CEO & Founder
Since the age of 17, Cheryl has committed herself to making a positive difference in the lives of those with developmental disabilities, thus beginning a lifelong journey that has benefited thousands of individuals and their families. Cheryl graduated from the University of Michigan and holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. In 1980, she founded the Training, Education, Research and Innovation (TERI) and has been the CEO of the organization throughout its history.
Cheryl’s goal in establishing TERI was to raise the quality of life and supports available to individuals with significant disabilities. She has met this goal in many ways, including having TERI cited as a model program in the state of California for the quality of services it provides. Twice nominated for Maria Shriver’s prestigious Minerva Award, Cheryl has been repeatedly recognized and honored for her considerable contributions to the field.
William E. Mara
Chief Operating Officer
Bill graduated from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Upon relocation to San Diego, Bill served as the Director of Residential Services for the ARC of San Diego throughout the 1980’s. Bill joined the TERI team in 1990, where he serves as Chief Operating Officer and as TERI’s representative to the CRA, ANCOR and Area Board XIII. He is the agency’s liaison on legislative and advocacy matters, oversees the HUD grants used to purchase residential properties, and provides Project Management to a myriad of agency functions.
Married to Dona (also part of the TERI family) since 1981, they have two children, Lily and Nick. Bill loves to cook and travel, and is committed to his regular fitness walks.
Krysti DeZonia, Ed.D
Director of Education & Research
Krysti DeZonia, Co-Founder of TERI, currently directs the Learning Academy and Country School as well as the Research, and Life Planning Departments. A graduate of Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Special Education with an Autism focus, Krysti continued her educational pursuits by obtaining her Doctoral degree from UC San Diego. She provides consultation to families and school districts and has served people in this industry since 1979. Dr. Krysti has presented on various topics internationally in the field of special education and quality of life, and her writing has been published and featured prolifically. Dr. Krysti conceived of Life Planning and Special Needs Life Quality Coach training, our holistic method for planning and ensuring life quality for persons with autism and other developmental disabilities across the lifespan.
Krysti is also the parent of a son with profound and multiple disabilities. She has been married to husband Rob since 1983, and has two children, Jarred and Russel.
Chief Financial Officer
Joe is originally from Chicago, where he graduated from Lane Technical High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University, and was awarded his Certified Public Accountant Certificate from the University of Illinois. His accounting career spans thirty years in Healthcare, Insurance and Non-profit agencies, sixteen of which have been associated with TERI. Joe recently wed his lovely wife Peggy, with whom they share four sons (Kyle, Cody, Richie, and Brian), two daughters (Brigette and Alicia), and a newborn grand-daughter (Aubrey).
Away from TERI, Joe enjoys all sports, particularly Hockey, will go mountain bike riding as often as possible, but his passion is playing and listening to music.
Senior Director of Adult Services
Teresa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Oregon State University and her Elementary Teaching Credential from University of Southern California. Beginning her career as a school teacher in the Los Angeles School system, Teresa moved on to hold the Executive Directorship of the Fallbrook Child Development Center. She transitioned to the TERI team in 1982, initially as a direct care staff in the group homes, then as a QMRP, Assistant Director of Residential Services, and then Director of Residential Services since 1990. In 2004, Teresa became the Director of Adult Services and administers the agency’s most diverse programs. Teresa’s great creativity has been the inspiration of many new programs at TERI.
Teresa loves to shop and travel, and one of her favorite places is Sequoia National Park.
Laura Kauffman, SPHR
Director of Human Resources
Laura has been an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) since 1999 and a founding member of a non-profit human resource professional group in San Diego County since 2003. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Laura began working in human resource management soon after graduation, with the majority of that experience dedicated to serving non-profits. Prior to joining the executive management team at TERI in 2001, Laura was the Human Resources Manager for Centennial Developmental Services, Inc., a non-profit agency providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities in Northern Colorado.
Laura has been happily married to her husband, Justin, and is a proud mother of sons, Bryce & Derek.
Director of Technology
Originally from Northern Colorado, Justin has over 20 years of experience and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with an emphasis in Information Management from the University of Phoenix. Justin began his professional career as a programmer for ConAgra Foods then transitioned to Sony Electronics in Southern California. While at Sony, he lead numerous teams and projects and participated on new-product research and development, earning his place on a Sony U.S. patent. Justin is happily married to Director of HR Laura, and had always maintained a close relationship with the TERI family during his Sony career. Seeing the innovative culture at TERI inspired him to leave Sony and join the TERI executive management team in 2009. Since then, Justin has used his talents to further drive creative, state-of-the-art uses of technology for this deserving community of individuals.