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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., Chief Executive Officer

Denise has led 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 over 40 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, abolishment of 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 COPAA's 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.  Prior to becoming legal director for COPAA. Selene was 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 served as  Vice Chair, Chair, Treasurer and Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee.. Selene has also been a trainer for COPAA Conference and webinars for a number of years beginning in 2004. As legal director 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.  In addition to her work as legal director for COPAA, Selene maintains a private practice and 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. 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 23 years, Selene  represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on least restrictive environment issues at the MCIE. 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. Ilana works with COPAA Committees on strategic educational initiatives and outreach, directs the SEAT project and online training, and engages with and supports COPAA members by managing the COPPAConnect online network.


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


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Van Pham, M.A.Ed, Membership Engagement Coordinator 

Prior to joining COPAA, Van worked in IT and event services where she supported business conferences nationwide assisting clients with hardware, software issues, mobile app builds, and customer relations. Although she enjoyed technical work and training, she felt a desire to apply her skills in education equity. She returned to school and received a Master’s in Education and Counseling from San Diego State University, and is continuing her education in Childhood Mental Health Recovery. Van’s specific areas of interest include reforming education and counseling to be multi-culturally competent and sensitive so educators and mental health professionals do not just learn theories, but responsibly apply them. She is also passionate about community advocacy and activism, dismantling systemic racism, human rights, holistic healing, and the creative arts. Van is active in her community serving on the Board of Directors of Bayside Community Center and The Linda Vista Town Council.

Van can be reached at van @ copaa.org or or 844-426-7224 x 703


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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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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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