Vacant, President


Susan Yuan, Vice President, Acting President

Co-Chair, Advocacy Committee; Member, Executive Committee

Susan has worked in the field of developmental disabilities since the birth of her son, Andreas, 46 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 training on culture and disability, inclusion, family support, and parents with disabilities. Currently, 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.

Lisa Simmons, Secretary

Member, Development Committee; Member, Executive Committee

Lisa Simmons has been involved in advocacy for families and individuals with disabilities for over 30 years and has professional experience in case management, interdisciplinary team leadership, capacity development, and assisting families with service navigation and coordination.    She has worked for Sooner SUCCESS since 2004 and currently serves as a regional coordinator; project coordinator for their initiative to support parents with disabilities and project coordinator for the Oklahoma Communication Support Project.  Over the last 6 years she has provided training to hundreds of Oklahoma professionals in multiple disciplines on ways to better support parents with disabilities and their families.  Sooner SUCCESS is dedicated to serving, supporting and building inclusive communities.

Cathy Haarstad, Treasurer

Chair, Finance Committee; Member, Executive Committee.

Cathy is retired and a part-time employee of the Rushmore group.  Cathy currently uses the SIS assessment tool to help community service providers evaluate the support that people with IDD need to live successful and inclusive lives. She has over 45 years of experience in supporting adults with developmental disabilities some of whom choose to parent. Cathy is also the parent of an adult with developmental disabilities. She has extensive experience in family support, behavior intervention, special education, and community services for persons with developmental disabilities who have significant support needs. She has served on the TASP board for 5 years and has a Master’s of Science degree.  She is also the co-author of a curriculum on how to teach people with IDD about personal self-advocacy.

Sue Jones, Senior Director

Member: Executive and Advocacy Committees

For the past 35 years, Sue has specialized in supporting parents with intellectual disabilities. She is the former Department  Director at The Arc United, Turners Falls, co-developing Positive Parenting which provides a variety of comprehensive parenting education, support programs   to parents with learning differences.  Services include, parent support through, home visiting, supervised visitation traditional and instructional and the Transitional Supported Living Program  which is a site based program.  The Department of Children and Families contracts for these services as well as for  Youth supports for youth receiving services. 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. Sue founded the New England Coalition for Supporting Parents with Cognitive Challenges and is a principal founder and former co-president of The Association for Supported Parenting and currently an Senior Board Member  and TASP trainer. For the last several years she has been contracted through The Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts and The Department of Children and Families to present training across the state focusing on working with parents with intellectual disabilities.

Since retiring she has been working as an Independent Consultant. She is consulting with The United Arc, Greenfield Housing Authority as well for a  research project with Brandeis University. She continues to be a member of the MA Partnership for Supporting Parents living with I.D.D.. 

Ivanova Smith, Director

Member, Advocacy Committee, Leadership Committee

Ivanova Smith is Self-Advocate leader in Washington State. They work as activist advocate for Atwork! and University of Washington LEND program Self Advocacy Faculty. They also are involved in several self-advocacy organizations, People First of Washington, SAIL and Allies in Advocacy. They are passionate in making sure all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are given access to all aspects of life: working, having friendships in community, marriage and children. Ivanova is happily married and has a 3-year-old little girl, Alexandra, and is expecting her second daughter in February 2021.  Ivanova is passionate about making sure all parents with I/DD have rights and get needed supports in parenting.

Betsy Misch, Director

Chair, Development Committee

Betsy Misch has been involved with the disability community for over 40 years. She attended school at the University of Massachusetts and graduated with a BA in Human Service. Currently she holds the position of Program Manager for The United Arc Family and Youth Services Program. In this role, Betsy promotes the rights of parents who are living with a disability through community collaboration, training, advocacy, and outreach. Growing up with a sister living with a disability and working in the field for over two decades, Betsy has spent the entirety of her personal and professional life advocating for the rights of individuals living with disabilities.

Betsy has been providing training on the topic of parenting while living with intellectual disability for the past 15 years. Betsy has provided training to The MA Department of Children and Families, The University of Massachusetts Psychological and Brain Sciences studies department, and The Children’s Trust of Massachusetts.

Bernadette Irwin, Senior Director

Co-Chair, Advocacy Committee; Member, Executive Committee.

Bernadette was one of the founders of TASP and served as Co-President for several years and worked with children with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families for over 30 years.  She worked at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Family Support Services for 28 years before retiring in 2015.  She also administered Maryland’s only Supported Parenting program, Growing Together, during her years at Kennedy Krieger.

Most recently, Bernadette was the Program Director of Successful Parenting DC. (SP-DC), a co-funded project between the DC Developmental Disabilities Administration and the DC Child and Family Services Administration (Child Welfare) to provide Peer Navigation services to families in Washington DC.  The Peer Navigator model was used to provide services to families who were receiving services from both these systems.

Bernadette has a BA from The Pennsylvania State University in Human Development and Family Studies and an MA from McDaniel College in Human Services Management.

Colleen Downes, Director

Member, Advocacy Committee

Colleen Downes is, first and foremost, the parent of a child with a disability. As a clinical social worker licensed in New York, currently residing in Virginia, she works at Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia as a Community Service manager and a field instructor for Bachelor and Master level social work and human services students. She is also an independent psychotherapist for Better Help. Furthermore, Colleen facilitated a telephonic support group for African Americans with Multiple Sclerosis, initially as a consultant for the National MS Society – New York Chapter, but currently she facilitates the group as a volunteer for the MS Society. She has been facilitating the group for over fifteen years and is also a volunteer with Special Olympics in Virginia.

As a clinician from New York, she worked with individuals, groups, and families with intellectual, mental, and cognitive disabilities for over ten years. As a clinician and a parent, she has advocated for individuals with disabilities for many years, and as a child, was close with her maternal uncle whom she loved dearly and had epilepsy.  She passionately believes individuals with disabilities should be empowered to exercise all their civil rights.  Colleen has a DSW and has been working with the disability community for over 20 years.

Lindsay Brillhart, Director

Co-Chair Leadership Committee; Member: Executive,  Development, and Education Committees

Lindsay is 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 her partner Phil and 2 kids: Julianna 20, and Sara, 11. 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.

Quiana Mayo, Director

Member, Advocacy Committee

Quiana has been advocating for the community, including youth and parents living with disabilities with children that have disabilities, for over 8 years.  She works on various Boards in Connecticut and nationally.  Quiana Co-Chairs the Hartford Region List, which is a juvenile justice involved youth advocate group advocating for better laws and services for the youth.  She also Co-Chairs Proud Parents which is a non-profit organization that advocates for parents living with disabilities and also with children with disabilities.  Quiana has two young adults living with disabilities and is also living with disabilities herself.  She advocates not just for her family but for other families.  She is their voice.

Dorothy Hannigan, Director

Dorothy is a mom of two young girls who lives with her husband in Nebraska.  She has been advocating for herself her whole life, and now advocates for her daughter’s medical needs.  Dorothy is an avid writer, and is working on her first self-published book about her life and being a spouse and parents with autism.  She also writes a blog and enjoys sharing her story so others understand her needs.


Jamie Junior, Director

Member, Advocacy Committee

Jamie is a cis-gender, African-American woman with Cerebral Palsy. She is the mother to one male child who is also disabled, and the youngest of six siblings. She currently works as the Advocacy and Community Education Coordinator with the Disability Network of Wayne County-Detroit. Jamie has been advocating for herself and others for more than 25 years, and believes that everyone has the right to achieve their life goals and feel valued.

Jamie’s advocacy efforts focus on issues that have a desperate impact on the lives of individuals of Color with Disabilities, and she believes the right to live independently, love as we choose, and successful parenting are among those issues.

Now in her second term, she serves with the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council as the Vice Chairperson and is the Co-Chair of the Constituents Voice advisory board and a member of the Recipient Rights advisory and appeals committee for the Detroit Wayne integrated Health Network which is the county’s community mental health agency.

She is a graduate of and Trainee with the Michigan Leadership Education in Neuro-developmental and Related Disabilities (MI-LEND), which is an interdisciplinary leadership training program that prepares Michigan’s emerging leaders with the goal of improving the health of infants, children, and adolescents with or at risk for neuro-developmental disabilities and other related health care needs.

Jamie is also currently pursuing her BA in Business Leadership

Santa Perez, Director

Member, Advocacy Committee

Santa has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cal State Northridge and currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been an Advocate with Cerebral Palsy for most of her life.  She is a founding member of People First of Nevada. and active President Emeritus of the People First of Nevada.

Santa believes that people with developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities need to become Active Advocates in every aspect of their lives. They need to make their mark on the world.  Santa is am a member of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and sits on many committees, both State and National.

In her personal life, Santa has accomplished many things. She has her own home and is a part of her community, but in her eyes, her greatest accomplishment is her son Noah.  She is a writer and blogger and she is the author of Sitting At Eye Level: My Lie as an Advocate, a Professional, a Woman, a Mom, and a Person with a Significant Disability.


JoLynn Webster, Director

Member, Education Committee

JoLynn Webster is a Research Associate at the North Dakota Center for Disabilities where she works on a variety of projects that support individuals with IDD, family members, and professionals through research, training, and dissemination of information and resources. Ms. Webster is also an adjunct faculty member in the Minot State University Department of Special Education. Prior to these positions, Ms. Webster was a special educator in classrooms for students with severe disabilities.


Leave a Reply