Board of Director Bios
Tracey Morgan Tracey joined the SPaN Board of Directors in 2014 and is looking forward to the continuing growth of SPaN, as she begins her first term as President. She has served two terms 1st Vice President, and successfully stepped into the role of acting-President for the second term. Tracey brings over 20 years professional experience with children and families to her advocacy practice, A Bright IDEA Advocates. Former leadership and management positions include Program Director of School Age and Summer Camp programs serving 60-160 children per day, as well as V.P. of AAA Accommodations, Inc.. Her past experience working in public school therapeutic programs, and Private Therapeutic Day Schools informs her advocacy practice. She holds a B.A. in Human Services with a concentration in crisis intervention. She is a passionate supporter of the SPaN network, and a frequent volunteer representative of SPaN at professional events and SPaN IEP clinics.
Seetha Burtner trained in advocacy by the Federation for Children with Special Needs in 2013 and worked several tough cases pro bono before charging for her services. Her clients today include children of all ages from preschool to high school, with challenges including ASD, complex trauma, emotional disabilities, ADHD, specific learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome, communication impairments, medical issues, and behavioral issues. She is experienced with all stages of the special education process from initial evaluations through out-of-district placements when appropriate. She conducts workshops for the Federation in the metro Boston area and puts in several hours a year of continuing education and training to stay current on changes in special education. Seetha also serves as an SESP (Special Education Surrogate Parent) for children in state custody, and volunteers on the the Helpline at the Massachusetts Advocates for Children. As an advocate, her goal is to get a child’s educational needs met, educate the child’s parents on the special education process, and leave the family’s relationship with the school in better shape than she found it. Before becoming an educational advocate Seetha was a freelance journalist and an assistant professor of philosophy. Her skills as a journalist prove invaluable when interacting with school staff, observing children in school, and writing on parents' behalf. As an Assistant Professor of philosophy she spent years applying and teaching principles of logic so that making and assessing a case are second nature to her. She brings those skills to analyzing reports and school records, and into school meeting negotiations, where much more is at stake for a child than a theoretical point. Seetha grew up in Mumbai, India, and made her way westwards in 1991. She lives with her husband and two elementary aged boys in Belmont.
Jennie DunKley is a 15+ year veteran special education consultant and advocate. She is a senior trainer for the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) workshops in Basic Rights; IEP Development; Learning Styles; and Transition. She also presents her own workshops, including the Four Fs of Function; Positive Parenting; Writing Functional and Measurable IEP Goals; Multiple Learning Styles; and ASD Transition IEPs, to private groups, educators, advocates, evaluators and SPED-PACs. She received advocacy training though William & Mary Law School, ISEA Clinic; Suffolk University Law School, Center for Advanced Legal Studies; FCSN; Wrightslaw and the OSEP/COPAA SEAT (Special Education Advocacy Training) program, which included a practicum at the Massachusetts Disability Law Center. Jennie initiated and developed SPaN programs such as the School Fair, the Same Side of the Table and the SPaN Grant project. In addition to her work on the Board of SPaN, she serves as an Advisory Committee member for SpedEx and on AANE’s Conference Committee. Jennie is a past Chair of the Massachusetts Special Education Advisory Council (SAC) where she also served as a parent representative.
Susan Haberman As an educator I have over 20 years experience as a special education teacher in both public and private 766 school settings. I am dual certified as a General and Special Educator and have a Masters Degree in education. I have been in private practice as an Educational Consultant and Advocate for over 5 years. I have worked with children and adults with multiple diagnoses, including Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Mental Health Disorders, Developmental Delays, and other health impairments. I received my advocacy training from the Federation of Children with Special Needs, I am an experienced diagnostician, and am Wilson Reading Certified.
SPaN has been my primary support and training network since I started my private practice. Having the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues and learn from experts in the field of special education has been invaluable. I have been on the board as recording secretary for two terms and am looking forward to continuing as member at large. As a member of the SPaN Board my goal is to help maintain the quality of the organization, expand the opportunities for learning, and increase awareness of the profession.
Andrew Hoffman is an attorney in private practice at the Law Office of Andrew Hoffman. Prior to opening his own practice, he was employed as an attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services for over 15 years, the last 9 as the Managing Attorney of the Boston office of the Children and Family Law Division. Before that, he practiced law with civil legal services programs for about 5 years in a variety of fields.
Most of Andrew’s experience has been in the trial courts, but he also has vast experience in appellate matters, administrative advocacy, and other forums. He teaches, writes, and trains other attorneys. Memberships and qualifications include the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, Special Needs Advocacy Network, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and CPCS certification by the Children and Family Law and Youth Advocacy Divisions. He is a chair of the Boston Children’s Museum Board of Overseers, a member of the West End House Board of Directors, and former President of the Princeton Association of New England.
Andrew is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He resides in Milton with his wife and daughter.
Ellen McGee I have served two terms on SPan's Board of Directors as a Member at Large and interim Treasurer. I am passionate about SPaN's mission and appreciate the dedication of the Executive Board. I wish to continue as a Member at Large and progressively contribute in any way I can.
I have been advocating for children with unique educational needs and disabilities for over ten years. My training started with The Federation for Children with Special Needs. I continue my education through Suffolk university, Landmark Outreach programs, Wrightslaw, and SPaN programs. I have an affinity toward the law, and I have been very successful advocating for educational needs and placement for children with Dyslexia. In my next term as a Member at Large, I am looking forward to assisting the Tech Committee during SPaN, as well as coordinating and registering service at our workshops and conferences.
Tracey Morgan brings over 20 years professional experience with children and families to her advocacy practice, A Bright IDEA Advocates. Former leadership and management positions include Program Director of School Age and Summer Camp programs serving 60-160 children per day, as well as V.P. of AAA Accommodations, Inc.. Her past experience working in public school therapeutic programs, and Therapeutic Day Schools informs her advocacy practice. She holds a B.A. in Human Services with a concentration in crisis intervention. She is a passionate supporter of the SPaN network, and a frequent volunteer representative of SPaN at professional events and SPaN IEP clinics. Tracey is looking forward to continuing growth of the SPaN network as she seeks her first term as President.
Cynthia Schmarsow, BFA, M Ed in Special Education, 4 years general education and 16 years in special education, IEP clinic volunteer, Special Education Surrogate Parent, educational volunteer for twenty plus years for various agencies and schools, mother of twice exceptional daughter.
Carol Silva is the mother of 2 children, Jake (12), Adeline (10) and guardian to a teenage relative. Jake was diagnosed with a severe learning disability, NVLD and ADHD at an early age. Following years of sifting through information and navigating the IEP process Carol kept coming back to the same conclusion, if she only knew then what she knew now.After careful consideration, she moved forward with what had become her passion. In 2015 she completed the PCTI training class at The Federation For Children With Special Needs in Boston. At the completion of the course, she began volunteering in their call center as well as working pro bono with a family (a prerequisite for certification). After fulfilling her obligation, she has remained an active volunteer in their call center. Continuing with education, she’s attended several special education seminars. Over the past year she has worked with friends and family in an advisory position as they advocate for their children. More recently she began volunteering with a non-profit advocacy group helping low-income families.
Although new to the professional field of advocacy, her personal experiences, creativity, work ethic and passion for the field of special needs, collectively will make Carol a valuable addition to SPAN board.
Jonathan Smith Special Education director, teacher, consultant. 35 years experience in all aspects of special education; all disabilities; behavior/curriculum assessment: IEP/Team meetings; FCSN trained. Jonathan joined the SPaN Board of Directors during this past year.
Marge Sunners has been a member of SPaN since 1995, when she first became a Federation for Children with Special Needs trained advocate. Since 1997, she has served on the SPaN Board on multiple committees and as a past SPaN Treasurer, past SPaN Membership V.P. and more recently as a past SPaN Member-at-Large. As a professional Special Needs Advocate, in private practice, Marge's primary focus has been on assisting individuals and their families who have a child with a hearing loss. She is able to communicate in ASL with her Deaf clients and their families, who use American Sign Language, as she is also a parent of a now adult bilingual Deaf son, diagnosed with hearing loss and additional disabilities. Marge has been a Federation for Children with Special Needs Parent Trainer, and an advisor to the Massachusetts Dept. of Education working along with MCDHH to put in place policy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Massachusetts. She has previously served many years on the Advisory committees to Yesodot, Gateway, Sudbury Valley Special Needs Initiative, the Advisory Committee of Bureau of Jewish Education, as well as a past board member of Jewish Family Services of Metrowest. Currently Marge serves on two committees outside of SPaN. They are the public policy committee of the JCRC, with her personal goal of helping to represent the interests of individuals with special needs within the Jewish Community, and the MCDHH Advisory Task Force, working towards improving life in Massachusetts for those with hearing loss, through legislative and other means.
Suzanne Dromey Tiberii holds a B.A. in psychology from Clark University and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Lesley University. She has worked in the private sector of special education in the state of Massachusetts for 46 years, in both day and residential schools. She is retiring this August after 38 years at the Manville School of the Judge Baker Children's Center, where she was a classroom teacher, an assessor, and for the past 19 years, the Admissions Coordinator and Public School Liaison. She has worked with over 75 public school districts and hundreds of parents during her years in the field. She remains committed to finding avenues for open dialogue and comprehensive services for children with special needs.
Meri Viano has worked in the advocacy field for 20 years. She has worked with private organizations, school systems, and agencies with multiple disabilities. Her strengths are to find equal treatment and community services for all children prior to being locked up. After having children Meri spent over 12 years working with family organizations and is currently working as a Sr.Manager for the Parent/ Professional Advocacy League. Meri is dedicated to reforming the culture of working with families, youth and young adults. She has trained in the state and nationally on several areas including: Crisis training, Special education rights for children with mental health needs, working with police stations, and peer to peer training. Meri has testified in the state on behalf of families. Her dedication is to make the system work better and allow families to be heard, understood and given the same rights as all other children.
Renee Williams is the proud mother of four who after her son was diagnosed with autism became a strong advocate for children with disabilities. She is FCSN, SEAT and Wrightslaw trained, and continues to regularly attend, organize, and present special education related trainings in various locations throughout the state. She currently serves as SPaN's Membership Secretary as well as PR and Tech Team Chairperson. She previously served as treasurer and completed a four year term as President. Renee is the founder of Olive Branch Advocacy whose mission is to provide a collaborative approach to effective advocacy that both guides and empowers parents. Renee currently serves as the Project Director for the Special Education Surrogate Parent Program's Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC), a project of the Federation for Children with Special Needs.