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 a daughter with a profound hearing loss.
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. Additionally, Michael tutors children with special needs who are preparing for their Bar Mitzvah at the Gateways program in Newton. 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 is 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 volunteering 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.
Philomena Asante, MD, MPH, is the Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health at the Boston Public Health Commission, the city’s public health agency. Trained at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the Children’s Hospital Boston, Dr. Asante transitioned back into public health in 2014 after years of private pediatric practice. She is part of the Community Advisory Board at the Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Asante has a child with ADHD and a sister with moderate developmental delay. Her passion lies in supporting immigrant families with Children with Special Health Care Needs.
Nicole Baumer, MD, MEd, is in her final year of fellowship training in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital. 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, 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 Allen 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, a family faculty member of Boston Children’s Hospital Institute for Professional Ethics, a family faculty member for The Arc of MA Operation House Call and a consultant with The Institute for Community Inclusion (UMass) and The Institute on Disability (UNH). In her spare time Melanie enjoys antiquing, photography, the beach and her children but, preferably, not at the same time.
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 adjunct faculty member at Lesley University and Wheelock College and mentors principals in the Boston metropolitan area through the School Network for Innovative Principals (SNIP).
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, MBA, is currently President of Lessac Technologies. John is a member of the Board of Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School, and has been active in supporting the Rodman Ride and the Pan-Mass Challenge as a part of the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike Team. John and his wife Lynn are the parents of a son with Down syndrome.
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, is a Partner at TA Associates Realty in Boston. His interest in the Federation evolved after learning about its mission through meetings of the National and Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. He is the parent of a son with Down syndrome.
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.