Julie Clockston, Director

Chair, Executive Committee; Member, Education Committee

Dr. Julie Clockston, LCSW, president of The Association for Successful Parenting (TASP), where she serves on the education committee. She is the founder of Julie Clockston Counseling LLC DBA Therapy Rocks and Co-founder of SOAR Colorado LLC, an agency for individuals diagnosed with developmental/ intellectual disabilities. Dr. Clockston is the mother of four and considers them to be her greatest gifts in life. She has worked with individuals living with cognitive difficulties for 26 years. She is a University professor and lecturer. In addition, she is an off-site field instructor for BSSW and MSW students at Arizona State University (ASU) and Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD) where she is also an alumna.

She had the honor of being the Student Association of Social Workers (SASW) Vice President 2015 during her MSW program. She is the proud recipient of the inaugural 2018 NASW CO Early Career Social Worker Award. She received her Doctor of Social Work degree from Capella University. Her dissertation is specific to the population of parents who have a developmental disability and/or intellectual disability. The purpose of her study is to give parents and professionals who work with them a voice and to bring awareness, enhance what is working, and create positive interventions specifically in the education of professionals. She has had the amazing opportunity to train with Drs. Brisson and Yuan to become a competency-based parent assessor.

She is the president of NASW Colorado, a member of the Denver Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), board member of the Colorado State University (CSU) Parents and Families board and The CSU School of Social Work External Advisory Board. Dr. Clockston is a former Colorado state-licensed therapeutic foster parent and has dedicated her career to working in mental health care for 26 years. She has a background in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis on domestic violence from the Community College of Denver. Outside of her social work designation scope, she has infused human service into all the work and trades she has participated in. She has worked in the community as a licensed real estate broker who had a passion for working with socioeconomically marginalized individuals and first-time home buyers. She specializes in various therapeutic modalities, but her extensive study and time working with individuals who have experienced trauma allow her to provide special care to individuals who have been victimized.


Nicole BrissonVice President

Chair, Education Committee and Conference Subcommittee; Member, Executive Committee

Dr. Nicole Brisson is the owner and director of Sage Haven Associates, a private practice that provides consultation, training, and assessment services to meet the needs of parents and children with disabilities involved in the child welfare system. Dr. Brisson is a licensed mental health counselor and holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in psychology and specialization in intellectual and developmental disabilities. She developed and taught a course at the University of Vermont on child welfare and parental disability and holds a consulting and assessment contract with the Vermont Department for Children and Families.  Dr. Brisson testifies in court and conducts competence-based parenting evaluations for parents with disabilities throughout the country.  She was named as a nationally recognized expert in assessing parents with disabilities by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.  Her work was cited in their joint letter regarding the investigation of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, which in turn resulted in the release of a technical assistance report to child welfare agencies nationwide regarding the rights of parents with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Lindsay Brillhart, Secretary

Member, Executive, Advocacy, Development, Education and Finance 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 19, and Sara, 10. 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.


Cathy Haarstad, Treasurer

Chair, Finance Committee; Member, Executive Committee.

Cathy is an adjunct faculty member at Minot State University. She has over 40 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 who have significant support needs related to intellectual disabilities. She has served on the TASP board for 3 years and has a Master’s of Science degree.


Sue Jones, Senior Director

Member, Executive, Education, and Finance Committees

Sue is the Department Director at The Arc United, Turners Falls,, MA and former Co-President of TASP. For the past 32 years, Sue 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. 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. She is currently the Program Director of Family and Youth Services Department at The United Arc. Under that department, there are two programs. The Family Support program provides services to families with a family member living with a disability by providing service navigation, in home supports, family lead services, intensive case management, caregiver groups and parent training, financial assistance and social and recreational opportunities. The other program Positive Parenting provides a variety of comprehensive parenting education, support programs and services to parents with learning differences. This program also provides Youth supports for youth receiving services from The Department of Children and Families and provides volunteer opportunities as well as kinship supports. She has conducted training throughout country. 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.


Virginia CruzVirginia Cruz, Director

Member, Education Committee

Ginny is semi-retired from the Metropolitan State University of Denver.  She 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 was the Director of the MSW Program from 2009 to 2012 and continues teaching, training and researching the intersectionality of child welfare and developmental disabilities.  Ginny holds a PhD in Social Work.


Tom Robinson, Director

Member, Education Committee

Tom is the Director of Thomas Robinson Consulting, Ltd., founded in 1994, which provides individualized services in home communities through a family-centered team approach that promotes inclusion for individuals with developmental delays or disabilities in Northwest British Columbia, Canada.  Tom has a BA in Psychology and has worked with services for people who have developmental disabilities for over 40 years, including work in residential services, vocational programs, family support and respite, recreational/ leisure services, college instruction and regional health promotion.


Auguste Elliott, Director

Member, Education and Development Committees

Auguste holds a PhD in Psychology, and currently serves as the Senior Director, Clinical, Training & Evaluation Services, at Easter Seals Vermont.  In that position, Auguste is responsible for statewide training of all contracted providers of family-centered practices for Department for Children and Families Vermont, supervision of psychologists and clinicians providing clinical consultation to staff, supervision of child-parent psychotherapists, and program evaluation projects.  In addition, she continues her work as a therapist with families, in their homes, while training parent coaches around the country.  She is committed to elevating the voices of parents involved with the child welfare system.


Ivanova Smith, Director

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.


Susan Yuan

Susan Yuan, Senior Board Member

Co-Chair, Advocacy Committee; Member, Education and Executive Committees

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. In 2019, she was selected as a Fellow of AAIDD (American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She is about to roll out a new, 12 week training on Advocacy Leadership for Open Doors for Multicultural Families in Seattle. 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.


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.


Heidi Haines, Director

Member, Advocacy and Finance Committees

Heidi is the Executive Director at The Arc of Tennessee and also serves as an advisor to SABE, the National self-advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities. Prior to joining The Arc of Tennessee Heidi worked as the Director of Advocacy at The Arc of Colorado for almost a decade. Heidi is a 2017 graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware Advanced Leadership Institute. Heidi is also a 2016 graduate of the William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy. Heidi served as a technology navigation fellow for The Arc of The United States in 2015 and 2016. Heidi has long demonstrated a passion for disability rights, an understanding of the critical issues, and the desire to collaborate with a wide range of advocacy and community groups in the state of Tennessee and nationwide.


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.


John Susa Director, Emeritus


Alexander Tymchuk Director, Emeritus

Leave a Reply