Meet Our Staff
Merrill D. Parra, Director
Merrill D. Parra has worked in the field of higher education for more than thirty years. She currently serves as the director of both the Office of Student Disability Services and Veterans and Military Affairs, and is overseeing the revitalization of the current program for veterans at Lehman. Prior to coming to Lehman College, she served as the director of the national model Homebound Program (T.R.I.O.) at Queensboro Community College. As a pioneer in distance learning, Ms. Parra has worked closely with faculty to offer innovative methods of course delivery for students with disabilities who are unable to attend classes on a college campus. She has served on many committees at the local, state, and national levels and is well versed on issues confronting low-income and first-generation college students from diverse backgrounds. Ms. Parra is a grant writer, an educator, and an advocate for independent living, having served on the Board of Directors for the Queens Independent Living Center for fifteen years. She worked to establish a part-time T.A.P. program for students with disabilities, and served on N.Y.S.E.D.’s Task Force for the implementation of the e-text legislation (Chapter 219). Ms. Parra earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Queens College and a master's in social work from Columbia University.
Gabriella Kohler, Associate Director/LEADS Advisor
Gabriella Kohler began working for the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) in October 2017 as the Associate Director for the Office and LEADS Advisor. CUNY LEADS is a unique academic and career program for students with disabilities at the City University of New York. As the LEADS Advisor, Gabriella assists students with preparing for employment through support with applying to internship opportunities, resume and cover letter writing skills and job seeking and interviewing skills. Gabriella received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hunter College and went on to receive her master’s degree in psychological counseling with a concentration in rehabilitation counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. Gabriella has worked as a vocational counselor and manager for various non-profit organizations. She has also worked in the disability services offices at Hostos Community College and Manhattanville College. Additionally, she is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
Doreen Patrick, CUNY Office Assistant
Doreen Patrick began working as a CUNY Office Assistant for the Office of Student Disability Services in November 2006. Previously, she worked for the Payroll Office at Lehman College and after four years felt it was a time for change. Prior to coming to Lehman she had worked in the Nursing Department at Bronx Community College. She enjoys helping students by providing registration assistance, testing accommodations, and other services as needed. She also performs office duties. It brings her great joy to help others. She is inspired by people with disabilities, and they give her encouragement to continue her studies here at Lehman College. (She attended Baruch College in the past, earning twenty-five credits.) Ms. Patrick plans on majoring in either social work or health sciences.
Pedro Laureano, Access and Technology Specialist
Pedro Laureano began working as the Access and Technology Center Manager for the Office of Student Disability Services in January 2016. Previously, Pedro worked as an Adaptive Technology Specialist in the Rehabilitation Services Department at Lighthouse Guild, where for over 9 years he assessed and determined adaptive technology devices and software for students with visual impairments suitable to their vocational/academic goals. In addition to having extensive experience teaching adults practical Microsoft Office skills such as worksheet construction with Excel, Outlook use and management and PowerPoint presentation productions, Pedro also implemented and managed a Saturday computer program for children in collaboration with the program supervisor. Pedro graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and plans to further his education at Lehman.
John Figueroa, Access and Technology Assistant
John graduated from Lehman College in 2011 with a degree in Political Science. While John was a student at Lehman, he worked in the Library Special Collections. He also worked in the Library computer lab while he was an undergraduate student, which sparked his interested in learning about assistive technology softwares and programs. John now provides assistance to students with disabilities who utilize the Access and Technology Center located in the Lehman College library. John looks forward to working with Pedro, the manager of the Access and Technology Center, and other disabled students as well.