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2013 Webinar Presenters - Fall Series
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Fall Series Presenter Bios:


Missy Alexander

Missy is a parent educator with Maryland’s Parent Training & Information Center, The Parents’ Place of Maryland. She works with families of children with disabilities, helping them advocate for appropriate educational services for their children and  finding community resources to meet their children's needs. She presents parent and professional workshops on a variety of topics and helps facilitate study groups using Wrightslaw's "From Emotions to Advocacy" framework. She is the parent advocate on the St. Mary's and Calvert County's Local Care Teams (formerly known as Local Coordinating Council), and is a member of both the St. Mary's County, Maryland Human Services Council and the St. Mary’s County, Maryland Local Management Board. Missy has been a guest lecturer at Towson University and The College of Southern Maryland on parenting a child with autism. Missy is Secretary for the Learning Disabilities Association of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and is on the Board of Directors for the Learning Disabilities Association of Maryland. Missy’s dedication and passion for advocating for children with disabilities stems from advocating for her own daughter, who has been served under the IDEA since 1995. Missy served as Chair of the COPAA Board of Directors in 2012-2013.

 

Elizabeth Eubanks , Esq.

Elizabeth graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Non-profit Management. She went on to attend law school at Pepperdine University School of Law, where she obtained a J.D., as well as the Straus Institute’s Certificate in Dispute Resolution.  Elizabeth participated in Pepperdine’s Adoption Clinic and Special Education Law Clinic. Elizabeth practiced at a special education law firm in the Los Angeles area representing parents of children with disabilities in school district, regional center, and health insurance matters. Elizabeth provided representation to parents in countless IEP meetings, as well as in mediations, due process hearings, and fair hearings before the California Office of Administrative Hearings. She has given numerous presentations to parents of students with disabilities on topics such as parent rights under the IDEA and the Lanterman Act, and has provided consultation to parents in free special educational law clinics. In 2012, Elizabeth joined the Disability Rights Legal Center ("DRLC”), a non-profit organization, as the Director of the Inland Empire Program in Southern California. She directs the Education and Advocacy Clinic at University of La Verne College of Law and teaches coursework in disability rights and in special education law. Elizabeth also participates in and presents at DRLC’s Special Education Academy, which provides training opportunities for special education advocates.


Mandy Favaloro, Esq.

Mandy is an attorney at A2Z Educational Advocates ("A2Z”).  Mandy graduated magna cum laude from the University of Redlands with a B.A. in Government. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society, and numerous local and national community service organizations including Mortar Board. During college, Mandy worked in the Redlands Unified School District providing reading intervention strategies to at-risk students. She then attended law school at Pepperdine University, where she graduated with a J.D.  Since joining A2Z, Mandy has advocated for parents of students with disabilities at all stages of the process including IEP meetings, mediations, due process hearings, and  federal court proceedings. Mandy prepared and delivered oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving a school district’s denial of a student’s access to school. Mandy and the A2Z team obtained a favorable opinion from the Ninth Circuit on the precedent-setting issue of mootness of an IDEA claim upon the death of a student, and the Ninth Circuit overturned the District Court's award of attorneys’ fees to the school district on that basis. Mandy is a founding member of WOSEP, the Women's Organization for Special Education Professionals, in Southern California. She is a member of CAPCA, the California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy. Mandy has presented at the COPAA annual conferences and webinars.  She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Training Committee, and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2012. Mandy is also one of the teachers for COPAA’s SEAT program in 2012-2013.





Dana A. Jonson, JD, MSEd

Dana is in private practice in Connecticut.  Her practice is focused exclusively on the representation of children with disabilities through the Special Education Process.  Her professional experience helping families through these challenging issues in school districts across the state includes representation at PPTs and Mediation, as well as litigation in Due Process and Federal Court.  Dana is a graduate of the Northeastern University School of Law.  She also holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons College, with a focus on Intensive Special Needs, and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University.  Prior to attending law school, Dana worked as a special education teacher and administrator in Boston, MA.  Dana is a member of COPAA and currently serves on the COPAA Board of Directors. 


Carrie Watts, Esq.

Carrie graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A.  in English and a B.A. in Speech Communications. She obtained her J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law and received a Straus Institute's Certificate in Dispute Resolution. Carrie worked for two summers at the Office of the Child Advocate for the State of Georgia, conducting extensive oversight investigations of individual cases and systemic compliance issues within the Department of Family and Children’s Services, including child protective services cases and foster care cases. Carrie participated in the Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic in law school, where she worked with parents on preparing for and attending IEP meetings for their children. Following that experience, she pursued her passion for special education law and children's rights, joining A2Z Educational Advocates ("A2Z”). She has also been actively involved in research and writing for A2Z's cases at the Federal District Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Carrie is a frequent speaker on topics related to special education. She has previously been a presenter at COPAA’s national conference and webinar. She is a founding member and current Board member of WOSEP, the Women's Organization of Special Education Professionals.

 

Diane Wilcutts

Diane is a skilled education advocate who relies upon strategic thinking, courtesy, and clear communication to help families navigate special education. She has been in private practice for the past ten years and also works as a state-appointed surrogate parent, advocating on behalf of children in foster care. From 2008-2010, Diane served as a COPAA board member and as president of the Learning Disabilities Association of Connecticut. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut with her two children, three cats, and a dog. 


Mark Woodsmall, Esq.

Mark  is the founder of Woodsmall Law Group, PC, a law firm based in the San Gabriel Valley area. The firm practices exclusively in the areas of special education and representation before the Regional Center. In 2006, Mark joined the faculty of the University of Southern California ("USC”) Gould School of Law as a Professor Adjunct, teaching in the area of special education law. He also serves as the teaching attorney in the Special Education Advocacy Training Project - Los Angeles. The SEAT Project, an innovative nationwide advocacy training project, is funded by a  grant from the US Department of Education and administered through COPAA and the USC Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (Children's Hospital Los Angeles). Mark serves on the UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment (CART) Community Advisory Committee. He has been an active volunteer with Cure Autism Now/Autism Speaks, serving on the National and Los Angeles Walk Planning Committees and Government Relations Committee. In 2008, Mark was named to the Board of Autism Speaks - Southern California. He currently serves as its Chair. Mark is a national lecturer on parents’ rights under the IDEA, Section 504, and the Lanterman Act.

 

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