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 is the Manager of Community Events for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) where she oversees the development and growth of the National Buddy Walk® program and manages NDSS charity racing events, Racing for 3.21 on World Down Syndrome Day and Run for 3.21 events. Prior to joining NDSS, Misty served as president of her local Down syndrome organization and organized her local Buddy Walk® and other peer-to-peer fundraising activities. Misty has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from East Tennessee State University.
Alex BoldenEmail Alex
Alex provides operational support for the office and staff in Washington, D.C. including shipping materials for events and assisting with merchandise inventory and social media. Alex is also part of the NDSS DS-Ambassador program and assists with program webinars. In addition to his work at NDSS, he works as a store associate at Amazon Fresh. Alex graduated from the Mason LIFE Program at George Mason University in 2020 and has interned for the office of Representative Greg Harper and at Fort Belvoir.
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 DeSanctis is the Public Outreach Associate for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) where he fosters connections with the Down syndrome community and ensures that NDSS supporters feel appreciated. For the past three 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 attendance at events like the NDSS Adult Summit, Gala & Auction, and NYC Buddy Walk. Prior to starting at NDSS, David starred in the feature film, “Where Hope Grows.” In 2022, he co-starred in the Hallmark film, “Color My World with Love,” and he continues to be an inspiration for people with Down syndrome around the world.
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.
Abbi ElliottEmail Abbi
Abbi utilizes social media and other channels to share the work of NDSS and to amplify voices within the Down syndrome community. While Abbi most recently worked as a special education teacher in southern Maine, her relationship with the disability community has been ongoing since childhood when her brother was diagnosed with an intellectual and developmental disability. Abbi holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and is completing her graduate degree in special education through the University of Maine.
Manager of Federal Government Relations
Anna FedewaEmail Anna
Anna 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.
Manager of Community Relations
Olivia FraioliEmail Olivia
Olivia works with internal and external stakeholders, digitally and in person, to advance brand awareness, enhance effective communication, build strong community relations, and deepen supporters’ connections to NDSS. In her role, Olivia utilizes the strong connections she built with the Down syndrome community while working at several non-profits that support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. 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.
Emily IngmireEmail Emily
Emily provides operational support for the D.C. office and staff. Emily started her career as a Kindergarten Aide working with students with disabilities. Her professional experiences include real estate, property management, business development, and financial planning. Originally from Indiana, she holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and international studies from Indiana University.
Senior Manager of Education Programs
Jessica KussEmail Jessica
Jessica 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 State Government Relations
Nick LetoEmail Nick
Nick is the Manager of State Government Relations where he executes advocacy and government relations activities in pursuit of the organization’s state-level legislative priorities. After serving as a staffer and legislative director in the Michigan State House of Representatives, Nick brings his extensive knowledge of state and local government to our team in Washington D.C. Nick’s commitment to the disability community grew from his experiences coaching Special Olympics swimming, working as a substitute paraprofessional, and driving state legislation with a focus on individuals with disabilities. Nick holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University.
Manager of Grassroots Advocacy
Kayla McKeonEmail Kayla
Kayla 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.
Director of Development
Katie PurcellEmail Katie
Katie provides direction for donor relations and fundraising initiatives, with a focus on individual, major, legacy, and corporate giving. Katie joins the NDSS team with seven years of experience in development at a variety of non-profits including the Ashford Rise School of Dallas and It’s a Sensory World!, both of which have inclusive missions and serve individuals with and without disabilities. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and business from The University of Oklahoma.
Michelle RayEmail Michelle
For more than a decade, Michelle has worked with NDSS as a volunteer, staff member, and consultant to advance the organization’s mission. As a certified RRCA run coach, she coaches NDSS charity racing teams and provides strategic support for the NDSS Athlete Ambassador program, the Run for 3.21, and Racing for 3.21 on World Down Syndrome Day, which she developed while on staff. As the CEO and Founder of Blackwell HR Solutions, Michelle also provides human resources consulting to NDSS. Michelle holds an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in Organizational Development and Human Resources from George Washington University. She also holds a SHRM-SCP and SPHR certification.
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.
Senior Manager of Employment Programs
Amanda RiouxEmail Amanda
Amanda oversees the creation of resources, campaigns, and programming aimed at advancing meaningful employment for individuals with Down syndrome. Amanda has more than a decade of non-profit experience supporting individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential and achieve their employment goals. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in global studies and communications from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.
Development Operations Coordinator
Melissa RobertsonEmail Melissa
Melissa 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.
Director of Programs
Ryan RotundoEmail Ryan
Ryan leads the planning, development, and oversite of programs critical to the Down syndrome community, such as education and employment. Ryan has been a leader in the disability community for more than fifteen years. He has served at the state level on the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities since 2018 and is currently Vice Chair. He has worked with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to develop statewide curriculum for students with disabilities. For over a decade Ryan served as a high school special education teacher, with a focus on preparing young adults for positive post-secondary transitions. He also has experience developing curriculum to support siblings of individuals with Down syndrome, has worked as a direct support professional (DSP), and continues to share his knowledge and expertise as a guest lecturer and speaker. 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 Communications
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’ communications team, overseeing the website, social media, email marketing, media, and community 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.
Director of Policy and Advocacy
Hasan ShahEmail Hasan
Hasan leads the organization’s work to influence federal, state, and local policies and regulations that impact people with Down syndrome. With more than two decades of experience in government affairs, alliance and coalition development, grassroots advocacy, and health advocacy, Hasan develops and ensures the implementation of strategies that advance our legislative priorities and empower the Down syndrome community to influence policy change. Hasan holds a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics from George Mason University and is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy.
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 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 Summa Cum Laude from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in inequality and social change.