|Christina Reaves is a mother of a 9-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. They moved to North Carolina 7 years ago. She chose to get involved with the NCDSA (Formerly TDSN) because in the early years of her daughter’s journey she missed out on vital connections with the Down syndrome community. It is her passion and mission to make sure that every baby born into the world with Down syndrome receives a joyous welcome. She has been employed with the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance for 4 years and has been the Executive Director for the past 2 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 has previously served on other Boards for local civic groups, town councils, military family readiness, and school boards. Her most recent board experience was where she served as the Secretary of the Archer Lodge Community Center in Clayton, NC.
Christina and her husband Willie reside in Clayton, NC with their 3 children and 2 Great Danes. She loves to travel, camp, attend sporting events and go white water rafting. If she’s not working you can find her headed out of town on an adventure.
|Hi! I am Mahala Turner and I am very happy to be here with you serving our community. I am especially interested in supporting new families because I was considered a “new family” not very long ago. NCDSA (formerly TDSN) stepped in and supported our family during the birth and diagnosis of our 3rd child, Beau. It would bring me great joy to return this service to other families.
I am a former special education teacher (12 years) and I would be honored to also support families through the education and IEP processes. I believe that my personal story and passion as well as my professional experience will help me to serve many families through NCDSA.
I am originally from Alabama. My family recently returned to North Carolina from Maryland where we lived for 15 months. We quickly realized that North Carolina is home and we plan to be here for many years to come.
I believe my position is an important responsibility and investment within our community. I have both my bachelors and master’s degrees in special education form “the friendliest campus in the South”, Jacksonville State University. I also hold a certification in school psychometry which is administering and interpreting educational assessments. My family and I enjoy spending time outdoors any way that we can. We enjoy exploring new places together and creating adventures. I enjoy reading and cooking, and I almost never turn down the rare opportunity for a glorious nap!
|Dawn DeSoto was raised in a family that has supported her to develop her own idea and embrace her creative mind. She started volunteering and fundraising at an early age has always felt the need to give back to the community.
Her ability to conceptualize, plan, and oversee execution of events provides a thorough and precise service as an event planner. Dawn has volunteered as the event coordinator for her local community center. She also gives back as the soccer director for a local soccer league. With creativity and commitment to excellence Dawn DeSoto designs and executes events that will be memorable for both the participants and the organization.
Dawn and her children live in Clayton, NC with their two dogs. She loves coaching youth sports and attending crossfit. Getting away to the mountains for a long hike is her favorite down time.
“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return”- Nelson Mandela
|Stephanie was introduced to the Down Syndrome community when her youngest daughter, Hannah, was born and diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Stephanie and her husband found that information and access to resources was difficult to find in their area. As she discovered resources and made new connections, she was determined to share that information with other families that found themselves in the same situation.
She is passionate about providing families an opportunity to connect with others that may be a benefit to them. She understands the fear and discouragement that comes with a lack of information, and wants to alleviate that burden for as many families as she can. She is thankful that through her position with the NCDSA, she is not only able to provide connections, but also resources and support.
Stephanie has a B. A. in Elementary Education from Southeastern F.W.B. College in Wendell, NC. As a Pastor’s wife, she is very active in her church and the various activities there. She also teaches part-time at the school where her two oldest children attend. She enjoys spending time with family and the occasional trip to the beach.
|Donna Beckmann’s journey in the world of Down syndrome began with the birth of her son in 2000. Donna and her family were welcomed into the local Down syndrome community and quickly embraced by members of the former TDSN. Donna soon realized her passion advocating for her son transformed into a passion advocating for individuals with Down syndrome and other Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Donna grew up in an altruistic home where her parents led by the example of helping others. She has always involved herself in organizations that she or her family has participated in or belonged to, taking an active role advancing the agenda of these organizations while lending a hand in their operations. In addition to her volunteer work throughout the years with the former TDSN, she worked as the Volunteer Parent Advocate at the Duke Down Syndrome Clinic. Donna has built relationships across the greater Down syndrome community on the local, state, and national levels. She was the driving force behind the creation of Down syndrome specific webpages for the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, working with legislators and bureaucrats. She prefers to work behind the scenes, collaborating to bring services to individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Transitioning from volunteer to staff in 2019, the position of Advocacy and Outreach Director expands on the projects Donna had already initiated. Down Syndrome Advocacy Day and the North Carolina Down Syndrome Conference are two major events that will continue to grow along with further outreach to agencies that provide direct services to the Down syndrome community as well as bringing resources to parents, caregivers, and individuals with Down syndrome. Donna’s statewide network will allow for greater collaboration among the disability community.
Donna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She completed the certificate program North Carolina Partners in Policymaking in 2011. During the 2017-2018 academic year, she was a UNC Carolina Institute on Developmental Disabilities LEND Fellow. If she is not floating in a tidal pool on Cape Lookout, she can be found hiking or backpacking. She is proud to say she has hiked from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro…not at the same time, not even in the same decade.
|I am a stay-at-home mom of seven-year-old Jocelyn (typically developing, strong-willed, spirited girl) and 5-year-old Graham (has DS, strong-willed, mischievous little boy). After working full-time as a nurse for many years I decided to stay home to better care for my family as well as dedicate more time to our local DS group.
When Graham was born we quickly realized the lack of support or connection with other families. I became devoted to establishing a monthly playgroup to connect families since there were no groups established in our area. This dream has quickly evolved into more then I dreamed possible. I am now Community Group Leader for NCDSA Eastern NC Families, the local chapter for NCDSA. I am now devoted to connecting families, medical outreach and social and educational opportunities for our families. And I love it!
My favorite thing in the world is to lie on the floor and play with my kids. Intentional time with my family is the most rewarding time. I enjoy cooking but dislike cleaning. As a native Californian where the Pacific is cold all year I never knew how much I loved the beach. As a family we love trips to the beach, the aquarium, the zoo and we love to swim and go kayaking.
“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return”- Nelson Mandela
Board of Directors
|As a devoted Grandmother to 10-year old Kasey Treadway, who was born with Down syndrome in 2009. Lana has been an active Board Member and Volunteer. Lana stepped into the President’s role at North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance (NCDSA) in January of 2019 and will serve a two-year term. She has served on numerous committees within the organization and chaired the annual Triangle Buddy Walk for three years. As a retired business owner, Lana believes that her years of experience have uniquely positioned her to transition into a leadership role at NCDSA as it continues to grow and develop new programs for the Down syndrome community.
As Founder and CEO of Exhibit Resources, Lana has more than 35 years of experience in the trade show and event industry. Her company worked with major corporations to provide branded environments including custom trade show exhibits, modular and portable display systems and corporate interiors. After successfully selling her company in 2015, she accepted several consulting projects before devoting her full time energy to NCDSA.
During Lana’s business career, she was a member of the Women President’s Organization, Women Business Enterprise Council and the NC Chapter President of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Lana is also a past winner of Women in Business, Fast Fifty and Pinnacle Business Awards.
Lana is active in the community and is involved with Dress for Success, the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Women’s Center of Wake County. She enjoys spending time in her quilt studio, traveling and attending family activities with her husband and seven grandchildren.
|Kristen O’Connell is the proud mom of two boys, Aidan and Quinn, the oldest of whom has Down syndrome. As Aidan has grown, Kristen has grown right along with him – recognizing the joys this extra chromosome has brought our family yet realizing the additional challenges the Down syndrome population faces as they navigate their own path in life. Kristen has been and continues to be a fierce advocate for her son and his peers in the Down syndrome community.
As a member of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance (NCDSA), Kristen will offer the perspective of parent advocate. Kristen’s background in project management will also be beneficial in streamlining processes and practices. She has strong ties with several NCDSA (Formerly TDSN) families and she wants to create a stronger bond between us and the community at large.
Having previously served on the NCDSA (Former TDSN) Board and as Chair of the Buddy Walk Committee, Kristen brings vast experience to the role of today’s Board member. Her vision of NCDSA mirrors that of the new and exciting direction the organization has taken.
Kristen has studied at the SI Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, received her Paralegal Degree through SUNY Morrisville NY, and received her Associates Degree from Durham Technical Community College. In her spare time, Kristen loves to read, cook, play golf, volunteer at her sons’ schools, and enjoy time with her family.
|Bruce Sickel is a suburban Philadelphia native who recently moved to North Carolina and is excited to put his professional background in finance to work for a great mission like the NC Down Syndrome Alliance.
Mr. Sickel is an experienced Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer who is currently a Finance Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield NC. Mr. Sickel is passionate about improving healthcare and has worked on various wellness initiatives and early stage ventures focused on improving people’s lives. He has previously served on Boards of Directors of public companies and civic organizations.
He and his wife Nancy are graduates of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. They have two grown children who live in Raleigh. Bruce is an avid golfer and sports fan in his spare time.
|As a seasoned healthcare professional with experience in private/non-profit sectors, as well as hospital and multisite settings, I have been exposed to a variety of healthcare challenges facing individuals and families. My specialty areas include Mental Health, Substance Abuse, services for Developmentally Disabled (MH/SA/DD) End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) career coaching and public speaking.
When I began my healthcare career over 20 ago three things were evident to me. (1) Integrity would be the foundation upon which my success was built; (2) my outlook, commitment, and ambitions as a healthcare professional must form an integrated whole and (3) I must have a strong sense of self.
The book of Titus, Chapter 2 verse 7 reads, “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching”. This is one of the things that drives and motivates me. It’s how I give back and that is the primary reason for my interest in the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance Board of Directors.
As a healthcare professional with over 20 years of successful leadership and operations experience, I have great insight into the non-profit, for profit, hospital and multi-site clinic settings.
Robin is currently the Vice President of Operations – Outpatient Services for Monarch. She serves as an Officer on the Families Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FAFASD), Board of Directors and volunteers for the Wake County Board of Elections and Dress for Success.
Robin holds a BA in Biology from Adelphi University and a Master’s in Public Administration with a Healthcare concentration from Long Island University, CW Post. Reading, shopping, travel and family are favorite pastimes. Last but not least faithful service to her church home.
|Doug Campbell has served as a tireless advocate for health-related and human rights causes in the international development sector for the past 20 years. His work in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, managing the operations and financial aspects of US Agency for International Development (USAID) projects to identify and counter the spread of emerging global pandemics, and fostering an exchange of ideas between stakeholder groups in these efforts, will make him a skilled and compassionate ally for the needs and rights of citizens living with Down’s Syndrome and their families here in the Triangle.
As a member of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance (NCDSA), Mr. Campbell will help to identify sources of potential funding for its activities. As a seasoned non-profit fundraiser, Doug knows how to tap in to various corporate and foundational support for charitable activities to widen the Alliance’s reach and get its name on the ‘top of mind’ of philanthropic sources. As an implementer of fundraising and other charitable activities in a broad range of environments, Doug will be useful in advising on the operational and financial aspects of NCDSA as called upon.
Doug has previously served on the Boards of other organizations such as the USAID/ SAVE the Children’s NGO Sustainability Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, The New Monterey Condominium Association in Washington, DC, and DC’s Different Drummers community musical organization in Washington, DC.
Mr. Campbell holds a BA in Political Science/Finance from the University of Southern Maine (Portland, ME) and an MA in International Affairs from The American University (Washington, DC). He is fluent in Spanish and Russian. In his spare time Doug is an avid singer and saxophonist, and also likes to cycle and kayak.
|Linda Leake is a multi-faceted, results-driven leader with a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others. In her first career as a speech-language pathologist she worked in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, Head Start programs and a rehabilitation center, to improve the communication capabilities of individuals with disabilities. She eventually opened her own private practice in NC and VA with four total office locations. Linda sold her business to venture capitalists, stayed on for two years and learned how to grow organizations.
Linda takes a vision and makes it a reality through sound strategic and organizational development. She intuitively sees the opportunities in an organization, brings concepts and people together into a collaborative whole, helps others stretch their thinking, and drives the financial business advantage. She is known for her ability to tackle tough problems and bring them to a successful conclusion. Linda doesn’t react, she acts. She looks forward to using these skills to assist in growing NCDSA.
As President of EUC, LLC, more commonly known as execUchange, she transforms the way organizations do business. Founded by Linda in 1990, the firm’s clients experience increased profits, improved organizational development and heightened personnel performance all while having fun and implementing changes. She has achieved results in 300+ organizations including companies in healthcare, non-profit, service, telecommunications and manufacturing.
As an active member of her community, Linda practices servant leadership and has served on the Board of Directors of 20+, local, state and national professional and civic organizations. A few of the Boards that she has served on include: The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (8 years), The National Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and The NC Entrepreneurial Development Board.
Linda obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University and her Master’s Degree from Wayne State University, with post-graduate courses in organizational development marketing, sales, fundraising, grant writing, change management, strategic planning, public speaking and mediation. She makes time for singing in the Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, playing the piano and having fun with friends and her four-legged child, Sassy.
|Alice Tolin is a native of Elkin, North Carolina. She graduated from Furman University in 2001 with degrees in English and Political Science. She then went on to graduate from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2004 and began working for Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence & Starling in Sampson County, North Carolina. While there, she served as the Guardian ad Litem Attorney Advocate in both Sampson and Duplin Counties.
In 2008, she partnered with her husband to start a general practice firm, Tolin & Tolin, PLLC, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she focused primarily on family law. She served as the Guardian ad Litem Attorney Advocate for Wilkes County until 2010.
Alice’s oldest son has Down syndrome. His entrance into the school setting sparked her interest in special education law as she and her husband began advocating for him to receive services. She began taking courses to learn more about special education law and participating in her local Down syndrome advocacy group. She joined Gahagan Paradis in October 2019 to focus primarily on representing parents and children in the special education setting.
Alice and her husband, Jay Tolin, reside in Roxboro, North Carolina, with their three children.
|Stacy Strickland was introduced to the world of Down syndrome in 2018 upon the arrival of his fifth child, Haven Faith. In 2018 the family was blessed with her arrival and she has made a huge positive impact on the family as well as everyone that meets her.
He is excited to be part of the NCDSA helping to bring information and support to new families and to those who have just learned of the diagnosis during pregnancy. With his experience he hopes to help answer questions and concerns from parents that may be overwhelmed with a new diagnosis. He also wants to be an advocate for this wonderful community and to be a voice for those who can’t be a voice for themselves. Stacy wants to bring awareness to the needs and help build programs for individuals with Down syndrome through events, fundraisers, seminars, etc. His strongest attributes are helping to build and create projects, supporting them as they grow, and his willingness to meet with individuals and companies that can help make an impact for our community.
Stacy was born and raised in Dunn NC where he grew up in a happy family. He played baseball, soccer, and basketball growing up. He attended and graduated from Triton High School in 1994 and went to Wake Technical Community College and studied engineering. Stacy has also served on the Deacon Board in his church as well as been a Baseball and Basketball coach for his local community in Johnston County.
After getting married in 2000 he began a career in the infrastructure construction field where he is currently a Sales Representative helping to provide supplies and materials to contractors who build water, sewer, and storm systems for Cities, Towns, and Neighborhoods.
|Brad Burgess was introduced to the world of Down Syndrome when he and his wife adopted their third child, Rosabelle Hope, in 2017. Special needs adoption wasn’t in their plan but God had other plans for their family. Rosabelle has brought so much joy to their home and they are excited to be currently adopting again with National Down Syndrome Adoption Network.
As a member of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance, Brad will offer the unique perspective of an adoptive parent. Brads background and experience in education will also be beneficial in sharing with families about advocating for their child.
Brad grew up in North Carolina and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education with focus on Math and Science from Gardner-Webb University in 2000. He also earned his Master’s Degree in Middle Grades Education and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. He taught in the N.C. public school system for 13 years before accepting a job in 2013 teaching with the Department of Defense Education Activities (DODEA) at Ft. Benning, GA. In 2016, he became Assistant Principal at Shughart Middle School on Fort Bragg.
Brad and his wife, Paige, reside in Sanford, North Carolina, with their 3 children. They love spending time with their family no matter what they are doing.