David W. Manzo, M.Ed.
Executive Director, President, Senior Administration
David holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology (Summa Cum Laude) from Boston College where he was named Scholar of the College. In addition, he received his Master's Degree in Education with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University.
I always tell people that leading Cotting School is the best job in America!
This is a place where my personal and professional values come together. I value the importance of being part of a strong, vibrant community, where students feel safe and welcome, are willing to stretch themselves and strive to become more independent and, I value the importance of working with creative and energized people, who are smart, innovative and who motivate students to do their best every single day!
What touches me each day is that the life of every Cotting Student is fully valued and appreciated and that our staff brings the special talents of our students forward.
For many of our parents the road to Cotting has been a challenge. The obstacles that they have had to overcome often exhaust them. I say to each of them, “Take a deep breath and rest assured that your child is in good hands at Cotting School!”
Krista Macari, M.S., CCC-SLP
Chief Academic Officer, Senior Administration
Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications from the State University of New York at Albany, NY and a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University.
It's hard to come to Cotting and not be transformed by your experience here. For students that means learning, developing new skills, gaining independence, making friends, and building confidence. Each student is valued for their unique constellation of abilities and challenges. Our whole program centers on managing barriers to learning so that students have the opportunity to transform their lives in ways they and their families may not have imagined possible.
Cotting impacts staff in many of the same ways. I have experienced many personal and professional transformations in my work here, first as a communication therapist and later as an administrator. Nowhere can you find a more talented, dedicated and hardworking group of professionals to learn from and grow with. Being at Cotting has taught me patience, perseverance, and teamwork. Each person is committed to the success and support of our school's mission. Each day brings a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities. It's hard not to be changed by a place like that.
Bridget Irish, M.B.A., S.P.H.R.
Chief Operating Officer, Senior Administration
Bridget holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Tufts University and a Master of Business Administration, magna cum laude, from Babson College.
I believe every student deserves a teaching faculty and staff that feel passionate about their work and are dedicated to their students’ progress. I feel so proud to work at a school where the staff exemplifies this ideal. Not only are these professionals consistently challenging themselves to develop new and innovative ways to teach our students, they are committed to working together to see what their students can do for themselves. My goal is to support our staff to ensure they have the encouragement, resources and training they need so that every member of the Cotting community is able to reach his or her highest potential. In return, I am invigorated by the amazing opportunities we create for our students and by the eagerness with which Cotting students rise to these challenges.
Michael Pembroke, M.B.A.
Chief Financial Officer, Senior Administration
Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Boston College and a Master of Business Administration from the Wallace E. Carroll School of Management at Boston College.
It is a privilege to serve as the CFO of Cotting School. Cotting is a first rate educational institution and arguably the best in its purpose and achievement. Many great students, faculty, staff, and volunteers have worked together over many years to achieve the highest possible outcomes for our students. All who work at the School understand and believe in the School's mission and focus on the student and feel proud to contribute to this wonderful learning environment. With great enthusiasm, I look forward to the future where there is much more good work to do.
Elizabeth Campbell Peters, M.S.
Director of Advancement, Senior Administration
Elizabeth holds a Bachelors of Arts degree, cum laude, with high honors in English from Middlebury College and a Master of Science in Communications from University of Colorado, Boulder and Denver.
Education is a tradition in my family. I have spent my entire career working in schools and have been on all sides of the desk as student, teacher, parent, and administrator. My work at Cotting gives me the opportunity to tell impressive stories about our amazing, hard-working students. Beneath that is our larger mission to educate the public about the need for full accessibility and inclusivity in general. I am proud to spread the good word about Cotting School because it has always strived for innovation and excellence in this arena.
Elizabeth Fay Russell, M.A., C.A.G.S.
Director of Admissions, Mental Health Team, Senior Administration
Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, cum laude, from Wheaton College, a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
When I started working at Cotting in 1995, I really had no idea that my career had taken me to such an amazing place where I could feel a deep sense of community and support amongst my colleagues, my students and their families. Cotting School is a special place; you can feel this the moment you first walk in the doors. At Cotting, I am surrounded by remarkable students who inspire me in the ways they overcome obstacles, gain confidence, develop genuine friendships and grow and mature in extraordinary ways. At Cotting I am surrounded by amazing staff and colleagues who are highly skilled and professional and who care greatly for each other as well as for their students.
In my tenure at Cotting I have worn a number of different hats. First I worked as the Director of Guidance and had the wonderful opportunity to work directly with our older students in a counseling and transition planning capacity. Later, I took on the Director of Admissions role and in this role I have had the opportunity to meet many prospective families and teachers and administrators from public school districts. I am the person who gets the privilege of welcoming new students and families to our special community. I give many tours and feel like I see Cotting from fresh eyes every day. I see folks who are visiting for the first time who already feel that sense of community spirit and caring right from the get go. I see the amazement in their eyes as they see all the cutting edge technology that our students and teachers use and view our impressive facility.
Cotting is truly a unique and special place and I welcome visitors to take a first hand look at all the amazing things that happen under our roof on any given day! I feel fortunate to have landed at Cotting and appreciate the many aspects of this community that have given me a sense of fulfillment both personally and professionally.
Leah Thibodeau, M.Ed., C.A.G.S.
Senior Administration, Special Education Coordinator
Leah holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, cum laude, from the State University of New York, Cortland, a Masters of Education in severe special needs from Boston College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Bridgewater State College.
I have always had a firm belief that collaborative teamwork is key to supporting students to reach their potentials. Fostering partnerships between staff, parents and school districts is of significant importance in my work with students who require special education services. There is nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to facilitate a team process that leads to the development of attainable goals that are in each student’s best interest. Though there are times when conflicting views can challenge this group effort, it’s always important to remain focused on the needs of our students to be able to come to constructive resolutions.
Larainne Wilson, M.Ed.
Director of Upper School Services, Mental Health Team, Senior Administration
Larainne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Psychology from Clark University and a Masters in Education degree in Counseling from Boston University.
I am committed to a model of shared leadership and responsibility for teaching and learning. As an administrator, being able to be a regular, active participant in each of the Upper School classrooms makes this model a reality. It is important that students, parents and school staff are committed to working together for success. I believe that student success can be measured in many ways: academic gains, increased flexibility and becoming more independent. Working collaboratively with staff to allow and encourage students to do what they are able to do for themselves and help only as much as necessary is one of the many highlights of my position. In this way, we are all advocates for children and young adults with disabilities.
Pamela Varrin, Ph.D.
Family Support Coordinator, Mental Health Team, Senior Administration
Pam holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Brown University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Psychology from Boston University.
I came to Cotting with experience as both a clinical psychologist and the parent of a child with disabilities. Previously working in the community mental health system and then in private practice in the Boston area, I was particularly interested in understanding what helped individuals and families retain and develop resilience in the face of serious illness, disability, and other forms of trauma. From my dual perspective as parent and professional, at Cotting I strive to be responsive to and learn from each family’s experience and needs in contributing to a supportive community. Through sharing information and nurturing the experience of belonging, I pursue the goal of maintaining a safe, reliable, and empowering community for families raising children with disabilities.
We all feel supported when we feel heard and understood, when we know that our experience and expertise brings something valued to the table. The education and development of children with special needs is a high-stakes endeavor for all involved, requiring ongoing and multiple complex conversations in working toward the goal of the best possible future for each individual child. If we can all use our experience and perspective to make these conversations feel better and more productive for both professionals and families, then together we can do something very important for our students.
Ann Buckley, M.Ed.
Curriculum Specialist, Director Middle School, Senior Administration
Ann holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Child Study from Smith College, cum laude, and a Master of Education from Lesley University.
Opportunity has such an impact on our ability to be successful in life. I believe that every single student deserves the opportunity to learn in a safe, welcoming environment. They deserve the opportunity to see others like themselves succeed. Every little moment, every little chance matters so much for our students. Sometimes, just the opportunity to put your own name at the top of your paper for the first time can mean a world of difference. So many people with disabilities struggle to access everyday opportunities in our society. I am so proud to be in a place that creates possibility for all students. Learning is the key. If I can create even one new chance, one new option in life for a student, one new path to learning, I feel like all my efforts have been worthwhile.