Community Partnership Awardees
Amber Bobnar – Parent Advocacy Award
Originally from Hawaii, Amber Bobnar and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son currently attends the Lower School. Amber is founder and editor of WonderBaby.org, a support and information website for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired and also volunteers as president of the Massachusetts Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired (MAPVI).
Phyllis Jaillet – Inclusive General Education Teacher Award
Phyllis Jaillet has been teaching for 32 years. She has taught grades one, three, four, and five, presently Phyllis teaches fourth grade. She has been a reading specialist and a special educator. Phyllis has taught in the Wachusett Regional School District for the past 18 years. Phyllis fosters a true community in her classroom, and sets the bar very high for all of her students.
Kate Ahern – Inclusive Special Education Teacher Award
Kate Ahern is an Easter Seals Assistive Technology Specialist who works in schools with children who have disabilities. She also is well known for her blog, “Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.” Before joining Easter Seals, Ahern was a special education teacher and assistive technology specialist. What drives Kate is her passion. One parent said, “The complexity doesn’t scare her; it challenges her to make our daughter the best she can be.”
Regina Snowden – Inclusive Recreation Award
Regina Snowden, M.S.W., is the founder and Executive Director of Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc. She brings a wealth of knowledge regarding youth programming, inclusion, mentoring, and management. Since founding PYD in 1985, she has played a major role in the creation of successful programs and securing funding which has enabled the organization to help Massachusetts youth with disabilities overcome barriers by providing mentoring, education, entrepreneurship, health, recreational and cultural opportunities.
Iraudhis Baez – Parent Advocacy Award
Iraudhis Baez, completed the Parent Consultant Training at FCSN, with her eldest daughter as her inspiration. She is now pursuing a career as a Special Education Advocate, currently working as a Subcontracted Parent Consultant for Latino Families by the Federation through The Jesse Family Advocacy Fund. Iraudhis helps families with children with special needs who are struggling to obtain the appropriate education and services for their children, especially those who face linguistic barriers.
Karen Donovan – Parent Leadership Award
When her child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Karen Donovan worked countless hours to reach out to parents and educators and tirelessly sought collaboration with the Ipswich Massachusetts Public Schools. Through her leadership of the Ipswich SEPAC, Karen gave Ipswich parents a voice. She has had a tremendous impact on the education and inclusion of Ipswich’s children with special needs.
Nicole Tarzia – Self-Advocacy Award
Nicole Tarzia was chosen as Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2013 on March 2, 2013. Having been diagnosed with quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy at six months old, Nicole has faced many medical challenges. Despite this, her family always told her that she could do anything and that she would find a way to adapt. She earned degrees from both Bridgewater State University and Simmons College, where she decided that she wanted to guide youths with and without disabilities down successful paths in life. Since being chosen as Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts, she has used her platform to better educate youths and break down stereotypes concerning physical disabilities. She hopes to teach kids that through education and adaptation, that any dream in life is possible.