Board of Directors
I live in Fairhaven and am the proud mother of three grown children. Craig is 28 years old and was born with Down syndrome, Christina is 27 and Kathryn is 21. I have lived in Massachusetts for the past 29 years I am originally from Connecticut. I lived in Marion, MA and my children grew up and attended school in the Old Rochester Regional School District. All my children were fully included in our school system and were able to experience and grow up in a small town that valued and accepted everyone. I have also had the great experience of working for Nemasket Group Inc. located in Fairhaven for the last 23 years. I currently am the Associate Executive Director of Nemasket and am proud to say, the Director of Family Connections, the family support agency in the Greater New Bedford Area. I became involved with MFOFC 20 years ago, first as a parent that attended the Southeastern Family Leadership Series and then around 10 years ago became a Board member with MFOFC. Currently I am a board member and serve on the board development committee on this grass roots family organization.
In addition to being the treasurer for MFOFC, I am also the secretary of Boston’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SpEdPAC). I am also involved with BPS Community Engagement Advisory Council and with my children’s School Parent Councils.
My parenting journey began 31 years ago. I was a work-at-home wife, and mother of three very unique children. In 2004 I participated in Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC) Family Leadership Series (FLS) and my family was forever changed – we began to imagine a better life. The FLS connected me with families who were supporting children that had various diagnoses, and a network of individuals and organizations that could help each other. I wanted to give back, so for several years, I volunteered to learn from and help mentor other FLS families. With others, I chaired our school district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council while my children were in school. My current position as Prevention Specialist at Y.O.U. Inc.’s Family Support Center in Gardner, allows me to offer bi-weekly support groups, and help families find tools and resources to navigate systems and advocate for their family’s needs. I volunteer on the Board of Directors for MFOFC, the North County Site Advisory Board for the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) North Central Citizen’s Advisory Board, and Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress Advocates in Motion Advisory Council. I do all this while supporting my daughter’s DDS Agency with Choice Adult Service Program and her local, regional & statewide self-advocacy efforts. I hope to continue to learn from my children, and the ever growing community of support and inspiration we receive from those we have met along our journey.
Kathy Healy Norton
Kathy is an independent Project Manager and Advocate who is unafraid to tackle challenging problems. Her clients appreciate her ability to provide a new approach and fresh perspective on the issues they are facing. She is a gifted community organizer who currently serves as an administrator of an online group of more than 600 regional parents who have children with Down syndrome. Kathy co-founded PAC-2-PAC and The Coalition for SEPAC Awareness and organized a Day on the Hill for the SEPACs in Westford and neighboring Chelmsford; she has her sights set on a statewide SEPAC Day on the Hill in 2020. In addition, she volunteers with the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and Special Olympics Massachusetts.
In 2008, wanting to learn more about the IEP process and special education in her district, Kathy attended a Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) meeting. Less than a year later, she was elected as SEPAC Chair and is now serving her 11th year in that role. She strives to foster collaboration and communication within her district and beyond.
Kathy has honed her knowledge and advocacy skills by attending leadership, advocacy, and special education workshops and conferences. She recently completed the Family Leadership Series, hosted by Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change. She is a frequent speaker and presenter, and in response to parent needs, she designed the workshop “Getting Your Sheet Together” to help parents prepare for IEP meetings. Kathy can be found on Facebook and Instagram at “The Megnificent Life,” where she writes about the ordinary life of her extraordinary daughter with Down syndrome.
Kathy lives in Westford with her husband and their teenaged son and daughter. In her “free” time, Kathy enjoys crocheting, knitting, reading, writing, and baking. Friends, near and far, crave her chocolate coconut macaroons. Her favorite times are spent exploring Cape Cod with her family.
Rania Kelly is an architect/designer by day, a mother 24/7, and an advocate all the times in between for children that are neurodivergent, medically complex, and/or disabled. She is an active member in SEPAC, does pro-bono design work for non-profits, runs fundraisers, and enjoys grant writing.
Inspired by the impact picture books have had on her son, she is writing and illustrating picture books for children that require emotional, physical, or medical support to access a world that was not designed for them. She is passionate about inclusion and accessibility for everyone.
Rania is a first generation Arab American and has seen first-hand the struggles immigrant families face with language and cultural barriers. She hopes to use her experience and bi-lingual skills to help families that face similar struggles.
MFOFC has given her and her son valuable support, and she is honored for the opportunity to give back by serving as a board member.
Emily is a founding member of Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change. She was its Chairperson for 13 years and remains active on the board. Emily was instrumental in the development of the SE MA Family Leadership Series and has coordinated and facilitated the Series in the SE for over 25 years.
The foundation for Emily’s work has been a deep love and respect for her daughter and other individuals and families who are on the same journey. Her goal is to create and/or find opportunities for individuals and families within their communities so that individuals and families can, as much as possible, live “ordinary” lives. Emily has had the privilege of traveling in the US and abroad to work with families and has delivered keynote addresses and presentations at conferences throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. She is the very humble recipient of the 2005 Gunnar Dybwad Award presented by the Department of Developmental Disabilities.
Ebony Flint teaches strategies to help others navigate and address mental health challenges. She is very passionate about this work, as a parent of a child with special needs and a person who has overcome traumatic experiences. Ebony is a Certified Peer Specialist, a Peer Group Facilitator for Alternatives to Suicide and Hearing Voices Network, and a Wellness Recovery Action Plan Facilitator for adults, young adults, and trauma survivors, working with populations both within the community and in hospital settings. She is a graduate of Massachusetts Leadership Academy, which focuses on bridging the gaps between the mental health community and the disability community. Ebony has been a facilitator and trainer for Advocates, Inc., Central Mass Recovery Learning Community, and The Transformation Center. She now works for Advocates, Inc as the Peer Program Coordinator for The Living Room. The Living Room is a 24 hour peer run crisis alternative located in Framingham, MA.
I always play with being a mother, I remember that I cut children from a book or newspapers and said that my daughter or my son would be this feeling was always in me since I was 10 years old
When I had the experience of being a mother, it was a love of the first moment
I have two children with special needs which I define as my special gift of life for them
I am here for other mothers and fathers who today receive the news that their son has a Special condition
I currently live in the city of Lowell, a city that I love because of all the cultural and special Diversity the food from all over the world is very diverse.
Graduated from International Relations is a very interesting function because this academic has so much diversity in that you can work from diplomacy, political science, non-profit organizations. I worked for a period of 8 years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic. I believe that this experience has helped me to see the world in a different way and always with the desire to meet people from different cultures and learn from them.
I really want my Latino community to be heard and have the necessary tools to be able to advocate for their rights.
After the training of this beautiful organization that has given me the tools and empowerment that every parent needs to be able to advocate for our rights and I have always thought that information is power thanks MFOFC.