Nancy Corr, Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Workgroup
Laura Gordon, Former MCPS Special Education Paraeducator, former xMinds Board President
Kristin King, General and Special Educator (MCPS), Special Olympics Coach
Monica Martinez, Special Education Advocate, former xMinds Executive Director
Karen Paul, Founder and Principal at Catalyzing Philanthropy
Kim Pinckney-Lewis, Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology, xMinds Educator Support Committee Co-Chair
Julie Reiley, Former Co-Chair Montgomery County Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) and former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Special Education Committee of Montgomery County Council of PTAs
Scott Robertson, Ph.D., Self-Advocate
Barb Rosston, J.D., Independent School and Nonprofit Consultant
Anne Stewart, M.A. Special Education, Special Educator (Lee Montessori, DC Public Charter School)
Sarah Wayland, Ph.D, Guiding Exceptional Parents
Molly Whalen, Special Education Parent Advocate, DCASE Executive Director, Fundraiser
Bonita Williams, former xMinds Board member
Jamell White, PhD, LCSW-C, Professor, College of Education Early Childhood Education at UMD
Vice PresidentA native of Baton Rouge, LA, Melissa Montealegre Egan is the mother of a 9-year-old son with autism, who attends a Learning for Independence program in MCPS, and a typically developing 6-year-old daughter. She works part-time as the Communications Coordinator for St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood, MD. She is grateful to hone her advocacy skills through xMinds and help further its important work as the Events Chair.
PresidentNora recently retired from her work as an anthropologist in international development, first at the World Bank, and more recently, as a member of the gender and social inclusion team at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (a US bilateral aid organization). She has spent many years as an MCPS parent advocating for her son (who has ADHD) and her daughter (in the Autism Resources Program) and brings that valuable experience to her work at xMinds.
Board MemberNatalia is the mother of a 5-year-old son with Autism who is currently non-speaking. He has three loving older sisters ages 7, 11, and 14. All attend MCPS in various special programs. Natalia is a trained trial lawyer and in-house counsel. She has worked in private practice focusing on employment and civil litigation and in various government roles as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office, and as an in-house attorney with MCPS. Natalia currently works in-house at a management consulting firm, focusing on internal investigations and employment law. She looks forward to contributing her expertise to xMinds, an organization that assisted her greatly in navigating her son's diagnosis and educational needs.
Vice PresidentSue earned a JD and MBA from the University of Chicago and practiced law at Sidley and Austin until giving it up to be home with her three children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. Sue has spent years tutoring children with learning disabilities, served on the Board of the Edmund Burke School, and taken a leadership role in development efforts at several independent schools in DC and Montgomery County. Sue brings to xMinds her experience with non-profit governance, fund-raising, inclusive education, and her interest in promoting understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity.
PresidentJean is a parent and autistic self-advocate who has lived in Montgomery County since 2003. She has three children who have been taught in many different MCPS programs and settings. Although she has a master's degree in journalism, she currently works as Office Manager for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where she is able to frequently indulge in one of her special interests: filling out forms. (Yes, really.)
Board MemberKate worked in the Interior Design field for many years before the diagnosis of her eldest child with ASD. She focused her attention on specialists and therapies for her son, and was gladdened to find xMinds to provide her with support and community. She currently serves as the Family Outreach Chair, and hopes that more families in Montgomery County can find community with xMinds. In addition to her work with xMinds, Kate works as a Design Consultant on residential projects and teaches art classes.
Board MemberCarolina believes in parent involvement and collaboration between home and school to ensure the success of every child. In 2017, Carolina completed the Parents' Place of Maryland's LEADers program, a training series that provides parents with the information they need to be informed and active in special education advocacy at the state and local levels. Carolina currently works full-time with a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Board MemberMaria is an attorney with a JD from the Catholic University of America. She also earned her MSEd from the University of Pennsylvania specializing in Intercultural Communications. After her daughter was diagnosed with autism, Maria began researching best practices in teaching nonspeakers to communicate. She also provides legal representation pro bono to students with disabilities in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Maria is the Chair of the Nonspeaking Autistic Students Committee at xMinds.
Board MemberKim Pinckney-Lewis earned a Ph.D. in Instructional Design & Technology from Old Dominion University. With over 20 years of experience in the training and education fields, she has served as an Instructional Designer and Performance Improvement Consultant for various entities within the intelligence community. She is also the proud mother of a child on the Autism spectrum and has lent her skills in instructional design to help identify needs of individual learners like her son. In addition to her experience in advocacy for inclusive learning environments, she brings her expertise in strategic needs assessments to the xMinds Board.
Board MemberA graduate of the University of Michigan, George Washington University, and University of Maryland (UMUC), with masters degrees in Political Management, Business Data Analytics, and Business Administration, Bonita has worked on Capitol Hill and in government affairs. Most recently she served as PTA president at her son’s elementary school and continues to serve on the MCCPTA’s Special Education Advisory Committee. Currently, Bonita is both a substitute teacher in MCPS and an education reform fellow with the non-profit organization Teachers Democracy Project. Bonita has a strong belief that all students are valuable and have the right to equity, fairness, and respect in the pursuit of a high-quality education.
Executive DirectorAfter earning a Masters Degree in Southeast Asian History, Melanie moved to Washington, first working as a journalist researching congressional races and then covering political scandals for CBS News. She went on to produce documentaries at National Geographic that involved trudging through swamps looking for crocodiles, searching for headhunters in Borneo, and documenting exorcisms in Manila. Most recently she became a TV executive for a wildlife filmmaking company. But her most rewarding assignment to date remains raising her 16-year-old autistic son who is in the Aspergers Program at Walter Johnson High School. Melanie has been taking her son to xMinds events since he was a toddler, and she is most proud of seeing him grow into a strong self-advocate.
Board MemberPassionate about social change and youth development, Daria Hall brings 20+ years of experience as a communications professional working both in-house and with PR agencies in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. Today, she leads teams on communications campaigns for racial justice, education, and philanthropic efforts. A native Washingtonian and a proud graduate of DCPS, Daria lives in Silver Spring with her son who is on the spectrum and is a soon to be high schooler. She has navigated the special education systems in NYC and MCPS, and as a long-time xMinds member, she believes deeply that the combination of a supportive community and informed caregivers/parents is the best formula for advocating for services children need to be successful.
TreasurerEric has a career in cybersecurity and has a special connection with the autism community because one of his children and a nephew are autistic. Eric previously served on the board of the Organization for Autism Research. He has extensive fundraising experience with Truman Charities, an organization that hosts events to raise money for local and national charities. Eric lives in Gaithersburg, MD, with his wife Marci, four children, and two dogs.
Board MemberMarci is a clinically trained special educator with over 20 years’ experience as a case manager and special educator in Illinois and is currently teaching at the Sulam School in Rockville, MD. She is also the founder of Enhance EFS, an Executive Functioning Coaching and Academic Tutoring business. Marci shares a personal connection with the autism community as one of her children and a nephew have autism. Marci lives in Gaithersburg, MD with her husband, their four children, and two puppies.
Flor de Amelia Lizette Hoffman
Board MemberFlor De Amelia "Lizette" Hoffman earned her Master's in Special Education and is a 2nd year PhD student in The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Applied Behavior Analysis program. She serves as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and an educational consultant for underserved and underrepresented communities across the United States through Avanzos Educational and Behavioral Services. Lizette is a mother of five and part of a dual Air Force military family. Lizette's motivation and determination for quality services stems from her personal journey as a mother of a child diagnosed with autism who is also medically fragile.
SecretaryAfter moving to the East Coast from Ohio Candace found her heartbeat, which is helping parents navigate the diagnosis of autism. She is a single parent of one 10-year-old prince who is on the spectrum and has ADHD. Through her own parenting journey she has learned a lot about the autism spectrum and how to advocate for her son. She is eager to use that experience to help other parents, always with an empathetic touch she brings from the Midwest.
Stacy Ganz Kahn
Board MemberStacy has held many roles in education for over two decades: special education teacher, general education teacher, graduate level adjunct professor of special education, staff development specialist, school administrator, and recently the co-founder of Educational Resources Group of Greater Washington. She brings to xMinds vast experience and great enthusiasm for xMinds' mission to improve education for autistic students.
Board MemberDan Amodeo is a dedicated advocate for the rights of autistic students and their families. Dan’s connection to the autistic community is deeply personal and firmly rooted in his upbringing. From a young age, Dan was exposed to the needs and disparities of the autistic community through his mother’s work as a social worker leading an early intervention program in New York City. As the proud parent of two kids, one of whom is autistic, Dan steadfastly draws from the teachings of his mother’s work to inform his own approach to parenting and advocacy. As an experienced professional in the fields of law and government, Dan adeptly taps into his expertise to adeptly navigate the complexities of state and local school programs to champion the rights and needs of autistic students. Dan earned his Bachelor’s degree from Goucher College and his Juris Doctorate from American University.
Board MemberAs a mom of three boys, one whom is autistic, Cara understands the unique needs and struggles that come with having a special needs child. During her tenure as the MCCPTA Special Ed chair she gained hands-on experience advocating for children in special education, as well as a thorough understanding of the inner workings of MCPS and resources about local non-public placements. In addition, her day job as a commercial insurance broker has taught her how to negotiate beneficial outcomes in complex situations. She is committed to using her skills, experiences and connections to champion the needs of the special education community.