Welcome to the INCLUDEnyc community and our new website! Learn more.

IncludeNYC logo

Programs

Programs

Deputy Executive Director of Programs

Jane Heaphy Deputy Executive Director of Programs jheaphy@INCLUDEnyc.org Jane brings over 25 years of educational nonprofit management experience. Focused on equity and access over her career, she led the Options Center and created the Options Institute, which provide college access and success programming to young people and training and capacity-building to school and community based counselors. She also headed Learning Leaders whose programs engaged parents as essential partners in public education. Jane lives in Brooklyn with her family. A graduate of the NYC public schools, she is also the proud parent of two teenagers in public high schools in Brooklyn. She has a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College.

Senior Education Specialist

Jean Mizutani Senior Education Specialist jmizutani@INCLUDEnyc.org Jean has worked at INCLUDEnyc since 1999. She manages the direct assistance program, works with parents and professionals, and conducts training on advocacy skills and special education. She is a key leader of INCLUDEnyc’s Special Education Parent Centers and participates in several coalitions and advisory groups. Formerly a chef, she is the parent of a daughter with disabilities. Jean first contacted our organization as a parent seeking help and volunteered for two years before joining the staff.

Director of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood

Stephanie Tong Director of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood stong@INCLUDEnyc.org Stephanie is the Director of Parent and Family Engagement, Early Childhood. For the past 10 years, she has worked in Early Childhood programs ranging from Early Childhood Head Start, Early Learn, and UPK programs to home visiting programs focused on reaching high-need families with young children. Stephanie feels strongly that supporting families at the earliest stages sets children up for greater success educationally and social emotionally. Stephanie earned her Master of Education from the Teacher’s College at Columbia and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Manager of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood

Kpana Kpoto Manager of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood kkpoto@INCLUDEnyc.org Kpana’s son was diagnosed with autism at four-years old. Soon she found herself in the role of advocating for him and for others in the autism parent support group that she co-founded in the Bronx. No one mentioned autism to her when he was in Early Intervention and she often thinks about the services that he could’ve received if she knew then what she knows now. This experience changed Kpana’s life and she adopted the mission to inform and empower families, so their children can get the services that they need. This eventually led to a career change that brought Kpana to INCLUDEnyc. As a part of her role at INCLUDEnyc, Kpana develops and disseminates information and resources to parents and caregivers in underserved communities and collaborates with community organizations in the interest of people with disabilities. She brings a passionate family perspective to her work. Kpana received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Howard University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Disability Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Senior Family Educator

Kimberly McCoy Senior Family Educator kmccoy@INCLUDEnyc.org Kimberly is an attorney, special educator, and parent of a child with autism. She brings over 10 years of experience in special education, ranging from early childhood evaluator and home-based ABA instructor to community school teacher. She attended City College for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Special Education and earned her J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Family Educator

Sasha Bueno Family Educator sbueno@INCLUDEnyc.org As a Family Educator, Sasha is happy to educate and support families and professionals navigate the special education systems within early childhood. Her passion derives from her own family experience as a sibling to a person with developmental disabilities. Over the past ten years, Sasha has worked with young individuals with speech and language disabilities, taught in ICT classrooms, and provided special instruction services within Early Intervention. Sasha is a native Spanish speaker, an aRPy Ambassador, and NYS certified teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Pace University and a Master’s Degree in Transformative Literacy from The City College of New York.

Family Educator

Simone Capparelli Family Educator scapparelli@INCLUDEnyc.org Growing up in New York City, Simone was a student in New York City schools and a sister helping her sibling with learning disabilities. Witnessing her family’s struggle finding the right supports for her brother, Simone became passionate about pursuing a career in education. Simone has over ten years experience as a special education teacher, behavioral intervention specialist, life skills coach, and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapist. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from City College and a Master’s Degree in General and Special Education from Touro College. Simone is excited to be a part of INCLUDEnyc as a Family Educator specializing in early childhood.

Family Educator

Steffany Ruiz Family Educator sruiz@INCLUDEnyc.org Steffany Ruiz is a firm believer that the family is the basis of society and therefore plays a fundamental role in our children’s lives. Steffany has joined INCLUDEnyc to advocate and provide support to families of children and young people with disabilities by connecting them to resources within the community and delivering interactive workshops. Steffany holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has extensive experience working in the field of social services. She began her professional career working with families of children in early childhood in Bogota, Colombia, then as a case manager for a Mental Health clinic and as a family advocate for high risk families including Spanish Speaking families in New York City.

Director of Parent & Family Engagement, School-Age

Elizabeth Golini Director of Parent & Family Engagement, School-Age egolini@INCLUDEnyc.org Elizabeth is excited to join the staff at INCLUDEnyc as a Director of Parent and Family Engagement. For the past ten years, she has worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other disabilities and their families in non-public settings, charter schools, and public schools. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education from Simmons College and is a Doctoral Candidate at Hunter College. Additionally, she brings her knowledge as a Licensed Behavior Analyst and Board Certified Behavior Analyst to INCLUDEnyc. Elizabeth is passionate about working with families and communities to better serve people with disabilities. She is committed to working for educational equity and access for all children and their families.

Senior Family Educator

Ruth DiRoma Senior Family Educator rdiroma@INCLUDEnyc.org Ruth brings a lifetime of nonprofit and advocacy experience to INCLUDEnyc, including 30 years working for the Healing Arts Initiative. As a parent of a child with a disability herself, Ruth lends an intimate knowledge and passion to her mission to help New York City families provide the best possible education and future for their own children with disabilities. She has a master’s degree in Special Education and Urban Education as well as a master’s in Labor Relations and Management from Pace University.

Senior Family Educator

Colin Montgomery Senior Family Educator cmontgomery@INCLUDEnyc.org A former special education teacher and department head in a Brooklyn middle school, Colin joined INCLUDEnyc to help New York City families navigate the barriers and challenges of special education and disability systems. As Senior Family Educator, Colin provides direct assistance and training to families and professionals on topics related to school-age special education and navigating adult life and agency services. He also applies his curriculum development skills to create new trainings, including internal and external professional development. Colin strongly believes in the inclusion of students with disabilities and culturally responsive education for both youth and families as key components of educational equity. He holds a Masters in Special Education from Brooklyn College and is fluent in French.

Family Educator

MaryBeth Bergren Family Educator mbergren@includenyc.org MaryBeth is a Family Educator on the School Age team at INCLUDEnyc. As a native Staten Islander, MaryBeth has over ten years experience in higher education and is actively involved in the disability community as co-chair of the Staten Island Disability Council (SIDDC) Education Committee and the UFT Special Needs Parents Committee. As a mom of two children with autism and an adjunct professor at CUNY, she brings both professional and personal experience to her role. MaryBeth has a Bachelor’s in Communications with a minor in Musical Theatre from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master’s Degree in Business Communication with a concentration in the Customer Driven Organization from JIU.

Family Educator

Maggie Downham Family Educator mdownham@INCLUDEnyc.org As a person with multiple disabilities, Maggie brings both professional and personal experience to her work at INCLUDEnyc as a Family Educator. She knows the struggles and joys that living with a disability brings. Watching her mother advocate for her growing up, Maggie learned to be her own advocate. While her personal experiences have inspired her to do this work, she also feels strongly that she has a professional responsibility to empower families with the knowledge and skills they need to advocate for their children. When she entered the field of family advocacy full-time, she brought with her seven years of experience as an educator of students with disabilities in grades five through eight whom she taught in various subjects and classroom settings.

Family Educator

Julianne Toce Family Educator jtoce@INCLUDEnyc.org Julianne is a Family Educator at INCLUDEnyc. She has taught general and special education in New York City public schools and has a Master’s degree in Sociology and Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University. She has a strong dedication to racial justice and equal rights, and believes in the need to acknowledge their intersection with schools and special education in teaching and advocacy work.

Senior Manager of Parent & Family Engagement, Special Projects

Alfonso Guzman Senior Manager of Parent & Family Engagement, Special Projects aguzman@INCLUDEnyc.org At INCLUDEnyc, Alfonso works directly with youth and families conducting outreach activities and delivering trainings. A native Spanish speaker, Alfonso is passionate about reaching immigrant families in NYC. He has designed, translated, and delivered a wide variety of parent workshops for families and professionals. He began his career in Early Intervention, has trained families in the child welfare system, and brings over a decade of social services experience to his work. Alfonso has an M.A. in Psychology from City College of the City University of New York.

Family Educator

Diana Biagioli Family Educator dbiagioli@INCLUDEnyc.org Diana has extensive experience with nonprofits in the fields of education, immigration, and the environment, both in New York City and in London, England. One of her children has a learning disability, and Diana is thrilled to be able to guide young people and their families. She is a native Spanish speaker and is particularly interested in servicing and supporting the Spanish-speaking community. Diana has an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University.

Family Educator

Johanna Espinoza Family Educator jespinoza@INCLUDEnyc.org Johanna can identify with the barriers that people face when they arrive in a new country. Due to language limitations her parents were not aware of the supports available to assist Johanna’s adjustment to a new culture. She struggled with her academics and wanted to give up on school. Through one of her teachers she was connected with a bilingual counselor. She learned about the various supports offered and began advocating for herself and her family. This is when her passion to work with families began. Johanna has prior experience with family counseling in the preventive service setting as a case planner. She also has experience working with adults with autism and provided behavioral intervention therapy (ABA), and job coaching. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Saint Francis College and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Baruch College. Johanna brings her enthusiasm to support and educate families as a family educator at INCLUDEnyc.

Family Educator

Yulissa Garcia Family Educator ygarcia@INCLUDEnyc.org Raised by immigrant parents in the Bronx and studying Sociology, Yulissa has a deep understanding of why families like her own did not have access to proper resources. She aspired to be an agent of change in communities like the one she grew up in and has worked extensively in care coordination for adults with chronic conditions. Yulissa joins the INCLUDEnyc team with the continued desire to help the New York community, particularly Latino families. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Lehman College in Sociology with a minor in Early Childhood Education.

Director of Youth & Transition Services

ebony A. Innis Director of Youth & Transition Services einnis@INCLUDEnyc.org ebony is the Director of Youth and Transition Services. ebony brings 16 years of experience in education to this role, including teaching students with disabilities, overseeing after school and college/career programs, as well as curriculum design and development. She has developed and successfully supported staff, classrooms, and academic programs in schools and at nonprofits. ebony is committed to cultivating a community of learners, educational access, and opportunity. ebony has a Bachelor in Political Science and Master’s in Childhood Education.

Manager of Youth & Transition Services

Mia Greenidge Manager of Youth & Transition Services mgreenidge@INCLUDEnyc.org Mia has a Master’s degree in Adolescent Education from St. John’s University. She comes with a background in human services specializing in educational and vocational services for young people affected by the juvenile justice and foster care systems. Mia is driven by the belief that there is a stronger need for detailed and effective transitional support for young people with disabilities, so they understand how to be their own advocates, understand their special education rights, and have support in post-secondary planning. Mia comes to INCLUDEnyc with a passion for supporting and driving transitional work with young people and hopes to close the achievement gap for this group.

Youth Educator

Beth Harper Youth Educator bharper@INCLUDEnyc.org As the younger sibling of a person with a disability, Beth developed an interest in supporting others with disabilities at a young age. Observing the challenges that her brother experienced transitioning to adulthood led Beth to a career devoted to making systemic change for people with disabilities. With a Masters in Social Work, Beth comes to INCLUDEnyc with experience in ABA therapy, behavioral intervention, employment coaching, and other transition-related services. In her work, Beth places a strong emphasis on fostering collaborative, solution-focused systems of support, which are built upon teamwork and relationship building across all sectors.

Youth Educator

Belinda Lin Youth Educator blin@INCLUDEnyc.org As a Youth Educator, Belinda brings many years of experience serving youth and families in both NYC and Taipei, Taiwan in educational, mentoring, mental health, and after school settings. Growing up in Queens, New York in an immigrant household and working closely with the immigrant population has given Belinda a unique perspective of the challenges faced and hidden strengths this community holds. She is passionate about providing access to information on how to navigate special education services and continues to advocate for and with marginalized communities especially on the topic of their educational rights. Belinda holds a Master of Social Work degree from her alma mater, Nyack College.

Youth Coordinator

Yanilsa Diaz Youth Coordinator ydiaz@INCLUDEnyc.org Yanilsa is a Youth and Transition Services Coordinator at INCLUDEnyc. In prior roles, she helped Bronx families of children with developmental disabilities build their independence. Yanilsa also worked with young adult families at a Queens shelter and their transition towards permanent housing. She is passionate about youth development work in underserved communities and hopes to create a more equitable, accessible future for all New Yorkers. Yanilsa has a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Science from Queens College and is working towards her Master of Social Work from Hunter College.

Youth Coordinator

Neil Purohit Youth Coordinator npurohit@INCLUDEnyc.org As a person with a disability, Neil has been interested in advocacy work from a young age. Growing up with an IEP gave him first hand experience of the cracks that so many young people fall into, sparking a passion for both youth development and social justice. A lifelong New Yorker, Neil received his BA in Psychology from Queens College, where he was deeply involved with local advocacy organizations. Before joining INCLUDEnyc, he worked as a Community Organizer for a Brooklyn based nonprofit, working to improve health outcomes in some of the city’s most marginalized communities.