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COPAA Team

Please Note:

COPAA does not provide direct services, individual advocacy or representation to parents or to children with disabilities. We are unable to accept or return calls to provide individual or legal advice. If you are in need of an attorney or advocate representation please search our directory.

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Denise Stile Marshall, M.S., Executive Director

Denise has been the Executive Director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) since 2005. She  graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Science. Denise has 30 years’ experience in the field of disabilities in a variety of support, management, and advocacy capacities. She has a wealth of non-profit association management experience and is a dynamic trainer, experienced in leading sessions for participants of diverse abilities and experience levels. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of COPAA Denise was the Director of Training and Educational Outreach for the national organization TASH from 1995-2005, the Program Manager and trainer for Maryland Leaders in Disability Policy; and a Positive Behavior Support specialist and Director of the National Training Center for The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland among other consulting and management positions.  Denise's specific areas of interest are civil right to quality education, positive behavioral supports, prevention and reduction in the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive techniques, family supports, grassroots advocacy, self-advocacy, and experiential learning.   Denise can be reached at exec @ copaa.org or 844-426-7224 x 700.

 
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Selene A. Almazan, Esq., Legal Director

Selene works contractually as our Legal Director. Selene is also currently in private practice in Maryland. Selene has been a member of COPAA since its inception in 1998.  Selene was on the Board of Directors from 2003-2014 and has contributed to COPAA as a volunteer in many substantial ways.  Selene is a long time Co-Chair of the Amicus and Conference Committees. She led the Strategic Plan workgroup (2007) and the Litigation Workgroup (2012). As a member of the Board of Directors Selene has been Vice Chair, Chair, Treasurer and Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee since 2005. Selene has also been a trainer for COPAA Conference and webinars for a number of years beginning in 2004. As an Amicus member Selene has been involved in nearly every COPAA brief submitted, (and written at least three amicus briefs for COPAA in the 4th, 5th and 9th Circuits) as well as involved in a number of governmental affairs issues: the Reauthorization of 2004; Restraint Seclusion; ESEA (and its precursor NCLB); Charter Schools; Burden of Proof and expert witness fees. She is formerly the Director of Advocacy Services and Co-Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE), a non-profit organization founded in 1989. For the last 20 years, Selene has represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment issues at the MCIE. As the Director of Advocacy Services, she directs the only legal services project devoted solely to the issue of least restrictive environment in the country. The Advocacy Project has represented over 3000 individual students in the last 20 years throughout the state of Maryland. Selene represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Selene is a former Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland where she represented children in the foster care system, including representation in special education matters. She has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys and advocates on legal issues related to special education law as well as disability discrimination issues.  

(Please do not call for individual case representation or legal advice. Please consult our directory if you are seeking an attorney)

Selene may be reached at Selene @ copaa.org or 844-426-7224 x 702

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 Marcie Hipple, Director of Member Services and Events 

Marcie has worked for COPAA since 2006. Prior to her current position she was the Member and Meeting Services Coordinator for ten year. Marcie graduated from Roanoke College with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Prior to working at COPAA she worked at MCI in Global sales for 18 years.  She has a wealth of experience in customer service, project management, and negotiations.

Marcie can be contacted at marcie @ copaa.org or by phone 844-426-7224 x 701.

 

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lana Lopez, M. Ed. Education Coordinator

Ilana Lopez has 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, working with both large and small nonprofits dedicated to transforming education. Prior to joining COPAA, she facilitated parent workshops and served on the Board of Directors of Bayside Community Center in San Diego. She also worked at the University of San Diego (USD) for eight years, co-creating youth programs in partnership with K-12 schools and extended day providers who serve Title 1 students. Ilana has a Masters of Education in Literacy, Culture, and TESOL from USD. Her area of interest is educational equity and serving families who are at the intersection of multiple social issues.

 

llana can be reached at Ilana @ copaa or 844-426-7224 x 708.

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Jessica Salonus, Esq. - Consulting Attorney

Jessica has been an active member of COPAA for a number of years prior to recently joining COPAA as a contractual attorney.  She graduated with honors with a degree in Management from Louisiana State University and with honors from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law with her law degree, where she was also the Managing Editor of the Law Review. 

Jessica has a personal understanding of what it means to be a parent of a child with a disability.  Accordingly, she has an active and dedicated private practice securing the services and accommodations a child deserves under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”), Section 504, and/or the ADA.  She also seeks compensation for physical and/or emotional injuries caused to a child as a result of abuse or illegal actions taken against the child by school officials.  Additionally, Jessica has experience litigating cases involving retaliation against parents or teachers who advocate for the rights of children with disabilities.

Some case law contributions in the area of special education by Jessica include:  AC v. Shelby County Bd. of Educ., 711 F.3d 687 (6th Cir. 2013) (retaliation against parents of child with Type 1 diabetes for requesting accommodations was legally sufficient—reversing district court); L.H. v. Hamilton Cnty. Dep't of Educ., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153322, *2 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 4, 2016)C.G. v. Cheatham Cty, 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 77134 (M.D. Tenn 2015); Cockrill v. Metro Gov’t, 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 3180 (M.D. Tenn. 2015) and Grummons v. Williamson County Bd of Educ., 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 51983 (M.D. Tenn. 2014).

Jessica can be reached at JessicaS@copaa.org by phone at 844-426-7224 x 707

 
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Kimberly Head-Amos, M.S. - Community Engagement Manager

Kimberly Head Amos joined COPAA in August 2018. Her professional background is in nonprofit and school fundraising, including The Brearley School in New York and Emory University in Atlanta. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a B.S. in Political Science and from Georgia State University in Atlanta with an M.S. in Policy Studies, with a nonprofit concentration. Kimberly lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and two children. She has been highly involved in her kids' elementary schools and is the parent of a child with learning disabilities. She is excited to learn more about advocacy work and to engage with COPAA members by managing the COPPA Connect online network.
Kimberly can be reached by email at Kimberly @ copaa.org or by phone at 844-426-7224, x704.

 

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Jamie Anderson Membership Assistant

Jamie is experienced as a parent advocate. Prior to working for COPAA, Jamie worked for the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). Contact Jamie for any membership, registration, or website questions.  

Jamie may be contacted at Jamie @ copaa.org or by phone 844-426-7224 x 703

 

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Mary Fornoff, Accountant

Mary has been a contractual accountant for COPAA since 2006.  She has worked for a long time in the non-profit sector.

Mary can be reached at copaafinance @ gmail.com  

 

 

Mailing Address:


P.O. Box 6767
Towson, Maryland 21285
PH: 844-426-7224 
Fax: 410-372-0209

 



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