DSAIA Board & Staff

At DSAIA, we have a strong commitment to serving the members of our organization. Our primary goal is to make sure that our members receive the training, resources and support they need to be productive leaders within their organizations. 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.


Christina Reaves

LuMind IDSC Foundation
Raleigh, North Carolina

Christina Reaves is a mother of a 10-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. She has been employed with the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance for 5 years and has been the Executive Director for the past 4 years. As the leader of the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance (NCDSA) team, Christina brings her knowledge of Down syndrome, business management, fundraising and program development skills to the organization. She previously was the Director of Family Programs for the Department of Defense. Her passion for working in the Down syndrome community shows in everything that she does. Christina and her husband Willie reside in Clayton, NC with their 3 children and a Great Dane.


Sheryl Arno

Vice President
Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia

Sheryl Arno has been in the field of developmental disabilities for 31 years. While she started working in the field with children, she has spent most of her career focusing on transition to adulthood and adult life. Sheryl was the creator of the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education movement in Georgia. She started with Kennesaw State University and now there are 8 programs around the state including all of the major colleges. She is a consultant with the Georgia State’s Center for Leadership and Disability as a parent liaison supporting the GAIPSEC. Currently Sheryl is the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta. She has been in this role for 5 years. While in the role she has been able to be a resource to families trying to get through all of the complicated systems that parents transition through. Under her guidance DSAA now supports individuals with Down Syndrome throughout their lifespan. Sheryl has been married for 31 years and has 3 children.

Meredith Peterson

Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Meredith became the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh (DSAP) in April 2020 as the first paid employee of this growing volunteer-led organization. Prior to her transition to DSAP, Meredith was the program coordinator at the Down Syndrome Center of Western PA, which is a specialized medical clinic seeing the entire lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome. She also has 10+ years of human resource management experience. Meredith graduated from Messiah College with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and holds a Master’s degree in Counseling from Liberty University. Meredith and her husband Mike, have two teenagers. Her oldest, Macee has Down syndrome and ignites her passion to serve this community and make the world a more accepting space. 

Heather Barnes

Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida
Winter Park, FL

Heather has 20 years of experience helping nonprofit and for-profit organizations build strong, sustainable programs. Heather is the Executive Director for the Down syndrome Association of Central Florida, where she helps manage a small staff of 2.5 FTE and a budget of approximately $550K annually. Prior to her work with the Down syndrome community, she spent 13 years working for Best Buddies, a nonprofit that serves the community of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 


Julie Torzewski

Past President
Down Syndrome of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky

Julie is passionate about making the world a better place. She became the Executive Director of Down Syndrome Louisville in January 2019. Julie has experience in non-profit fundraising, cultivating donor relationships, strategic planning, building partnerships, creating fundraising groups, developing staff, and managing multiple major events and campaigns. She shared her personal life with her husband, three awesome children, and a weimaraner. 


Makini Anwisye

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri

As the parent of a young adult with Down syndrome, Makini knows firsthand the beauty and challenges of advocating for and encouraging self-advocacy within the DS community.  She served 3 years as board member and secretary for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis and is currently a member of the staff of the DSAGSL. She has coordinated adult programming, including directing the award-winning DSAGSL’s Pop-Up Snack Shop, the DSAGSL’s Employment Academy, and education and life training sessions. She has been married for 43 years. She and her husband have 4 children, 1 son-in-law, 1 daughter-in-law and 8 grandchildren.

Teresa DeVincenzi

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area 
St. Helena, California 

Teresa’s journey with the DSCBA began in 2015 and since then, she has served in a variety of leadership roles, including Director of Programs and Data Integrity, before stepping fully into the Executive Director role. Teresa leads a team of 30-plus amazing individuals who share a passion for empowering, inspiring, supporting, and celebrating individuals with Down syndrome and their families within the nine counties of Northern California’s greater Bay Area. Beyond her professional endeavors, Teresa finds happiness in her personal and family life with her husband Todd. They share their home in charming St. Helena, California, with their two canine companions, Phoebe and Tino. Teresa and Todd have a blended family of six young-adult children.


Anna Emmerich

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

Anna Emmerich is a digital marketing and operations professional with over eight years of experience in a publisher environment and a passion for making an impact in my local community. With a bachelor's degree in non-profits, she has experience running a Young Professionals Board in Chicago, and launching one in Charlotte. She prides herself on creative problem solving and her ability to reach new audiences and provide analytics and insights. Anna is currently serving on the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte Board of Directors.


Heidi Haines

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Delaware
Middletown, Delaware

Heidi Haines joined RMDSA as the Executive Director in 2023. Heidi came to RMDSA from The Arc, where she previously served as the Executive Director of The Arc Tennessee and Director of Advocacy at The Arc of Colorado. Heidi also serves as an advisor to Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), the National self-advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities, where she advises the legislative committee. Heidi holds a B.S. in Human Services from Colorado State University and has completed graduate coursework toward a Master of Arts in Disability Studies from CUNY. Heidi is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware Advanced Leadership Institute, the William & Mary Law Institute of Special Education Advocacy, and the Leadership Institute for Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence at Georgetown University. She has also been a technology navigation fellow for The Arc of The United States.


DeAnn Hunt

Member at Large
Arkansas Down Syndrome Association
Little Rock, Arkansas

DeAnn Hunt earned her BSN at Henderson State University in 1986. She worked as an RN, including as SICU RN, from 1986 until the birth of her son, Al—who was born with Down syndrome in 2003. After Al’s birth, DeAnn taught RN nursing students at Baptist Health School of Nursing for three years.  She has continuously volunteered for Easterseals Arkansas for over seventeen years.  She also founded and ran a summer day camp for children with DS for six years—from 2011 to 2017. She served on the statewide Advisory Board for Best Buddies Arkansas 2012-2015.  DeAnn joined the Board of Directors for Arkansas Down Syndrome Association (ADSA) in 2013; she was elected President of the Board in 2016.  

Kim Rocha

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas
Fort Worth, Texas

Kim has worked in non-profit organizations since 1998s. She started at Big Brothers Big Sisters doing events and fundraising. After starting her family, she switched to non-profit management working for 9 years at a children’s advocacy center. I started at DSPNT in 2018 as Outreach/Program Coordinator and was promoted to Executive Director in January of 2019. We had a huge growth trajectory planned for 2020 and had to quickly pivot programs to online due to COVID. We actually increased revenue and the number served during 2020 which has continued to carry over through 2021.


Michelle Slape

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area
Fairfield, California

Michelle is the Program Manager at the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (DSCBA). Michelle lives in northern California with her husband and 2 sons. Her younger son, Cody, has Down syndrome and was her inspiration for her journey into the Down syndrome non-profit community. Prior to working for non-profit organizations, she was a programmer and software trainer for the Department of Defense. In addition to her role at DSCBA, she is also a professional photographer specializing in photographing children with special needs.

Alecia Talbot

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee
Hermitage, Tennessee 

Alecia became the executive director of DSAMT in 2012, after spending several years as an active member and volunteer in our organization and in the disability community. She is a strong advocate for inclusion and acceptance for those with Down syndrome and other disabilities in the community and schools, having completed the Vanderbilt Volunteer Advocacy Program, Wrightslaw training and other advocacy trainings. Her passion lies in helping those with Down syndrome show the world that those with “something extra” bring extraordinary gifts to our communities that should be recognized and valued. Alecia also serves on the Disability Coalition for Education, Vanderbilt's Disability Pathfinder Advisory Committee, the Tennessee Disability Coalition Board of Directors, Davidson County Mayor's Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, and the Wilson County Family Support Advisory Board. In 2011 she was named Best Buddies TN Champion of the Year and in 2016 received the Nashville Business Journal’s Woman of the Year Award. She is also a National Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition Member and NDSS DS-Ambassador.


Candace Whiting

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Candace is a young woman born with Down syndrome. Her different-ability helps her be a voice for those without a strong voice. She is a motivational speaker and CEO of Great Life Unlimited. Great Life Unlimited is a motivational speaking business that connects with the community to help them understand everyone can live an extraordinary life. Sharing her 10 Key Points helps people understand how they can live their best life. Candace’s dream is to travel the world sharing her story. She always dreams big and challenges herself outside of her comfort zone. Candace is also a decorated Special Olympian. She uses her positive attitude towards life to help people realize their strengths.


Katie Zurkuhlen

Member at Large
Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida 

Katie's dedication to the field of social work extends beyond her role at Down Syndrome of Louisville. She actively participates in professional networks and keeps herself up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in the field. Her commitment to ongoing learning and professional development allows her to continually enhance the quality of services offered by the organization. Katie Zurkuhlen's role as Operations Director at Down Syndrome of Louisville reflects her unwavering dedication to empowering individuals with Down syndrome and creating a more inclusive society. Through her experience in social work, her leadership, and her unwavering commitment to advocacy, Katie continues to make a significant impact on the lives of those she serves and the community as a whole.


Sarah Mulligan

DSAIA Executive Director
Missoula, Montana

Sarah is a parent of four—two of whom have Down syndrome. She lives and works in Missoula, Montana and her background is in early childhood special education. For many years, she has been the director of nonprofit organizations ranging from a parent education program to an international professional association. One of the best parts of DSAIA is that we are a community that shares information, offers support, and works together. As your Executive Director, keep Sarah in the loop about the issues facing your organization, great ideas you have to share, and just about anything else that will help us all create a world where individuals with Down syndrome have everything they need to be happy, successful, and productive.  

Contact Sarah via email or call (701) 354-7255.