An Arizona native, Kristen Plamondon, graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Elementary Education. After teaching for four years, she stayed home with her three children for fifteen years and is currently working as a Foster Family Specialist, journeying the foster care system with Arizona families. Kristen has expertise in various neurological deficits including Autism, Down syndrome, substance exposures, and trauma behaviors. Kristen, along with her husband and three children, love Saturday mornings on the couch sipping coffee, jumping waves with sandy toes, and can often be found rocking a Finding Nemo Ukulele during their nightly family dance parties.
Amanda “Mandy” Rivas is a Tucson Native and a graduate of the University of Arizona with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. After working as a paralegal for 7 years, Mandy transitioned to a career in real estate. Mandy, her husband Brian, and their two girls currently live in Chandler, Arizona. They enjoy the beach, going to Pinetop, visiting Disneyland and attending events within their Down syndrome community.
Over 20 years ago Laura chose to stay home with her first child, now a mom of four she still makes that same choice every day. She supports her husband in running his consulting business and is a perpetual volunteer. She has volunteered in the schools, in church groups, cub scouts, and community theatre. When it comes to schools, she feels she’s tried everything. Her children have attended charter schools, private schools, and 13 different CUSD schools. She even home schooled them for a time in order to provide the services they were lacking in public school. Laura is passionate about students with “invisible disabilities”; and has experience with Autism/ASD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, ADHD/ADD, and Gifted.
Dena Berg is a Speech-Language Pathologist who works with kids and adults with developmental disabilities. She received both her bachelors and masters degrees from Arizona State University and has loved continuing to work in Arizona. Dena has worked with advocacy groups to further identify children with feeding disorders and to promote better feeding and social outcomes in the schools. In her free time, Dena enjoys listening to podcasts, working out, and walking her dogs. As the Professional Advisor to the SEPAC Board, Dena will serve as a professional bridge between parents, the schools, and the community.
Born and raised in Europe, Beata came to America in 1999. She received her second degree in Business Administration from Northwood University. She lived in Chicago for ten years where she worked in a Private Business School as Assistant Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management Leader. She helped people better their lives and broaden their possibilities through the power of education. She frequently appeared on a local Chicago Polish radio station, promoting the access to education. When her daughter Lucia was born in 2012, with a rare genetic disorder, her passion to advocate for her came naturally. She is involved in the Special Needs community and serves as a Board Member for the Epilepsy Foundation, Arizona Chapter. Beata’s other passions are traveling and interior design. She’s been to 22 countries, is bilingual, studied and has some French and Russian. Beata resides in Chandler with her husband Jason, and two young children, ages 7 and 4. Beata is extremely passionate about advocating for her daughter, being her voice and doing all that is needed to make sure she is given every opportunity as a typical child. She is also eager to share her knowledge and experiences to help other families with special needs children. She loves the quote by Pop Francis, ”Viewing people with disabilities as second class, is a Social sin.”
Laura Busby has been working with and advocating for students who have dyslexia since 2007, and is proud to say she is dyslexic herself. Helping students with dyslexia achieve all their goals and feel good about themselves is Laura’s passion and life calling. In 2009, Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in education and history from Arizona State University, and earned a masters degree in education from Arizona State University in 2013. While she was earning her masters degree, Laura served as Assistant Executive Editor on ASU’s education research journal, Current Issues in Education. In her free time, Laura loves to garden, spend time with her husband and their two dogs, Kayla and Annabelle.