Students, Faculty, & Advisory Board

Empowerment Through Independence


Our students come from all over California, from other states as well, and from all walks of life. The average age is between 18 and 26; however we occasionally have students in their 40’s, 50’s, or even older. Many young students have never before lived away from home. When a student first arrives, s/he is evaluated in each of the core curriculum areas: Life Skills (cooking, cleaning, care of clothing), Orientation and Mobility, Financial Management, Adaptive Technology, Pre-vocational Skills, and Braille, if necessary. Student and staff then create a curriculum that is designed to meet that individual’s unique needs.

Students may enter the program any time of the year, depending upon available openings. Length of stay is determined by individual needs and progress, with a maximum stay of up to one year. Learn more about individual students and their stories of triumph.


The Hatlen Center teaching staff consists of two living skills teachers, two full-time and one half-time orientation and mobility instructors (one of whom also teaches living skills), one full-time access technology instructor, a full-time access technology/braille instructor, and an overnight supervisor. In addition, since students are paying real bills out of their own income, each teacher is assigned to be the financial advisor for several students.

Our administrative staff consists of our Executive Director, a Program Director, and a Program Assistant. Read more about individual staff members by clicking on the links to the right under Faculty.

Advisory Board

The dedicated members of our Advisory Board include influential members of the Northern California blindness and rehabilitation community as well as persons who offer many other talents; such as access technology, business, law, and contracting.


Last but certainly not least, our founder, Dr. Philip Hatlen, has inspired us since the beginning. From the Center’s beginning in 1972, Dr. Hatlen hired individuals who believe that blind people can live and work independently and who expect students to succeed, and that is the only kind of staff we have ever hired. He taught that first group of teachers to think outside the box and commit themselves with dedication, enthusiasm, and energy to helping students achieve independence, and that is the only kind of staff that has ever worked here. Read more about our Founder


Stories of Triumph


Patti Maffei

Executive Director of Northern and Central California Services

Erin Foley


Arif Syed

Coordinator of Computer/Technology Center

Lee Staub

Orientation and Mobility Instructor

Faith Dunham-Sims

Orientation and Mobility and Job Readiness Instructor

Joyce Lerner

Living Skills Instructor

Samir Shaibi

Living Skills Instructor

Rachel Feinberg

Braille and Technology Instructor

Opal Mabry

Overnight Supervisor

Laura Curtis

Program Assistant

Advisory Board

Tim Ford

Jim Gammon

Ara Chackerian

Mike Cole

Dr. Phil Hatlen

John Glass