JJavier Valera has been a member of Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County (DSNMC) since 2008. In 2013, he took a more active role through outreach to new Latino families, which led to the creation of the Latino Group in October 2014. Javier joined the DSNMC Board in December 2014, became vice president in April 2016 and president in 2018.
Javier is originally from Madrid, Spain. He graduated from the University of La Salle in Madrid in 1999. As part of his time at university: Javier collaborated with the Department of Psychopedagogy, obtained the Diploma of Camp Assistant, received a degree of honor in Reading Motivation Strategies, traveled to the Netherlands to learn more about education and received a scholarship from the European Union to finish his studies in Sweden.
Javier Valera taught in Spain until he came to teach in the United States in 2004. Javier first worked in the District of Columbia public schools as an ESL and Spanish teacher until 2011. In 2011, he began working as an elementary school teacher at the E.W. Stokes bilingual charter school and in 2016 Javier began to work as math teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools. Javier has three children: Carlos, Carolina and Daniel, who has Down syndrome. In his free time, Javier likes to explore new places with his wife, children and his dog. He loves to draw, paint, watch movies, and relax with a nice cup of coffee.
Mary Ann Dawedeit has been immersed in life skills programming for adults with disabilities, as a mother of 3 sons, including 28-year old Eli who has Downs Syndrome and lives independently.
As a long-time board member, Mary Ann has worked to implement and manage programs such the award-winning "Positively Speaking" workshops, successful fundraisers with partners like the Germantown Chamber of Commerce, and community events such as the Annual Dance. A member of the Step Up Walk committee, Mary Ann has been centrally involved in planning the Buddy Walk for the last three years.
Mary Ann brings value from her 35 years of professional experience in managing administrative and retail business and non-profits to the organization.
Keight is passionate about supporting mission-driven organizations through her work as a search consultant and knows the importance of strong leadership in strengthening civil society.
Professionally, Keight is a partner at executive search firm Isaacson, Miller which partners with nonprofits organizations and educational institutions in their recruitment of transformational leaders. Prior to her work as a search consultant, Keight worked in fundraising and as a strategy and organization development consultant for nonprofit and federal government clients. Keight holds a BA in chemistry from Emory University, a MA in philanthropic studies from Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy, and an EdD in human and organizational learning from The George Washington University.
In her personal life, Keight is a wife and mother. She and her husband Kenrick are the proud parents of their 2-year old daughter Korinne. Korinne was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. Keight is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which provides opportunities to give back to her community in meaningful ways. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County.
Alissa and her family joined DSNMC in 2013. She served for a number of years as DSNMC's new family co-coordinator, and also served on DSNMC's executive committee, leading a strategic planning retreat and the hiring process for current staff. She and her husband are the proud parents of a son with Down syndrome. The DSNMC community has made a profound and joyful difference in her family's life.
Professionally, Alissa has two decades experience in large-scale coalition building and an extensive global network in the social enterprise, local economies and environmental management fields. She currently serves as vice president of a national non-profit advocacy organization. As a trainer and technical assistance provider, she has assisted hundreds of businesses, non-profits, agencies and coalitions with policy advocacy, network and organizational development, public outreach and education, and program development and implementation. A frequent commentator, she has been featured in media outlets including CNBC, NBC News, PBS, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, WAMU and WTOP, among others, and has delivered more than 250 talks, workshops and webinars in the United States and abroad. She is functionally fluent in Spanish and holds degrees from Brown University in Environmental Studies and Development Studies.
Scott Gerson is a Kensington native with over a decade of experience in the Down syndrome and broader disability communities.
At age nine he began volunteering with Special Olympics, where he now works full time as an Event Coordinator at their international office in Washington DC.
Scott has also served as a counselor and director at Camp PALS, which serves teens and young adults with Down syndrome across the country.
He is absolutely thrilled to be joining the DSNMC Board that has already given him so much.
Fun fact: Scott met his girlfriend, Meryl, at the DSNMC Step Up Walk last fall!
Thelma is from El Salvador. She is the oldest of a huge family, three brothers and three sisters. In her country she went to the UES ( National University of El Salvador ) to study civil Engineering for 3 three years, but unfortunately she did not finish her degree because I moved to United States looking for a better opportunities for her and her family.
Thelma has worked for one of DSNMC sponsors: Irenes Pupusas since 2005 as a cashier and waitress. She has also taken ESLA classes at Montgomery college
(English as a Second Language Assessment). Thelma is always working as a volunteer at her daughter's school. She is the reason why since she was born Thelma connected with DSNMC and got involved.
Thelma loves helping people and, every day, she tries to raise her voice to advocate and to make people aware that people with a disability are people like any other and can do everything they aim to do.
In her free time she likes to go to the park with the girls, to the movies or meet with the family and cook. She loves cooking.
Are you interested in joining our fantastic Board of Directors? If so, email our President (email@example.com) introducing yourself and why you would like to join the board, including any areas where you'd like to contribute. We will review your email and get back to you soon!