Our board represents a cross-section of our community and has a passion for our organization and those we serve. The board and staff work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization and oversee that our organization continues to deliver quality benefits to our members.
Interested in becoming part of this wonderful organization? Learn more about DSAIA board service.
DSAIA Board of Directors
Lindsay Radford, President
Erin Suelmann, Vice President
Erin is the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis (DSAGSL). Prior to her role as ED, she served for three years as the Director of Programs and Services. She has a MA in both Public Health and Anthropology, and gained most of her passion and experience from her brother, who happens to have Down syndrome. She has served in the nonprofit sector for over ten years and brings a great dedication and commitment to building more inclusive, equitable and healthy communities.
I have been proud to be a DSAIA Board member. In this role I am able to help DSAs across the country build their capacity to serve people with Down syndrome and their families. It is exciting to see so many amazing agencies connect and share resources to create a better world for our friends and family. The DSAGSL has benefitted so greatly from our membership. From the Conference and webinars, to Leaders Circles and the Discount Partners Program, there are endless resources to build a more successful, professional Association!
Laurie Kowalski, Secretary
Laurie has been employed by The Up Side of Downs since June 2009 as the Family Support Coordinator. She assists expectant and new parents by providing materials, information, baby and toddler groups and support during the early years of a child’s life. She also facilitates the Grandparents Group, Mom’s Nights Out and the Parents of Teens and Adults group.
Laurie is married to Jim and they have three children; Kristen, Alex and Charlie.
Being on the DSAIA board has been important for me because I feel so strongly about the value of DSAIA and how much it has helped our organization grow over the years. We went from an all volunteer organization to one that has 11 employees, 2 of which are self-advocates. Our group offers many wonderful programs and services and I am so proud of what we have accomplished!
Tracy Garcia, Treasurer
Tracy Garcia has over 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. She is a Certified Economic Developer employed as a Project Manager for Visit Central Florida / Polk County Tourism & Sports Marketing. Tracy was an elected official serving as a commissioner, vice-mayor and mayor on the Lake Alfred City Commission. Her private sector experience includes various civil engineering positions from project management to roadway project inspections.
Board of Directors (At Large)
Jennifer and her husband Brian have been married 28 years, and have two children Sarah and Joshua. Joshua, born with Down syndrome in 1996, is active in Community Theater, and Special Olympics Basketball and Football. He is a member of CADSA Club21Plus, enjoys CADSA Music Therapy Classes-Buckets of Fun and Karate.
I am excited to be part of the DSAIA board because I value the importance and need to deliver quality benefits to DSAIA members. I want to be part of the team to create learning opportunities for our members.
Lauren Camp is the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware. She began working for this organization as their Program Director and has been with them for five years. Lauren also works for the National Down Syndrome Congress as a Policy Associate and the convention Kids' Camp Director. Lauren graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy with a minor in Disabilities Studies. Her Master’s degree is in Public Administration with a specialization in Nonprofit Management.authority.
Serving on the DSAIA board allows me to use my non-profit knowledge to help other Down syndrome organizations grow, improve and better serve more individuals with Down syndrome. As a recent board member, I joined because the organization has been an immeasurable asset to the growth of our organization. DSAIA serves as a support network, educational resource and industry authority.
Janet Caramello is the CEO of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida. A nonprofit professional, she has over 20 year experience in leadership in nonprofits. Janet recently received her MBA from University of South Florida and obtained her Certified Fund Raising Executive Designation. She is on the Board and the Executive Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Central Florida Chapter and was a past Chair of the Florida Department of Health Medical Clearinghouse Council that made accurate information available at www.BrightExpectations.com to the state of Florida.
Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action is a leader in organizational development, fundraising, and programming. I am honored to be on the Board of such an amazing organization that is making a difference for Down syndrome associations and groups all over the United States.
David is a retired copywriter, creative executive and branding consultant with more than 40 years of experience with major national and international brands. Married to a past DSAIA president, they have a 39 year-old son with Down syndrome along with a daughter and two grand daughters. As a past board member of the National Down Syndrome Congress, David created the We're More Alike Than Different campaign for which NDSC raised approximately $600,000. Long ago in a galaxy far, far away he received a BA in Communication from the University of Minnesota.
I have supported and tried to serve the growth and vitality of the DSAIA since its very inception. While others have pursued outdated models, often in confusion and delusion, DSAIA moved to fill the void they left with practical solutions based on direct, hands-on experience with the realities of our community. I have been rewarded with friendships, valued relationships and an array of assets that serve our friends and families.
Kari Jones, President & CEO, joined the DSACO team in January 2014. Prior to her start with DSACO, she served as Executive Director for Embracing Autism and Director of Supported Living at Goodwill Columbus. As President & CEO, Kari is charged with providing strategic direction, development, and ensuring membership needs are satisfied.
Kari is active with the Women’s Leadership Council for the United Way, volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association, Franklin County Special Olympics and the Columbus Civic Theater whenever she can. She resides in Clintonville with her husband (Scott), daughter (Evelyn) and dog (Ray). They enjoy going to the local farmers’ market, attending festivals, and just generally being outdoors. Kari, along with her family, has been connected to DSACO in some capacity since 1985, when her brother, Alex, was born with Down syndrome.
Although I am only a few weeks in to my DSAIA board service, I am excited about taking on leadership responsibilities to enhance the DSAIA's goals. There is so much to be gained when leaders can work collectively and collaboratively with one another, and it is clear to me that DSAIA lives that vision. Since my earliest exposure to DSAIA in 2014, their work has always been focused on how to best serve the Down syndrome community across the country. I look forward to developing new members, which will not only benefit them, but will undoubtedly better serve all of DSAIA's membership.
Joe is the father of the late Shea Lintott, who had Down syndrome but sadly passed away at seven weeks due to heart complications. He became involved with my local Down Syndrome Association as a volunteer and was later asked to serve on the Board of Directors. He was a Board Member until 2015 when he stepped down from the Board to assume the position of Executive Director. He has since resigned that role to reprise his role as a lawyer.
Mac is the Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association in Denver. Mac has made a career working in the non-profit sector. Having begun his career teaching at Cherry Creek High school, he then moved on to The Nature Conservancy (Colorado Field Office) where he was a Major Gift fundraiser. Responsible for raising gifts of over $50,000, his time at TNC was spent building relationships within Colorado, and also nationally. After the birth of Guion, his first son, Mac and his wife Rebecca learned that Guion had Down syndrome. Mac decided to leave TNC due to a heavy travelling schedule to concentrate on learning more about his new son and the world of Down syndrome. Mac began volunteering for Special Olympics Colorado which eventually led to a paid position as the Director of Development for that organization. Having been a part of the RMDSA family he was aware that the organization was in the process of searching for a new Executive Director, so Mac made it known that he had an interest in the position and formally joined RMDSA as the second Executive Director in February of 2009. Mac has his Bachelor of Science from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and his Masters of Education from Vanderbilt University: Peabody College. Mac and his wife Rebecca have three children; Guion, Hoke, and Rae.
Our staff has a strong commitment to serving the members of our organization. The primary goal of our staff is to make sure that our members receive the training, resources and support they need to be productive leaders within their organization in order to provide the best support and services to their members.
Deanna Tharpe, Executive Director
Before coming to DSAIA in 2010, Deanna was the founder and later Executive Director of Red River Valley Down Syndrome Society, a regional Down syndrome organization that served northeast Texas, southeast Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas. A parent of a handsome and charming young man with Down syndrome, she came to the Down syndrome community after almost 20 years in radio broadcasting. Deanna holds a Bachelors of Science in History from Texas A&M University as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership from Michigan State University. However, she is adamant that she learns more by listening to DSAIA members who teach her something new everyday.
Contact Deanna for assistance with resources, programming or organizational challenges:
Are you interested in serving the DS community as a board member of the only organization focused solely on the needs of the local Down syndrome association?
Board member applications are being accepted now for the upcoming election in February 2019.