Who’s Who at PEATC
PEATC is staffed by a talented and diverse group of parents and professionals who are committed to building better futures for children with disabilities by working collaboratively with families, schools, and professionals who serve them.
Suzanne Bowers has been with PEATC for 14 years and brings a wealth of expertise to the role of Executive Director. She is a Fauquier County resident, and has extensive experience in special education and advocacy. She taught elementary school for five years before becoming an Educational Advocate for military and civilian families, as well as her own children. She changed her career path in order to dedicate her talents to helping families of children with special needs. She brings a rich background in education, administration, management, training, and advocacy. Suzanne is the proud mother of four children, two of whom have special needs. She serves on the Virginia State Special Education Advisory Committee, previously as the Vice Chair of the committee, Chair of the Policy and Regulations committee, and currently Chair of the Family Engagement Committee.
Tammy was born in North Carolina and moved to Virginia at the end of middle school. She received her BA from Virginia Tech in Elementary Education – let’s go HOKIES! Tammy began her career as an elementary school teacher in Chesterfield County. She attended many IEP meetings as a teacher, but then in 2000 when her middle son Jared was diagnosed with autism, Tammy experienced IEPs from the “other side of the table.” Because of this, Tammy then decided to go back to school and pursue her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree with a concentration on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from Arizona State. Since that time, she has been involved in many leadership positions with disability related nonprofits, and served on several local and state stakeholder and advocacy groups. Tammy also graduated from Virginia’s Partners in Policy-making program where she developed a very successful IEP Boot Camp for parents as her culminating project. Tammy is a certified Sibshop leader and has served as the Chair of the Chesterfield County Special Education Advisory Committee. Tammy is passionate about empowering individuals with disabilities and their parents/guardians with the knowledge and tools that they need to be successful advocates. Tammy and her husband Troy live in Midlothian, VA (outside of Richmond), and have three children – Brett, Jared, and Amber. In her free time, Tammy enjoys spending time at the beach, going on motorcycle rides with her husband, and reading suspense novels.
Cassie grew up in San Diego, CA, and is originally from Guam. A veteran, active-duty military spouse, and mother of 3, she has assisted families in finding the resources they need for over 15 years. Realizing her passion to serve families, Cassie became a devoted volunteer at schools, churches, and family support organizations following her 9 years in the Air Force. Learning first-hand how vital it is for parents, educators, and others to work collaboratively to ensure children are successful in school, Cassie pours into children, including her own, by helping other parents work successfully alongside teachers, counselors, administrators, and specialists. She understands what it takes to foster teamwork, keep the lines of communication open, and navigate through difficult situations. In addition to her volunteer work, Cassie has also served as a Substitute Teacher, National Testing Control Officer, and Community Programs Assistant. Understanding education is a key to success, she has her Bachelors in Technical Management and her Masters in Human Services Counseling. Currently, the Dawson family resides in Yorktown, Virginia.
As the Early Childhood Specialist for PEATC, Kathleen helps families of young children with disabilities to understand their role as their child’s first, and most important, teacher. She provides families with the resources available to help empower and support them through their child’s educational journey. As a parent to young children and one with I/DD, she understands the challenges that parents face from knowing where to find resources or who to turn to when they need help, to advocating for accessibility in the school and community, and maneuvering the twists and turns of just being a parent.
Kathleen has a wealth of knowledge in program development and systems change and has worked with families and professionals for several years. She is passionate about access to quality education, and advocates for equity, inclusion, and accessibility for people with disabilities at local, state, and federal levels. She believes in systemic change and promoting inclusive education for ALL students, starting in early childhood.
Love Kingsbury comes to us from Roanoke, VA where she has been an activist for Special Education services for over ten years. A mother of three and new grandmother of one, Love has firsthand experience with both parenting special needs children and the difficulties of securing their educational best interest. Love spent years in the private sector as an educational advocate, fighting for fair and appropriate IEPs, 504s, and differentiation. Her years of experience as well as strong communication skills and a natural desire to help families succeed have made her a valuable asset to the special needs community.
She continues her training both personally and professionally and is a student at Washington State University. Through training and hard-fought navigational skills, Love will be a knowledgeable and compassionate ally for families seeking to find the very best scenario for their incredible children.
Heidi Lawyer served as the Executive Director of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, Virginia’s Developmental Disabilities Council, from 2003-2019. During her tenure, she significantly increased the Board’s involvement in and influence on public policy on the state level with a focus on ensuring full community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities. She began her efforts in disability advocacy and policy in 1992, after her oldest son Danny, now 33 was diagnosed with Autism. Her advocacy on behalf of her son led to extended year services being more readily available in Virginia for students with disabilities. Heidi has served on the Board of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities as well as on Virginia’s State Special Education Advisory Council. During her 31 years of state service to the Commonwealth, Heidi has served on numerous state level task forces work groups and committees related to services and policy issues affecting adults and children with disabilities. Heidi lives in Richmond with her husband Clyde, her son Danny, Darby, their golden retriever and 3 cats.
Tina Norris brings years of experience working with children, adolescents and families to her position at PEATC. Tina is responsible for developing and managing the family engagement initiative and is passionate about empowering families through education and advocacy. Tina is a skilled trainer in bullying prevention, puberty and family engagement. As a parent who has guided her own children through the elaborate education system she believes that family engagement is essential for the success of all children. Her expertise and practical approach allows her to establish collaborative relationships with schools, communities and advocacy organizations as an avenue to strengthen family engagement within our communities and schools. She is a Certified Bullying Prevention Specialist and a member of the Family Engagement Network, OSEP Parent Center Equity Workgroup, National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement, and International Bullying Prevention Association.
Keri founded MASC, the first Tricare approved, not-for-profit applied behavior analysis and family support provider, in 2005 to serve the Hampton Roads area of southeast Virginia. She assisted the center’s clients by providing in-home parent training and advocacy during IEP meetings while managing the business. Her 21 year- old daughter with severe autism inspired Keri to address the needs of children with autism in her community. Keri has had the opportunity to meet with senior military leadership, members of Congress, and health care industry leaders to address autism and the impact it has on military readiness. The Peko family has lived all over the United States but has been in Chesapeake for 19 years. Keri’s husband currently serves our country in the U.S. Navy and has for 30 years.
Amanda Raymond has a wealth of knowledge and experience navigating the world of special education. After years of advocating for her own children who have autism, she has a passion for helping other parents understand their child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education and to empowering them to advocate for their needs. A steadfast supporter of inclusive education, she firmly believes that every student has a right to a quality education, to build meaningful friendships and to feel welcomed in their classroom, school and community. She has been a military brat, service member or spouse her entire life and understands the unique challenges military families face and the sacrifices they make serving our country. She currently resides in Chesapeake with her family.
Lizzett Uria supports PEATC by providing bilingual information to Virginia’s Latino community. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University along with a minor in International Social Justice. She is also a Certified Medical Assistant and Limited Radiologist. She worked as a Counselor for the Center for Children and Family through Florida International University during which time, she had the opportunity to work and do research with children diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. As a counselor, her job was to reinforce positive behaviors such as academic, recreational, behavioral, and social skills that would prepare them for the next grade. Uria always knew she wanted to work with children with disabilities and so when she came back, she continued volunteering as an educator for the Special Ed class at St. Michael’s. She has always been involved with the Latino Community and believes in the importance of providing information and educational resources to the parents of children with disabilities. Uria loves volunteering for her community, but she also enjoys traveling, dancing, trying different foods, and spending time with family and friends.
Kendra Wormley is a native of Newport News, VA. She is a proud graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where she received a degree from the School of Education in Therapeutic Recreation in 2002. While working for a non-profit for an organization in the Hampton Roads area, Kendra worked with various community partners to establish programs and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. For more than 15 years, she has worked with families, professionals, and organizations to provide supports for students and adults with developmental disabilities to increase their independence and improve opportunities to actively participate in their community.