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
Lauren Camp, President
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.
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!
Kari Jones, Secretary
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 volunteers with her local Alzheimer’s Association, Franklin County Special Olympics, the Columbus Civic Theater, and Mended Little Hearts. She resides in Clintonville with her husband (Scott), daughter (Evelyn) and dog (Ray). Kari has been connected to DSACO in some capacity since 1985, when her brother, Alex, was born with Down syndrome.
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.
Lindsay Radford, Treasurer
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.
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.
Willie is a management and leadership professional experienced in growing an organization from inception to a fully functioning corporate entity. He has spent the last 15 years in non-profit executive leadership. He is accomplished in oral and written communications, and the facilitation of employee training. He has earned degrees in Organizational Leadership, Communication, and Management. He is a graduate of Wittenberg University.
DSAIA is a necessary resource for all organizations serving the Down syndrome community. We have found them to be the go-to source for equipping our staff and board with best practices, policy assessment, operational assistance, and much more. The annual conference is always packed with informative speakers, relevant topics, networking opportunities, and some of the best vendors in the nation. DSAIA consistently increases the effectiveness of our organization. They are a "value-added" organization.
Emily Kalenauskas has served on the board of directors of the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut (DS ACT) for the last five years, although her interest for serving individuals with intellectual disabilities began much earlier on. Although she does not have a direct connection to Down syndrome, supporting individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the communities they live in has become her passion. As a lifelong learner and advocate of all individuals with disabilities, Emily has gained her knowledge by working directly, hands on in the field in a variety of settings. Emily takes this knowledge and applies it when creating new programming, resources or connections for individuals and organizations. Emily serves as the President of DS ACT and in the last two years has assisted the organization with the hiring of its first Executive Director, a complete re-branding, the development of a Self-Advocacy Program and the establishment of the DS ACT Literacy and Education Center.DSAIA has been an invaluable resource to not only our organization, the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut (DS ACT), but me. Each year, representatives from our organization attend the DSAIA conference and learn a wealth of invaluable knowledge that they can then take back to our state and put into action. Throughout the year, there are so many interesting workshops on topics that are important to our organization that we can watch and feel better informed about a topic we weren’t so sure on. The topics are awesome and they often include things that we can learn and then put into action and do ourselves to save our organization money. It really helps our organization a lot. Finally, I am a new board president and our board is in a period of shift with our first year of having an Executive Director. I cannot tell you how many times in this past year I have reached out to Deanna when I have a question and she has always been there to chat with me and answer them. That alone has been worth double the price of membership!
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.
Michelle is the Executive Director of the International Down Syndrome Commuity (IDSC). She has been with the IDSC since 2012 and has served in a leadership role since 2014. She also serves as the coordinator for the Annual IDSC Great Wolf Lodge Family Weekend in Garden Grove, CA. Michelle lives in northern California with her husband and 2 sons. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Science but finds passion in being a professional photographer that specializes in photographing children with special needs.
DSAIA has supported the MVDSA in several ways. They were there for us during the transition between the former and the current Executive Director. We have consulted them on several occasions about various programs within the organization. The opportunity to connect with other DSA's across the country via the Leadership Conference is simply invaluable. Thank you, DSAIA!
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.