Newsline Volume 31, Number 1

fcsn gala 2010 logo

Dan Habib and Betsy McNamara of Including Samuel
Barbara Popper and Jim Whelan
Richard Robison and Dr. Karen Levine
Presidents Award recipients
Dan Habib and Betsy McNamara
from Including Samuel
Advocacy Award recipient
Barbara Popper and FCSN
Board President Jim Whale
FCSN Executive Director
Rich Robison with Founders
awardee Dr. Karen Levine

On May 21, 2010, the Federation for Children with Special Needs welcomed more than 350 guests at its 11th annual Gala. Federation staff, board members, honorees – past and present, families, professional partners, and other supporters gathered at the Seaport Hotel in Boston to celebrate the work of the Federation. This event also recognizes the accomplishments of special individuals who have worked hard to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.

The cool jazz of the Tough Love Trio set an elegant tone for the reception and silent auction, which featured 140 items. After dinner, Master of Ceremonies Joyce Kulhawik introduced each event, which included exciting and expressive performances by the Familias Latinas Unidas por el Sindrome de Down Dance Troupe, awards, and a concert by pop/folk artist Seth Glier.

Congratulations to Dan Habib and Betsy McNamara, recipients of this year’s Presidents Award. This husband and wife team used their family’s experiences to bring inclusion to the forefront in their award-winning documentary “Including Samuel.” Betsy shared that making the documentary was, “a journey of leadership and advocacy.” Dan stated, “Inclusion will change the world because it embraces diversity by ability,” and continued, “Someday we will look back at separate classrooms and say, ‘why did we separate kids with disabilities?’”

Dr. Karen Levine received this year’s Martha H. Ziegler Founders award for her work to improve the well-being of children with challenges. She enjoys, “figuring out what makes a child laugh, what makes him tick, what’s the way in?” and then getting that ‘way in’ integrated into a classroom setting. She recognizes, “the Federation takes it [what she does with individual children] to the next level and also advocates at the state and federal level.”

The Federation honored staff member Barbara Popper with the Patricia Blake Advocacy Award for her commitment to promoting the health of women and children, especially those with special health care needs. Barbara related her struggles with hospital
visitation when her child was young, and was happy her advocacy efforts resulted in a positive change in policy. However, she acknowledged that not every family has a happy outcome. “Families face situations in hospitals, and at schools that they are not
prepared to deal with. The Federation reassures families to trust their instincts and get help,” and Barbara is pleased the Federation is there to provide that information and help to families.

The evening concluded with a beautiful and moving concert by Seth Glier. Seth talked about his 25 year old brother who has autism. When Seth is not on the road, he is his brother’s PCA (personal care attendant). His brother is, “The greatest gift he could ask for,” and is the inspiration for much of his music. Listen to the speeches and watch the dance performances on the Federation’s YouTube channel at

The Federation extends heartfelt thanks to our sponsors, contributors, silent auction donors and volunteers whose contributions helped make the evening a success. Mark your calendars for next year’s Gala on May 13, 2011. We hope to see you there!