Who Are The Brokers?
Kerry Mahoney, Director
Working with local Arcs for over 30 years, Kerry Mahoney has developed and managed a variety of supports, services and resources for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She is currently the Director of SUPPORTbrokers/PALS. A graduate of Emmanuel College, she received her degree in Psychology/Rehabilitation Counseling. Since college Kerry has directed residential programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, worked in a special needs classroom, has overseen family support resource centers and expanded Personal Care Assistance, Adult Family Care programs and developed individualized transition plans for students leaving public schools and entering adult services. From these experiences, Kerry has developed a broad knowledge base of the state, federal and private resources that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kerry became a support broker in December 2008 and has received training in person-centered planning and approaches from The Institute for Community Inclusion, Michael Smull, University of Maryland and University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability.
Christine Shane, PhD
Christine has served as an advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families for many years. She is currently Chairperson of the Behavioral Sciences Department at Fitchburg State University and serves as Chair of the State Advisory Council, for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. Dr. Shane specializes in the evaluation and implementation of programs for children and adults with disabilities and currently provides consultation and training to schools and non-profit agencies. She earned her doctoral degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. During her graduate studies, she worked closely with Dr. Gunnar Dybwad and Dr. Wolf Wolfensburger.
Evelyn recently retired as project manager of SUPPORTbrokers. Evelyn’s work in the area of disabilities spans forty years. At the early childhood specialist at the Federation for Children with Special Needs, she was project director of the Early Intervention Training Centers at the Federation. This center provides in-service training to early intervention staff, families, and other associated early childhood providers. Before work at the Federation, she taught for many years at Wheelock College in Boston and was Dean of the Graduate School.
Her areas of interest in teaching and research are disabilities, health care, parent-professional collaboration and organizational development. As an alumna of Wellesley College, Tufts University, and the Heller School at Brandeis University, she has advanced degrees in special education and management. Evelyn is an active volunteer for The Arc of Massachusetts. She is currently on the Governmental Affairs Committee and is a former board member of The Arc. As a mother of a man with intellectual disabilities, she brings this perspective to all aspects of her work. Her son lives with other adults in Brookline and works and participates in the community.
Barbara brings a breadth of experience in the field of disability garnered from working in day and residential programs, as well as over 20 years spent with the Department of Developmental Services. Barbara believes strongly in the empowerment of people with developmental disabilities and spends much of her time enhancing their voices as stakeholders in the larger system. Barbara also especially enjoys working with families at times of transition or future planning. Barbara is well versed in resources and possibilities for genuine community participation. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Simmons College and a Master’s in Education from Boston University.
Sarah has been active in supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families for over 15 years. She approaches her work with creativity, energy, and enthusiasm. Since graduating with a degree in special education from Boston University, Sarah has worked as a special education teacher, Early Intervention educator, and a coordinator of family supports. During her 5 years as Director of Family Services at Minute Man Arc, Sarah provided support, coordinated parent trainings, and served as a resource for families in the Concord area. In addition, she developed innovative recreation and social opportunities for children and adults with special needs. Following the birth of her daughter 3 years ago, Sarah began working for Wraparound Family Services, helping families to navigate services provided through DDS funded programs. Through her work, she has developed a broad knowledge of resources and opportunities across the state. She believes in empowering individuals with special needs and their families and the use of person centered approaches in planning supports.
Sarah lives with her husband and daughter in Templeton, MA. She currently works for Wraparound Family Services, Inc., providing support for families receiving services through the DESE DDS community residential project. Sarah has been working with support brokers since 2010.
Paula has worked with people with disabilities across the life span, with a focus on those transitioning out of school. Through supporting families and developing home, based afterschool and day service programs Paula has built a wealth of experience. Autism, behavioral and communication challenges are her areas of specialty. Paula works collaboratively with families and individuals to make the grey aspect of life more concrete. Paula believes that every person has a lot of potential. She enjoys problem solving with families and individuals about strategies that help build success, knowing that success looks different for each person. Paula has worked at Emarc in a variety of capacities, for the last ten years, this includes many aspects of Family Support, the DESE/DDS program, Day Habilitation, and Career Services. Prior to this Paula worked in school systems in various roles. Paula received her Bachelor’s from Elmira College in Elementary Education and her Master’s in Social Work from Simmons College. Paula is an LICSW.
Kathy Kelly has been working in the human services field for over 30 years. Her mission is to ensure that everyone has access to successful outcomes in life. She has developed and managed a variety of successful programs for chapters of The Arc and is currently working as Benefits Counselor with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. She serves on the Arc’s Government Affairs Committee and the Governor’s Autism Commission Sub-Committee for Transition. Kathy is an expert in transition and has provided guidance and support for students, families, and school systems. She particularly enjoys working with students and families as they prepare to make their transition to adulthood by helping them develop a realistic future vision and goals that are person-centered and focused on their individual strengths and needs. She understands the state, non-profit and private systems and knows how to navigate them to maximize planning. A graduate of Suffolk University, she received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Dianne joined The Arc of Massachusetts in 2015 as a Family Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Alliance for 21st Century Disability Policy (MA21) grant project. Dianne’s strong conviction is that supports and services for individuals with disabilities must open doors of opportunity for them to build a meaningful life in their own community and be surrounded by people they love and are loved by. Her personal mission is to bring hope to other families using her real life experiences as a parent of a child with multiple disabilities. Dianne’s passion is to help families recognize their loved one’s natural gifts and talents to create a vision for their future, which can be a powerful tool in their advocacy. The vision she and her husband created twenty years ago for their oldest son who has cerebral palsy was a seed planted. Today her son has his own vision.
Dianne was the Statewide Coordinator for Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC) for thirteen (13) years and continues to assist the MFOFC Southeast Family Leadership Network with their Family Leadership Series (FLS). A graduate of the 1995-96 FLS, she credits this amazing training for helping her to “imagine better” in her advocacy for person centered supports and services that enabled her son’s vision become reality.
Dianne Huggon resides in Taunton, MA, with her husband and their three talented and beautiful young adult children.
Karen is the parent of an adult son, age 25, with severe autism , so she has been through the system herself and has experience with it, both professionally and personally. As a SUPPORTbroker, Karen works with individuals and families to help them plan for the future so that the loved one can live the best life possible. Karen is knowledgeable about issues involving government benefits, estate planning, and supported decision making options ( including alternatives to guardianship). She is the chair of the housing task force of AFAM (Advocacy for Autism Massachusetts), and sits on the Housing Subcommittee of Massachusetts’s state-wide Autism Commission. She is an active member and past president of Wellesley STARS (track program for special needs adults). She graduated Cum Laude from Northwestern University School of Law in 1984.
Julie entered the disability world when her son Brian was born twenty-seven years ago. She entered the larger world of advocacy three years later when she got What to Expect When You’re Expecting to update its section on Down syndrome. Julie served on the MDSC board of directors for a number of years and chaired its annual conference planning committee in 1998 and 1999. She has also served on the board of and as a resource specialist for Understanding Our Differences. Julie, a graduate of Lehigh University and Boston College (BA, MAT, MA), taught English in a variety of settings for thirty years, all the while supporting Brian and her daughters, Maggie and Evie, in their many endeavors. Brian was fully included in public school, ultimately earning his high school diploma. He attended MassBay Community College for five years through the ICE and Transitional Scholars programs, while working part-time at various jobs. Brian landed a job at the State House, where he continues to work and independently commutes via public transportation. On the side, Brian does a lot of speaking as a self-advocate, and Julie is occasionally his co-presenter. With the help of his parents, Brian has built a full social life through their town’s wonderful recreation programs, their church, and Community Rowing, Inc.’s para-athlete program. Julie is excited to use the skills and connections she developed while advocating for Brian to help others also achieve their goals and dreams. Julie coordinates the Aging and Disability Project in Lexington. This project is funded by The Dana Home Foundation.
Ellen Heald is currently a principal at the Northshore Education Consortium Transitions Programs of SOAR and Embark which are located on the campus of Salem State University. The SOAR and Embark programs assist to implement transition services to special education students ages 18-22 with transition services. Ellen oversees all of the programmatic operations. She facilitates employment opportunities, access to college classes, social skill development, academic skills, independent living skills and collaboration with adult service agencies to facilitate ongoing supports for individuals with a wide range of needs. Ellen is a school administrator and has her Masters Degree in special education. She has been employed by the Northshore Education Consortium for the past 25 years in a variety of roles. Ellen has experience with individuals from pre-school through 22 years of age. In addition to her role at the Northshore Education Consortium, Ellen has been a respite provider and a foster parent for over 30 children and teens with various needs. She has knowledge of supports needed and resources to obtain such supports both through the eyes of a professional and a parent. Ellen is looking forward to working with families to facilitate services available in and around their community to promote independence across settings.
Kim began her career working with men and women with developmental disabilities in various organizations that provided independent living supports and residential services. Over the years, she formed strong relationships with other professionals in the field and developed a sound knowledge of resources and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For the past several years, Kim has also worked with agencies focusing on advocating for people with mental health issues and the homeless. Kim’s focus was on helping individuals and families navigate change and find creative ways to develop community and stability. Much of Kim’s work has involved creating safe spaces where men and women could find their voice, discover their strengths, and direct their own lives. She understands the importance of community and the value of having purpose and meaning in your life. Kim graduated from Boston College with a degree in Human Development and Philosophy and lives on the South Shore.