ABLED Advocacy is a non-profit corporation, established in 2013, that offers parent support, special education advocacy, and training to families and community groups in the Merrimack Valley. We believe in providing high quality, effective advocacy services by promoting strong relationships and collaboration between parents and schools.
The founders of ABLED Advocacy are parents with children who have special needs who were trained through the Parent Consultant Training Institute at the Federation for Children with Special Needs and WrightsLaw training courses. With over 20 years of combined experience, we are here to support you and your child aged 3-22 at any point during your journey.
Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our board is the backbone of ABLED Advocacy. Their ideas help shape the direction and mission of our organization as it continues to develop.
Laurie Keegan graduated from Merrimack College with a degree in Mathematics and went on to receive her teaching certification for High School Mathematics in Massachusetts. After a career in software development, she opted to spend time with her family. With four special needs children, she gained much experience dealing with medical, educational, and related professionals. After realizing that she was unable to afford an educational advocate for her own children she pursued training and gained further knowledge and understanding of the system. She used her in-depth knowledge of the special education process and vast personal experience to work with families and support their needs with passion and understanding.
Co-founder, Advocate, Clerk
Dawn Connelly graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in Systems Engineering however from her upbringing, she has an undeniable affinity to care for others. Since then, her entrepreneurial spirit discovered a disparity in access to educational advocacy services. Along with Laurie Keegan, she co-founded ABLED Advocacy with the vision and drive to improve the lives of children with special needs through affordable educational advocacy. Her calming presence, insightful questions, and persistent determination make her an invaluable resource. She understands the complexities of when to stay calm, when to be firm, and how to work cooperatively while bringing people together with a defined focus.
Dillon is a dedicated non-profit executive and former special educator. In 2013 he began working for the District of Columbia Public Schools as a Special Education and Crisis Intervention District Administrator coaching teachers and administrators across 40 of the lowest performing schools in the District of Columbia on the effective implementation of Self Contained programs. During this time, he also served as a member of the State Title II Advisory Committee and a member of the Mayors Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. While working with DCPS, he began working with another national organization to open a Montessori Charter School aimed at serving low-income families and students with special needs. He focuses on helping growth stage non-profits organize, strategize, and work through growth.
Katie Havens brings significant business and financial expertise to ABLED Advocacy through both work experience and her MBA from Boston University. Her focus throughout has been on Social Impact, Strategy, and Leadership & Organizational Transformation. She has worked as a Business Analyst for the Office of the President, a Finance Manager, and Director of Development and Operations. Her expertise is in building external partnerships with diverse stakeholders, creating and executing sustainable funding strategies, and working cross-functionally to implement initiatives internally. She’s a systems thinker, with a focus on process and goals, who enjoys collaborating with teams.
Radhika Pillai brings over 10 years of experience in strategic planning, brand development, content creation and program management focused on helping nonprofits and education organizations establish themselves through programs, outreach, and communications. She works with both internal and external stakeholders, including customers and vendors, to build relationships that yield results.
Sreya Shepard is a goal-oriented professional whose focus on strategic problem solving helps organizations thrive. She is skilled in planning, marketing, and outreach tasks and has a keen ability to capture opportunities. She holds both a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from Boston College and is working to complete her Masters of Education in Autism/ABA from Endicott College.