Jill Hrinda-Patten
Jill Hrinda-PattenExecutive Director
Jill, Founder and Executive Director of Mission Empower, lives with her husband, Kirk Patten, of 24 years and her Son Rodolfo, Rudy, 11 years old. Kirk and Jill went to Guatemala in 2007 to adopt their wonderful son, Rudy. Jill has significant disabilities herself, and she owes her success in life to her parents having high expectations of her and to being included at school completely starting at sixth grade.

Jill brought together other parents and advocates with and without disabilities to form Mission Empower in December, 2007. “We all new that there was a need to support families and students to understand and advocate for true inclusion in school and the community”, Jill said. “Kids were still segregated like I was in the 70’s and 80’s; we had to do something about that!” And thus Mission Empower was born. We formed because of the passion of a small group of committed volunteers working long hours with no to little pay.

Curtis Jones Jr.
Curtis Jones Jr.Assistant Director / Director of Training & Leadership Development
Curtis is a graduate of Mercyhurst Prep High School and Thiel College with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Theological Studies. Curtis is the oldest of 14 children and is married and has 4 children of his own. He serves the local community in a variety of ways from political, social, and religious sectors. He has worked in the area of social services specifically with youth for over 15 years.

He has worked as a staff member in residential treatment facility, a TSS worker, an Alternative Education Instructor, and has supervised several programs related to youth development. Curtis has also served as a Youth Pastor and is currently coaching high school track and football. Curtis has and will continue to dedicate himself to empowering people and improving the community that we live in.

Harriet Langer-Williamson
Harriet Langer-WilliamsonDirector of Family Support & Advocacy
Harriet is the parent of seven children. Six of them have or did have IEP’s for school. She enjoys helping parents/families get the best education for their child/children. “Many times an extra set of eyes and thoughts can help develop great educational IEP’s,” says Harriet.

Alan Dunfee
Alan DunfeeDirector of Mission Employment
Alan has worked with persons with disabilities of all types for almost twenty years. Alan has a background in sales and marketing, business management and the Americans with Disability Act. Alan also has been the Director of a federal program to provide independent living services for six counties in northwestern PA providing, Skills Training, Peer Counseling, Advocacy, Nursing Home Transition and housing.

Alan has been on many advisory committees over the years, such as, the Mayors Disabilities Advisory Committee for the City of Erie, The Disability Advisory Committee for Representative Phil English and Disability Advisory Committee for IU 5. Alan has worked on legislation in Harrisburg and Washington D.C. where he worked to advance the rights and roles of individual with disabilities in all aspects of inclusion, community, work, housing and life. Alan is a person with a disability and the proud father of twins Liam and Ella. Alan has lived and worked in the Erie area for most of his life.

Linda Jarzynka
Linda JarzynkaAccountant
Linda was born and raised in Harborcreek and has spent all of her life in this area. She has been employed full time for Erie County in the Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities, as the HealthChoices fiscal officer since 2008. This position has opened her eyes to the many special needs of our community, both in physical/intellectual disabilities and mental health, and the importance of ensuring that all individuals have a chance to succeed in life. Her work at Mission Empower takes place behind the scenes, but still allows her to be a small part of all of the exciting and growing programs being offered to assist those with disabilities.

Elizabeth Scott
Elizabeth ScottMission Employment Connector
Elizabeth was born and raised in Erie County and still lives in this area to this day.  She is married and a mom of two beautiful children. She graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree of Specialized Studies; she then graduated again from Edinboro in 2009 with another BA, this time in Geography/Environmental Studies.  Being diagnosed as hearing impaired at the age of 7, she brings roughly 30 years of experience of living with a disability to Mission Empower.

Elizabeth loves her job, as she feels she is lucky to be working in a position where she gets to help students with disabilities find their career choices and what they need to do to obtain them.  She wishes there was a program like mission employment around when she was in high school so she would have had more focus in her college career.

Paige Huggins
Paige HugginsAmeriCorps VISTA / Mission Read Coordinator
Paige is a recent graduate of Mercyhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and a minor in Pre-Law Studies. During her time at Mercyhurst, Paige was the president of the Mercyhurst University Honors Program and a freshmen area Resident Assistant. Through Paige’s engagement in Erie, she realized her passion for building Erie into a stronger, more resilient community. Paige is excited to be working on Mission Read, which aims to enhance the reading skills of 6-8 year old children that have dyslexia or display dyslexic tendencies.

Joseph Weber
Joseph WeberWeb Manager
Joe graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelors degree in Environmental Science and Studio Art (double major). He was inspired to create a successful program those who have disabilities during college when he led a chapter of Best Buddies International. Now was the youth program coordinator (also known as Youth ENVISION) at Mission Empower, focusing on developing a two-pronged Transition Success Pilot Program utilizing best practices of self-advocacy / determination and building social capital of youth ages 14-18 in Erie County. He now serves the organization remotely, focusing on web development and design.

Julybeth Cordero
Julybeth CorderoOffice & Volunteer Coordinator
Julybeth is the oldest of 8 children. She went to Penn State for about a year for Accounting then decided to go to Erie Institute of Technology where she graduated with a diploma in Business & Information Management. She loves being able to help others through her vocation. Being that she is bilingual (Spanish & English) she am able to connect with others more closely and help them to better understand their situation in ways other people can’t, not only because of the language barrier but also culturally. Working at Mission Empower has shown her how much both children and adults with disabilities are under-appreciated because they are different. Mission Empower is a place where people with disabilities come to get help and get their voice heard. It is a place that not only helps them but can also tell them that they know what they are going through because they have experienced it through their own lives.