GA Committee Members
Aaron is Director of Government Affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) where he advocates to the federal and state government on behalf of the Jewish community. Prior to joining JCRC, Aaron served as Legal Counsel to a State Senator in the Massachusetts Legislature, where he worked on major issues such as marriage equality, economic justice and criminal justice reform. Aaron was selected in 2007 by the Boston Bar Association as a fellow in its Public Interest Leadership Program, designed to develop the next generation of leaders in the legal profession and in 2009 by the Anti-Defamation League for its Glass Leadership Program. Aaron currently serves on the Camp Avoda Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. Aaron received his Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Maryland in 2000 and his JD from the Boston University School of Law in 2005. He lives in Sharon with his wife Peri and two children, Dylan and Brennan.
Herb lives in Bolton with his wife Sandra and son Joe who is 23 and on the autism spectrum. His other son, Dante, lives in CT, and his daughter Jill lives in OR with her husband Craig. Herb spent 40 years in the IT services industry, retiring from Hewlett Packard in 2012. Currently Herb serves as Co-Chair of the Department of Developmental Services Central Region Citizens Advisory Board, is also the Treasurer of Bolton Access Television Corporation, and a member of the Bolton Lions Club. Herb works as an Advocacy Alliance Coordinator for the Arc of Massachusetts and for HMEA on the Autism Advantage @ Work program.
Catherine, a retired Family Educator and Teacher of Children with Multiple Sensory Disabilities, is a parent of 3 adults, 2 of whom were born in South Africa with multiple disabilities. Already active in human rights and justice issues, Catherine added disability learning and related advocacy which continue to this day. Their older daughter’s 2005 sudden death at age forty one prompted Catherine to increase her involvement in DDS human rights, abuse prevention, community living, legislative advocacy, etc. She has been a member of the MFOFC board., a DDS Agency Board, DDS’ SAC & HRAC, and co-chair of DDS’ NE Regional CAB. Catherine received the 2016 DDS Ricci Commemorative Award for advocacy. In addition to MA Arc’s GA Committee, MA 21 and Supporting Families groups, Catherine continues active (emeritus) membership in HRAC, and membership on the Metro Boston & Metro Regional Citizen Advisory Boards.
Lucie has been a member of the Government Affairs Committee for more than 30 years and she chaired the committee for several years. As a parent of a man with profound intellectual disabilities, Lucie endeavors to advocate for often forgotten individuals who have profound disabilities as well as all who have less severe disabilities. Some of her memberships have included the following Boards: GBArc; The Arc of Massachusetts; founder of a Newton based DDS residential provider agency, Newton Parent Advisory Council for Special Education, Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council; the Governors Special Disabilities Commission; the Newton Commission on Disability; the DDS State Advisory Council. She currently chairs both the Newton South Norfolk Area Board and the Metro Regional Citizen Advisory Committees of DDS. She works as a special education advocate helping families navigate the special education process for their children and in 2009 received the Dybwad Award.
Brian is the Director of The Family Autism Center at The Arc of South Norfolk. He has been in the human services/special education field for over 12 years in a variety of capacities with a passion for getting kids outdoors (whether it be nature, the city or anywhere in between) and helping families connect with their community. His experience working in group homes, as a classroom teacher, gym teacher, fitness instructor, Special Olympics coach, respite worker, recreation manager and now in an autism support center gives him the ability to provide a multi-dimensional perspective for individuals and families. Career highlights include: climbing Mt. Chocura, starting an afterschool hiking group, kayaking on the Charles River with kids that had significant behavioral challenges, leading overnight camping trips, facilitating a Culture Club to learn about diversity, teaching a child how to swim and meeting his wife while instructing her students in gym class. He lives in Norwood with his wife Kelly and two daughters, Brenna and Sierra.
Linda Cournoyer has been advocating for people with I/DD for over 45 years at the local, state and national levels. Her journey began in 1970 with the birth of her first child Denise who had multiple developmental issues.She worked the Seven Hills Foundation as a Family Support Specialist for 37 and she continues to teach classes in legislative advocacy at local agencies and colleges. She has served on numerous boards including the Center of Hope, the New England Center for Children and The Arc of Massachusetts. For more than 30 years Linda has hosted one of the largest legislative breakfasts in Central Mass and develop impressive relationships with with dozens of state and federal legislators. Linda has received numerous awards and citations of recognition of her outstanding advocacy for people with disabilities.
Sara is a great champion for people with disabilities and a strong advocate for all women facing challenges. She participated in Special Olympics in the following competition: swimming, cheerleading and softball. In addition she is a Brownie Girl Scout leader and currently a Junior staff member at the Center of Hope Foundation where she helps teach skill trainings in groups setting. Also, she is an experienced alter server at Saint John Paul II Church. Sara has been an effective advocate for others and her ultimate goal is encouraging other people to make a difference.
Eileen is currently a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council representing the 5th District. She interned twice in the MA State House, and later on Capitol Hill for Congressman Nicholas Mavroules while a student in Washington DC. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management and a Doctoral Degree in Ministry. Eileen received a Presidential appointment from President Clinton to work as Confidential Assistant to Commissioner Rachelle Chong at the FCC in Washington, where she won many awards for public service. She chose to return to Massachusetts to be closer to her family and currently resides on Cape Ann. Duff previously worked for the Hospice of the North Shore and Greater Boston as a Chaplain.
Charlie is the Director of Public Policy for The Arc. He has served on the Government Affairs committee for years. Charlie has worked as an advocate and in executive capacities for a number of organizations including BAMSI. He also is well known for his civic and systems change work especially in the area of organ transplants. More recently he completed a two year mid-career stint with the US Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa. His frequent articles from Malawi were published in the Brockton Enterprise, GateHouse Media publications and social media.
Lisa has an Associate’s degree in Dental Hygiene from Cape Cod Community College worked many years in dentistry. She and her husband Shawn have a twenty year old daughter with Spina Bifida. They sought out the Arc of Greater New Bedford for Educational Advocacy in 2003 and became a board member of the New Bedford Arc a short time later. In 2005 Lisa took a position as Assistant to the Director of the New Bedford Arc primarily to run their State Representatives Golf Tournament where she developed many contacts with legislators. When there was the merger with the Bristol County Arc Lisa was appointed Administrative Director of New Bedford Arc which she later left to care for her daughter undergoing surgery
Dianne is a family member of two individuals with ID/DD, a stepson in his twenties and a sister in her fifties. She grew up observing a mother who launched into advocacy mode in a fierce way in the early sixties. A former member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, Dianne retired from MassHousing upon being awarded the 2014-2015 Allen C. Crocker Family Fellowship by the Massachusetts DD Network. Dianne currently serves on the DDS Greater Boston Citizens Advisory Board (CAB). As one of the ARC’s 60th Anniversary Honorees her interests include guardianship and its alternatives, health care, housing, aging, and voting.
Joan is the parent of a son whom she describes as an adorable, gentle, precious, happy-go-lucky very special son whom is also affected by autism and she loves and accepts him unconditionally. She has become an extremely well versed on autism and on all the issues and services surrounding autism. She is a committed and dedicated advocate for all persons with disabilities.
For the past decade, Seth has advocated for those with disabilities through his work in former Representative Tom Sannicandro’s office and most recently with the Jewish Community Relations Council. Seth has leveraged his breadth of relationships on Beacon Hill in order to be a driving force on numerous legislative and budget priorities of importance to the disability community. Seth is passionate about working on behalf of others and he looks forward to continuing his commitment to the disability advocacy agenda as a member of the Government Affairs Committee.
Jean is the Executive Director for the Minuteman Arc. The Minute Man Arc’s services and supports are available for individuals in a nine-town suburban area west of Boston, as well as an expanding number of other towns around Route 128, including: Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Concord, Carlisle, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard and Stow.
Alain and Marcia Grenier
Alain and Marcia Grenier are parents of a young man who has severe autism. Their son Marc is a graduate of the New England Center for Children and is now receiving adult services. Marcia joined the ARC Government Affairs Committee while Marc was still receiving special education services through the encouragement of Linda Cournoyer. Marcia has been trained as an advocate. She served on the Worcester Public Schools Special Education PAC and was on the original steering committee of the Central Mass Autism Resource Center. Alain and Marcia both served on the parent advisory board of the New England Center for Children. Alain and Marcia both communicate with their legislators and members of congress on a regular basis and they try to reach out to other parents to do the same.
Julie Heffernan (Lehigh University BA; Boston College MAT, MA) was an English teacher and adjunct professor for over twenty-five years. Last fall, she joined The Arc of MA as an Advocacy Alliance Coordinator. In this position, she encourages families to use their personal stories as tools for change. Always politically active, she became more so with the birth of her son Brian twenty-seven years ago; given that people with disabilities make up 20% of our population, she believes that it is crucial that candidates and politicians are well-versed on disability issues. For many years, Julie served on the boards of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and Understanding Our Differences. In 2002, she and her husband Dan were co-recipients of The Allen C. Crocker Award of Excellence “in recognition of their commitment to advocacy and public awareness of the strengths and abilities of citizens with Down syndrome.” Julie also serves as the project manager for The Arc of Massachusetts/Dana Home Foundation’s Supporting Seniors with Disabilities in Lexington Program and she is part of The Arc’s grant-writing team.
Cindy is the Executive Vice President/COO for the Arc’s Center of Hope Foundation, Inc. She has a BS degree in Education and an MA in Psychology, and taught in local school systems for several years before beginning work at the Center of Hope in 1988. Her work includes being the legislative liaison at the State and Federal levels for the 64 town wide area that the Arc covers, developing relationships with over 25 legislators in those districts, as well as sponsoring a well-attended Annual Legislative Breakfast that celebrated its 25th year in 2015. Cindy has overseen the agency subcontract business, Noress Corp. since 1988, and is involved in the start-up and growth of each of the small agency businesses. She has been involved in governmental affairs, business and civic networking groups and is the Vice-Chair of the local Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Kelly is the Director of Support Services at the Center of Hope Foundation, Inc. She is a licensed social worker and completed her Master’s Degree at Westfield State University. Her work at the Center of Hope started in 2010 as a Direct Care Staff in one of the agency’s day programs. As she completed her education, her passion for people with disabilities grew and she utilized her skills as a Clinical Coordinator and then as the Clinical Director. Her current role provides her with the opportunity to work with the Center of Hope’s self-advocacy group Building Bridges. She also has the opportunity to assist program members, staff and local community members with obtaining resources and supports.
Maryann Hyatt has worked in the human services field advocating for individuals with disabilities and their families for more than three decades. As the Chief Operating Office at Berkshire County Arc, Inc., she oversees many of the Berkshire County Arc’s programs, including strategic planning. Maryann also serves as the agency’s Human Rights Coordinator, a role she has held at BCArc for more than twenty-two years. Maryann holds a master’s degree in education and is currently pursuing her MBA.
For the past 20 years, Asela’s work has centered around the individuals he supports as the Director of Service for Vinfen’s Metro Boston area. Under his guidance, people make meaningful community connections both in their neighborhoods and work. Their lives are greatly enhanced by Asela’s dedicated leadership in getting people involved in self-advocacy at the State House, volunteering with various charities and organizing voting campaigns. Within Vinfen, Asela chairs a Human Rights Committee and participates both on the DSD Training Committee and Family Initiatives and Council. In addition, Asela has been instrumental in presenting at the ADDP Annual Conference and supporting individuals to present at the MASS Advocates Standing Strong Annual Conference. Beyond Vinfen, Asela is co-chair of the DDS Diversity Committee and participates with the Metro Boston Human Rights Committee.
Kathy has significant experience developing programs that become models for success. Kathy currently works for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission as a Student Benefits Counselor and is available as an Independent Transition Consultant providing consultation for families, schools and agencies. She previously served as Director of Transition Services for the Northeast Arc. Her passion is helping individuals to reach their full potential. Her education experience includes: BS Salem State College; Certificate in Non-profit Human Service Management with Advanced Studies in Administration and Finance from Suffolk University Moakley Center for Public Management; Master’s in Public Administration from Suffolk University School of Business.
Ellen is the Vice President, Family Support at the Charles River Center. She started at the Charles River Center in 2008 as the Vice President of Residential Services. In 2010 she had the opportunity to become the Vice President of Family Support and Individual Support programs where she is currently. She earned her Master’s in Social Work from Boston University. She has had a variety of positions in the human services field as a clinician and manager in residential, day habilitation, clinics and family support.
Nan is a Board Member at Nashoba Learning Group and practiced corporate law at Palmer & Dodge until her triplets were born, one of whom has a developmental disability. She became interested in finding more effective treatments to help people with developmental disabilities and completed a graduate program in Applied Behavior Analysis at Simmons College, receiving an Ed.S. degree in 2003 and qualifying as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. In 2006-2007 she was a LEND fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center studying public policy change in disabilities and receiving a Masters in Healthcare Administration from Suffolk University. She drafted the ARICA legislation which requires health insurers to pay for ABA treatment. Nan received her JD from Boston College Law School where she was an editor of the Law Review and her AB from Harvard University.
Henry has over 40 years plus of experience advocating for the disability cause and family members, on the local, state and national levels and established one of the first support groups in Boston for fathers of children with disabilities. As a community builder advocating for the disability community he has been assisting working-class and immigrant residents, especially those of the disability and underserved communities. He has been instrumental in building disability knowledge and capacity in the Haitian community in Boston and throughout the State while working on Family Support initiatives to help individuals achieve inclusion and other important goals. Henry Milorin represents the essence of active citizenship. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Computers Sciences from Anna Maria College and a Master in Public Policy and Management from Walden University of Baltimore.
Geoff has been on the Government Affairs Committee for over three years and currently serves as chairman. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Arc of Massachusetts. Geoff is an attorney in the Special Needs Practice Group of Fletcher Tilton PC. His practice includes representing individuals with disabilities and their families through special needs planning, guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, adult service advocacy, and special education matters. Geoff received his B.A. in Economics from Providence College and his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. Geoff resides in Sterling with his wife Amanda along with their cat and three dogs.
Allison is the Division Director for Day Hab and Family Supports at The Arc of Opportunity for the past 12 years in a variety of positions. With each of her experiences including, case manager, home based supports program, community supported living, day hab director and divisional director she was able to nurture her passion for developing programming and opportunities for program participants. Now as Division Director for Day Hab. and Family Supports, she looks forward to continuing to grow The Arc’s Day Hab. program and providing support to the families served.
Erik has worked with and for persons with developmental disabilities for 25 years. While in college, he began his career working in direct care at Cardinal Cushing School and Training Center where he helped establish CCSTC’s first program serving persons with Prader-Willi syndrome. Following law school, Erik worked for managed care organizations that contracted with community health centers. He subsequently went to work for the Commonwealth’s Disabled Person Protection Commission (DPPC) where he wore many hats including Counsel, investigator and project manager. Currently, Erik is practicing law representing persons with disabilities and their families, and also providers of services to persons with disabilities.
Joe is a strong self-advocate and advocates for others. He is a long time member of The Arc Mass Government Affairs Committee. Joe has been a participant at Greater Waltham Arc in the EPT Employment Program for many years. In addition he is a member and Board officer of MASS Advocates Standing Strong and Greater Waltham Arc’s Watch City Self Advocates. Joe knows many state and local legislators and keeps informed about state legislation and budget issues through the media and the GA Committee. Individuals who know Joe can count on him to ask the right questions and represent them well in various opportunities for advocacy.
Rev. John brings a variety of perspectives to the Government Affairs Committee. He is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Boston. He is also a “professional guardian,” advocating for many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He participates in the Human Rights Committees of various agencies, as well as one agency’s Family Advisory Council. A life-long resident of Massachusetts, Rev. John is a graduate of Cape Cod Community College, Saint Michael’s College, and Andover Newton Theological School.
Heidi is the Office Manager for The Arc of Cape Cod which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families on Cape Cod.
Leo has served as the Executive Director of The Arc of Massachusetts, an advocacy organization which works on behalf of people with disabilities and families since November 1991. Prior to his present role he headed a multi-service affiliate of The Arc (South Shore). Sarkissian has participated for decades in state and federal advocacy campaigns while volunteering within and outside his field. He edited three editions of a handbook for families on housing, “Building a Future”.
Maura is the Director of Government Affairs for The Arc and The Director of Operation House Call. She has a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University and her LEND certificate from UMMS. She is currently an instructor at 4 medical schools and, she has extensive experience in advocacy related to health policy. Maura is a strong advocate, giving testimony and partnering with stakeholders to support legislation and funding for individuals with disabilities.
Joshua was born and raised in the Central Florida area. He started working as a Direct support staff doing Intensive behavioral therapy with adolescents and young adults with profound behavioral challenges. Joshua has worked over the past 15 years supporting people with Developmental Disabilities in various leadership and supervisory roles. In January 2014 Joshua took over as Director of Day Habilitation in Minute Man Arc in Concord, MA.
Amy is the Director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, and is an instructor in the medical school’s Department of Psychiatry. She has an extensive background on insurance issues related to autism and has played a key role in passing several significant pieces of autism insurance legislation in Massachusetts, including the groundbreaking 2010 law requiring health insurance to cover medically necessary treatment for autism. Following a successful career in real estate and banking, Amy, the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, decided to merge her personal passions and professional experience. She completed a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in 2005. Amy served as President of the outreach organization of the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital for two years prior to her appointment as Chair of the Insurance Committee for Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) and currently serves as a Commissioner on the State’s Autism Commission.
Dr. White has been the President/CEO of Road To Responsibility (RTR) since 2008. As a Licensed Psychologist for more than 34 years his experience includes helping children and adults with a variety of disabilities and life challenges; specializing in developmental disabilities, neuropsychology and the effective, compassionate treatment of persons with severe emotional and behavioral issues in the community. He does so through the use of empirically-validated interventions including Positive Behavior Supports, Applied Behavior Analysis and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He has been an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Department of Counseling and Applied Psychology at Northeastern University for over 20-years teaching a variety of clinically-oriented classes to both doctoral and Master’s degree students there. Dr. White is a member and contributor to a number of national and statewide committees and organizations including the President’s National Task Group on Alzheimer’s in Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the statewide Positive Behavior Supports Committee.
Paul and his wife Lynn reside in Beverly and have two adult children one of whom is Megan who is very lovable with severe developmental disability living in a NRS group home. Paul and Lynn have resided in Beverly for the past 40 years. Paul is a long time member of both the Human Rights Committees at the Hogan Regional Center and Shore Collaborative and he and his wife work with NRS professionals on implementation of PBS (positive behavioral supports) in NRS behavioral support plans. His interests include: uncovering reasons for SIB and aggression in adults with limited communication ability; efforts made at major universities to learn how to fix damaged brains, and guardianship succession. He has a strong passion advocating for quality independent lives for all people, but especially those adults with developmental disability. Paul obtained his doctorate in Higher and Adult Education Administration from UMASS Amherst and has been retired since 2005 after a 33 year career in community college administration.