2010-2006 Graduate Updates

2010 Graduates

Jennifer Bertrand

Winter 2016:

  • In October 2015 I was honored with a PIC Parent Involvement Award. Click here to read more!
  • In the last year I have also presented at 3 national conferences;
  • TASH Annual Conference in Washington, DC- Be The Future
  • AutCom- National Autism Committee 25th Anniversary Conference- Human Rights for All
  • AUCD November 16-18th 2015 Growing Leaders Driving Change Conference
  • Last spring I completed NH LEND. 
  • I have just accepted a new position at Community Crossroads; my title will be Director of Community Partnerships.
Robert English

Winter 2015:

We continue to attend legislative liaison meetings. Bob loves to go to our town recycling center the weekend before any voting to remind our neighbors of the vote. He sends me into the town hall to get actual copies of upcoming ballots that he can show people who ask questions. Many townspeople recognize him and thank him for this service. He never tells people how he will vote. He tells them "for this to be a democracy you need to decide for yourself". He learned active citizenship during leadership 2010.

Bob and I (Marie Primeau) proudly served in the visitor center at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in 2013. We are looking forward to serving on staff at the NH State Jamboree in October at the NH Speedway. We have begun the application process for the National Jamboree in 2017! Leadership 2010 gave us the confidence to move from Local to District to State and then National volunteers!

Bob has a small job recycling at Monadnock Work-source, his first paid position since 2009. He is still seeking more employment.  His home staff has stabilized allowing him more community opportunities. He exercises at The Bond Wellness Center and participates in CMARS Adaptive Sports Programs. He has also joined the Monadnock Valley Patriots team for Bi skiing and summer Olympic Games.

I continue to work for Rise for baby and family in Keene.  My employer nominated me for MDS care provider of the year!  I have added more parent advocacy and principals of inclusion tools to my work in the community with families of children who have different abilities thanks to the training I received through NH Leadership.

Winter 2016 Update:

Bob continues to attend legislative liaison meetings and sets up a voter information table at the Peterborough recycling center the Saturday before each election.  He gets copies of ballots from the town house and reminds people of their responsibility to be an informed voter.

He has been selected to serve on the visitor greeting team, at the 2017 national Boy Scout jamboree, at Summit camp in West Virginia. He has been selected as national tetrasomy 18p coordinator by the chromosome 18 registry.

Katie Epstein

Direct Support Provider- Residential Resources
Action Group: Teacher Certification
Favorite Topic: The education weekend and the community organizing weekend.

What were you doing before starting Leadership?
Before leadership I was living in North Conway, working in a child care / preschool for children with and without disabilities. I have my teaching certification in special Ed. I was a paraprofessional for a student with emotional difficulties.

How did you hear about Leadership?
My adviser for my teaching certification at Granite State College told me about Leadership, then I googled it.

What made you apply?
I was feeling stuck in my job and where I was living. I was still in my hometown and everyone knew me and I felt like I needed a change. I thought I would learn a lot from leadership and maybe it would help me in my teaching techniques.

How did you know that Leadership was the right program for you?
I didn't know right away if leadership was the right program for me. It sounded cool. I was definitely interested, but it wasn't until after the first weekend, that I realized how amazing this program really is. I think this was the case because I didn't know anyone who went through the program prior to going.

What else did you do while you were participating in Leadership?
Leadership is a commitment of seven weekends once a month, so during the program I worked and kept up my normal social life the other weekends that I was free.

What was your favorite part of Leadership?
I learned many things during the program, but five almost six years later I think the community organizing, policy training, the education weekends were the most useful for me in terms of what I am doing now.

What are you currently doing? What are your goals for the future?
I am currently working as a DSP (Direct Support Provider) for an adult woman whom experiences Down Syndrome and living in the Seacoast. I am also Vice--‐chair of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, helping advocating for people like myself who experience a disability. I work on issues such as, bullying, policy, DSP training/professional improvement and have given presentations on some of these issues. I been to DC, Fla, Vegas, and in NH working at conferences dealing with these type of issues. I am planning on continuing my work at the council until my two terms are done, continuing supporting the woman I work with and hopefully help her fulfill some of her dreams.

Why should other people participate in Leadership?
If people are looking for tools to help their love ones with a disability or they have a disability themselves and they want to improve the lives in anyway leadership will teach you how. Wither it's getting a job, improving the school years, making friends, your leadership class/ past grads will become those people who you will go to when the tough days happen and the first people you will celebrate the good with, because they understand what you’re going through. It's was the best decision I made, I wish I knew about it sooner!!

You can view clips from Katie's interview here.

Marie Primeau and Robert English

Winter 2015:

We continue to attend legislative liaison meetings. Bob loves to go to our town recycling center the weekend before any voting to remind our neighbors of the vote. He sends me into the town hall to get actual copies of upcoming ballots that he can show people who ask questions. Many townspeople recognize him and thank him for this service. He never tells people how he will vote. He tells them "for this to be a democracy you need to decide for yourself". He learned active citizenship during leadership 2010.

Bob and I (Marie Primeau) proudly served in the visitor center at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in 2013. We are looking forward to serving on staff at the NH State Jamboree in October at the NH Speedway. We have begun the application process for the National Jamboree in 2017! Leadership 2010 gave us the confidence to move from Local to District to State and then National volunteers!

Bob has a small job recycling at Monadnock Work-source, his first paid position since 2009. He is still seeking more employment.  His home staff has stabilized allowing him more community opportunities. He exercises at The Bond Wellness Center and participates in CMARS Adaptive Sports Programs. He has also joined the Monadnock Valley Patriots team for Bi skiing and summer Olympic Games.

I continue to work for Rise for baby and family in Keene.  My employer nominated me for MDS care provider of the year!  I have added more parent advocacy and principals of inclusion tools to my work in the community with families of children who have different abilities thanks to the training I received through NH Leadership.

Winter 2016 Update:

I continue to support Robert English in his community roles. 

I am currently serving on the consumer advisory council of the IOD. The photo is from our attendance at the chromosome 18 registry conference in Salt Lake City Utah last July.

Ann Strachan

Winter 2013:

“I follow the Leadership Listserv with interest and learn so much from everyone about what's happening in our state!  It's very useful both personally and professionally,” wrote Ann Strachan to Leadership recently. 

Ann’s status update includes a new job! Currently she is working as community liaison for Seniors Count, a new program that operates out of Rockingham Community Action.

“I work with isolated seniors who do not have reliable, natural supports. I get to help them connect with needed services and local resources – and yes! I'm taking referrals. Please contact ServiceLink.”

Ann’s service territory is the greater Portsmouth area. There are similar programs in Manchester and Nashua.  Ann says she has met many very interesting people, some with significant disabilities.

“I have been able to utilize my Leadership training to advocate for individuals who otherwise would go unnoticed and unheard. The job is ideal for me because it is part-time and flexible which leaves me time to assist my son with his ongoing challenges,” said Ann. “Yet I also utilize my experiences to help so many others who are--perhaps for the first time--having significant setbacks due to aging.”

Ann says she enjoys the fact that her work is focused on a systems-change approach to how communities are planning for an emerging demographic, even if it is one step at a time. “Next step will be what to do as our children age and who will take care of them. I look forward to being a part of any discussion around this topic!”

Written by Tamara Le

2009 Graduates

Emily James

Winter 2016:

I currently am the co-chair of Region 1 Family Support Council.  I am starting a Best Buddies promoter chapter at my school. I also sit on the parent council of Dartmouth's Intensive Care Nursery (NICU).

Barbara Publicover

April 2012:

“I'm doing great.  My oldest son is a sophomore in college and my youngest is a sophomore in high school.  Both are well and draining me of cash,” said Barbara Publicover smiling.

Barbara had started a special education parent support group in Merrimack in the fall of 2008 and reports it's still doing well. 

“We have had a lot of support from the school district and have made some positive differences in the school and with the parents too.  Just recently I was hired part time by New Hampshire Connections to help foster parent/school partnerships.  I am working with new parent leaders to either get groups started or engage in conversations with schools to open up the lines of communication,” said Barbara.

Barbara currently serves on school district committees and a few on the state level.  “Just enough of every committee to make a young lass like myself busy.”

Written by Tamara Le

2008 Graduate Updates

Brian Huckins

Winter 2013:

Since graduation, Brian Huckins has become very busy and very focused.

Recently he became a Team Leader at the Center for START Services Central Collaborative in New Hampshire located at the Institute on Disability office in Concord.

START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Respite & Treatment) is a national initiative (now in 14 states) that strengthens efficiencies and service outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs in the community. START aims to enhance local capacity and provide collaborative, cost-effective, person-centered support to individuals and their families through exemplary clinical services and education with close attention to service outcomes.

“The bottom line is to promote quality of life,” said Huckins.

Huckins also continues his work as a supervisor of service coordinators at Community Bridges, a non-profit agency serving the communities of central New Hampshire. “We work with those in need, their families, and others in local communities so that people can lead active lives--lives filled with meaning and opportunities for contribution. We create networks and build symbiotic relationships that utilize the skills and life experiences of our participants,” said Huckins.

Huckins is very excited with the outcome of his work. “We have found unique and creative ways to enrich the lives of people who experience disabilities—through employment, companionship, or assistance to others. We start by identifying any barriers that make remaining in the community difficult for a person, then we use their particular strengths, interests, and abilities to find ways to overcome these barriers.”

Not only does Huckins volunteer for the Governor’s Council to study Autism Spectrum Disorders, he is currently serves as Chair. The Autism Council has been instrumental in the development of local REACH (Regional Expert ASD Consultation Hubs) Teams in Concord, Nashua, Manchester and soon, the Atkinson area. Advocacy efforts by the Council have resulted in the implementation of Connor’s Law, an insurance mandate that can bring ABA services into a home from birth up to age 21.

Huckins says his primary focus, however, is “the education and development of my son who has autism.”

“My wife Heather and I have been very fortunate that he has received the appropriate services required since his original diagnosis. He is currently flourishing in a regular education classroom through the great support of his teachers and classmates. My son’s career choice changes daily, but he consistently wants to be 'rich and have lots of land to ride my four-wheelers on'.”

Huckins was quick to note, “He doesn’t currently own a four-wheeler.”

Written by Tamara Le

Maureen Tracey

Summer 2015:

  • Graduated from LEND!  (an amazing experience!)
  • Elected Chair for the special education state advisory committee (SAC)
  • PBIS District Coordinator for Laconia School District (only one in the state!)
  • President of NH Prader-Willi Syndrome Chapter

All in one year... all thanks to Leadership!

2007 Graduates

Robin CarlsonI am part of a Direct Support Certificate Program that is a noncredit course based out of the community college system.  I discovered the program in Georgia while it was being accredited by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals in July 2010. I approached the Bureau of Developmental Services and the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities to fund this course as a pilot project.  The course is currently running its third round of classes and having great success in helping direct support professionals, service coordinators, parents and people with disabilities get the tools and understanding of how to live successful lives in their communities. For more info visit www.dspcertificateprogram.com.

Winter 2016 update

I am teaching Supporting People in Community Living, a 20 week course that educates families and human service workers to deeply learn how to support people with disabilities in their communities. We have had 8 classes complete the course in our community college system.  The course focuses on the changing role of support, a discovery process, person centered planning, accomplishments, positive behavioral supports, teaching strategies and community exploration...to name just a few areas we touch upon.  Check out our website at www.supportcommunitylife.com and contact Robin Carlson if you are interested in finding out more information at robincarlson@metrocast.net.

Cathy SpinneyCathy continues to be active in helping to govern Community Crossroads, the greater Salem Area Agency. She serves on the Board of Directors as immediate past president as well as the Strategic Planning and Public Policy Outreach sub-committees. With the Public Policy Outreach committee, she helped plan the agency’s first biennial Community Partnership Celebration in 2012, where she also served as emcee. This event brought together families served in the region with candidates for office, affording them the opportunity to meet and mingle and educate each other on issues important to them. The evening culminated with the presentation of the Compass Awards and the Community Partner Award to individuals and entities that exemplify the spirit of community for people of all abilities.

Because she knows the value of education, Cathy regularly presents at workshops and trainings, most recently at Community Crossroads’ advocacy training for families. She will also be serving as a mentor with the Agency’s newly forming advocacy mentoring program. She helped spread the word about the problems with the pending move of services to Managed Care by participating in the video “It’s Not OK That We Don’t Know.”

Cathy continues to serve as Chair of the NH DD/ABD Quality Council, working with the membership to monitor quality in our service delivery system and offer ideas for its constant evolution and improvement. She is also working with other Leadership Grads to get the newly formed Southern NH (greater Salem/greater Nashua area) ABLE NH chapter off the ground.

Each year since her graduation with the Friends of Leadership, she has helped plan and assist with donations for the annual Leadership Reunion and Fundraiser. She asks all Leadership Grads to participate in this endeavor by eliciting donations and raffle items from your Area Agencies, vendor agencies, families and employers so we can ensure the future of the Leadership Series – the training program which has been life-changing for so many of us.  She received the Brianna Dillon Leadership medal at the 2012 reunion for fostering statewide change!

updated summer 2013

2006 Graduates

Julie Smith

Winter 2016:

Just launched and am facilitating an ASD parent group: Oyster River ASD Friends. (for more information contact me by clicking here)This is about parents connecting and learning together about supporting our teens and young adults on the spectrum. I am also a long term family council member at Community Partners. I am also clinic and family coordinator in the NH LEND Program.