Board Member Bios


Susan Yuan


Susan Yuan President; Public Policy/Advocacy Chair  Susan Yuan, Ph.D. has worked in the field of developmental disabilities since the birth of her son, Andreas, 40 years ago. She was the Associate Director of the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion, Vermont’s UCEDD, until 2008, when she retired from the University, and established her consulting firm, Yuan & Associates. Dr. Yuan conducts trainings on culture and disability, inclusion, family support, and parents with disabilities. She assists in grant-writing, conducts program evaluations, and carries out competence-based parenting skills assessments in collaboration with the Vermont Parent Assessment Team at Sage Haven Associates, LLC.


Virginia Cruz


Virginia Cruz Vice President, Committees Virginia Cruz, MSW, DSW, of the Metropolitan State College of Denver has worked in the area of developmental disabilities for over 30 years. At UCLA Center for the Health Sciences, the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, she was a therapist and had the privilege of evaluating and treating children, adolescents, parents and their families with developmental disabilities as a LCSW. She is grateful to these families who were the best teachers about the ways to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. She was Chair of the Department of Social Work at the Metropolitan State University of Denver from 1992 to 2011 and added course content on developmental disabilities to the BSW and MSW programs. She is currently the Director of the MSW Program and continues teaching, training and researching the intersectionality of child welfare and developmental disabilities.

Ellen Gilmartin


Ellen Gilmartin Secretary; Self-Advocates Advisory Board Chair; Ellen Gilmartin Connecticut Office for Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities has been employed as an advocate at the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for more than 24 years. In this role, she has had the opportunity to partner with a number of parents who were facing discrimination and other challenges. In addition to individual advocacy for parents, Ms. Gilmartin has been an active participant in both TASP, and in a Connecticut group working on some of the same issues. Her particular interest is helping to promote connections between parents and professionals, and between the “big picture people” and the individuals who are facing day to day challenge

Leslie Kinney Treasurer; Finance Committee Chair The United Arc Turner Falls, MA

Sue Jones Senior Director; Training Committee Chair, Co-Chair Conference Committee;  Sue Jones, MCPE is Program Director at The Arc United, Greenfield, MA and former Co-President of TASP. For the past 25 years, Susan has specialized in supporting parents with intellectual disabilities. She has also worked with individuals with disabilities as a recreational therapist, employment specialist, case manager, family advocate and administrator. She holds a BS in rehabilitation from Springfield College and a master’s level certificate in parenting education from Wheelock College. Susan founded the New England Coalition for Supporting Parents with Cognitive Challenges and is a principal founder and co-president of The Association for Supported Parenting. She is currently the Program Director of the Positive Parenting Program which provides a variety of comprehensive parenting education, support programs and services to parents with learning differences. She has conducted trainings throughout country. For the last several years she has been contracted through The Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts to present trainings across the state focusing on working with parents with intellectual disabilities.

Lindsay Brillhart


Lindsay Brillhart Director; Self Advocate, Participant Technology Committee; a Mom of 2 girls. She is a strong self-advocate for her kids and others. She has (formally) worked with the ARC of Hamilton County and Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services. She currently resides in Cincinnati with her 2 kids Julianna 12, and Sara 3 and her fiancé Phil. She was once on the People First of Ohio board. She is a Partners in Policy graduate. She is also a graduate of PATHS (Providing Alternative Thinking Strategies).  In her spare time she loves to travel and to meet new people.

Nicole Brisson Director Nicole Brisson, Ph.D., LCMHC has worked in the field of developmental disabilities since 1992.  She previously worked as the Clinical Program Coordinator for the Developmental Services division of a community mental health agency in Vermont.  While there she provided clinical services to individuals and families with complex developmental, mental health, and medical needs.  She supervised the implementation of community-based services to parents with disabilities, provided consultation at child protection meetings, supervised clinical interns, and conducted trainings on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Dr. Brisson currently dedicates much of her work in her private practice, Sage Haven Associates, LLC, to meeting the mental health needs of parents with disabilities and provides consultation and training to service providers regarding these needs. Above all, Dr. Brisson enjoys conducting competence-based parenting assessments for parents with disabilities throughout Vermont and nationally.  She and Dr. Susan Yuan are working to expand their assessment services through the formation of the Vermont Parent Assessment Team.

Bernadette Irwin Director, C0-Chair Conference Committee, Participant Membership Committee, Participant Technology Committee; The Kennedy Krieger Institute/PACT:   Helping Children with Special Needs, Baltimore, MD Bernadette Irwin, M.S. is the Assistant Department Director for Family Support Services at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD. She is also co-president of The Association for Successful Parenting: Enhancing the lives of families when parents have learning difficulties. Bernadette has worked for 30+ years with individuals with intellectual disabilities or with families who are raising children with developmental disabilities. For the past 12 years, Bernadette has work with parents with intellectual disabilities in a center and home-based supported parenting program. The Growing Together Supported Parenting Program is the only supported parenting program in MD. Growing Together’s mission is to assist parents who have intellectual disabilities to provide safe, supportive and nurturing family environments for their children. The GT program provides parenting support to mothers and fathers, while offering activities that foster the developmental progress of their children

Ella Callow Director; Ella Callow directs the legal program of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research’s National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families. She provides technical support and consultation to parents, professionals, and both international entities and national local, state, federal and tribal entities regarding the unique legal issues presented in cases involving parents with disabilities. Ms. Callow is currently Principal Investigator on qualitative and quantitative studies designed to elicit data on the prevalence and experience of parents with disabilities in the child welfare and family law systems, as well as a project to increase awareness and systems capacity to serve parents with disabilities in tribal nations in the territorial U.S. In 2012 she collaborated with Robyn Powell of the National Council on Disability in writing the disability parenting compendium and federal report Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children. In summer 2014 she testified before a U.S. congressional panel regarding rights of people with disability to family integrity and presented research on deinstitutionalization in North America and the faulty reliance of review level courts on the pseudo-scientific conflation of IQ and parenting capacity in western countries. She regularly collaborates, writes and publishes on national and international legal, indigenous and disability issues.


Carolyn Harpole Director

Maurice Feldman


Maurice Feldman Director; Research Committee Chair Maurice Feldman, Ph.D. C Psych (ONT), BCBA-D – Dr. Maurice Feldman is Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Disability Studies at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. He is a registered psychologist in Ontario since 1979 and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (Doctoral) since 2007. He is a world leading expert on parents with learning difficulties and their children. He has over 100 peer-review publications and 300 invited addresses, talks and workshops, many of which are on the topic of parents with learning difficulties and their children. He recently authored (with Marjorie Aunos) the first book on parenting capacity assessments for parents with learning difficulties (NADD Press). The Step-by-Step Parenting Program he developed and evaluated from 1981-1994 is emulated worldwide. He is a Brock Distinguished Researcher and is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association; He held a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Investigator Award, was the first recipient of the Ontario Association for Developmental Disabilities Award for Research Excellence and received the National Distinguished Disabilities Researcher Award in the U.S. He was a special advisor to the President’s Committee on Intellectual Disabilities in the U.S., a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney (Australia) and the British Psychological Society. His research was cited in an Amici Curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on a case adjudicating parenting rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. He serves as a consultant to several government departments and service providers, and conducts parenting capacity assessments for parents with learning difficulties. His work has been highlighted in Canadian and U.S. media.

Elizabeth Lightfoot Director; Nomination/Bylaws Committee, Participant Research Committee; Elizabeth Lightfoot Ph.D., MSW is an Associate Professor and the Doctoral Program Director at the University Of Minnesota School Of Social Work, where she teaches courses in policy and disability.

Sylvia V. Long Director; Nomination/Bylaws Committee Sylvia V. Long, J.D., Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Ms. Long is a supervising attorney with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender Child In Need of Assistance Division, with 20 years’ experience defending parents in dependency cases.  She has presented at conferences in Maryland and Colorado.

Leslie A. Pokres


Leslie A. Pokres Director; Conference Planning and Membership Committee Leslie A. Pokres, BA, Rehabilitation Counseling and Post Graduate work in Rehabilitation Counseling.  For the past 14 years Leslie has worked for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County (CBHC) which is a county government agency that provides funding, collaborates with local non-profits and other funding entities.  She provides oversight of programs funded by the CBHC in which services and supports are provided to families.  It was through this work as a Program Manager that she realized the gap in services and supports for parents who have intellectual differences and other challenges.  Leslie identified this was a gap through her previous work as a Supported Employment Job Coach.  Through her work as a job coach, she identified training and supportive techniques tailored to the individual’s style of learning. A couple of years later she was employed by Florida Association of Rehabilitation, as one of the five statewide consultants to provide Supported Employment training to non- profit agencies who received state and federal funding. This work included advocating for persons with severe and persistent disabilities, providing technical assistance to start-up programs through training, modeling job development and job coaching techniques.  She later became employed by The State of Florida, Department of Labor and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) when the Department took over the funding and oversight for these five positions, in which she remained employed for eight years.  Her work included training to state vocational counselors, other state case managers and non-profit agency program staff.  She provided contract oversight and assisted programs with startup and implementation activities. Leslie has been actively advocating for professionals to tailor their programming to meet the needs of the individual rather than the individual meet the needs of the programming.

Catherine Wade


Catherine Wade Director Catherine Wade, PhD, is Senior Manager, Implementation at the Parenting Research Centre in Australia, and a Research Affiliate with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. Catherine leads a programme of research at the Parenting Research Centre investigating aspects of the knowledge-to-practice gap in the provision of supports to families. Catherine has extensive experience in the design, delivery and evaluation of parenting programs and has expertise in leading, conceptualizing and conducting social policy research and program evaluation. Catherine is a psychologist with research and clinical expertise in families affected by vulnerability, disability and disadvantage. She was a founding member of the team that created the Australian Healthy Start National Strategy for parents with learning difficulties ( and continues to conduct research and develop innovative resources aimed at supporting parents with intellectual disability across the globe.

Denice Mock



Denice Mock Director; Technology Committee, Participant Training Committee; Denice Mock, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, received her Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University, Master’s in Social Work from Aurora University and has presently completed studies in the Doctor of Social Work Program through Aurora University’s George Williams College with a Dissertation focus on identifying and working with Parents who have Intellectual Disabilities.  Denice has over 18 years experience in child welfare and has worked with the State of Illinois in a number of capacities.  As a trauma therapist for families of child abuse/neglect, her work has taken her through a plethora of experiences, including counseling for individuals, parents, families, children and with those who are differently abled.  She is an adjunct faculty member at Aurora University’s Social Work Program and has presented in multiple at multiple conferences across the US.  Denice opened ParentsWithPromise, LLC in 2012, becoming the first agency dedicated to working with parents who have intellectual disabilities and their families in the State of Illinois.

John Susa Director, Emeritus

Alexander Tymchuk Director, Emeritus