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.
Danielle Fleckenstein is a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and has experience providing evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education that reduce fear, anxiety, and pain for children and youth within the hospital setting. She is currently working towards obtaining a master’s degree in Family Counseling and credentials in Play Therapy. While working as a CCLS within a pediatric emergency department setting in the Chicagoland area, she developed a passion for advocacy and connecting children and families with support and resources throughout the community. She is so excited to be a part of the C.I.T.Y. of Support family!
Terry Labanowski holds an early childhood education degree and is the mother to two incredible kids. Before her children were born, she spent her days teaching preschool. Terry is passionate about early childhood development and early interventions. She has been a member of C.I.T.Y. of Support for two years, joining when her daughter first entered Early Intervention. Over the years, she has found this community to be an asset as she navigates the challenges of having two children in therapy. Terry is thrilled to be joining the board of directors and is looking forward to using her experiences to help other families in the community and further C.I.T.Y. of Support’s mission.
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.
Heather Pedota holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, with over ten years of experience in financial consulting and corporate finance. Heather is also the mother to two active children and became a member of C.I.T.Y after her daughter qualified for Early Intervention. She relied on this support group to ask questions, learn from parents and meet families at activities. Almost four years later, she is very excited to join this motivated board! Heather is passionate about building connections for families and ensuring that no one feels alone or confused when supporting their child. She is also an advocate for building communities that are inclusive to children of all needs.