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Tracy Robbins

I have worked with Northeast Kids Count since 2004 when I started as a program counselor. I’m excited to have continued all these years as Director of Northeast Kids Count. I have a BA in Outdoor Education & Recreation / Environmental Interpretation from SUNY Cortland.

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Kristina Vanderbilt

My name is Kristi and I've been the assistant director for six years. I grew up just around the corner from here in Freeville. I have three pomeranians, Keebler, Meeka and Remy. Besides my love for them, I enjoy swimming, gardening and making people laugh. I've worked with children since I was 15 and couldn't imagine doing anything else! Some of my favorite activities to do at Kids Count include getting crafty in the cafeteria, playing games outside or sharing silly stories in the library. Northeast is a great community, I'm happy to be apart of it and to meet all of you!

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Meadow Petersen

My name is Meadow Petersen. I have lived in Ithaca for the past 17 years.  All  4 of my children attended Northeast Elementary. I enjoy working with children and have been doing so professionally for the past 6 years.

I love hiking, especially in the mountains, and walking on the beach.  I enjoy baking and hanging out with my kids.  I am especially happy to be working with school age children, since my own are much older.

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Gus Dusenberry

My name is Gus, and I’ve been a counselor here at Northeast Kids Count since 2016. I’m a retired air traffic controller (worked at Elmira Airport). I’ve lived in Ithaca since I came to Cornell for my degree in psychology. I met my wife Lisa while I was volunteering doing camera work for a cable access comedy show. My son Eric is a Cornell graduate.  

Hobby-wise I like hiking, biking, and swimming. I also like to do photography, especially of music events and nature. I enjoy board games, particularly chess, as well as logic puzzles, and I share that enthusiasm with the kids here. My favorite movie series are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter. As for TV, I prefer science and history programs, science fiction, and comedies. At Halloween, I love to carve picture pumpkins.

I have helped children at many local programs, including University Cooperative Nursery School, Community Unity Music Education Program, Family Math Camp, and Boynton Math Club. I am grateful to serve you here at Northeast Kids Count!

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Ora Carabetta

Hello my name is Ora! I am a paraprofessional  with ICSD and counselor for Kids Count at Northeast Elementary. I recently moved to Ithaca from the Hudson Valley after studying art and design at SUNY Purchase. I love working with kids because of the inherent creativity they all have, and I look forward to helping them put that creativity into action! 

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Erika Uchigasaki

Hello! I'm Erika, once a Northeast student myself and have been at Kids Count since 2018. Graduated in 2017 from SUNY UB with a Political Science BA but changing the world on the international stage is a dream from a past self that I don't quite recognize anymore. I've been helping out my family since then and meandering through adulthood, trying to figure out what I want to do in this lifetime. Working at Kids Count has been an amazing opportunity and I've learned a life lesson or two from the kids throughout the years. I enjoy dancing, drawing, traveling and eating in my spare time along with an interest in food and fashion :) Nice to meet you!

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Emma Mahon

I’m not great at playing video games, but I will play them with my godchildren whenever we hang out together. They love beating me at Super Smash Brothers. I love spending time with them.

Prior to working at Kids Count, a bulk of my childcare experience came from volunteering at church throughout the years. One of my favorite opportunities I had volunteering was with a weekly after-school/recreational program for at-risk children (ages 4-11) during two semesters at one of the colleges I attended. 

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Farah Zahra

My name is Farah and I have done my masters in Psychology and Bachelor in education. Teaching is my life's passion, and I have been instructing students of all ages for 15  years. This is my second year working at Northeast Elementary School as a teacher aide. I've previously worked in my country Pakistan as a principal for 10 years. I am feeling very proud to be a part of the kids count. My years of experience as a teacher have helped me form a teaching philosophy that guides how I help my students succeed in the classroom and beyond. I am passionate about my work. Because I love what I do, I have a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best.


Asma Ali

My name is Asma. I did my master's degree at Pakistan City Lahore. Before coming to the USA, I worked in my own school as a principal and a teacher for over 10 years. I really love to work with kids. I also love to read books and watch movies. I have one daughter. She is almost 7 years old.

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Casey Warner

My name is Casey and I have been at NE Kids Count for over twenty years and I absolutely love it. I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where I lived until I came to Ithaca College to study music in 1983. Yes, I am that old. Although I no longer have music students or play my trumpet as much as I used to, I consider myself to be a musician forever. Music is in my heart and soul.  I am an avid NY Yankee fan and yes, I do really wish they’d start winning again. I’m still a fan for life though.I love coming to work and really look forward to seeing your kids every day. Even when they maybe having a hard day, I strive to meet them where they’re at and make the day feel fun. I especially enjoy being outside with them on days that we get to go sledding. For me, there is nothing quite like hearing them laugh and play in the year’s first snowfall. I thank you all for trusting us with your precious kids everyday I’m honored to get to be just a little part of their lives. Here’s to many more years.

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Suzanne France

I was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  When I graduated from McGill University I found a job at the New York Public Library.  I lived for 3 years in Jackson Heights, Queens, and then moved to Cary, North Carolina to be closer to my husband’s family.  We lived in North Carolina for 22 years, before moving to Ithaca in May 2021.


I began my career as a librarian working at university libraries and public libraries.  When my daughter was born in 2012 I became a stay-at-home mother for a while before going back to work as a Teacher’s Assistant in North Carolina.  I am a certified New York State Teacher’s Assistant and work at Northeast Elementary during the day.

Riley Knapp

My name is Riley and I joined Kids Count in 2022. I am a college student-athlete at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, or SUNY ESF for short, in the Environmental Studies program and playing for their soccer team. 


I’ve lived near the Ithaca area for nearly my whole life, growing up just north in the small town of Trumansburg. I had the unique experience of being homeschooled, which allowed me to grow up socializing with many different age groups, which is where I discovered how much I enjoyed playing around/working with children. I worked at a preschool and then was a counselor at Cornell University’s CUBS camp before coming here.


My hobbies include soccer and sports in general along with nature and gaming. I hope I can help give the children here a great experience and perhaps get the chance to meet you all as well! 

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Ally Hilsinger (Substitute)

I’m Ally, I’ve been with kids count more years than I can count on one hand. I love organizing sports, reading and playing card games with the kids. I currently live in Candor with my husband, 4 cats and a rescue dog named Dice. If you don’t recognize me from my picture it’s okay, I’m not usually dressed like madam president. I love my job here and look forward to meeting you all some time!

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Em Schaffner (Substitute)

My name is Em Schaffner. I have two super silly cats, Mooseand Quinto. I love to make art in my free time! I'm very passionate about nature. I love to show kids I work with the wonder, beauty and importance of the environment we live in.

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