People of SNSC

Our Parent Educational Support & Advocacy Volunteers

Iris Berezin
Candace Crosby-Rogers
Bonnie Fields
Michael Wynkoop

Volunteer Peer Parent Mentors

Ruth Cassedy
My name is Ruth Cassedy. I have a 16 year old son on the autism spectrum. I am a teacher, working as a para with kids on the spectrum in the classroom setting, which I love, a certified autism advocate and I host a Facebook page, Upper Valley Autism Resource Exchange, to coalesce and share information among families. You can send me a request if you’d like to join the group. I am always happy to share and learn through mutual experiences.

Our Staff

Laura Perez, Executive Director

Laura (she/her) joyfully leads a team of people who are fiercely dedicated to the delivery of transformative programs and amplifying the voices of the community they serve. She is dedicated to people-powered advocacy and organizing. Her passion is to be with her community, listen to what people want and need, and work to make those visions of a reality.  She brings over fifteen years of community organization experience to SNSC, having dedicated her career to creating a safer, happier, and healthier place for us all to live, play, and work.

Her baccalaureate education focused on the politics of poverty and community education as a force for social change. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on strategic organizational leadership. In her spare time Laura finds her greatest delight in working side by side with her husband at their small family farm and playing with her children.

Nicki Thrall, Administrative Coordinator
When my daughter Ana was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, I experienced grief, anger, hopelessness, anxiety and fear hand in hand with her diagnosis. I didn’t know where to turn, what to do or what to think. That’s when I first connected with SNSC. With support from our Connections Program, Ana received a BigSib who helped her learn to trust people other than her family. Later, when struggling with the special education process, advice from a Parent Educational Support Advocate guided me through the process, empowering me to make the right choices for her. Today we have an abundance of gratitude, support, grace, hope, happiness, acceptance and love in our life thanks, in part, to SNSC. I am grateful to get to be a part of a loving team and to provide support for other families. When I’m not working, I enjoy gardening, music, and being a mom.

Carmen Lachle, Adult Services Program Coordinator

In 2018 I was referred to SNSC for Parent Educational Support and Advocacy. I can remember it like yesterday, as it was such a challenging time for my husband Nolan and I. We have 3 daughters (Lillian, Madalyn, and Sophia) diagnosed with Autism, and I found myself lost with all the IEP and Evaluation meetings. Also, I found myself seeking  conversations with other parents who understood my challenges and fears related to raising children with a disabilities.  I was told as a young child that knowledge is power, and as a mother I wanted to be sure I was doing everything possible for all my children. I’m so fortunate that I found SNSC because developing strong relationships is the foundation of everything I do professionally and personally. I have been empowered by knowledge and skills from the wonderful staff, participants, and volunteers within the SNSC community. In my free time I love spending time with my family, friends, cats, and guinea pig. My favorite thing is hearing my children giggle and I really love making tie-dye shirts together as a family

Emma Woloshin, Youth Program Services Coordinator

Emma (she/her) is passionate about working with people with disabilities and creating equity for all. She was an active member of Unified Sports in high school and discovered her determination for making spaces accessible to everyone, including creating a Unified Prom. She graduated the University of Vermont with a degree in special education and has been working in schools to support students with disabilities. She has a background in Applied Behavioral Analysis and is currently working towards her graduate degree in special education. Outside of work, Emma loves spending time with her family and her dog.

Cortney Nichols Volunteer & Development Coordinator

Cortney (she/her) is a lifelong Upper Valley resident and active community member. She is passionate about helping people who are historically underserved and loves how SNSC is addressing issues in our community. She is excited about growing the SNSC volunteer program and building our capacity to serve more of our community through fundraising and outreach.

Cortney has been working with nonprofits across the country for over 10 years. She lives in Claremont, NH with her husband and daughter and loves spending time outside and with her family.

Our Board of Directors

Jo-Anne Unruh, Ph.D., Director Emeritus
Retired Special Education Director and Executive Director, Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators

Jo-Anne has been working with children who have disabilities and their families since 1969. The inspiration from these children and their families has been central to her work as a special education administrator in Vermont.  Most recently she worked as executive director of the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators. She has been on the board of SNSC since 2009.

In addition to being a licensed special educator and special education administrator in Vermont, her Bachelors’ Degree was in Psychology, her Doctorate is in Education and she is a certified mediator through Woodbury College.

Her other interests include hiking, cross country skiing, biking, kayaking, knitting, singing and maintaining contact with family and friends. She is married to Ken Kramberg, a former special education teacher and program director; he currently serves as a consultant specializing in school program support and development for children with emotional and behavioral challenges.  Their son, Joseph and his wife, Beata, live in San Francisco and Hawaii; both work in the technology field.

Rose McCullough, President

Rose’s career involved international marketing, product management, and strategic planning for business development and communications.  Additionally, she has worked in the non-profit sector educating members through newsletters, webinars, and social media.

She has a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Psychology from Rutgers College, Rutgers University.

While Rose Marie left the traditional workforce to manage her growing family and raise her four children she stayed very active as a volunteer. In 2014, she moved to NH where she currently resides with her husband and their youngest daughter.

Alexis Alston, Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, Vice President

Impact Investor

Alexis is a venture capitalist who specializes in investing in historically underserved communities and underrepresented founders. She serves on the Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee of SNSC. She resides wherever the sun is shining.

Rachel DiStefano, Treasurer

Quality Manager

Rachel was born and raised in Randolph, Vermont. She attended Bates College for her undergraduate degree, majoring in Psychology. She later received a Master’s Degree in Food Systems from the University of Vermont, followed by a Health Policy Fellowship at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. There she worked on a regional health improvement initiative called ReThink Health: Upper Connecticut River Valley, doing data analysis, community engagement, and project coordination. For the past five years, Rachel has worked at Gifford Health Care, the hospital where she was born. As Quality Program Manager, she tracks and analyzes a variety of quality metrics across the organization, leads quality improvement teams, and manages a large federal grant under the Federally Qualified Health Center program. She lives in Randolph with her partner, Paul, and their dog, Zucchini. When she’s not working, she’s volunteering at the Randolph Area Food Shelf, going for walks and sharing meals with friends and family, and trying out new outdoor activities like golf and stand-up paddleboarding.

Meg Seely,  Secretary

Retired Special Educator 

Meg has served on many boards primarily in the Woodstock, Vermont area and at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital (D-H). Additionally, she is into her 7th year at the Vermont Community Foundation Board where she just recently stepped down as the Board Chair.  She joined the Let’s Grow Kids Board in late 2020. Let’s Grow Kids is a movement which will achieve quality, affordable childcare for ALL Vermont children ages birth on up by the year 2025.

Meg holds a Masters in Developmental Therapy and a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. From 1975 to 2001 she served as a therapist and eventually Director of the Woodstock Learning Clinic and later Chair of the Board of the Woodstock Learning Trust. Subsequently she served in many capacities at the Woodstock and Reading Elementary Schools, including interim principal at both.

For the last twenty years, after launching her three children into independence, Meg has served as a Patient Family Advisor at D-H.  She has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally about the importance of Patient Family Centered Care.  She and her husband Bruce live in Bridgewater, Vermont.  They have four granddaughters who are the light of Meg’s life.

Allen Abendroth, Program Advisory Committee

For the past 26 years Allen has been the Inclusion Coordinator for the Lebanon School District.  One of his roles is to support students and their families by assisting with school-based program development and implementation and collaborating with multi-agency teams to promote positive outcomes across domains.  In addition to his educational background, he has worked 8 years in residential settings and his family did foster care for 20 years.  He believes working with the Special Needs Support Center will give him an opportunity to help families work towards happy, purposeful and interactive lives. Allen has three children and lives in Sunapee, NH with Robin and Goose.

Kathy Aldriedge, Program Advisory Committee

Kathy is the mother of two, grandmother of two,  step-mother of two, and aunt of many.  She became interested in helping children with special needs while raising her son who was diagnosed with ODD. Kathy has a special interest in helping the parents of special needs children. She has made her career in business, real estate and the legal  field.  Kathy is a 2020 graduate of Norwich University with a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit organizations.  She is working toward a second career with a goal of helping parents of special needs children navigate the education and mental health systems.

Paula Fernandes, Fundraising Committee

Paula is the owner and founder of My Brigadeiro in Hanover, NH.  Paula joined the SNSC Board in 2019 and shares her chocolates generously to the benefit of SNSC. She has opened her shop in countless ways to broaden the understanding and acceptance of the mission of SNSC. As the family member of a person with autism, Paula has experienced that a little help goes a long way.  As a member of this community, she enjoys being part of the SNSC Board because of the opportunity to learn and help. Her greatest joy in her role is to work towards changing people’s attitudes towards those with disabilities.

Sue Hagerman, Fundraising Committee

Sue comes to SNSC from over 30 years working with children and families in community mental health and special education.  Her passion is helping people become and learn to the best of their abilities.  When students understand their learning strengths and challenges, they can become informed self-advocates, and participate actively in their learning.  When their adults understand how they learn, they can collaborate actively to build optimal individualized plans for learning.

Sue concentrated in psychology and political science at Brown University, and went on to a graduate degree in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a clinical psychology internship at Dartmouth Medical School.  Following internship, she worked for several years at West Central Behavioral Health, developed and co-implemented the Parents in Distress Program, and, for the last 25 years in education in both New Hampshire and Vermont, served as a school therapist, case manager, director of a mainstreamed program for emotionally and behaviorally disordered middle and high school students, and school psychologist consulting with parents, teachers, and students on how their students learn best.

Vince Mennona

Director of Aerospace, Timkin Bearings, and parent of child with special needs

Vince is Director, Aerospace Bearings, Americas at The Timken Company.  Vince has been with Timken since 2006.  Prior to joining Timken, he served in various leadership roles with Motorola and Flextronics.

Vince holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University.

Vince has a child with special needs and supports SNSC as current Board Member and former Chair of SNSC’s annual giving campaign.  Vince enjoys sharing his experiences with the SNSC community as a way of giving back.

Ayla Priestley, Fundraising Committee

Ayla Priestley his a Family Nurse Practitioner at Little Rivers Health Care in Bradford, VT. She graduated with a Masters in Science of Nursing from Rivier University and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program. She works part time as a clinical professor at Rivier University. She is involved with several international organizations that provide free medical care throughout the world.

She grew up in the Upper Valley and continues to live in Bradford, VT. She is an active member of the community and serves through a variety of boards and organizations.