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A lot has been changing here at MassFamilies! We’d like to introduce you to some new faces on our team.

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MassFamilies welcomes Karen Claudio to the role of Southeast Region Coordinator for the Family Leadership Series.

Karen Claudio, Southeast Regional Coordinator

For the past 7 years, I have dedicated myself to never letting a parent feel the way I did during a team meeting. I felt overwhelmed, alone confused, and frustrated. Like many advocates, I fell into this role when 2 of my daughters were both struggling in school. What the school was offering was little to no help for one child and ineffective methodology to the other. I devoted myself to learning all I could. 

For me, knowledge is power. In those IEP meetings, the district would often use foreign terminology and my lack of understanding SPED basic rights to their advantage. I completed the Federation of Children with Special Needs Parent Consultant Training and passed the Council of Parent Attorney’s and Advocates Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) 2.0 . I find joy in sharing my knowledge and resources. I often think its my years waiting tables and bartending provided me with the skills to adapt to many types of situations.  If a friend were to describe me, it would be as forthcoming, genuine, strong and a good conversationalist. 

I am a mother of three (3) daughters, 15, 12 and 9. My interest are reading, re-finishing furniture, crocheting, knitting, travelling and car racing.  One of my many passions is being a Special Education Advocate where my goal is that the student receives a truly individualized 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that meets their individual needs – promoting independence for all. 

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MassFamilies welcomes Maryann Welch to the role of Southeast Region Coordinator for the Family Leadership Series.

Maryann Welch, Northeast Regional Coordinator

I have a master’s degree in Literacy education and started teaching in 2003.  I’ve had the great opportunity to teach inclusion and special education in multiple states.  I have presented trainings on teaching, multiculturalism, and supported military families while living on the East Coast and Okinawa, Japan. 

My passion for supporting and empowering individuals and families of individuals with disabilities grew when one of my sons was diagnosed at a very early age with autism and other complex needs.  I started my advocacy by pushing for inclusion and appropriate services for my child when I moved to Amesbury in 2012 and quickly expanded my advocacy to the local level.  I reinvigorated our dormant SEPAC, became the SEPAC Co-chair, then the SEPAC Advisor, and finally a School Committee member.  I continually support appropriate special education programming, vote for inclusive policies, and build support for the disabilities community. 

I’m looking forward to sharing my passion on the state level and empowering families to do the same.   

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MassFamilies hires its first Hispanic Statewide Coordinator, Keila Torres.

Keila Torres, Statewide Coordinator

Mi nombre es Keila Torres. Actualmente resido en el oeste de Massachusetts. He sido defensora de la educación especial durante más de doce años, enfocado en el autismo, I / DD y otras áreas. Estudié Cultura y lenguaje de Sordos en Holyoke Community College y luego amplié mis estudios a Asociado en Artes con una concentración en Educación Infantil. Recientemente me uní a MassFamilies como coordinadora de alcance para familias de habla hispana. Quiero ayudar a las familias a encontrar su voz en su comunidad y abogar por cambios que las hagan inclusivas en los servicios y el apoyo para sus seres queridos con discapacidades. Tengo la fortuna de contar con el apoyo de mi esposo, mis dos hijos y mi hija, quienes tienen múltiples (dis)capacidades. En mi tiempo libre, me gusta pasar tiempo con mi familia, escuchar música, leer y ver películas de superhéroes con ellos.

Please join us in welcoming these new faces! We are happy to have you on board and we’re so excited to see how you work to help individuals and families imagine better here in Massachusetts and beyond!