2022-2023 Virginia AER Board
Julienne B. Parker
Julienne graduated from Vanderbilt University/Peabody College in 1990 with a B.S. in special education (vision impairments) and secondary education (history). She also received a M.Ed. in special education (learning disabilities) from Vanderbilt/Peabody College in 1991. She completed a certificate of advanced study in orientation and mobility from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014 and is a certified O&M specialist with ACVREP. She has 32 years of experience as a teacher of the visually impaired and 7 as an orientation and mobility specialist. Julienne has served on Virginia's Standards of Learning Special Forms Committee as well as panelist for the Virginia Praxis Braille Standards Setting Committee. She has served as a contributor to the VDOE "Guidelines for Working With Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired In Virginia Public Schools." In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and flute in her church and with community organizations.
Mary Kate Harris
Mary Kate Harris has been a teacher of students with visual impairments in Fairfax County Public Schools for 13 years. After spending 10 years working in a resource room for middle and high school students, she is back to the itinerant world this year. Her professional interests include adapting STEM subjects, especially higher level math. She has previously served as a Virginia AER Treasurer and is excited to continue on the board this year as President Elect.
Immediate Past President
Dennis Helms presently works for the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired as a certified rehabilitation Therapist. He has been with the agency for over 38 years. He received his undergraduate degree in music education from Longwood College and his Masters in Special Education with emphasis on vision from the University of Virginia. He loves to go on walks, plays in a couple different bands, is in the Roanoke Choral Society, and he loves to watch sports especially football and baseball. He has been on the board of AER for several years and served as state president of AER in 2022. One of his biggest accomplishments was being selected for the Dominion award from AER recognizing his services in the field of blindness and rehabilitation.
Gillian became a TVI in 2010 after working as a teacher of students with multiple/physical disabilities since 1999. She enjoys adapting materials for students. In her free time, she likes to read, ride her ATV, and practice archery.
Elizabeth has been working for Fairfax County Public Schools for 8 years as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Previously she taught as a Special Education teacher for 12 years. She received a masters from George Mason University. Elizabeth has two children, Sean and Meghan. She enjoys exercise, yoga and traveling with her partner Dan. Elizabeth is looking forward to being a part of the AER team as their Treasurer.
Johannah Echevarria has worked in the field of Blind Rehabilitation since 1999. She has worked in Montana, North Carolina, and Virginia providing services in Orientation and Mobility, Rehabilitation Teaching, and Low Vision Services. She has been an AER member for 20 years. She currently provides rehabilitation teaching and low vision services with the Department for The Blind and Vision Impaired in Roanoke, VA and surrounding areas. She is also a Low Vision Consultant for the Department. This is her first year as an AER Board Member At Large.
Rachel Fehrnstrom, known to some as Hedgie, is a Rehabilitation Teacher in the Roanoke office of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. Her internship was at the VA in Tucson, AZ. In 2021, Rachel moved from Idaho to Virginia (2,365 miles away!). When in Idaho, Rachel enjoyed working summers for a PreET program with the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Rachel loves hedgehogs, learning new crafts, and exploring thrift stores.
A graduate of East Carolina University in 1978, Robin Hoerber obtained her Masters Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. She has worked with DBVI as a volunteer since 1990 until obtaining a rehabilitation teacher position fifteen years ago. About to retire, she is involved in community activities and with her church. Choirs, baking, hiking, and reading are among her hobbies, with her favorites being service to others and enjoying times with family!
Meg Walker is a COMS in the Roanoke Region. She is an active member of a Virginia AERBVI and looks forward to helping others be outstanding in our field!