Monday, October 2, 2023

Perspectives on Accessibility for Work and Home Speakers

Olivia Asuncion, AIA, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects
Olivia strongly believes that our design decisions have the potential to create physical symbols that tear down social barriers and inequalities.
She has oriented her career path towards advocating for inclusive design. She received her undergraduate degree in Architecture at the University of California Berkeley, then began her professional career at Equity Community Builders helping non-profit organizations with their construction management needs. This includes assisting in the construction management of the Ed Roberts Campus, a universally-designed building in Berkeley, CA. After receiving her Master of Architecture degree from University of Oregon, she served as an architect at Shah Kawasaki Architects in Oakland, CA, working on public safety buildings and office spaces for public sector clients. Currently, Olivia is a Project Architect at Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, working on K-12 educational facilities.
Aside from design, Olivia is passionate about improving architecture through research. Her independent project, “Accessible Evacuation: Improving Fire Safety and Building Evacuation for People with Disabilities,” has been presented in various symposia, and won First Place for the Student Best Design Award at the Environmental Design Research Association’s 46th Annual Conference. She has also collaborated with University of Oregon professors on the post-occupancy evaluation project, “Building Design for Users with Disabilities: Building Performance Evaluation of Ed Roberts Campus.” Her latest research accomplishment is receiving the Fulbright Scholarship, where she is currently in the Philippines to assess the accessibility of elementary schools.
Olivia is in her last month serving as the AIA Young Architects Representative for California.

Peggy Rubens-Duhl, AIA, Fresh Architect, LLC

A graduate of the School of Architecture at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, Peggy holds both a bachelors and masters degree in Architecture. Peggy is a registered architect in Connecticut and is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) and is a Certified Aging-in Place Specialist (CAPS). The firm is based in Westport and Woodbridge, CT.
Fresh Architect, LLC specializes in residential, commercial and health care/wellness design and is an award winning firm that has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CT Cottages & Gardens magazine, Design & Decor and Fairfield County Business Journal. Peggy’s designs feature a fresh and clean aesthetic, balanced with beautiful natural light. Dialogue between inside and outside spaces is an important feature and often distinguishes her projects.

Peggy’s favorite part of the design process is Collaboration between client, architect, contractor and consultants. The relationship with the client and team directly reflects on the beauty and functionality of the design and the success of the project. I like figuring out puzzles which is a daily part of my practice, from zoning codes to kitchen details, you must be able to envision the big ideas and address the smallest details.

Prior to opening the firm, Peggy practiced architecture at Newman Architects in New Haven, CT for 7 years. Following this, Peggy joined Svigals + Partners managing projects and personnel in all phases of design, production and construction administration including projects at Yale University, UCONN, CT. State Universities, Public Schools and Corporate offices.  For most of those years, I was the only registered woman architect at the firms and I had to work incredibly hard to prove myself. Both of those firms appreciated the craft of architecture and art which resonated with my own interests.



Alex Babbidge, Babbidge Construction Company

Alex Babbidge brings a lifetime of construction management experience to his leadership of Babbidge Construction Company. Starting as a laborer after high school and holding just about every position in the industry throughout his career, Alex founded Babbidge Construction Company in 1992 and remains actively involved with projects in addition to his responsibilities as principal of the firm.
Alex received a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, an M.B.A. from University of Connecticut and studied Construction Management at New York University—all culminating into the unique toolkit of knowledge and expertise that he uses to successfully lead the firm.
In addition to his involvement with numerous local charities and boards, Alex is a Certified Healthcare Constructor and has served several terms on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Associated Builders and Contractors. When he is not busy at the helm of Babbidge, Alex enjoys spending time with his family, sailing, reading and visiting their vacation home in Maine.


Roseann Siillasen, Wesleyan University

Roseann Sillasen has been a project manager with Wesleyan University for the past 21 years and previously worked at UConn Farmington for 8 years in the Construction Services department.  She has focused her work on the Annual Major Maintenance deferred maintenance program including campus site lighting and universal accessibility.  Her most recent projects increased universal access to buildings in the Center for the Arts (CFA) and the Freeman Athletic Center Natatorium.   She managed the construction of a ramped entry and new elevator in the CFA Crowell Concert Hall. In addition, constructed an underground connector providing access to below grade classrooms in the CFA Rehearsal Hall and access to the Green Room and stage of the CFA Crowell Concert Hall. She also provided support for the construction of a new ramp and stair to the CFA Theater Studios building. At the Freeman Natatorium, she constructed an accessible bath and shower room from the pool deck carving out a section of the men’s shower room. She provides annual updates to the campus wide accessibility master plan and is in the process of updating the campus wide accessibility map. She utilizes her expertise, historical perspective, strategic analysis, and willingness to dive in and tackle challenges with a creative and open approach. Roseann is recognized as a campus leader in equity and inclusion with her work on ADA projects and the expanded efforts to address the needs of our LGBTQIA community. She collaborates with faculty and staff to innovate and update campus classrooms to adapt to future learning modalities.

Roseann holds a BSN in Nursing and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies.  She is the mother to 3 and grandmother to 6 and recently starting painting watercolors.  She is a member of the Sustainability Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship, Safety Committee, and Campus-wide Accessibility Compliance Team . She is a volunteer for DonateLife Connecticut and sits on the Finance Committee of the Connecticut Nurses Association. She is retiring from Wesleyan University at the end of the year and initiating a new journey in Public Health Nursing.


Sharon McCloskey, EdD, MBA, OT/L, DipCOT, CTP, Department Chair and Program Director, Clinical Professor, Graduate Occupational Therapy Program, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University

With more than 30 years of clinical and administrative experience in both healthcare and education settings, Sharon has worked with a variety of patient populations across a number of practice areas, primarily pediatrics/school-based practice, and mental health (community-based and acute psychiatry). Sharon was the founder and long-term company director of Constellation School Based Therapy.  She built an organization of more than 65 practitioners, meeting the needs of more than 2000 children and families in Lower Fairfield and New Haven Counties, CT. Across her career she has also threaded experiences as a home health occupational therapist, with emphasis on meeting the needs of hospice care clients.  As an OT practitioner, Sharon is currently a part-time pediatric therapist at Sasco River Center. She continues to provide private OT services to children and young adults with a variety of diagnosis, as well as consultative OT services to early childhood settings, Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), and local public-school districts. Sharon is engaged in many professional volunteer activities for organizations such as CSDE, ConnOTA, and AOTA. She is a Dissertation Advisor for University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin. Sharon is a member of the Clinical Advisory Board to Simply Smiles/Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She volunteers and designs service-learning opportunities for graduate students on the Reservation, working with seniors, children, and youth.  As a certified trauma practitioner, she provides consultations and provides services to Lakota children and youth. She has received many awards during her career, and more recently was the recipient of the 2019 Joanne Andershonis-Reich Research Award. She has presented both locally, nationally, and internationally on a variety of clinical and service delivery topics. Sharon is a strong advocate and leader in the profession of occupational therapy and is passionate about the education of future occupational therapy practitioners