Abbie Beaulieu, MA
Social Work, New Hampshire
Abbie is a University of New Hampshire, Durham graduate with a BA in Psychology and an MA in Justice Studies. She is currently pursuing her MSW at UNH Manchester and will be graduating in 2022. Over the past decade, Abbie has worked in victim and social services. She has held roles as a Victim Advocate with the NH Department of Corrections through the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, and as a Victim/Witness Advocate for the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office. Currently, she is the Coordinator of Outcomes and Quality Improvement at Waypoint, a statewide social service agency. Abbie’s eagerness to create positive change and to learn about as many subjects as possible are what drew her to the field of Social Work and to the LEND program. Abbie hopes to bring to LEND her observations of the intersection of the criminal justice system and the experiences of those who have neurodevelopmental injuries or disabilities. Through LEND, she desires to become a stronger leader and to improve her skills as an advocate in the field of Social Work.
Shawnna Bowman, BS
Family-Member, New Hampshire
Shawnna has been working in the nonprofit sector for the past eight years in a variety of capacities that have allowed her the opportunity to support the strengthening of New Hampshire communities. Prior to this, she obtained a BS in Accounting. Although her career path diverted from accounting, she often found herself applying the checks and balance approach to resolving social needs. Currently she is employed with Community Bridges as the Communications and Resource Development Associate. After graduating from the Institute on Disability (IOD) Leadership Series in 2018, she chose to pursue a career that more closely aligned with her life’s focus. The position has offered her opportunities to provide a parent perspective on important communications to families and develop a fundraising program that will allow the organization to better meet the needs of the community members and families they support. Shawnna also serves on the Council of Developmental Disabilities as a parent and was recently appointed as Chair of the Policy Committee after serving as Interim Chair of the Member Relations Committee. Additionally, after stepping down as the Vice President of the Webster Elementary PTO, she worked in conjunction with the Director of Student Services to establish the Merrimack Valley School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council. The MV SEPAC has had a very successful first year in collaborating with their school district to ensure the success of all students. Everyone working in social services and education, and parents of those living with a disability, face obstacles to providing or receiving support within the disability community. Each of these groups offer a unique and valuable perspective to finding the solutions to these obstacles. These experiences have afforded Shawnna the understanding that collaboration and creative thinking is necessary for success.
Katie Buckley, BA
Social Work, New Hampshire
Katie is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University where she obtained a BA in Social Science and has spent the last 15 years working in the field of child welfare. Katie spent several years at the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) and the Youth Detention Services Unit (YDSU) working with adjudicated youth and youth alleged of delinquent criminal charges. After this, she continued to work for the State of New Hampshire, Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) as a Child Protective Service Worker. In this role, she investigated child abuse and neglect in the Southern District Office located in Nashua, NH. Katie’s education and professional experiences lead to her employment at Child and Family Services (CFS). She began her career at CFS working as a Case Manager and Family Therapist within intensive home-based therapeutic services for children, youth and families who are court involved within the DCYF system. These roles increased her knowledge of child welfare and helped her discover a passion for the foster care system. After working as a Case Manager and Family Therapist, she advanced into the role of the Foster Care Specialist at Waypoint (formerly Child and Family Services). After six years of therapeutic foster care work, she was promoted into her current position as the Program Manager of Waypoint’s intensive home-based services, where she oversees the departments day to day operations and infrastructure. Katie currently works full time while pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the University of New Hampshire. Katie is driven by passion and never hesitates to stand-up for those without a voice. She is an avid animal lover, LGBTQ advocate and longtime Special Olympics volunteer. The connection with her brother, Jeff, who has Down Syndrome, has made her realize the importance of serving and advocating for individuals with disabilities. Her personal and professional life has given her a unique approach to understanding the challenges and service needs for children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities involved in New Hampshire’s child welfare system. Her days are spent as an advocate for human rights across multiple systems, working towards stigma and barrier reduction. She is excited for the LEND journey looks forward to enhancing her knowledge and skills to help better serve and improve the health and safety of children and youth using a multidisciplinary approach and framework.
Shane Da Silva-Novotny, BS
Social Work, Maine
Shane is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT where he earned a BS in Political Science and minored in Psychology and Communication. During college, Shane was part of Zeta Delta Epsilon Honorary Service Society, a club that presented him with many opportunities to help his community. This included volunteering with CT Special Olympics and working alongside the president of the organization to help children with disabilities and young adults participate. Shane also volunteered and worked with younger children more directly at Blackham Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT where he ran an after-school chess club and acted as an assistant in a pre-k classroom. Currently, Shane attends graduate school at the University of Maine in Orono, ME where he is working towards a Master’s in Social Work. Shane has always been a strong advocate for children with disabilities, adults, and the elderly. He has family members who experience disabilities including Autism, ADD, ADHD and Asperger’s. According to Shane, seeing such hardworking and intelligent people struggle with things they are unable to control is upsetting yet, at the same time, makes one a more grounded person and thankful and gracious for what one is given. Shane’s ambition is to improve the lives of those oppressed within his career.
Jessica Goff, BA
Social Work, New Hampshire
Jessica is pursuing a Master’s in Social Work at the University of New Hampshire, Manchester and intends to graduate in May of 2022. She passionately believes that her purpose is to help break down the social and systemic barriers that limit the ability of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities access services, engage in the community, and thrive. Jessica first became interested in working with the disability community following a volunteer opportunity with Special Olympics as an adolescent. This interest grew into a passion during her undergraduate studies. While obtaining her BA in Human Development from Rivier University (2018), her coursework and experiences shed light onto just how deep the cuts of injustice continue to lie in our society. Jessica found a passion for applying her learning to the disability community while participating in multiple social work internships and working as a paraprofessional in the Special Education Extended Year Program through the Nashua School District. The most impactful experiences she had during this time were listening to individuals and their families share their stories -- both their joy and the pain that continued social and systemic barriers caused. While working as a Direct Support Professional at the PLUS Company in Nashua, Jessica led a project with a group of individuals in the Community Service Club to create a disability awareness campaign. Through this process, she came to see just how invisible many individuals with developmental disabilities feel as unique and multi-faceted people. Jessica recalls one remarkable young lady’s sentiment: “Even though having a disability is a part of me, it’s not the only thing that defines me.” For Jessica, these experiences reaffirmed for her that the disability community is diverse and remarkable, as well as severely under and mis-represented throughout the lifespan. She firmly believes that we can do better: as individuals, as professionals, as a social service system, and as a society. Jessica is excited for the opportunity to become part of the NH-ME LEND network and to further her leadership capacities to help push forward the incredible work that is occurring to improve the lives and health of youth and their families.
Madison Gorrasi, BS
Communication Sciences & Disorders, New Hampshire
Madison graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in Indiana, PA where she obtained her BS in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Obtaining this degree provided her with knowledge and resources regarding prevention, assessment, and diagnostics relating to various communication disorders. Madison is currently working towards a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of New Hampshire. Advocating for children with disabilities and their families is something that is very important to her. She has vast experience with children and families, including her work as a permanent substitute teacher in a special education classroom and Instructional Assistant for ESY. Madison also coached Special Olympics and was a Job Coach for an adult with Down Syndrome. These opportunities shed light on the importance of advocacy and access for children with disabilities and their families. Madison has learned and understands how important it is to be listened to and heard. Most importantly, she has learned that she can help make a difference and be a part of the change.
Shoshana Hitchcock, BS
Occupational Therapy, New Hampshire
Shoshana is currently in the Master of Occupational Therapy (MSOT) Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and is expected to graduate this December. Prior to pursuing a career in occupational therapy, she studied Community and International Development at the University of Vermont, focusing on ways to find innovative, sustainable solutions to a variety of local and global problems. During this time, she had the opportunity to work side-by-side with various stakeholders on several development projects. For three years after she graduated, she worked at a company specializing in educational travel and cultural exchange. She managed several territories and led educators in developing international experiences to compliment school curriculums, while providing various supports to assist in meeting both short and long-term goals. This position helped her develop an understanding of the different needs and challenges that individuals with different socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds face. Through these experiences, she was able to gain skills in communication, observation, and collaboration. As a student in the UNH MSOT program, she has had the opportunity to lead therapeutic groups at the Krempels Center for adults with brain injury, observe outpatient rehabilitation for adults experiencing neurological conditions and, under the supervision of her clinical instructor, spend 14 weeks both in-person and via telehealth providing occupational therapy services to children/adolescents at the Monarch School of New England. Through her experiences, Shoshana has gained a greater appreciation for the challenges, frustrations, and joys that individuals with disabilities and their friends and family members experience.
Rosie Hoffman, BA
Rosie graduated from Columbia University in New York City with a BA in History (Ancient Greek). Her academic focus was on the importance of storytelling in creating change in antiquity. As a community organizer, she worked on political campaigns helping constituents find their voices. Alongside other survivors of sexual assault, she spent time honing her narrative advocacy skills to empower survivors to share their stories to impact policy changes. Most recently, she worked as an educator and advocate with survivors of dating abuse, stalking and domestic violence. As a volunteer with the Southern Maine Workers’ Center and Jewish Action Maine, her focus has been on amplifying the voices of directly impacted individuals on campaigns ranging from access to dental healthcare to anti-white nationalism organizing. Rosie’s older brother Jake sustained brain hemorrhages after a premature birth, leaving him with multiple medical, physical, intellectual, and behavioral disabilities, as well as mental illness. Since moving to Maine, her brother has been without the self-directed services he received in NY state. Currently, Jake does not have support staff and has been unable to find employment or fulfillment. Jake’s hard work to communicate his interests and needs in a productive (as opposed to violent) way, has allowed those lucky enough to be part of his life to see him as the animal loving, anime enthusiast he is. Currently, Rosie is working on pre-requisites to apply to graduate school to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Her ambition is to use Speech-Language Pathology as a tool to support, organize and amplify the needs of people with I/DD and their families.
Gabrielle Jackson, BA
Early Childhood Educator/Community, Maine
Gabrielle is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine (USM) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Science with a minor in Early Childhood Education on the 0-5 teaching track. After graduating, she earned her 081-teacher certification teaching 0-5 in Maine. She focused most of her studies on the effects of trauma in early childhood development. While she attended school, she worked as a Private Nanny. In this position, she gained skills in communicating openly with families and working in a child-centered role. During her final year at USM, she interned as a student teacher at Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services. The internship led to a position as an Ed-Tech and, upon graduation, Gabrielle took on a lead teacher role in an inclusive special purpose classroom with children ages 2-4. Gabrielle feels privileged to have been able to pursue continued education in her adulthood. She took a short break after her bachelor’s degree and then began classes at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) through the Special Ed Alternate Route to Certification (SPARC) program. The program is designed to allow current teachers work in their classroom while taking graduate level classes towards their 282, a Special Educator Teaching Certificate in Maine. This opportunity introduced Gabrielle to other points of study such as the DIR Floortime Module, Routine Based Interventions, and Trauma-Informed Teaching practices.
Isabel Judware, BS
Nutrition, New Hampshire
This spring Isabel graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Currently, she is continuing her education at UNH as an Accelerated Master of Science student in the Nutritional Sciences Program. Subsequently, she plans to apply to an accredited year-long dietetic internship where she will complete supervised practice to sit for the national exam to become a Registered Dietitian. Isabel entered the field of Nutrition after discovering that food, and how we nourish our bodies, has a profound link between how we feel, how we think, how we interact with one another, and even how society sees us. She believes that nourishment is all-encompassing. Isabel also believes that nutrition is often an overlooked component of healthcare where primary emphasis is placed on medicines and technologies. The field of nutrition is broad and includes food service, research, community education, clinical work, and more. At this point in Isabel’s career, she has dabbled in each of these areas by working at numerous restaurants, aiding in the College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey (CHANAS) Research, and working collaboratively as a peer educator in student organizations such as Nourish and Fueling Station. What Isabel has enjoyed most are her clinical experiences, working with the elderly population at a senior care facility, Lorien Health Services, and an assisted living facility, Harmony Homes by the Bay. This dream stems from her positive experience at Camp CareFree, a summer program run through the American Diabetes Association for children with Type 1 Diabetes, and her clinical placement at the Concord Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit this past fall. Through LEND, Isabel hopes to be accessible and assist in the justification of appropriate medical services for all children.
Bianca McAfee, BA
Communication Science & Disorders, New Hampshire
Bianca’s desire to help others has been a constant in her life. She has been a peer minister, community assistant, and youth group leader in her church parish. She has also taken a mission trip to Nicaragua, where she was able to help children with disabilities living in the Mustard Seed Orphanage in Managua, Nicaragua. These experiences have helped Bianca realize that she wants to spend her life advocating to help others restore some or all their physical, sensory, and mental capabilities lost due to injury, illness, or disability. Bianca is a graduate of Assumption College in Worcester, MA where she obtained a BA in Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies with a concentration in Communication Sciences and Disorders. This degree provided her with a strong foundation for work in a variety of health, disability, and human service-related fields such as Speech and Language Pathology. During the fall of her senior year, Bianca was able to put what she learned in the classroom into action by interning at a local elementary school with children with speech and language impairments for 400-hours across the semester. This experience solidified her desire to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, by becoming a certified Speech and Language Pathologist. Helping individuals with disabilities challenges the talents of Bianca’s mind along with the gifts in her heart to do meaningful work that feeds by soul.
Tracey Miller, MEd
Special Education/Community, Maine
Tracey’s professional work with young children began seven years ago, when, seeking to transition away from many years as a freelance graphic designer, she took an Assistant Teacher position at a small private preschool. She later took a position as a Special Education Ed Tech III, where she found that she particularly enjoyed the challenge of working with young children who needed extra support with their learning, including those with challenging behaviors. She received her State of Maine 282 “Teacher of Students with Disabilities” (birth to age 5) endorsement, and this spring, completed an MEd in Special Education with a concentration in Early Intervention through the University of Maine. Currently, she is employed as an Early Childhood Special Educator with Child Development Services in Lewiston, where she participates on IEP teams as a classroom observer and evaluator and provides itinerant specially-designed instruction to 3-to-5-year-olds in school and child care settings. Since finding her way to the field of early childhood special education, she has continually pursued opportunities to build her skill set as a teacher. She is now interested in broadening her scope by connecting with other professionals who support children with disabilities, and by learning more about policy and advocacy. She is excited to participate in the LEND program as she works toward identifying how she can best leverage her strengths and interests to affect positive systemic change.
Ivory Mills, BS
Early Childhood Mental Health/Community, Maine
Ivory is a graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta where she obtained a BS in Mental Health & Human Services. This degree in conjunction with her Early Childhood and Special Education courses supported her professional growth in multiple ways. She has spent a cumulative of over 10 years in Head Start as a Preschool Teacher, Home Visitor, Mental Health & Disabilities Manager, to her current position as the Family Services and Home-Based Manager. She has also worked for Child Development Services, and as a Behavioral Health Professional and Children's Case Manager. She also has her Maine 282 teaching certification. Her passion for advocating and serving children began early on. She is a proud mother of four adult children who taught her about herself, being a parent, and the world of special education. Through her kids and the support of the Maine Parent Federation, she found her voice and vowed to never allow another parent to navigate the feelings of self-doubt and intimidation as she did. She also volunteers for a youth teen group called YoungLife serving the MidCoast area. Ivory firmly believes if you empower a parent, it will trickle down to the child like a waterfall. The result is a representation of how a community and leadership can come together on behalf of our youth. The same way multiple waterways feed a river. She is honored to join the NH-ME LEND program.
Sarah Menard, MS
Social Work, New Hampshire
Sarah is a graduate of Vermont College of Union Institute and University where she obtained a BA in Holistic Studies, and of Walden University where she obtained an MS in Human Services Administration. Both programs were a combination of self-directed study and on-line/remote learning. In between these programs, Sarah obtained a certification and licensure in massage therapy and bodywork from the Fingerlakes School of Massage in Ithaca, NY. Sarah was able to combine her interests in living and working with individuals with disabilities and holistic health at a Camphill Community after completing her undergraduate degree. She spent the next 10 years life-sharing and working alongside individuals with special needs in vocational, cultural, and artistic activities. Through these experiences, she was able to understand more fully how rich a life experience can be when shared with people in a neuro-developmentally diverse community. Sarah met her husband and had two children while living in Camphill and then moved to New Hampshire where she continued working in the non-profit sector, primarily in residential programs for youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Sarah is particularly proud of her efforts to transition adults from campus-based staffed residential programs to creative community-based life-sharing homes. Her experiences with life-sharing have informed her awareness and appreciation of how an authentic mutual relationship can have a significant impact on the quality of life for both people who experience disability, and those who choose to create a life with these individuals. Over the last 6 six years, Sarah has gained a broader understanding of the complexity of the health and human services system. Her commitment stems from being a sibling to a sister who experiences Autism and concurrent mental health disabilities. This combination has made it difficult for her sister to find inclusion in her community, and peace in her relationships and in her own mind. According to Sarah, her experiences growing up with her sister have made her more accepting of others, more resilient in times of change and challenge, and more able to see the joy and humor in the unique and strange experience of human life. It has also made her a better partner to families who walk a difficult journey with their loved ones and where the path to acceptance and inclusion is hard-fought.
Wendy Morrison, BA
Direct Support Professional/Community, New Hampshire
Wendy is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH where she earned a dual degree in Art and Psychology. Her internship was with Head Start where she learned how to be an Infant Toddler Home Visitor and had the opportunity to meet a wide range of families and observe the many challenges and different struggles that families face. Bringing new activities and games to family visits, Wendy introduced children and parents to new ways of learning and encouraging brain development. When she noticed places where a child or the family could use extra help, she was able to refer them to helpful resources. During her internship, Wendy also implemented developmental tests for early intervention. While studying at UNH, Wendy began her career as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) and is affectionately called a Life Coach by those she supports. Wendy has been a DSP since 2013 and in 2016 earned a Supporting People in Community living Certificate, which helped her to be more purposeful with each learning experience. This class taught her how to get to know the people she works with in order to guide them to their best lives possible. It also helped her to connect better with all people she comes in contact with, including people who have communication challenges.
Hibo Omer, MPH
Public Health/Community, Maine
Hibo is a graduate of University of New England with an MPH; she obtained a BA in Natural and Applied Science from USM. Hibo strongly supported the creation of the ethnic based organization called New Mainers Public Health Initiative (NMPHI) from the beginning. She has been working closely with the New Mainers families with children with disabilities about school meetings, including the importance of and family involvement with Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings. Hibo spent four years with community health education on Autism Awareness, Women’s Health, and Cancer Awareness. Due to the nature of the topic of disability being “Taboo” in the New Mainers community, education and creating awareness was necessary to talk about the problem in hand and the increase in the number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a Targeted Case Manager (TCM) and community member in the Lewiston Auburn area, Hibo saw herself as a catalyst for change in her community. Four years ago, her full-time job became serving Lewiston Auburn with health education programs to mothers and children with preventive health goals. According to Hibo, with complicated and complex medical solutions, preventive help should be prioritized among families for better outcomes of disease. In Hibo’s role as Program Director, she has been able to create and spearhead needed awareness programs in the community. Her long-term goal is to take the Behavioral Health Professionals (BHPs) ideology to the horn of Africa so that children with disabilities there could have brighter future.
Gayle Perreault, MBA, BCBA
Family Member/Community, New Hampshire
As a life-long learner, Gayle has followed a winding path toward her current goal of serving her community and focusing on challenges faced by those with disabilities. Starting with a BS in Economics from Russell Sage College and an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, her goals were strictly professionally focused. Becoming a parent pended her goals in a heartbeat or, as Gayle puts it, "with a heartbeat.” Gayle feels fortunate to have been able to stay at home with her children for 16 years and was able to direct her ambitions towards goals that supported them, such as founding a PTO and fundraising for their public schools as well as the American Lung Association. The rewards and challenges of parenting provided Gayle with a wealth of opportunities enabling her to focus on her goal-oriented ambitions. The defining challenge of her path has been her youngest’s diagnosis of autism which came at a time when services weren’t available, and the cost was rarely covered by insurance. On a mission to learn, Gayle became a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She now works at her area agency, where she has developed an ABA program to serve the autism community where she lives. From this point on her journey, she can see so much more opportunity for growth, and she looks forward to exploring it.
Jaclyn Peterson, BA
Early Childhood Educator/Community, Maine
Jaclyn is a graduate from the University of Southern Maine where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Through life experiences and her education, she has learned a wealth of knowledge in the areas of advocating for early-intervention services, mental health, public health, education, and the crucial need for community collaboration. Over the last 8 years, Jaclyn has had the incredible opportunity to work in an all-inclusive, special purpose preschool program in Lewiston, Maine. It is here where she began delivering direct care in the capacity of an Education Technician, an SB-BHP, and a Lead Teacher, while later moving into a leadership position. The combination of her educational experiences, career opportunities, and lifelong personal and professional experiences, have enabled Jaclyn to understand the importance of advocating and implementing systemic change for individuals of all abilities. Jaclyn is thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside other professionals and families to share hope, compassion, and change towards a better system for all.
Ellen Rislove, BS
Occupational Therapy, New Hampshire
Ellen is currently an Occupational Therapy graduate student at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). In 2016, she graduated from UNH with a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Prior to graduation, she completed a sixteen-week internship at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, CA. This hands-on involvement included six hundred hours of experience in an inpatient rehabilitation, pediatric and behavioral health setting where she learned how to effectively assess patients, develop and facilitate treatment sessions, and evaluate a therapeutic approach to ensure patients’ goals could be met. After graduation, Ellen worked for Easterseals in the Senior Services department as the Program Specialist. For two years, she worked closely with older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as their families/caregivers. This challenging position taught her interpersonal, supervisory and advocacy skills. Currently, as an OT graduate student, Ellen is completing her fieldwork in various settings. She has completed both inpatient acute and outpatient settings. This fall, she will be finishing up her last fieldwork experience in early intervention. Throughout her time working in these various settings, Ellen has enjoyed serving and advocating for individuals with illness, injury and/or disability.
Bayli Royal, BSW
Social Work, New Hampshire
Bayli is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH where she obtained a BS in Social Work with a minor in Justice Studies. During her studies, she interned at Seacoast Learning Collaborative (SLC) where she worked with high school students who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, and other learning disabilities. Bayli worked with the students both individually inside the classroom as well as outside during adventure-based learning experiences. Prior to her time at SLC, Bayli had never worked with people with disabilities. She has come to realize that she is very interested in furthering her knowledge working with this population. Bayli also interned at New Heights for a short period where she helped improve team building skills with adolescents ages K-8th grade. She also participated and observed a full day of team building activities with 1st year high school students. In terms of leadership, she was the Sisterhood Development Chair in her sorority on the executive board, where she oversaw educating 80-90 new members on the history and values of her sorority along with planning sisterhood events. This experience taught her patience, flexibility, organization, and open-mindedness. She enjoyed being someone for fellow sisters to look up to and come to for help. Bayli is excited to learn more about working with individuals with disabilities and their families as well as expand her leadership skills.
Monique Stairs, BS
Liberal Studies/Community, Maine
Monique is a 2020 graduate of the University of Maine at Presque Isle where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Management. She has worked for Speaking Up For Us (SUFU), Maine’s Self-Advocacy Network since November 2010. During her time working with self-advocates, she has learned many skills about communication, leadership, and advocacy among people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Monique continues to learn from self-advocates and help problem-solve ways to improve the system and promote equality for all people living with disabilities. Prior to her work at SUFU, she was a victim’s advocate for, and community educator with, youth in crisis. These experiences have offered different perspectives on diversity, mental health, and family dynamics that she draws upon in her work with SUFU and in her personal life. Monique has served as a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Maine since 2011 as a troop leader and as a facilitator providing training to other volunteers. Through her work with Girl Scouts of Maine, she has served on several planning committees for large events and helped develop programs for girls across Maine. Monique has a passion for promoting the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for girls of all ages.
Grace Stott, BS
Nutrition, New Hampshire
Grace is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where she obtained a BS in Nutrition: Dietetics and EcoGastronomy. During this time, she explored many topics within nutrition and the food system, leading her to invaluable experiences in research, public speaking, and leadership. Grace worked at a local food pantry and non-profit all four years of undergrad, which exposed her to many populations. Her senior capstone was at the Strafford County Department of Corrections. These opportunities, along with studying abroad and her coursework sparked Grace’s desire to work with diverse populations in her future. Whereas many students pursue experiences only surrounding their career goals and interests, she has made it her mission to gain as many different skills and experiences as possible, whether it be working with children in an outdoor adventures program, volunteering on a farm in rural Nepal, or working as a dietary aid in a hospital. Though she has no direct experience working with those with intellectual and physical disabilities, Grace does have family members with neurodevelopmental disabilities; her uncle has epilepsy, several learning disabilities, and various health challenges. According to Grace, her uncle’s parents work hard to provide him with the best care possible, but sometimes lack access to health professionals trained in disability. Grace currently does not have the knowledge or authority to help her uncle, but given the opportunity to grow and learn, she hopes to make a difference in not only her uncle’s life, but also in the lives of others in similar situations.
Rafia Tisha, MSc
Medicine/Community, New Hampshire
Rafia is a licensed physician in Bangladesh. She completed her post-graduation, MSc in Clinical Neuroscience from King’s College London, UK; and obtained traineeships from the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology in Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. Before she permanently moved to the US, she was an attending physician and registrar in the Department of Medicine at a Medical College Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Rafia is a visiting clinical researcher at the Zia Heart Foundation, Dinajpur, Bangladesh. She has started MPH coursework at UNH. During her education, traineeship, practice, and research, Rafia received and managed a wide range of patients with chronic neurological ailments. She has mentored, trained, and invigilated medical students and professional examinees; supervised intern doctors, organized and convened inter departmental education programs, presented cases in seminars, managed administration of Medicine Department including scheduling classes & tutorials, and coordinated examinations. She has been conducting clinical research on chronic primary headache patients of adult population in Dinajpur town, Bangladesh. The objective has been to observe the pattern of sign symptoms in chronic primary headache patients based on epidemiological backgrounds with drug effects. Though Rafia served mostly adult patients in her career, she had the opportunity to work in the pediatrics unit during her internship. Recently, when her 3-year-old son had been undergoing the evaluation process of autism, both her priorities and interests moved towards neurodevelopmental disabilities (ND) in children. Now Rafia wishes to support her family and friends who have kids with ND. Her vision is to mentor future professionals/leaders who wish to work with patients with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities towards improving the system of care. For promoting innovative practice, Rafia wants to conduct research in this field. For emphasizing integration of services, Rafia will extend her volunteer activity in this field of disability. She also wishes to be a provider someday to diagnose, rule out and provide evidence based and effective interventions.
Erin Wardrop, BSW
Social Work, New Hampshire
Erin is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH where she earned a BS in Social Work and Psychology. This degree gave her a sense of the social work field as well as a deeper understanding of the psychological development of her clients. Her focus areas have included anxiety, depression, bipolar I and II, schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and developmental disabilities. Erin entered the Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program immediately after graduating because she believed that her work, volunteer, and educational experiences had prepared her well for the field. Working with individuals with disabilities has been a passion of Erin’s since she started working one-on-one as a supportive peer for a classmate in fifth grade and volunteering with Special Olympics. Since discovering her passion for helping individuals with mental health issues, she has gained experience from multiple settings in the field. Erin worked as a paraeducator with students with high-and low-functioning autism, a research and teaching assistant within consumer and human behaviors, a co-facilitator for suicide prevention training programs, a community support intern at a community mental health agency, and most recently, as an intern running remote group programming for individuals 21+ with developmental disabilities. All of these roles have provided Erin with a holistic perspective into the intersectional needs of many populations. Since then, Erin has developed a great interest in working with individuals with all mental health concerns and feels inspired by the connections she makes with individuals of all abilities. Erin believes that all individuals, regardless of ability or background, should have access to therapeutic services. She hopes to continue her professional ventures in ways that promote her ability to explore her passions in ways that help others.
Ashley Woodbury, BS
Communication Science & Disorders, New Hampshire
Ashley graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2019 with a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders. While completing her undergraduate degree and first year of graduate school, she held several different positions working with children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities as an applied behavior analysis tutor, a personal care provider, and a behavioral health professional. Ashely was also a member of the community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, which gave her the opportunity to serve the community. Most of her service hours involved volunteering with Friends in Action, an organization that provides programming for people with developmental disabilities, by working alongside participants at Echo Thrift Shop and attending Wildcat Friends events. Ashley worked as a research assistant for two years in the CSD IMPROV lab as an undergraduate student, and this past year in the CSD research labs. As an undergraduate student, she worked on two projects studying the efficacy of a treatment for childhood apraxia of speech, which is what initially sparked her interest in becoming a speech-language pathologist and helping individuals better communicate. This past year, Ashley was able to take the skills she learned during these projects to train other students in acoustic analysis. During her graduate program, she has worked with several individuals with communication difficulties and has been able to improve her clinical, professional, and interpersonal skills. Her experiences have further developed her interest in and passion for working with and advocating for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. They also have given her a chance to observe areas of need within the field. Ashley is looking forward to strengthening her leadership and interprofessional skills as they relate to neurodevelopmental disabilities to be better able to help future clients and the community.