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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.

Senior Manager, Direct Assistance and Training

Kpana Kpoto Senior Manager, Direct Assistance and Training kkpoto@INCLUDEnyc.org Kpana manages INCLUDEnyc’s helpline and staff training to ensure that families receive quality direct assistance when they call for help navigating early intervention, special education, OPWDD, and other services systems. She also develops and disseminates information and resources to families and collaborates with community organizations in the interest of people with disabilities. Kpana brings a passionate family perspective to her work as the parent of an autistic son and as the co-founder of an autism parent support group that she co-founded in the Bronx. She 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.

Intake Associate

Victoria Laudat Intake Associate vlaudat@INCLUDEnyc.org After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology at St. Joseph’s College, Victoria has been dedicated to working in nonprofit organizations that aim to advance and empower marginalized communities. Before Victoria joined INCLUDEnyc, she had over 5 years of experience working with communities of color, especially the Dominican community, to educate and mobilize them through civic, social and economic integration. Through her experience in working in a nonprofit, Victoria has acquired a passion for racial and social justice through an intersectional approach. She strongly believes that everyone is deserving of equal opportunities and equal rights. Victoria is excited to be a part of the INCLUDEnyc team to provide information, guidance and support to families.

Intake Coordinator

Issamar Lopez Intake Coordinator ilopez@includenyc.org Issamar Lopez is a Bilingual Intake and Operations Coordinator at INCLUDEnyc. She has spent several years working not only in the customer service industry but also at nonprofits assisting families and individuals. In previous roles, Issamar worked as a service coordinator allocating services for children who needed early childhood education. She has also worked alongside predominantly minority families and assisted in enrolling their children in enriching extracurricular activities such as swimming, basketball, and summer camp. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from York College and believes that literature has the power to bring people together and evoke feelings of unity and community.

Director of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood

Kimberly McCoy Director of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood kmccoy@INCLUDEnyc.org Kimberly is the Director of Parent & Family Engagement, Early Childhood. She 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 (Family Engagement Facilitator) 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

Melinda Burke Family Educator mburke@includenyc.org Melinda (Family Engagement Facilitator) originally came to INCLUDEnyc (then RCSN) as a mother who was trying to understand and navigate the special education system in New York City. She eventually turned that experience into a career, becoming a NYS certified teacher with a Master’s Degree in Special Education from City College. Melinda worked for 17 years in NYCDOE’s D75 as a classroom teacher, a SETSS provider, and a Unit Coordinator, followed by several years as a preschool special education teacher. Melinda is especially passionate about the importance of families as part of each child’s educational team. She is thrilled to be helping people with disabilities and their families feel nurtured and supported within their own community while proudly taking their place in the larger world.

Family Educator

Simone Capparelli Family Educator scapparelli@INCLUDEnyc.org Growing up in New York City, Simone (Family Engagement Facilitator) 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

Aileen Comejo Family Educator acamejo@includenyc.org As a Family Educator and Early Childhood Family Engagement Specialist for INCLUDEnyc, Aileen (Family Engagement Facilitator) has extensive experience in the education field and in helping families and professionals build a strong understanding of the role of family engagement in special education systems. Born and raised in the Philippines, she discovered her passion and talent for teaching when she moved to New York City in 2001. She began her career in education as an assistant teacher at a Head Start preschool, while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Queens College and a Special Education Degree extension from Touro College. She joined Ascend Public Charter Schools in 2014 as a founding Kindergarten Teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching Classroom and Grade Team Lead, and then as the Student Services Coordinator, responsible for ensuring the delivery and implementation of high-quality instructional support and services for students who are English Language Learners and students from kindergarten to fourth grade who have disabilities or medical conditions. She also worked as an Early Intervention Special Instructor, Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist, and School-aged Learning Specialist prior to joining INCLUDEnyc. She is family-oriented in her personal life and values quality time spent with her husband and two daughters.

Family Educator

Rosanna Garcia Family Educator rgarcia@includenyc.org Rosanna Garcia is a Family Educator, Resource & Referral Specialist (bilingual) at INCLUDEnyc. Prior to her work at INCLUDEnyc, she worked as an infant, toddler, and preschool teacher for over seven years, where she supported children’s development through play-based practices. She was responsible for communicating with parents and working with other educators to assist children in their developmental milestones. Rosanna is the eldest of four and is proud to have helped her single mother to raise her siblings. Rosanna received her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at BMCC and a Bachelor’s Degree Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration on Disabilities at City College. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education Dual Certification at Hunter College. She hopes to change the narrative of disability through education and information. Rosanna enjoys traveling and hopes to visit more countries soon.

Family Educator

Katie Stella Family Educator kstella@includenyc.org Katie Stella joins INCLUDEnyc as a Family Educator and Family Engagement Facilitator. Katie has a master’s degree in Special Education and taught at the Rebecca School, a non-public therapeutic-based school utilizing the Developmental Individual-differences Relationship-based (DIR)/Floortime methodology, a holistic intervention that considers the individual, their strengths, and their current developmental ability, for over five years. Her passion lies in educating other professionals in play-based learning and the whole child approach. In her spare time, Katie loves reading, hiking, and trying new coffee shops.

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 (Family Engagement Facilitator) 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

Evita Bullen Family Educator ebullen@includenyc.org Evita Bullen joins INCLUDEnyc as a Family Educator and Family Engagement Facilitator on the School Age team. Evita has a master’s degree in special education and brings over 12 years of teaching experience in both NYC DOE and charter schools. Most recently, she was Director of Special Populations at Explore Charter Schools. In this role, her responsibilities included coaching and training teachers on intervention programs and instructional and behavioral supports, small group instruction to middle school students with IEPs, and coordination of communication between families, the CSE, and the school. Evita is passionate about special education and believes strongly in the inclusion of all students in the classroom and community.

Family Educator

Kimberly Delgado Family Educator kdelgado@includenyc.org As a Family Educator and School Aged Family Engagement Facilitator for INCLUDEnyc, Kim has extensive experience in the education field and in helping families and professionals build a strong understanding of the role of family engagement in special education systems. Born and raised in New York City, she developed an interest in education at a very early age and always wanted to become a teacher. Kim has a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Information Systems from NYC College of Technology, a Master of Science in Childhood Education from Brooklyn College, and advanced certifications in working with students with disabilities and as a school building leader (SBL) and school district leader (SDL) from the College of Saint Rose. She joined Ascend Public Charter Schools in 2011 as a founding third grade teacher in a general education classroom and grade team lead. Later, she became a math coach and then a student services coordinator, responsible for ensuring the delivery and implementation of high-quality instructional support and services for students who are English Language Learners and students from kindergarten to fourth grade who have disabilities or medical conditions. She is family-oriented in her personal life and values quality time spent with her husband and son.

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

Laura Evans Family Educator levans@includenyc.org Laura Evans is a Family Educator and Family Engagement Facilitator on the School Age Team. Laura discovered her commitment to working with young people with disabilities while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, where she collaborated with organizations that developed inclusive education programs for people with disabilities. After Morocco, Laura taught in New York City’s District 75 program. With her background in teaching and international educational development, Laura is committed to fostering equitable and responsive education systems and to supporting students and families in navigating these systems. Laura holds master’s degrees in special education and international educational development. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, and playing cricket in Prospect Park.

Family Educator

Alzira Reis Family Educator areis@includenyc.org Alzira Reis joins INCLUDEnyc as a Family Educator, Resource & Referral Specialist on the School Age team. Alzira holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Liberal Arts-Social Sciences. She previously taught at Rebecca School, a non-public therapeutic school that utilizes the DIR Methodology, an individualized program that meets students’ unique needs while celebrating their strengths. In that role, Alzira collaborated with families to leverage their expertise and lived experience in parenting children with disabilities to foster a child’s individual needs and interests. In her spare time, Alzira loves traveling, cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Director, Parent and Family Engagement

Alfonso Guzman Director, Parent and Family Engagement 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

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.

Senior Manager, Youth and Transition Services

Mia Greenidge Senior Manager, Youth and 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

Akira Carr Youth Educator acarr@includenyc.org Akira Carr, a Harlem native, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Akira brings a wide range of skills to the table, including management, program development, college preparation, and youth work readiness skill development. Service is central to her passion and drives her as an advocate and community builder. Akira’s creativity and work with children will help us guide young people with disabilities and other aspects of our work toward thoughtful and intentional outcomes.

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.

Bilingual Youth Coordinator

David Solano Bilingual Youth Coordinator dsolano@includenyc.org David Solano is a Bilingual Youth Coordinator at INCLUDEnyc. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he was a special education teacher for seven years in 4th and 5th grades and then in the high school setting. As the son of indigenous Guatemalans, David has a passion for supporting historically underserved and Spanish-speaking families and works to create a more inclusive and equitable society. David holds two Bachelor’s degrees in History and English from the University of California, Davis, and received his Education Specialist credential and Master’s in Special Education from California State University, Los Angeles. In his free time, David enjoys fermenting Kombucha and jogging across Manhattan.

Senior Manager

Julianne Toce Senior Manager 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.