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Faculty & Staff of the
Stroke and Disability Learning Center

Core Classes Faculty

Cynthia FitzGeraldCynthia FitzGerald, PhD-Director
Cynthia shares in the joy and affirmation of our Stroke Center students for their resilience and accomplishments. She enjoys working with students, caregivers, and families. Her background includes caring for multi-generational family needs as a counselor and teaching about human development and aging issues as a professor of psychology. She has also worked as a director of support services, dean, and most recently as the Director of Allied Health at Cabrillo. Beyond work she enjoys engaging in painting, gardening, tennis, time in the redwoods, and playing with her grandchildren on a regular basis.


Terri CesariTerri Cesari, BA- Program Coordinator
Terri comes to the Stroke Center after working at the Cabrillo College Small Business Development Center as a program administrative assistant for over 8 years. She has a B.A. Degree in Psychology, and also attended Cabrillo College as a student. Terri has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1999, and she enjoys nature photography trips and walking her dog at the beach.


Courtney HewittCourtney Hewitt, MSW- Counseling Faculty
Courtney is excited to be joining the faculty at the Stroke & Disability Learning Center as of fall 2015 after working at Cabrillo College since 2014. In her role as the SDLC Counselor she provides counseling support through individual appointments, new student orientations and group classes. She has worked for many years in community mental health, school counseling, academic advising and higher education administration, and came to Cabrillo after working at UC Santa Cruz for five years. Courtney was born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is happy to still call Santa Cruz home. Outside of work she enjoys spending time at the beach and in the redwoods, going for a run or a hike, traveling whenever possible and being with her friends and family.


Lenny NortonLenny Norton, MS-Mobility Faculty
Lenny Norton is an Adaptive Physical Education Instructor, a licensed Physical Therapist and certified Yoga Instructor. He modifies his Mobility/ADAPT classes to include adaptive yoga for disabled students. Lenny has a private Physical Therapy practice incorporating Therapeutic Yoga combined with traditional Physical Therapy principles. He has been at Cabrillo since 2006. “I am fortunate to be part of a program so vital to our community.”


Merritt TuckerMerritt Tucker, MS-Speech Faculty
Merritt Tucker joined the faculty at Cabrillo College in 1999 as Speech Communications Instructor at the Stroke and Disability Learning Center. She has worked for many years in medical rehabilitation as well as in the K-12 school system as a Speech Language Pathologist. Her primary area of expertise is with Acquired Brain Injury. While at Cabrillo College she has broadened her skills in the use of Assistive Technology for students with a variety of learning needs. Another interest she holds is assisting Veterans in their learning needs as they transition to the community college setting. 

Her background in dance and theatrical movement has helped in providing teaching tools to empower students to express themselves meaningfully when fluent speech is denied them.

“It is a privilege to work with the students here at the Cabrillo College Stroke and Disability Learning Center. The spirit of community is palpable in this program. The students prove to be the real teachers here as they guide curriculum and build on the foundation of learning and support.”

Core Program Staff

Jake ChapnickJake Chapnick
Jake Chapnick begin as a volunteer and was offered the position of Instructional Assistant in the Speech Department in May, 2016. His background is in teaching English as a second language (ESL), and he has lived and taught in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. He discovered a passion for speech and language pathology through his volunteering at the Stroke Center and at Dominican Hospital. Jake brings with him an open mind and an excitement for experimental teaching. He currently facilitates the computer class where he has started a student blog and also assists in the speech, memory, and brain games classes. I am so thankful to work in a collaborative environment and inspired by what I see taking place here!


HEART Program Instructors

Cheryl TrowbridgeCheryl Trowbridge, BA
Cheryl loves sharing her passion for art with others on her website at and has taught art to children and adults locally for the last 20+ years. In addition to all kinds of art, she also enjoys reading, gardening, and long walks. She looks forward to teaching Ceramics and Painting classes at the Cabrillo Stroke and Disability Learning Center.


Joanna ManoffJoanna Manoff, MS
Joanna is a Physical Therapist who first came to the SDLC to teach Mobility/Fitness classes in 2008. Joanna currently offers Recreational Movement activities as part of the HEART program. She uses games, exercises and physical activities to encourage and inspire.


Penny HannaPenny Hanna, BA
Penny Hanna plays popular, jazz, and classical music on saxophone, bass, guitar, and viola da gamba. After spending most of her career on the road as a multi-instrumentalist and singer, she is thrilled and inspired to be part of the Cabrillo College Stroke Center Choir, blending voices with all the enthusiastic and gifted students.


Tom ChurchThomas Church, PhD
Tom Church has worked in higher education for the past 12 years as a counselor, lecturer and manager and is a published author in the field. He is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with over four decades of professional experience working with people experiencing disabilities. Most recently he has been a volunteer and manager at the Mid County Senior Center and along with gardening there, he enjoys paddle boarding, photography, camping and related  outdoor activities. He is excited to incorporate his transferable skills at Cabrillo College  and  to lead group discussions with the program students.


Patricia C. Christensen, MA
Patricia’s travels and extensive multicultural background have allowed her to help those she works with in various intercultural settings. She has worked previously in technology, as a Spanish academic instructor and interpreter, and in various counseling positions. After being introduced to the personal growth field, she obtained her Masters in Counseling. Since then, she has worked counseling teens, adults, families, has taught parenting and communications classes, and facilitated groups. Her extensive intercultural communications experience continues to aid her in the counseling field. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, playing volleyball, and walking on the beach with her daughters. At the Stroke Center, she is the Caregiver group facilitator.


Michael FitzGerald, MDiv
Michael is a retired clergyman with 30 years ministry experience in a wide variety of group settings. He joined the staff at the Stroke and Disability center in February of 2014 as the Wednesday Men's Group Leader. When not at the center, Michael enjoys writing, playing guitar, and painting. He follows the Giants closely and enjoys sharing his passion for baseball with his three grandchildren.


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