Board of Directors

Rebecca Frederick-Jilg
Rebecca Frederick-JilgBoard of Directors Chair
Rebecca Frederick-Jilg is a Tucson native and moved up to Phoenix in 1999 when she started working for Mesa Public Schools as a 5th grade teacher. At Northern Arizona University Rebecca received her BS and MA in Elementary Education. After teaching for six years her first son was born. He has Down syndrome and this is when she decided to stay at home and raise her now three boys. They are all doing well in school and Rebecca is ready to get back into education. It has been her pleasure to join the Board of Directors and work with Down Syndrome Network of Arizona.
Jill Nico, M.S.
Jill Nico, M.S.Board of Directors Vice Chair
Jill Nico serves full time as the Program Advisor for Disability Resources and Services at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, AZ. In this capacity, she assures equal access for students with disabilities, provides individualized coaching, and plans campus events related to disability issues for young adults. She has served in higher education in various roles, including adjunct faculty, for fifteen years. She is a wife and parent of two sons, including a son born with Down syndrome. She has twelve years’ experience supporting families of children with disabilities through organizations such as Raising Special Kids and speaks frequently on the parent perspective. She graduated from Kettering University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and from Arizona State University with a Master of Science. She is also a graduate of the AZ Pilot Parents’ Partners in Leadership and Advocacy Training.
Chandra Williamson
Chandra WilliamsonBoard of Directors Treasurer
Emerging from a background of 10 years in commercial banking, Chandra Williamson thought the banking world was her chosen career for life while living in San Francisco. She relocated to Arizona in 1986 to be closer to her parents. Thus, her second career began as a hotel accountant for 10 years and the next 23 years after that she was CFO of a large nonprofit. She finds time to give back to the community. Chandra has volunteered as a Career Coach for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and for the Women’s Business Enterprise Council – West (WBEC-West). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She is an avid golfer, loves traveling and enjoy spending time with her six grandkids, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome.
Cassie Laughrey, SPT
Cassie Laughrey, SPTBoard of Directors Secretary
Cassie Laughrey earned her Bachelors of Health Science in Physiology and Spanish and is working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. She is a rehabilitation technician for the Neurological Wellness Center at Banner Health. Working with individuals with intellectual disabilities has always been a passion of hers for years. Cassie has served on many nonprofit boards and has managed multiple social media sites. She is excited to serve on DSNetwork’s board.
 Gonzalo Castaneda
Gonzalo CastanedaMember at Large
Gonzalo Castaneda was born and raised in Sun Valley California, and moved to Arizona in 1992 to attend college and graduated with a degree in Applied Science. Gonzalo worked in Management in the Aerospace Machining and Manufacturing Industry for over 20 years. Gonzalo is married to Veronica and together they have three children, 2 young adult sons and their youngest daughter Erica, who is now 14 years old and attending High School and has a dual diagnosis of DS and AUT. Gonzalo is an avid sports enthusiast, and enjoys attending sporting events and is a true Arizona team sports fan. Our family enjoys traveling, especially going on cruises, which is one of Erica’s favorite pastimes.
John Escobar
John EscobarMember at Large
John Escobar has been a human resources manager for over 17 years. He is a Society Human Resources Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and has a Business and Finance degree from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and Associates from Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. He has done volunteer work with Arizona PBS, (Channel 8) with the antiques road show, and pledge drives. John and his wife has a young daughter with Down syndrome who likes to write, swim, play basketball, bowling and go out do fun things. John likes to help people to improve and is proud to serve on DSNetwork’s board of directors.
Andrea O'Brien
Andrea O'BrienMember at Large
Andrea O’Brien is a special education advocate and educational consultant with Susan Marks and Advocates. She has been in the field of Special Education for over 25 years. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Rehabilitation and Special Education and a master’s degree from Arizona State University in Special Education. She has completed her coursework for a doctorate in Special Education with an emphasis on inclusive practices. During her career she has held a variety of roles including Special Education Teacher, Program Specialist, Educational Consultant, Teacher Supervisor, University Instructor and Advocate. Andrea is currently an adjunct instructor at Chandler- Gilbert Community College in the Education Department. She is the Arizona TASH President and a member of the Arizona Department of Education Statewide Inclusion Coalition. She also co-coordinates the statewide AZWINS (with inclusive schools) trainings.

Andrea and her husband, Mike have three children (young adults really) and love to get and explore Arizona’s trails and waterways!

Sandy Quintanilla
Sandy QuintanillaMember at Large
Sandy Quintanilla is originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, but moved to Arizona as a child and now calls Phoenix her home. She has two daughters and enjoys spending time with them and watching them develop into young women. In 2003 Sandy began working as a caregiver for mentally challenged adults. She loves working with Down syndrome patients and became a program coordinator at Arizona Foundation of the Handicapped. She has been serving in this role for more than 14 years and she is very passionate about working the Down syndrome community. She has volunteered with the Special Olympics, Little People America, and St. Vincent de Paul.

In addition to working at Arizona Foundation of the Handicapped, Sandy works at Barrow Neurological Institute as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She specializes in overseeing clinical research focused on treating Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome patients. It is a great honor for sandy to serve on the board of directors for the Down Syndrome Network. As a member of the board of directors, Sandy looks forward to fulfilling her passion by advocating for people with Down syndrome and their families.

Jessica Avena
Jessica AvenaMember at Large
Jessica Avena is a 25-year old and a self-advocate with Down syndrome. She participates in many activities in the community, such as Special Olympics, Ballet Folklorico and adaptive theater. She was Arizona Miss Amazing two years in a row. Jessica has gone to college and I volunteer at her church. She works at a farm four days a week where Jessica leads an exercise class. As a member of DSNetwork’s board of directors, she would like to help make a difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome and wants to let them know they can do anything if they work hard at it.

Advisory Council

Mary Brumand

Mary Brumand is the mother of two fantastic kids. Her son graduated from Mountain Pointe High School and is a happy-go-lucky young adult with Down syndrome living life to the fullest. Now a college professor, Mary’s daughter graduated with a Fulbright scholar from Lancaster University in England. Mary has a degree in Pharmacy and works for Walmart as a pharmacist. Mary has been involved with DSNetwork since it was a small group of parents meeting in a family kitchen and has watched with ‘awe’ as the agency has grown and blossomed.

Buzz Call, CPA

A graduate from ASU, Buzz Call held Controller or Chief Financial Officer positions for 30 years and worked for both for-profit and not-for-profit companies. Industries included: healthcare, behavioral health, real estate development, manufacturing, landscaping, banking and farming. Prior to retirement, Buzz owned (with his spouse) two companies for 25 years, which offered speech, physical and occupational therapy.

Laura Chapnek

Laura Chapnek was president of DSNetwork from 2007-2010 and also served as the organization’s vice president for three years. She is married and has a son with Down syndrome.

Michele Fiorenza

Michele Fiorenza earned a bachelor’s in photography and minor in psychology from Columbia College. As a photographer, she has the ornate ability to capture people in their natural expression. She and her husband have two extraordinary children. Her son, who has Autism spectrum disorder, is the “child of her soul” with a spirit that lights up a room. Her daughter, who has Down syndrome, ASD and Apraxia, is the “child of her heart” and exemplifies the true meaning of life. In addition, Michele works with Absolute HCBS.

Frances Gauthreaux

Frances Gauthreaux has a 50-year-old son with Down syndrome. She believes support, education, advocacy and accurate information about successful aging for a loved one with Down syndrome is important. In 2010, Frances and her family moved here from Illinois where she volunteered at Special Olympics and NADS and currently volunteers with Detour Theatre Company. Frances earned her bachelor’s degree in behavior science from National Lewis University. She is now retired from the health insurance industry and full-time caregiver for her son.

Gina Johns

Gina Johns brings her years of experience from healthcare, management, education, and job development to DSNetwork. She has served on the board of Special Olympics, Arizona Multi-housing Association, Southwest Human Development and Mosaic. Gina has a passion for advocacy and serving people with intellectual disabilities. She owns “Gracious Heart,” a developmental home for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Gina’s adult son with Down syndrome studied at Grand Canyon University and frequently does public speaking.

Sarah Hales, M.A. CCC-SLP

Sarah Hales is immediate past Chair of DSNetwork’s Board of Directors. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Kansas. She’s worked as a pediatric speech-language pathologist since 1995 and specializes in working with the birth – three population, as well as with children who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). Sarah has been involved with DSNetwork since its beginning. Sarah is a hobbyist photographer and was the photographer for DSNetwork’s 2010 Calendar, “Inspirations.” She is also a proud and very-involved Auntie of three nieces and one nephew.

Nattasha Huffaker

Originally from California, Nattasha Huffaker and her family relocated to the Phoenix area in 2005. She served in the US Air Force for eight years and graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Huffaker then went on to graduate in 2011 with a Masters of Science as a Physician Assistant. DSNetwork is dear to her heart as her youngest of three, Owen, has Down Syndrome.

Andy Kesti

Andy Kesti focus over the course of his professional career has been in bringing people together in ways that drive attainment of strategic goals. He and his wife have a son with Down syndrome and recently adopted a young girl with Down syndrome. They, along with their other children are enjoying the journey of raising two children with Down syndrome. He is interested in ways to further improve the quality of life for both the family/caregivers and the individuals with Down syndrome.

Maureen Mills

Maureen Mills is a founding member of DSNetwork and currently is the Communications Coordinator of Raising Special Kids. Maureen has been active in several Phoenix area organizations supporting individuals with disabilities and their families including serving as a parent leader for Raising Special Kids. She has three children. Their youngest has DS, AUT, ADHD, ODD and, as she likes to point out, L-O-V-E.

Liz Perez

Liz Perez earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and has worked in the profession of Social Work with the Division of Developmental Disabilities. She has a passion to volunteer and give back to her community. She is a member of several local Philanthropic Organizations: East Valley Women’s League, Junior League of Phoenix, Phoenix Zoo Auxiliary and the Kyrene Schools Foundation.

Daryl Quezada

Daryl Quezada is the mother of four children including her oldest Josia who has Down syndrome. Born and raised in the Phoenix area, Daryl and her family are active in their community and are the owner/operators of the plumbing company No Worries Rooter, LLC. The decision to run their own business was partly born out of Josia’s diagnosis. Daryl and her husband’s dream is to give Josia and other individuals with Down syndrome an opportunity to learn and work in the plumbing industry. Daryl’s professional background includes culinary and human resources. She holds a BA in Human Resources and is passionate about navigating medical insurance. In addition, she and her husband volunteer as new parent mentors for DSNetwork.

Amanda Rivas

Amanda “Mandy” Rivas is a Tucson Native and a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Political Science and Spanish. She is a successful real estate agent with San Souci Realty. Mandy, her husband Brian, their two daughters – Annalise-age 10 and Vivienne, age 7 – and their dog Barley currently live in Chandler, Arizona. They enjoy the beach, going to sporting events, visiting Disneyland and attending events within their Down syndrome community.

Janet Romo

Janet Romo, a mother of three whose youngest daughter has Down syndrome, served as an instructor at Ashford University Education and special education teacher in the Phoenix Union High School District.  She holds a M.A. in Education and is endorsed in the areas of social studies, reading, middle school, adult development and cross-categorical special education. She is the founder of Austin & Lily Special Ed Curriculum where she designs curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities.

Megan Selvey, Esq.

Megan Selvey is an attorney at Bivens and Associates P.L.L.C. Her legal practice includes estate planning, special needs planning, long term care planning, and guardianships and conservatorships. She advises on matters related to protecting wealth and providing for loved ones with special needs. Megan enjoys volunteering in the community and regularly presents to parents groups and families to provide information related to estate planning, guardianship, and public benefits.

Victoria Sharpe

Victoria Sharpe earned her degree in Social Work from ASU and has works professionally with people with developmental disabilities. Currently, she works at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and served as the Futures Without Violence, Anti-Bullying Campaign Captain. Victoria presented at the NDSC convention and was featured in the film “Uplifting Down”. She served as Miss Arizona United States 2015 with “Seeing the Ability in Disability” as her platform. Victoria’s older brother, Danny, has Down syndrome and is her “best friend, strength and mentor”.

Karen Szilagyi

Karen Szilagyi earned her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University and worked in sales and marketing for 15 years prior to having two children and deciding to work as a full-time mom for a few years.  After her son was born with Down syndrome, Karen became involved with DSNetwork and other organizations in Arizona who support individuals with disabilities and their families. She also organizes clothing and toy drives for families in the Valley who have children with special needs.