OUR STORY

The Parents’ Place of Maryland began in 1990 as a grass-roots effort of families, professionals, and community leaders determined to provide resources, support, and information to parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs. Our philosophy of “families helping families” reflects our commitment to supporting families of diverse backgrounds. Today, the Parents’ Place offers a variety of programs and services that continue to support families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. Serving as Maryland’s Parent Training and Information Center and Family-to-Family Health Information Center, Parents’ Place supports thousands of Maryland families each year. Parents’ Place, staffed primarily by parents who have faced these challenges, believes that experienced parents are a key source of knowledge and support to help other families become effective voices for their own children. Please continue to explore the website to learn more about our staff members, programs, services, and resources.

OUR MISSION

Our mission is to empower families as advocates and partners in improving education and health outcomes for children with disabilities and special healthcare needs with a commitment to diversity and equity.

OUR TEAM

We help families obtain education and health care services for their children with disabilities; work to improve education and health care for all children; train and inform parents and professionals on a variety of topics; and connect children with disabilities to community resources that address their needs.

Missy Alexander
Missy Alexander
Director of Education

Missy is the Director of Education, and has been with The Parents’ Place of Maryland since 2002.  She is the mother of an adult daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, who was educated in the St. Mary’s County Public Schools for her entire academic career.  In her work at PPMD, she has provided 1:1 assistance to families and professionals, facilitated trainings and study groups with a focus on effective advocacy and collaboration to improve the lives of children with disabilities and special health care needs and their families and caregivers.  She has been a guest lecturer at Towson University, Johns Hopkins University, and The College of Southern Maryland on the parent’s perspective on raising a child with ASD.  Missy is a former board member of The Learning Disabilities Associations of Maryland and of Southern Maryland.  She is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), serving on its Board of Directors where she was the first Advocate to serve as Board Chair.  She is the Conference Committee Co-Chair of COPAA, helping to plan the program for their annual conference.  Missy serves on the St. Mary’s County Local Management Board as a community member, as well as on the St. Mary’s County Local Care Team as the Parent Advocate.  Missy’s approach in working with families is to provide them with the information and support that they need to help them make informed decisions and be the most effective advocate they can be for their child.

Rene Averitt-Sanzone
Rene Averitt-Sanzone
Executive Director

Rene is the Executive Director at Parents’ Place of Maryland since June of 2017 and prior to that she worked as the Regional Technical Assistance Co-Director for the OSEP funded parent centers in the mid-south region. She has held a variety of roles in the field of special education – Parent Educator, Early Childhood Behavior Specialist, Evaluator, and Charter School Administrator. Rene has a undergraduate degree in Psychology and a masters in Organizational Change Management. She is the parent of two grown daughters who are deaf.

Allie Cox
Allie Cox
Program Assistant

Allie started working for PPMD as an intern while finishing her undergraduate degrees. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Services from Towson University and is now PPMD’s Program Assistant. She enjoys supporting families of children with diverse needs, specifically those who are deaf and hard of hearing, as she is proficient in American Sign Language. Allie lives in southern Anne Arundel county with her family.

Keisha Frager
Keisha Frager
Parent Educator

Keisha is a working with families in Metropolitan Maryland. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where she worked with a diverse population providing training, support and advocacy. She graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology concentrating in childhood and families. She previously held a variety of roles assisting youth with mental illnesses and responding to crisis situations. She resides in Prince George County with her husband and son. She is a proud aunt to her 2 year old niece, who was born prematurely and now has developmental delay.

Mai Hall
Mai Hall
Early Childhood Specialist

Mai Hall is the Early Childhood Specialist with The Parents’ Place of Maryland. As a former educator and mentor in preschool and grades K-6, a program manager, and grant writer for non-profits, Mai brings a diverse perspective and over 14 years’ experience to the field of early learning and non-profit work. Mai received both her B.Ed. and M.Ed. in Early Childhood and Curriculum Studies from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She is the Vice Chair of the State Interagency Coordinating Council, Maryland’s aRPy Ambassador for ECTA, advocates on the policy committee for the NAEYC, and is a Co-Chair for the Howard County Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Her two children both have Autism and are her reason for advocating for parents.

Randi Hilfiger
Randi Hilfiger
Director of Operations

Randi is a former wedding and event planner who has turned her focus to working in the non-profit world! Before her 15 year career in hospitality, Randi was Chief of Staff of an International Trade Firm in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in New York, Randi received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Business with a focus on Global Trade and International Business from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. As a parent with a child with learning disabilities, Randi has always had a passion for social work and hopes to one day go back to school to receive her Master’s in Social Work. Randi Lives in Howard County with her husband and 2 daughters and 1 son.

Marlo Denise Lemon
Marlo Denise Lemon
Director of Training

Marlo received her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Coppin State University and Masters of Teaching and Administration from Loyola University. As an adjunct professor, she teaches the “Working with Families of Students with Disabilities” course at Towson University. In her most recent position, she served as a Parent Coordinator for Baltimore County Schools -Birth to Five office.  In this position she encouraged, empowered and gave support to families of children with disabilities. As a Professional Development Facilitator she has trained and mentored teachers on literacy for Johns Hopkins University and Howard County Public Schools. In her position as Educational Specialist for the Maryland State Department of Education she worked in Title I schools, early childhood and special education. She is thankful for her years of teaching for Baltimore City and Baltimore County Public School Systems because it allowed her to impact so many children and families.  She is a relationship builder and believes ALL children, can achieve. However, she is most proud of her role as wife for over 20 years and mother of her three children, one who has autism and another with learning disabilities.

Audri Levering
Audri Levering
Parent Educator | Eastern Shore

Audri works with families on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. As a former Speech-Language Pathologist, she treated patients in hospitals in Texas, Chicago, and Los Angeles, specializing in neurologic communication and swallowing disorders. Recently, Audri was the Chair of Queen Anne’s County Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC).  She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA).  Audri also completed the 2019 Maryland Partners in Policy Making program. She is passionate about inclusion, bridging alliances, and advocating for policies centered around the protection and advancement of the educational civil rights of students with disabilities. She is an ardent proponent for educational equity, vigorous and ambitious expectations, and preparing students for meaningful post-secondary opportunities. Audri earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Stephen F Austin State University, and a Master of Science in Communication Disorders from The University of Texas at Dallas. She lives on Kent Island with her husband, son, and teenage daughter who was born with a rare genetic disorder.

Rosa Lily
Rosa Lily
Equity and Engagement Coordinator

Rosa Lily works with families in the University of Maryland NICU and with Bilingual families in the Baltimore City area. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. For over 15 years, Rosa was an Operations Manager for a large medical laboratory in Maryland.  After giving birth to a medically complex child she found her passion in sharing her daughter’s story and assisting other parents through their journey. Rosa’s daughter is a 4-year-old with congenital heart disease, Epilepsy, bilateral hearing and Cortical Vision Impairment who attends preschool at the Maryland School for the Blind. Rosa is an active member of her daughter’s school community and the Baltimore City Hispanic community. In addition to her daughter, Rosa lives in Baltimore City with her husband and two other children.

Gicel Martinez
Gicel Martinez
Bilingual Parent Educator

Gicel has been supporting underserved and diverse communities in a variety of roles for several years. For the past ten years she has worked as a Para Educator with Special Education students in Prince George’s County.  Gicel is currently working on her undergraduate degree in social work and brings her expertise and passion to PPMD as a fluent Spanish speaker to serve MD’s Latinx population.  As a parent of a young child on the Autism Spectrum she understands first-hand what bilingual families experience. Gicel lives in Prince George’s county with her husband and her two sons.

Yetta Myrick
Yetta Myrick
Director of Communications

Yetta Myrick is the Director of Communications at The Parents’ Place of Maryland and co-lead of the Family Voices United to End Racism Against CYSHCN and Families project. Ms. Myrick is the mother of teenage son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability diagnosis who has attended non-public schools in Maryland since 2008. She is the Founder and President of DC Autism Parents (DCAP) and served as the Community Outreach Coordinator at Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) at Children’s National Hospital from 2016-2020. She currently serves as the Parent Educator/Advocate on the ECHO Autism Team at CASD. In 2019, she was appointed by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to serve as a member of the DC Developmental Disabilities Council. Additionally, she serves as the Co-chair of the DC Family Support Council. She is also a member of the Got Transition National Family Health Care Transition Advisory Group. Since 2016, Ms. Myrick has served as the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador to the District of Columbia. She deeply believes that parental involvement is key to obtaining quality services for all children, and that an informed parent is an engaged parent.

 

Jill Pelovitz
Jill Pelovitz
Parent Educator

Jill is a former language arts teacher who taught several years at the middle school level. She has participated on many committees and groups related to special needs children at mt. Washington pediatric hospital, including chairing the family advisory counsel. Jill has advocated for children’s hospitals, the ketogenic diet, and for other numerous issues and programs relating to families with children who have special education and healthcare needs. Jill educates and supports families who are starting the ketogenic diet. She is the mother of two daughters, one of which has a rare genetic disorder resulting in epilepsy and multiple disabilities.

Kathy Schiaffino
Kathy Schiaffino
Parent Educator

Kathy Schiaffino has over 30 years of experience working in the field of Early Childhood Development. During the course of her career she has worked as an Assistant Director, Director of School Age Services and Teen Leader advisor for the YMCA and recently as a Preschool Teacher and Assistant Principal where she dedicated her time to work with families and children. Kathy has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Development and is currently continuing training in Special Education.  She is a member of Maryland State Child Care Association and the Afterschool Association. Kathy has experience with the IEP process that benefited her daughter greatly. Kathy resides in Catonsville with her daughter and two cats.

Jazmone Wilkerson
Jazmone Wilkerson
Director of Capacity Building

Jazmone has held a variety of roles in the District of Columbia and Delaware Parent Training Centers in positions involved with strategic planning, community relations, leadership training, communications, grant management, development and organizational leadership. As a seasoned professional who has worked to empower families of children with special education and special healthcare needs, Jazmone has dedicated her life to ensuring that all children have equal access to their education. Jazmone is an active member of the American Counseling Association, holds a position as the Newsletter Assistant Chair for the Maryland Counseling Association, is a Board Member of the national organization Parents PLACE, and holds many other leadership positions, both in the state and region, in the field of mental health.

OUR BOARD

The Parents’ Place of Maryland is a 501©(3) non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who represent Maryland’s diverse makeup. The majority of our Board are parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs.

Lacey Adams

Nicole Acle

Tasha Howland

Sara Kempler

Celia Lewis

Deepa Menon

Camille Miller

Deborah Sharpe

Molly Whalen