Regional Coordinator Biographies

Perkins International Regional Coordinators work in a variety capacities to further the development of education and resources for children with visual impairments around the globe. From authoring books and designing curricula, to training students and new teachers, these individuals continue to make a profound impact on the lives of children with visual impairments and their families.

Portrait of Angela Affran.

Africa: Meet Angela Affran

Angela Affran has roughly two decades of experience in the field of education.

A former math teacher, she was named Perkins International’s Regional Coordinator for Africa in 2013. Affran also previously worked at the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service as the coordinator for Braille Literacy, Mathematics and Science. In this role, she spearheaded Africa’s first-ever Braille Cup competition in 2012.

Affran earned a master’s degree in Visual Impairment and Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Math from the University of Education, Winneba, and a diploma in Statistics from the University of Ghana, Legon.

Affran has received several awards, including the Best Teacher Mathematics/Science Category for the Akuapem North District in Ghana in 2005, and the best worker for the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service in 2011.

She also received the Wolfensohn Family Foundation Scholarship and participated in the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. Affran is the Immediate Past President of the Ford Foundation Alumni Association of Ghana, which seeks to champion social justice.


Angela Affran
Regional Coordinator - Africa

Portrait of Deborah Gleason.

Asia & the Pacific: Meet Deborah Gleason

Deborah Gleason has three decades of experience building the capacity of services for children who are deafblind or blind with multiple disabilities in developing countries.

She also has extensive undergraduate and graduate teaching experience, including with the development of distance education programs.

Gleason has been affiliated with Perkins since 1980.

She earned her master’s degree in Special Education from Boston College, specializing in deafblindness and multi-handicapped education. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education from Boston College, and a post-graduate certificate in International Development from Gallaudet University.

Gleason has authored several books and articles on the assessment and education of children with visual and/or multiple disabilities. She previously served as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, and as a board member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER).

Gleason received AER’s award for Outstanding Practice in Services to Children and their Families in 2004, and the association’s Award of Excellence in 1991.


Deborah Gleason
Regional Coordinator - Asia & the Pacific

Portrait of Dennis Lolli.

Europe & Eurasia: Meet Dennis Lolli

Dennis Lolli has decades of experience working with children who are deafblind or blind with additional disabilities.

Lolli earned his master’s degree in Special Education from Boston College and his bachelors’ degree in Sociology from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has also received a Certificate of Continuing Optometric Education and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies.

Lolli began his career at Perkins in 1970 as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Instructor and Low Vision Education Specialist before assuming the role of Regional Coordinator for Europe & Eurasia.

He has written a number of articles and made presentations at national and international conferences. Lolli is a member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the International Council for the Education of People who are Visually Impaired.

Lolli also previously served as Chair of the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, which is the certifying body for orientation and mobility specialists, low vision therapists and rehabilitation teachers.


Dennis Lolli
Regional Coordinator - Europe & Eurasia

Portrait of Gloria Rodriguez-Gil.

Latin America & the Carribbean: Meet Gloria Rodriguez-Gil

Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, who was named Regional Coordinator for Latin America & the Caribbean in 2014, has worked in the field of special education for 29 years.

Rodriguez-Gil has extensive knowledge and experience in deafblindness and multiple disability education. Her leadership efforts began as an innovative teacher, founder and developer at the first deafblind education program in Central America. She was also co-creator of the first master’s degree program in multiple disability and deafblind education at the prestigious Universidad de Costa Rica.

For her accomplishments, Rodriguez-Gil received several study scholarships, including a grant awarded by the Hilton-Perkins Program (now Perkins International) to obtain her master’s degree in Special Education from Boston College, with a specialization in Low Incidence Disabilities and emphasis on Deafblindness.

Rodriguez-Gil previously served as an Educational Specialist and writer for California Deaf-Blind Services, as the Bilingual Coordinator for the federally-funded Project SALUTE, and as an international consultant for Perkins International in Latin America.


Gloria Rodriguez-Gill
Regional Coordinator - Latin America & the Caribbean

Portrait of Kristen Layton.

Middle East & North Africa: Meet Kristen Layton

Kristen Layton is an international consultant specializing in inclusive education and the education of children with disabilities, including those who are visually impaired and deafblind.

While living in Amman, Jordan, in 2010, Layton helped launch Perkins International’s programs in the Middle East and North Africa. She continues to serve as regional consultant.

Layton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the State University of New York at Plattsburg, and a Master of Education degree in Special Education from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Layton was part of the Education Development Center, Inc., team that launched the International Inclusive Schools Network. She has also contributed to the growth of the deafblind graduate program at Boston College by developing and introducing new course curricula, recruiting students and enhancing the internship program.

In addition to her work with Perkins International, Layton also serves as the Coordinator for Professional Learning at the Helen Keller National Center.


Kristen Layton
Regional Coordinator - Middle East & North Africa

Perkins' Educational Leadership Program: Meet Marianne Riggio

Portrait of Marianne Riggio.Marianne Riggio is well known worldwide as an expert in the field of deafblindness.

She is the co-author or editor of over 15 publications focusing on the education of children with deafblindness that are now used internationally as the basis of trainings for teachers, administrators and parents.

Riggio was named coordinator of Perkins’ Educational Leadership Program in 2012. Prior to her current role, she served as an Educational Consultant for Perkins International, and as a regional coordinator for both the Africa and Asia & Pacific regions.

Riggio earned a master’s degree in Multi-handicapped and Deafblind Education from Boston College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Special and Elementary Education.

Over the years, Riggio has traveled to Israel, Ukraine, Jordan, Portugal, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Korea, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Haiti to provide technical assistance to local partners.

Before she joined the Perkins International team, Riggio was the Project Director for the National Deafblind Training Project, which developed training institutes in deafblindess for teachers and parents.


Marianne Riggio
ELP Program Supervision