH projects. Patti holds a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Rehabilitative Services Credential in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University. She is ACVREP certified in Orientation & Mobility.


Cerrene Cervantes, Associate Director

Dr. Cerrene Cervantes joined The Hatlen Center, a program of Junior Blind, as the new Associate Director in 2017 and is responsible for overseeing the success of The Hatlen Center’s curriculum and its positive impact on students. A longtime educator, Cerrene has more than 20 years of experience in special education and general education as a teacher, manager and director. She has served as a consultant for educational institutions, agencies, non-profits and at the university level. She has earned a number of excellence awards for teaching, research and service and has trained, lectured and presented on national, state and local levels within her field of expertise. Cerrene holds a doctorate in grief and recovery counseling, a master’s degree in education management and leadership and a bachelor’s degree in special education and general education. In addition, she holds California Educational Specialist and Administration credentials. She is a certified trainer in mindfulness and HeartMath and is a certified life coach.


Lee Staub, Lead Instructor/Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Lee earned a Masters of Arts in Women and Gender Studies from University of California, Davis in January 2007. After a few years of working in the field of public health, he decided to leave his desk job behind in order to pursue a career in Orientation and Mobility. In January 2014, Lee received a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Rehabilitative Services Credential in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University. Lee is ACVREP certified and is the lead teaching assistant for SFSU’s Orientation and Mobility program. He joined The Hatlen Center in 2013.


Arif Syed, Coordinator of the Technology Department

After earning a B.S. in Environmental Science at U.C. Berkeley, Arif came on board as our Office Manager, bookkeeper, and IT support in February 2004. In 2008, Arif was promoted to half-time Development Associate and half-time Office Manager. In addition, after completing a number of workshops on website development, he became our webmaster. His affinity for technology led him to assisting and teaching in The Hatlen Center technology lab and in 2014 he was promoted to Coordinator of the Technology Department full time. He has continued his education through California State University, Northridge, where he earned his Certificate for Assistive Technology Applications in 2016. By placing a strong emphasis on productivity software, Arif prepares our graduates for college and joining the workforce.


Jenna Whitelaw, Orientation & Mobility Instructor

Jenna received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Beloit College in Wisconsin in 2009. In 2013, Jenna earned a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Rehabilitative Services Credential in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University. Before becoming an O&M Instructor at The Hatlen Center in 2015, she worked as an itinerant O&M Instructor in several school districts throughout the Bay Area. Jenna is working on her ACVREP certification.


Joyce Lerner, Living Skills and Orientation & Mobility Instructor

Joyce earned a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Rehabilitative Services Credential in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University in 2013. She is ACVREP certified and has been teaching both Living Skills and Orientation and Mobility at The Hatlen Center since 2013. Joyce also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Radio/Television/Film. She has professional experience creating TV shows and documentary films, rescuing dogs, and metalsmithing fine jewelry.


Samir Shaibi, Living Skills Instructor

Samir has been teaching Living Skills at The Hatlen Center for last 10 years. After graduating from The Hatlen Center in 2002, he became The Hatlen Center Night Supervisor and was later promoted to Living Skills Instructor. Samir’s great attitude, sense of humor and musical ability are only a few of his many talents. He is a wonderful role model who is beloved by the students. In 2005, Samir was the recipient of local public television station KQED’s Local Hero Award.


Rachel Feinberg, Assistive Technology and Braille Instructor

Rachel graduated from The Hatlen Center in 2011, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Before joining the Hatlen Center staff, Rachel worked at the Light House in San Francisco as their Adaptations Sales Associate in the store selling products for blind and low vision consumers. Rachel received her A+ certification in computers in 2014 and her Certificate for Assistive Technology Applications from California State University, Northridge in 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys tinkering with, building and troubleshooting computers.


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