Beth Deiter is an experienced pediatric speech-language pathologist whose home-based service delivery model holds a unique niche in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. As a therapist who sees the big picture, Beth also acknowledges the isolation that can accompany the responsibility of caring for a child who receives therapy services and appreciates the reassurance that can be gained from participating in a group of individuals with shared experiences and ideas. Therefore, over the past several years, Beth has become a strong advocate for establishing an inclusive community of compassionate and supportive caregivers both online and in-person. She looks forward to continuing this initiative as the Founder and Board Chair of C.I.T.Y. of Support, and she is so very appreciative of her own family’s support in this endeavor. Her husband, Chris, and her two children, Cecilia and Elliott, have been beyond patient in understanding her new time commitments, and yet they are just as excited to see what new adventures lie ahead.
Dana Schafer is an elementary school teacher and mother to a remarkable, feisty 5 year old daughter who was born at 24 weeks. As a fierce advocate for NICU families, she is the founder of A Feisty Little Miracle foundation, which brings gift bags to families enduring an extended stay in the hospital. Therapy services have been a part of her family’s life ever since Ayla came home from a 121 day NICU stay. Seeking advice from a variety of professionals as well as learning strategies to facilitate Ayla’s growth is something that Dana and her husband Matt have great experience with. Dana is passionate about advocating for her daughter’s needs as well as providing support to families in need of interventions for their child. She marvels watching Ayla reach milestones at her own pace. As a mother of a child who receives a variety of therapy services, Dana provides a unique perspective in understanding that every child has great potential for success.
James Weedon is a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician and works with families to evaluate, diagnose, and manage ongoing developmental or behavioral problems for children. He is the father to three young children who help keep him up to date on all the newest trends and video games to give him street cred with his patients, although he is young at heart himself. Dr. Weedon works with families to navigate the maze of Early Intervention, Special Education, private therapies, and medical interventions. He is a strong supporter of building communities where knowledge and acceptance of children with special needs is the norm and community programs and activities are accessible to all.
Maria Papanastassiou is an assistant manager/youth librarian in the NW suburbs of Chicago. She has worked with Beth and C.I.T.Y. of Support for the last several years developing programming and services focusing on supporting families with children who receive therapy services. Maria is part of her library's Disabilities Inclusion team and a member of SNAILS (Special Needs and Inclusive Library Services). Maria previously worked in special education as an inclusion teaching assistant at the middle school level instructing youth with various disabilities and/or learning differences by collaborating with classroom teachers and therapists to provide a supportive educational environment. Maria hopes that her involvement with C.I.T.Y of Support encourages other libraries to concentrate additional efforts on developing resources and services that are accessible and inclusive for all families in their communities. Maria is supported in her endeavors by her husband, Aleks, and two daughters, Sophia and Eliana.
Jillian Burgard is a small business owner in the field of applied behavior analysis in the Chicago suburbs, and has worked in the field of education as a special education district leader, teacher, counselor and administrator. Jillian finds supporting families with children in therapy throughout the education system, as an advocate and parent educator, to be the most rewarding part of her work. Finding solutions for children and families, and bringing together the village that supports a child in meaningful ways is incredibly important to Jillian. She has active teenage twins, Evan and Isabella, who were born prematurely, and have come a long way since their days in the NICU. Jillian is honored to be joining the board of directors, and is looking forward to helping the C.I.T.Y. community grow!
Molly has over 20 years of experience practicing law including as an attorney for the Iowa Supreme Court and thereafter as a shareholder in a boutique intellectual property law firm with offices in Illinois and Wisconsin. Molly was a member of the founding team of the Center for Patient Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where her passion for facilitating patient advocacy in the field of health care began in earnest. Molly, mother to three energetic young children, recently became a member of C.I.T.Y. of Support, although she and her husband have been navigating pediatric therapies, early intervention and early childhood programs since 2015. Molly is excited to join the board of directors and to work to ensure that all children and families in therapy receive the support they need to succeed.
Susan is a mother of three with over ten years of nonprofit experience. She has become a passionate advocate for children with disabilities. Her second daughter, Bella, was born with brain abnormalities causing her to have 100 seizures a day. A radical brain surgery stopped Bella’s seizures and saved her life. Bella’s recovery after surgery began Susan’s journey into finding as much therapy and resources available for her daughter. Susan also began connecting with other families going through similar diagnosis and therapy as Bella. C.I.T.Y. of Support became a huge part of that ability to connect and learn about what is offered in the Chicagoland area. Susan spent time working in nonprofit development and fundraising. She has experience in event management, volunteer engagement and building strong relationships with new and future partners. Susan is thrilled to join the board and is looking forward to helping C.I.T.Y. of Support continue to grow and make an impact on families like her own.
Jeremy is a fiduciary financial advisor with over 15 years of industry experience. His practice is focused on helping families navigate the vast financial complexities involved with raising a child with special needs. Jeremy is a husband and father of two wonderful children, Parker and Remi. At 5 ½ months of age, Parker was diagnosed with infantile spams, a horrific form of epilepsy. Since his brain surgery in 2017, he has been completely seizure-free and is truly a walking miracle. However, Parker has also endured countless hours of various therapies that continue to this day and beyond. Having personally seen the benefits of our organization, Jeremy looks to bring a new perspective to our board with the hope of positively impacting even more families who could benefit from all that C.I.T.Y. of Support has to offer.
Amy is a mother of two boys and has 10 years of experience working as an RN, MSN. When her younger son Ethan was diagnosed with ASD at 2.5 years old, she shifted gears and became invested in finding the right support systems and services to help Ethan reach his fullest potential. She is currently in graduate school working towards becoming a BCBA, with a goal to become a parent advocate in order to guide other families in similar situations to her own. Amy has connected with many families through C.I.T.Y. of Support who have become very close friends, and is thrilled to be able to work for such an impactful organization. She can’t wait to help spread acceptance, and help as many families as possible feel included within the community.