Meet our Staff

Kandi Pickard 2023 Headshot
President and CEO

Kandi Pickard

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.

Misty Adams Headshot 2023
Manager of Community Events

Misty Adams

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.

man with down syndrome wearing black shirt with white stripes and smiling with arms crossed
Office Assistant

Alex Bolden

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.

Abby Brandon Headshot 2023
Manager of Special Events

Abigail Brandon-Livits

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.

David DeSanctis Headshot 2023
Public Outreach Associate

David DeSanctis

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.

Amy Drow smiling in headshot with pink blazer, white top, and hand on hip
Manager of Community Partnerships

Amy Drow

Amy ensures the implementation and distribution of NDSS program activities and resources in coordination with affiliate and partner organizations. Amy’s connection to the community stems from her older brother Michael. In high school, she volunteered with Best Buddies and received the ‘Florida Friendship of the Year Award’, which sparked her interest in nonprofit work. Most recently, Amy spent six years at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida supporting families through community engagement, fundraising, and events. Amy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in event management from the University of Central Florida.

Abbi Elliott Headshot
Communications Coordinator

Abbi Elliott

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.

Anna Fedewa 2023 Headshot
Senior Manager of Federal Government Relations

Anna Fedewa

Anna leads and directs the organization’s work to influence federal, state, and local policies and regulations that impact people with Down syndrome.  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. 

sebastian Garcia Lavin headshot wearing a blue suit with navy and maroon striped tie
Legislative Coordinator

Sebastian Garcia-Lavin

Sebastian Garcia-Lavin is the Legislative Coordinator at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) where he tracks federal legislation and develops legislative advocacy strategies to support bills as they pass through Congress. Sebastian was born with Epilepsy and has been a strong advocate for doctors and patients alike, inspiring his work at organizations such as the Epilepsy Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. He is excited to bring his passion for advocacy to NDSS in support of the Down syndrome community. Sebastian holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He also has an online certificate from Cornell in Project Management. 

Sara Goldberg Headshot 2023
Vice President of Strategic Development

Sara Goldberg

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.

Colleen Hatcher 2023 Headshot
Chief of Staff

Colleen Hatcher

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 Hickey 2023 Headshot
Office Assistant

Luke Hickey

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 Ingmire Headshot 2023
Office Manager

Emily Ingmire

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.

Jessica Kuss 2023 Headshot
Senior Manager of Education Programs

Jessica Kuss

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.

Kayla McKeon 2023 Headshot
Manager of Grassroots Advocacy

Kayla McKeon

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.

Katie Purcell headshot
Director of Development

Katie Purcell

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 Ray headshot
Senior Advisor

Michelle Ray

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.

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Senior Director of Health and Wellness

Margot Rhondeau

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.

Melissa Robertson 2023 Headshot
Development Operations Coordinator

Melissa Robertson

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.

Ryan Rotundo 2023 Headshot
Director of Programs

Ryan Rotundo

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. 

Michelle Sagan 2023 Headshot
Senior Manager of Communications

Michelle Sagan

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 Sciullo 2023 Headshot
Manager of Health Programs

Dana Sciullo

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 pediatric care. Dana strives to improve the health and wellness of the Down syndrome community by bringing together researchers, medical professionals, and families to learn from each other. She facilitates this by sharing resources, hosting webinars, organizing and attending conference sessions, and supporting health and wellness programming. Dana also manages the NDSS Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board which is a group of researchers and medical professionals who advise NDSS on health-related initiatives.  Dana holds two degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. 

genevieve thompson headshot wearing a black blazer, black shirt and her brown hair is shoulder length
Manager of Advocacy

Genevieve Thompson

Genevieve engages with advocates' passion and energy nationwide to advance state-level advocacy priorities. Before moving to D.C., Genevieve served as a Community Access Disability Inclusion (CADI) Manager with the Deaf and Blind Services of Minnesota and served the disability community through her work as a Direct Service Provider. Genevieve holds a bachelor's degree in Justice and Peace Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University.  

Michelle Viall 2023 Headshot
Development Coordinator

Michelle Viall

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.

Charlotte Woodward 2023 headshot. Wearing a pink shirt smiling at the camera
Education Programs Associate

Charlotte Woodward

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.