Arrows Making an Impact: Dawn Petersen Bentley ’00

Dawn Petersen Bentley ’00 is an educator, advocate, and leader. Dawn joined St. Ursula Academy from St. Patrick’s of Heatherdowns, earning a St. Angela Merci scholarship. She pursued leadership opportunities in her early days at SUA as she participated in the Spirit, Zonta, Social Justice, and Spanish clubs. Dawn was also on the freshman basketball team that won the Toledo City League championship. She became a member of the National Honor Society and eventually was a Kairos leader. She was also the top Cherry Blossom Festival ticket seller in her class!  After graduation, Dawn attended Miami University, where she received a degree in Special Education.

The death of her older brother, who had cerebral palsy, furthered Dawn’s drive to advocate for people with disabilities and normalize disability in the. She used her skills in Toledo Public Schools and Washington Local Schools as a Special Education teacher, then became the Director of Youth and Transition Services at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. Dawn holds a master’s degree in education, with a focus on teaching diverse learners; she also has certificates in Supervisor, Director, and General Education Administration and in General and Special Education Administration. She completed these degrees while working in the Monroe County Intermediate School District.   

After moving to Pittsburgh and West Virginia with her husband, she continued to educate individuals with special needs. When her family moved back to Waterville, Dawn became an Early Intervention Consultant. Because of her impact, her former employer asked her to become the Director of Youth Services at the Ability Center, where Dawn developed and launched the Disability Representation, Education, and Awareness through Media (DREAM) program with the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.

Dawn believes that mentors are more valuable than books. Having worked with organizations such as the Metroparks, Toledo Museum of Art, The Toledo Zoo, and The Imagination Station, she was well prepared to jump into the consulting arena. With the support of her husband, Dawn successfully transitioned to owning Community Access Inclusion Representation and Equity (CAIRE), LLC, a business that nurtures awareness and fosters educational training opportunities to develop an accessible and inclusive community.

Dawn is raising two daughters and twin boys, all under six, with her husband in Sylvania, Ohio.

Reach out to Dawn directly at to learn more about CAIRE, LLC.

  • Making an Impact