Meet Our Team

Joyce Millard Hoie

Executive Director
Joyce has been involved with Raising Special Kids in many capacities; as a parent of a child with a disability, a parent leader and a member of the Board of Directors. In 2000, she was named Executive Director. She believes the key to the organization’s success and longevity is keeping families at the center of everything, and supporting an outstanding staff of parents who share their valuable knowledge, wisdom, and experience with new parents.
Joyce holds a graduate degree in public administration and has 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience serving on boards and in state and community programs that address domestic violence, food banking, early childhood, developmental disabilities, rehabilitation services, and nonprofit management. Joyce and her husband, John, have four children and three grandchildren

Vickie French

Assistant Executive Director
Vickie first contacted Raising Special Kids in 1997 as a parent needing help. She became a Parent Leader in 1998, was elected to the Board of Directors in 2002, and joined our staff in 2008. She has an Associate Arts degree from Mesa Community College and has attended Arizona State University.

Vickie and her husband, Steve, have four children. One who has chronic asthma and another who has autism and congenital heart defects. Vickie and Steve are very involved in the disability community, and regularly speak at Golden Gate Theological Seminary to future pastors and church leaders, sharing their story and emphasizing the need for churches to have an Intentional Disability Ministry. Vickie received the Arizona Disability Expo’s Brandy Liston Disability Advocacy Award in 2008.

Janna Murrell

Director of Family Support and Education
Janna Murrell became a volunteer with Raising Special Kids in 1998, after experiencing firsthand the value of Parent to Parent support when her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. After working with families in the nonprofit arena for 12 years, Janna joined the staff at Raising Special Kids in 2008 as a Family Support Specialist facilitating Parent to Parent Connections. In 2011 Janna became Director of Family Support and Education. Janna and her family fondly refer to her son Tucker as the “rock star” at their home.

Christopher Tiffany

Director of Family Support and Education - Habla Español
Chris came to Raising Special Kids from the public school system in central Phoenix where he was a dedicated Special Education teacher and facilitator. Chris and his wife, Paulina, are parents to their only son who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two. Bringing his knowledge of Special Education as an educator and as a parent, Chris is dedicated to the mission of supporting families who are raising children, of all ages, with special needs.

Anna Burgmann

Office Manager
Anna joined Raising Special Kids as the office receptionist in 2010. She enjoys working closely with all staff assisting with daily office functions. She is very proud to work with Raising Special Kids and feels rewarded by the important assistance and encouragement provided to families who desperately need it.

Anna has been married more than 35 years to her high school sweetheart and is mom to one adult son and two sweet dogs.

Peggy Storrs

Senior Administrative Assistant
Peggy has been on the front lines helping parents of children since 1979 when she and her husband, Don were in our second graduating class of Volunteer Parents/Parent Leaders. Since she joined the staff , Peggy was for many years the virtual "voice" of our organization as the first point of contact for thousands of callers. She has introduced many parents and professionals to our programs and continues to serve as Senior Administrative Assistant. She and Don are parents of Sean, an adult who has Cerebral Palsy.

Brandi Clark

Family Support Specialist

Gloria Demara

Family Support Specialist - Habla Español
Gloria is a pioneering parent in the field of disabilities. For many years, she has been a driving force behind uniting Yuma school districts and state/countywide behavioral health agencies to work together to provide appropriate services for families in the Yuma area. She understands the complexity of raising children diagnosed with developmental disabilities, and that have had medical complications, hospitalizations and extreme behaviors. She is the proud parent of her three children, Bianca, Isaac, and Josh, her late son. Both of her sons were diagnosed with autism, attention deficit disorder, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder at an early age. Gloria is passionate about community outreach and providing accessible information in English and in Spanish to families of children with a full range of disabilities. One of her favorite quotes is: “eagle, thou art an eagle. Stretch forth thy wings and fly.”

Terra Garcia

Family Support Specialist

Terra began her journey of working with families as a Social Worker and Parent Educator in the field of Child Abuse and Neglect. At age 3, Terra’s youngest daughter, Sara, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, and high functioning autism. Shortly thereafter, Terra left her career in Social Work to pursue a Master’s degree in Special Education and found her career interest was helping students with special needs in the public schools. After experiencing the joys as well as the frustrations of raising her “Rainbow Child”, Terra joined Raising Special Kids, to combine her experience as a Social Worker and a parent of a child with special needs into helping other parents with similar issues.
Terra and her husband of 25 years, Art, reside in Flagstaff with Sara. Terra and Art also have two sons, Justin who lives in Phoenix, and Cameron who lives in Portland, OR, and their two “dog-children,” Eva and Chloe.

Kathy Gray-Mangerson

Family Support Specialist
Kathy lives in southern Arizona and is a new member of the family support team. For five years, Kathy was a Parent Information Network Specialist for the Arizona Department of Education providing special education assistance to families. She is excited to be working with Raising Special Kids and looks forward to providing assistance to even more families.

Kathy has a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Masters in Business Administration. Early in her career she acquired experience and expertise in the disability field with her work at the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Kathy has an adult son with a Specific Learning Disability in Auditory Processing.

Recently, the Mangerson family was honored to be recognized for their work in community service. Kathy’s son received the Youth and Young Adult Secondary Transition Services Award, and Kathy was the recipient of the Diane Lynn Anderson award for her achievements in serving people with disabilities.

Rachel Hanzuk

Administrative Assistant
The voice of Administrative Assistant, Rachel Hanzuk, may be the first you hear when calling Raising Special Kids. Rachel has a passion to serve individuals who have a disability and their families. She has been involved in the disability community as a professional and a volunteer for more than eight years. As an advocate for inclusion in communities and education, Rachel’s experience includes work with Sharing Down Syndrome Arizona and parenting two active boys. She has helped develop positive community relationships and family support opportunities across Arizona.

With her husband, Steve, she is raising two boys, Matthew and Patrick. Her younger son loves to play any sports that end in the word “ball,” enjoys going to the movie theater, and has Down syndrome. Her experiences with parenting Patrick have inspired Rachel’s desire to reach out to other families raising children with special needs.

Denise Hauer

Family Support Specialist
Denise started her career as a special education teacher, earning her master’s degree in special education, and learning from her students with autism, learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disabilities. Denise joined Raising Special Kids after spending three years caring for her medically fragile son. When Ryder was 11 months old, an abnormal MRI sent the family into a whirlwind when they heard words like ataxia, hypotonia, nystagmus, and status epilepticus. Denise left teaching to care for her son and experienced the frustrations and helpless feelings that many parents face. Ryder was diagnosed with Alpers Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, shortly before his death.
Denise and her family reside in northern Arizona and enjoy biking, fishing, outdoor adventures and spending time together. In Ryder’s memory, Denise is committed to easing frustrations, offering hope and support for parents of children with special health care needs.

Dolores Rios Herrera

Family Support Specialist - Habla Español
Dolores has been advocating for Spanish speaking families for many years. She has been a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council (DDAC), and a member of the Arizona Spina Bifida Association's Board of Directors. She has served on The Division of Developmental Disabilities' Support Coordinator Core Training Parent Panel and is a past-president of Grupo de Apoyo para Niños Especiales (GANE). She has been active in her neighborhood and currently president of her Block Watch Association. Dolores volunteers for Neighborhood Services Department (NSD), Maryvale Police Department, and has been a member of Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol (PNP) for three years. Dolores began working with Raising Special Kids as a volunteer and is the mother of four children including a son diagnosed with Spina Bifida, Chiari Malformation II, Neurogenic Bladder, Hypertension, Hydrocephalus and ADD. Dolores strives to serve families by encouraging them to advocate for their children.

Trudy John

Family Support Specialist

Zuryah Lawson

Family Support Specialist

Maureen Mills

Communications Coordinator
Prior to joining the staff at Raising Special Kids, Maureen was active in several Phoenix area organizations supporting individuals with disabilities and their families including serving as a parent leader for Raising Special Kids. She is a founding member of Down Syndrome Network, spent several years as a Program Manager for Best Buddies Arizona and worked for the Arizona Department of Education as a Parent Information Network Specialist helping families understand their educational rights. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Maureen and her husband John decided in 1997 to trade the cold and lake-effect snow for heat and desert mountains. They have three children. Their youngest has DS, AUT, ADHD, ODD and, as she likes to point out, LOVE.

Gabriela Parra

Family Support Specialist - Habla Español
Gabriela came to Raising Special Kids from public education. Teaching for 15 years was rewarding, but she aspires to pursue her passion for empowering parents. Being a Bilingual Education teacher and Reading Specialist, she has provided support for countless children and parents throughout her career. Gabriela is dedicated to providing support for the Hispanic population who struggle to access services due to language barriers. Having two boys with special needs, Gabriela understands the struggles and frustration present when navigating the state and school system. She is a single mother raising her oldest son diagnosed with Autism at the age of three and her youngest, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Gabriela holds a Bachelors degree from Arizona State Universty, a Master’s from Grand Canyon University and is pursuing a Doctoral Degree. Gabriela hopes to inspire others, young and not-so-young, to pursue a higher education. Her goal is to empower parents to improve the quality of life for their children with special needs, and she is honored to be a part of an organization that not only values education, but holds self-advocacy and family support at its core.

Vicky Rozich

Family Support Specialist
Vicky Rozich joined the Parent Training and Information team in the summer of 2008. Her journey with Raising Special Kids began in 2003 as a Parent to Parent volunteer. She has participated in many Parent Panels for Raising Special Kids, presenting a family perspective on raising a child with a disability to students and post graduate professionals in special education and medicine. She enjoys helping parents and professionals understand the physical and emotional demands of raising a child with severe multiple disabilities. Prior to joining the staff of Raising Special Kids, Vicky had an extensive history of leading adult education classes at her church and the Area Agency on Aging. She deeply values her role in educating, training and supporting parents through the special education process.

Vicky and her husband Jim have two children, an adult son and a daughter who had cerebral palsy, seizures, feeding and orthopedic issues and medical fragility. Vicky enjoys hiking, playing with her children and pets, and supporting the art and music community in the valley.

Nannette Salasek

Family Support Specialist - Habla Español
In 1998 Nannette graduated from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, with a bachelor's degree in Social Work.

Nannette Salasek became a volunteer for Raising Special Kids in 2004 after experiencing the amazing help of Parent to Parent support with her daughter who was born with Spina Bifida. After serving as a Parent Leader for several years, she joined the staff at Raising Special Kids where she recruits and trains parent volunteers, supports families, presents workshops for parents, and trains medical residents on the principles of Family Centered Care and best practices in serving families who have children with special health care needs. She recognizes the great value of working with a staff made up of parents that know firsthand the amazing journey of raising a child with special needs. In addition to her work at Raising Special Kids, Nannette also serves on the Family Advisory Council at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Nannette and her husband, Ched, have six beautiful children named Andrew, Monica, Annie, Lillian, Matthew, and Julianna. She enjoyed many years staying at home with their children, and volunteering regularly for Raising Special Kids, their school, and parish community. After having two healthy children, their third child was born with Spina Bifida. Annie is a happy and loving young girl who bravely takes on the many challenges of living with Spina Bifida. Their next daughter would later be diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Integration Issues. Just when they thought they had seen it all, their youngest daughter was born with Intestinal Mal Rotation that required emergency surgery and also produced feeding issues. Nannette is passionate about providing support to families, and letting them know they are not alone in the journey of advocacy for their children with special needs.

Nilda Townsend

Family Support Specialist - Habla Español
Nilda lives in Sierra Vista and serves families in southern Arizona. She notes that her two “amazing children, who are now successful adults, have been my best teachers” in learning to become a parent, and continuing to learn each day. In her career Nilda has supported families through the Arizona Early Intervention Program, Easter Seals Blake Foundation, Project "Me Too" at Child and Family Resources, and Catholic Social Services. In addition, she spent four years as a Parent Information Network Specialist with the Arizona Department of Education helping families of children with disabilities to understand the special education process.

Alice Villarreal

Family Support Specialist- Habla Español
Alice’s journey began in 1999 with the Department of Education/Exceptional Student Services. She worked with the Parent Information Network Specialist (PINS) and Child Find Coordinator to support and provide information to families of children with disabilities in English and Spanish. In 2003 she was presented with the award of Employee of the Quarter by the Department of Education.

She is involved with community service in her church. Her heart has always been open to helping others. As a member of Raising Special Kids, she is always looking to expand outreach to the Hispanic community and provide training in Spanish and help support families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. Alice has a family member who was diagnosed with Autism at age 18 months.

Neil Wintle

Technology Manager
Neil joined Raising Special Kids in 2011. Neil’s previous work experience includes operations management, database administration, and marketing consultation. Neil also has extensive experience in client relations and training.

Neil is the father of two boys. When Neil’s youngest son was born four months early, his family began a 108 day journey through the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). During this time, Neil's oldest son began to struggle in school and was eventually diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. As a result of his family’s experience, Neil has a passion for supporting NICU families and those with learning disabilities.

 

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Raising Special Kids

5025 E. Washington St., Ste. 204 Phoenix, AZ 85034

  • Phoenix: 602-242-4366
  • Flagstaff: 928-444-8834
  • Tucson: 520-441-4416
  • Yuma: 928-444-8803
  • Toll Free: 800-237-3007