Board of Directors
Anne Howard, Ph.D., is President of the Federation Board, and is a Professor of Special Education at Fitchburg State University with a special interest in inclusive education for students with severe disabilities and positive behavior supports. She has been a long-time advocate of high quality education for all children including children with disabilities. Anne has two wonderful children including a daughter who is deaf.
Michael Weiner is Treasurer of the Federation and is a partner at the Commonwealth Financial Group in Boston, a financial advisor that specializes in providing comprehensive financial plans for families of children and adults with special needs. He is the parent of a son with a significant intellectual impairment.
Patricia Schram, MD, is Clerk of the Federation Board, and is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who has a daughter with learning disabilities. She was the vice chair of the Special Education Advisory Council at the Department of Education and volunteers at the Federation to support non-English speaking families.
Susan Arndt is a parent and advocate for her son, Zachary. She is involved in the special needs community and has volunteered as an officer for her town’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council. At her son’s school she is a Corporator, committee member for some of their fundraising projects and was an officer of the Parent Advisory Group. She is the Committee Chairperson for the Federation’s annual Gala. Susan has taken many Federation trainings, including the Parent Consultant Training Institute in 2011, is trained as a Special Education Surrogate Parent, and has testified on Special Education issues at the State House. Susan is a trained and certified Montessori teacher and her professional background is in interior design.
Nicole Baumer, MD, M.Ed., is a child neurologist and pediatrician, specializing in the care of children with complex neurodevelopmental disabilities. She works in the Neurology department / Autism Spectrum Center and the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is Co-Director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Down Syndrome Program. She also received a Master’s degree in education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has a sibling with Down syndrome and a sibling with visual impairment.
James Breen is a wheelchair user living with cerebral palsy, but he refuses to allow that to limit or define him. A proud Graduate of Stonehill College (2014) with a degree in Health Care and Communications, he is also the author of “Keep it Rollin”, an inspirational book about turning challenges into opportunities, and a public speaker. In his speaking presentations, he highlights the universal nature of life’s challenges and advocates a position of positivity to overcome them.
Daniel T.S. Heffernan, Esquire, is a partner with Kotin, Crabtree & Strong in Boston specializing in special education, civil rights and personal injury law. He served as board president for twelve years and coaches Special Olympics sports teams. He has a son with Down syndrome.
Melanie Perkins McLaughlin, M.Ed., is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a disability rights advocate, public speaker and the mother of three children, the youngest of whom has Down syndrome. She was the first Allen C. Crocker Fellow with the Mass Developmental Disabilities Council and is currently the co-chair of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Special Advisory Committee, and Medford Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Melanie received a master’s in Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She believes disability rights and inclusive communication are civil rights issues.
Joseph Petner, Ph.D., retired principal of the Haggerty School in Cambridge, has worked in public education for 40 years. During his tenure at the Haggerty he was involved in building a new school facility and the development of a whole school model of inclusion. Joe currently is working for the MA Department of Education Statewide System of Support. He has been active in supporting the Pan mass Challenge and also on the board of directors for Our Space serving children who are facing cancer and other serious related chronic illness.
Teresita Ramos, Esquire, is an attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute specializing in civil rights, language access, and education. She has served on the Wellesley School Committee, is the Co-Chair of the MA Department of Education’s Special Education Advisory Committee, and was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to the Board of Registration of Social Workers of the Commonwealth of MA. She is the mother of two girls, one of whom has autism.
John Reichenbach, is President of Lessac Technologies. John and his wife Lynn are the parents of a son with Down syndrome. In 2013, they helped establish an independent living facility for their son in conjunction with nine other families. He and his wife are members of the Honorary Board of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. John is a former member of the Board of Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School. He has been active in supporting the Pan-Mass Challenge as a part of the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team.
Leo Rotman, CFP, is the founder of River Financial Group, LLC and specializes in working with families that have children with disabilities. He lives in Sudbury, MA with his two boys- Jakob and Noah, one of whom has autism. He is the founder of Metro West United Sports, a non-profit program that runs unified sports for children with disabilities. When not working or volunteering, Leo enjoys spending time with his boys, traveling the world and Cross Fit.
James F. Whalen, MBA, is a Partner at TA Associates Realty in Boston. He served as Board President for seven years. He and his wife, Diane, are the parents of a son with Down syndrome. They are also members of the Honorary Board of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.
Elizabeth (Beth) Yancy Bostic has two children with special needs, one of whom is medically complex. Before becoming a Federation trained special education advocate and trainer, she was a Project Manager for training and consulting firm where she gained extensive knowledge and expertise in facilitating diverse teams. She brings these skills into her work in special education consulting and special healthcare needs advocacy, and is well respected by parents, school administrators and disability stakeholders across the state. She is the Past President Advisor of SPaN (Special Needs Advocacy Network), a statewide network of special education advocates in Massachusetts, as well as a member of the IMPACT: Ability Steering Committee, COPAA (Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates) and P.I.C.K. (Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus). She was previously a member of the ArcMass board and the Reading Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
Anna O’Rourke, M.Ed., is a parent, advocate, and an educator. She is the proud mother of four children. Her Master’s Degree is in moderate disabilities. She taught elementary school for a decade, before resigning to care for her oldest son when his health began to fail. She witnessed how determination, strength, resources, and family supports transformed his life before he passed away. Anna is an advocate for her oldest child and has witnessed how a strong IEP has garnered success. Her youngest child has Down syndrome. She is a board member of the Down Syndrome Resource Group of Western Massachusetts. Anna believes by empowering children and families with education, advocacy, and community a child’s potential flourishes.
Director Emeritus – William Henderson, Ed.D., is the retired Principal of the Patrick O’Hearn Elementary School in Dorchester. Under Dr. Henderson’s leadership the O’Hearn School became a fully inclusive, nationally recognized school. In 2009, the City of Boston renamed the school as the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School – Boston. He is a person with a visual impairment. Dr. Henderson was a member of the Federation Board from 1994-2010.