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In memory of Nicholas Certo Ph.D. 


By Lisa Markey 


Nicholas J. Certo, served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Special Education Department at San Francisco State University for twelve years, until retiring in 2012. He continued to serve the Department in the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) for five years as the Intern Coordinator for Special Education Teachers and became a Professor Emeritus in June 2017. 


In addition to mentoring me while I was in graduate school at SFSU, Nicholas Certo was the President of the Board of PDS from 1994 to 2011. Nick had a huge influence on my life and I would not be where I am today without him.


Nick helped me incorporate PDS. He took a real risk on me because I was only in my twenties at the time. He also nominated me for a graduate student award that I received in college and which made my parents incredibly proud. Nick made me believe in myself and bolstered my confidence, during a time when young women were not taken seriously in my field. He exemplified integrity to me and we kept each other true to our values of inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities and fought together for the best services available for that population. He was always willing to go to meetings with me and to lend his name and his title when it would help me gain credibility.

Nick taught me so many things, such as how to be strong and professional, while also having compassion and humanity. He taught me that family comes first and nothing work related ever surpasses the importance of quality time with loved ones. Tragically Nick passed away from cancer in October in 2017.

PDS would not be here today if it had not been for Nick Certo. I will never ever forget him or the lessons I learned from him.

In May 2017, the San Francisco State University, Communicative Disorders Program dedicated the Speech and Language Clinic as the “The Nicholas J. Certo Communicative Disorders Clinic." Nick’s legacy continues at SFSU and at People with Disabilities Succeeding.

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