The VFES Leadership Team
Comprised of senior executives with broad professional experience, the Valley Forge Educational Services leadership team is committed to delivering innovative programs, quality services and value to our students, families and staff.
Grace A. Fornicola, Ph.D., Executive Director
Dr. Fornicola joined VFES in July 2012. She has more than 25 years of experience working in child-welfare nonprofit organizations. She has spent the majority of her career working with children with special needs and their families. Her experience includes the supervision and oversight of educational, clinical and residential services, as well as program development. Dr. Fornicola received her B.A. in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, her M.Ed. in Counseling from Lehigh University and her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University.
Christine Coughenour, Director of Adult & Recreation Services (ARS)
Christine joined VFES in June 2022. She has more than 25 years of experience working in non-profit organizations working with children and adults with special needs and their families. Her experience lies mostly in residential services. Christine received her B.A. in Psychology from West Chester University and her Masters Degree in Education from Cabrini College. Christine also holds an Elementary teaching certificate, a Certificate in Trauma Informed Care and is a certified Psych Rehab professional. Personal Interests include volunteering at events and raising service dogs for Canine Partners for Life, photography, travel, crafts and spending time with her husband, John, and sons, Anthony and Dylan.
Victoria Fringer, Director of Information Technology
Victoria is the Director of Technology for Valley Forge Educational Services. She is versed in supporting all things that run on batteries or plug into AC. She values the team approach and appreciates her IT team. Her M.B.A. rounds out her technical skill set and enables her to balance the technology with the business needs of the organization. When time permits, she enjoys taking college courses. She likes things with motors, the great outdoors, exercising and exploring new ventures. Vicki also volunteers with a local dog rescue, acting as the point person for adoption inquiries and assisting at fundraising events.
Elizabeth Ladd, Chief Financial Officer
Elizabeth determined early in her career that non-profit accounting was her passion. She has spent the last 28 years developing her skills and leadership style in the non-profit arena. She likes to work cooperatively with all levels of staff and with Board members. Prior to VFES, Elizabeth worked at a social service agency assisting people moving from homelessness to self-sufficiency. She continued to assume additional responsibilities, ultimately becoming the Chief Financial Officer. Elizabeth received her B.A. in Accounting from Widener University. In her spare time, Elizabeth likes to spend time with her husband, Steve, and her children, Nick and Shannon, as well as her extended family members.
Darren Levin, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services
Dr. Levin is the Director of Clinical Services at Valley Forge Educational Services in Malvern, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in School Psychology from Temple University and completed his predoctoral internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he completed rotations in the Behavioral Pediatrics Department and the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program under the supervision of Dr. William Warzak and Dr. Cathleen Piazza, respectively. Dr. Levin completed postdoctoral training at the Delaware Autism Program and has considerable experience working directly with students with autism, visual impairments and neurological disabilities.
Meredith Nothstein, Director of Compliance and Risk Management
Meredith is the Director of Compliance and Risk Management for Valley Forge Educational Services. Meredith received her BSW from Kutztown University and her Master’s in Human Services from Capella University. She spent the last 16 years of her career in residential services, working with children with special needs and their families. Meredith, along with her husband and young daughter enjoy traveling to Disneyworld often, visiting Rehoboth Beach in the summer and spending time with family and friends.
Sheba Simms, Director of Marketing and Communications
Sheba directs all aspects of marketing and communications for VFES, including The Vanguard School, Adult and Recreation Services (ARS) and Customized Workforce Solutions (CWS). Prior to joining VFES, she served in various marketing communications roles at Haverford Township, United Way of Delaware and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. She also worked as a marketing consultant for small- to mid-sized businesses across multiple industries. Sheba earned an M.A. in English and Publishing with a concentration in Digital Design from Rosemont College and a B.A. from Haverford College. In her spare time, Sheba enjoys spending time with her family and friends, recreational running and traveling.
Lisa Wood, Director of Education
Lisa is the Director of Education for Valley Forge Educational Services. As a graduate of Temple University, she received her Bachelors of Science in Health Studies and completed her Special Education Teacher Certification Program from Immaculata University. She received her Master's of Education from the University of Phoenix and completed her Special Education Supervisory Certification Program from Penn State University. She has 15 years of special education teaching experience in an approved private school setting and over 5 years of leadership experience in the public and private school sector. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys traveling throughout the country to run half marathons and is a volunteer for Girls Scouts.
Carla Zajac, Director of Development
Carla leads all VFES fundraising efforts in the Development department, including annual giving, grant submissions and major gift solicitations. Before joining VFES, she was the Development Coordinator at Quest Therapeutic Services in West Chester, where she managed a capital campaign and solicited donations and grants to benefit children with special needs. She previously was Assistant Director of Development at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in Malvern. Carla holds an M.B.A. with a concentration in marketing from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College. Carla, along with her husband, Denny, and her young adult daughters, Lindsay and Rachel, enjoys visiting Ocean City, NJ in the summer and traveling to warmer destinations in the winter. In her spare time, Carla loves to cook and entertain family and friends and looks forward to her monthly book-club gatherings.