President and CEO
Kandi PickardEmail Kandi
Kandi provides vision and leadership, working collaboratively with individuals and organizations to support the entire Down syndrome community. Kandi holds a degree in business administration and brings two decades of experience in operations and effective administration management to her role at NDSS. Kandi’s involvement in the Down syndrome community first began as a local volunteer and advocate after her youngest son, Mason was born with Down syndrome. Ten years later, she leads NDSS with a focus on building community and keeping people with Down syndrome at the center of everything the organization does. Kandi’s vision for the future of NDSS includes resources, programs, and support for individuals with Down syndrome and their families from birth to adulthood, with a special focus on caregiving, public health, and supporting aging adults.
Manager of Community Events
Misty AdamsEmail Misty
Misty supports Buddy Walk® Organizers across the country and the world to create meaningful and successful events that celebrate Down syndrome and raise awareness in local communities. She also oversees the annual NDSS Times Square Video presentation and supports the flagship New York City Buddy Walk®. Prior to joining NDSS, Misty served as president of her local Down syndrome organization. She brings to her role seven years of experience in peer-to-peer fundraising, including as the organizer of her local Buddy Walk®. Misty holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology and a master’s degree in criminal justice from East Tennessee State University.
Manager of Special Events
Abigail Brandon-LivitsEmail Abigail
Abby leads efforts to create meaningful mission-focused fundraising, awareness, and engagement events for the Down syndrome community. Utilizing her experience in event planning, fundraising, and corporate development, Abby develops and implements strategies for NDSS’ flagship New York City Buddy Walk®, Annual Gala & Auction, DC Golf Outing, and other events that raise awareness, engage our community, and support NDSS programs. Abby holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Louis University.
Public Outreach Associate
David DeSanctisEmail David
David fosters connections with the Down syndrome community and ensures that NDSS supporters feel appreciated. For the past two years, David has used his outgoing personality to build relationships on behalf of NDSS through thank you phone calls and emails, public speaking, social media support, and events like the NDSS Adult Summit, NYC Gala & Auction, and runDisney. Prior to starting at NDSS, David starred in the feature film, “Where Hope Grows.” He continues to be an inspiration for people with Down syndrome around the world.
Senior Director of Public Policy
Bart DevonEmail Bart
Bart works to protect the civil rights of individuals with Down syndrome by advancing both policy-based and community-focused advocacy initiatives. Bart began his career working with children and families as a classroom teacher and bus driver in both public and private schools. In recent years he has utilized his experience and education to advocate for disability rights at the state and national levels, with a particular focus on education and employment. Originally from Boston, MA, Bart holds a JD and master’s degree in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School and a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University.
Jamie DolanEmail Jamie
Jamie prepares information kits about the needs and abilities of people with Down syndrome. Jamie has also had the opportunity to represent NDSS at the United Nations for the 2016 World Down Syndrome Day.
Manager of Public Policy
Anna FedewaEmail Anna
Anna Fedewa is the Manager of Public Policy for NDSS where she works to connect members of the community to public policy through grassroots initiatives. Anna’s passion for advocacy and disability rights grew from the friendships she made with individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities as a young child and was further cultivated during her time teaching high school special education and working with her alma mater’s inclusive post-secondary program. Originally from Houston, TX, Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood-12 special education with a minor in psychology from Texas A&M University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Olivia FraioliEmail Olivia
Olivia develops social media content and external communications for the organization. Olivia comes with NDSS with strong connections to the Down syndrome community after working at several non-profits that support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Olivia utilizes her experience in communications, fundraising, and relationship-building to advance the work of NDSS. Olivia holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s and gender studies from Rutgers University and is completing a post-graduate certificate in disability studies at the University of Maine.
Vice President of Strategic Development
Sara GoldbergEmail Sara
Sara leads the organization’s communications, fundraising, events, and brand strategy. Utilizing more than two decades of experience in non-profit experience, Sara collaborates with internal and external stakeholders in developing rewarding and impactful engagement opportunities and giving experiences. She also offers strategic guidance on NDSS efforts to raise awareness, support and engage the Down syndrome community, and advance the work of NDSS. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in history and women’s studies from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago.
Manager of Health Programs, Aging & Caregiving
Rachel GrimmEmail Rachel
Rachel develops and implements outreach, education, and advocacy activities pertaining to NDSS’ aging and caregiving programs. Partnering with internal and external stakeholders, she works to expand resources that support our community’s caregivers and help individuals and families navigate adulthood and aging with Down syndrome. For the past three years, Rachel has driven the growth of the NDSS Adult Summit, which provides educational content to hundreds of individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and caregivers each year. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Delaware and is pursuing a master’s degree in public health from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Chief of Staff
Colleen HatcherEmail Colleen
Colleen has worked since 2016 to strengthen relationships with and among NDSS supporters, community members, families, partners, and affiliate organizations. Colleen works directly with stakeholders to advance brand awareness, foster strong relationships with the Down syndrome community and strengthen connections to NDSS. Colleen has a bachelor’s degree in elementary special education and a master’s degree in elementary special education, severe disabilities from the University of Maryland.
Luke HickeyEmail Luke
As the Office Assistant, Luke aids in the production and distribution of event promotional materials and favors, manages incoming Gala items/packages, provides support to the health team including New York City Buddy Walk®, and other special events. He also assists in the planning, preparation, and presentation of sponsorship and operational logistical meetings.
Director of the CEO Commission for Disability Employment
Melissa HulickEmail Melissa
Melissa Hulick is the Director of the CEO Commission for Disability Employment, which was co-founded by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), and Voya Financial. Melissa has spent most of her career in the insurance industry in various roles, including underwriting, finance, and, most recently, account management and administration, where she was responsible for project management, meeting management, health plan design, and financial analysis. In addition, Melissa also has experience in a public school setting as a classroom teacher, teaching middle school math, special education, and high school business courses. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and holds a B.S in Economics. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration and Policy from American University in Washington, D.C.
Senior Manager of Education Programs
Jessica KussEmail Jessica
Jessica oversees NDSS’ community-focused education programs and develops high-quality supports and resources for the education and Down syndrome communities. Since 2017, Jessica has been a part of the NDSS team as a consultant and a staff member. During that time, she has supported community events for runners and contributed to resources for our education program and our health and wellness initiatives. A former elementary special education teacher, Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in K-12 special education and a master’s degree in special education from James Madison University.
Manager of Grassroots Advocacy
Kayla McKeonEmail Kayla
Kayla McKeon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) where she works to advance legislation beneficial to the Down syndrome community. Kayla gained experience working with Members of Congress as an intern for Congressman John Katko of New York. She was named NDSS Self-Advocate of the Year in 2016 and joined the NDSS staff the following year. As the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome, Kayla is a spokesperson for NDSS and the Down syndrome community, participating in media and speaking publicly both nationally and internationally. Kayla has an associate degree in general studies from Onondaga Community College.
Manager of State Government Relations
Nicole PattonEmail Nicole
Nicole works to execute the advocacy vision and government relations strategy at the state level. Within this role, Nicole advances NDSS’ state policy priorities by working with state legislative offices, coalitions, and key stakeholders. Nicole spent her first four years at NDSS overseeing advocacy programs and working with advocates across the country to advance policy priorities at all levels of government. Originally from Staten Island, Nicole’s passion for disability rights was born when her youngest brother, Chris, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She previously worked as a direct support professional for individuals with I/DD and as a scheduler/legislative aid for a State Senator in Brooklyn, NY. Nicole holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
Michelle RayEmail Michelle
Michelle oversees the Athlete Ambassador Program, Charity Racing Teams, and other projects.
Senior Director of Health and Wellness
Margot RhondeauEmail Margot
Margot leads the creation of resources and programming to improve health and wellness within the Down syndrome community. Margot joined NDSS in 2020, bringing 14 years of experience working in the health space, both internationally and nationally, to overcome barriers to care and increase health services and programs for underserved populations. Margot holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University and a master’s degree in international economics and development from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Manager of Development Operations
Melissa RobertsonEmail Melissa
Melissa Robertson oversees key donor services, finance, and data management functions. Since 2014, Melissa has played a critical role in working with internal and external stakeholders to support our programs and ensure proper stewardship of donor dollars. Melissa holds a degree in media from Webster University in St. Louis, MO.
Manager of Employment Programs
Ryan RotundoEmail Ryan
Ryan develops resources, programs, and partnerships to advance employment opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. Ryan brings more than a decade of experience as a high school special education teacher, with a focus on preparing young adults for positive post-secondary transitions. He also has experience developing curricula to support siblings of individuals with Down syndrome, has worked as a Direct Service Provider, and continues to share his experience as a guest lecturer and speaker. In 2018 Ryan was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, and in 2019 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Buncombe County Schools, in partnership with Arc of Buncombe County. Ryan holds an undergraduate degree in special education from UNC – Greensboro and a master’s degree in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Senior Manager of Communcations
Michelle SaganEmail Michelle
Michelle develops and implements communications strategies to raise awareness and engage audiences with the work of NDSS. Earlier in her career, Michelle built strong relationships within the Down syndrome community as manager of the New York City Buddy Walk® and the National Buddy Walk® Program. In her current role, she manages NDSS’ website, social media, email marketing, and media engagement. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and political science from Syracuse University and a certificate in digital marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute and American Marketing Association
Dana SciulloEmail Dana
Dana engages in outreach, education, and advocacy activities in support of NDSS’ health programs. Dana is a licensed and registered occupational therapist with a background in medical-based pediatric care and a special interest in research and its application to the everyday lives of families and individuals. She believes everyone benefits from having access to the most recent scientific information, especially if it is shared in a way that is easy to understand. Dana holds two degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.
Michelle ViallEmail Michelle
Michelle supports NDSS fundraising events including the National Buddy Walk® Program, Times Square Video, NYC Buddy Walk®, NDSS Gala and Auction, Racing for 3.21, Run for 3.21, and more. Michelle also oversees the NDSS Athlete Ambassador Program, which she has participated in for several years. Prior to joining NDSS, Michelle served on the board of her local Down syndrome organization and helped plan her local Buddy Walk. Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Neumann University, a master’s degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University, and a certification in Physical Education and Health.
Education Programs Associate
Charlotte WoodwardEmail Charlotte
Charlotte Woodward is the Education Program Associate for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) where she supports the development of education-related resources and educational policy initiatives. Charlotte was born with Down syndrome, as well as a heart condition, and had four open-heart surgeries when she was young. She is one of the very few people born with Down syndrome to receive a life-saving heart transplant, and she regularly shares her story to educate and advocate for others. Charlotte holds an associate degree from Northern Virginia Community College and recently graduated Suma Cum Laude from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in inequality and social change.