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Our Team

At SAGE Insitute for Adaptive Parenting, we contract a team of experienced multidisciplinary professionals to provide the highest quality assessments, consultation, and training to meet the needs of parents with disabilities and their families.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
– Angela Schwindt

Dr. Nicole Brisson


Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Founder & Director

Dr. Nicole Brisson is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1992. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Psychology and a specialization in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from Union Institute and University in 2009. She holds a master's degree in Community Mental Health with a specialization in Clinical Services to Children with Severe Emotional Disturbances and their Families. Her bachelor's degree is in Human Development and Family Studies.


Dr. Brisson is the founder and director of SAGE Institute for Adaptive Parenting. She developed a graduate-level curriculum on child welfare and parental disability and taught at the University of Vermont. Dr. Brisson has been recognized as a national expert in conducting competency-based parenting assessments for parents with intellectual disabilities by the United States Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. She has conducted training, presented at conferences, and testified in courts throughout the United States. Her work has been referenced in the National Council on Disabilities’ report, “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities,” and in Exceptional Parenting Magazine. 


Dr. Brisson was awarded the Carrie Ann Lucas Disability Rights Legal Advocate Award for her vision, dedication, advocacy, and leadership work in systems change and the advancement of best practices in the legal system for parents with disabilities. She is a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and former Vice President of The Association for Successful Parenting (TASP), an international organization committed to enhancing the lives of families when parents have learning difficulties.

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Nicole Brisson
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Dr. Cheryl Fergerson


Licensed Clinical Social Worker
SAGE Family Assessment Specialist

Dr. Cheryl Fergerson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in pediatric medical social work. Before shifting her career to medical social work and assessing families headed by parents with disabilities, Dr. Fergerson spent more than 14 years in child welfare practice with Child Protective Services, foster care, and juvenile justice programs. Dr. Fergerson also serves as an adjunct professor of social work with three universities.


Dr. Fergerson began her own higher education journey at Grambling State University and completed her bachelor’s degree at The University of Memphis in Sociology. She also obtained her master’s degree from The University of Memphis in Social Work. She earned a doctorate degree in Social Work at Capella University in Minneapolis, MN, in 2019.


Dr. Fergerson’s doctoral dissertation is entitled ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Self‐care: An Examination of Child Protective Services Investigators. Dr. Fergerson is a co-author of an anthology published in 2021 entitled “Sistah Hooded: Stories of Strength and Resilience on the Doctoral Journey” to encourage women of color as they consider entering or continuing work to complete higher education degrees. Dr. Fergerson is an entrepreneur and CEO of her own business, 3rd Degree Consulting, LLC. She enjoys traveling abroad, reading, and volunteering in her community.


Above all, Dr. Fergerson is committed to promoting awareness about the need for a more accessible and equitable world. Helping to transform the lives of families experiencing disability makes this area of social work practice all the more fulfilling. 


Dr. Susan Yuan


Doctor of Psychology
SAGE Family Assessment Specialist & Consultant

Dr. Susan Yuan has a doctorate degree in Psychology and combines academic experience teaching at four major universities with life experience in disability. She received her doctorate from the University of Vermont, where she served as Associate Director of the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion. Her specialization in psychology is in support for families experiencing disability, and she designed and conducted training in Family Support in 36 states and territories. She received funding for her work through seven federal grants, including a project to provide Peer Navigation for families where the parents have disabilities which was recognized nationally as a “promising practice.”


Dr. Yuan has been trained in a behavioral approach to parenting assessment by Dr. Maurice Feldman of Canada, but she is rooted in models of family coping and adjustment based on supports and perceptions, particularly perception of control and self-efficacy. She has been conducting parenting skills assessments since 2004 for parents with disabilities and has testified for courts in multiple states. She is a Fellow of the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and received the Alexander J. Tymchuk Award for Excellence in Leadership from The Association for Successful Parenting.

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Kathy Brown


Rehabilitation Counselor
SAGE Family Assessment Specialist

Kathleen Brown received her master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2013 from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. She obtained her BA from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont which included majors in both Sociology and Psychology. Ms. Brown has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for over fifteen years.


A highlight of Ms. Brown's career was her 7-year tenure as the Director of Developmental Services for a top mental health provider in the State of Vermont. Her oversight included the daily operations, planning and implementation of clinical services and supportive community-based services. Under her guidance, the division provided services for over 300 individuals and parents with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and mental health diagnoses.


Ms. Brown's rehabilitation training includes extensive field training, which provides the development of professional counseling skills working across physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities in a variety of settings; i.e. medical facilities, clinics, rehabilitation centers, private practices, community organizations, and government agencies. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Curriculum includes a blend of theory, assessment, evaluation, research and practicum experiences.

In 2022 Kathleen achieved her Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) certification. The CDCA program includes training in performing treatment planning, assessments, crisis intervention, case management, education, individual and group counseling, and referrals. 


Marie Bennett


Marriage and Family Therapist
SAGE Family Assessment Specialist

Marie has a master's degree (M.A.) in Special Education from William Paterson University and a master's degree (M.S.) in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from Central Connecticut State University. She presently holds a MFT Associate License and is working towards her LMFT. Marie's goal is to open a private practice focusing on individual, family, and couple's therapy with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She recently worked as a therapist at the Child Guidance Center in Meriden, Connecticut. 


Her experience and skills include teaching children with disabilities in a public-school setting, behavior specialist, case management, supervisory and management in state government in NJ and CT. Her last professional experience was as Assistant Regional Director for Individual and Family Support for the CT Department of Developmental Services. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in the development of statewide parent advocacy and support groups for parents with disabilities. 


Her focus throughout her lengthy career is that individuals who have a disability are integral members of their family and community, leading self-determined lives through the development of their strengths, capacities, and their life hopes and dreams. 

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Our Values



We believe that safety is paramount; and that respecting parents’ rights and protecting children’s welfare are necessary and compatible goals.



We acknowledge that everyone has the ability to learn and grow.



We strive to be objective and aware of personal biases always.



All people with disabilities deserve equitable opportunities to parent, exert control over their lives, have support, and be valued members of their communities.

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