Board of Directors
Nicole Scott is a stay-at-home mom, a journalist, an Usborne book lady, and an active member of her community. In December of 2007, Nicole graduated from Edinboro University with high honors in Print Journalism. She was a respected contributing writer for the University's newspaper where she wrote anything from editorial pieces, to one-on-ones with athletes, to event coverage. She furthered her writing career with the Times Express as a staff writer and with St. Bernadette Catholic Church as the creator and coeditor of the church quarterly newsletter.
In 2016, Skylar was born with Down syndrome and Nicole immediately became an active community member of the DSA of Pittsburgh. She has attended many Pittsburgh Buddy Walks with a team and has participated in past DSAP Family Connection events including going to the zoo and to Idlewild. She continues to strive to build the community and to have relationships with other families. Community support is a vital aspect of social and emotional health of families throughout this journey. Nicole spends most of her time with her husband, Julius, her 3 girls, Nya, Skylar and Ava, and her son, Jahari, in Monroeville, PA where she also runs a very active moms group.
Nicole serves as a mentor for expectant or new parents in the First Call Program and is very passionate about medical and diversity outreach. It’s important to her that people of color feel acknowledged, respected, and welcomed into this community. As a brown Mama bear, she knows how much representation matters. She is excited that DSAP continues to grow into an organization that is a resource for every culture in this community.
Interim Vice President
Greg grew up outside of Allentown, PA and has an older sister, Lauren, who has Down Syndrome. Throughout high school and into college he volunteered a lot of his time to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities. He participated as a lead counselor for Camp PALS, was the club president of his High School’s Best Buddies and even volunteered with the Eastern PA Down Syndrome Center working to start a sibling group.
Greg has since graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelors in Architecture and a minor in Environmental Studies and has come to make Pittsburgh his home. He currently works as a licensed architect at GBBN. He has recently served as the Chair for the Young Architects Forum of AIA Pittsburgh and is excited to bring all of the skills from that position to his role on the DSAP board. His current interactions with the DSAP community has been nothing but smiles, joy, and excitement and he looks to continue that energy and bring his past experiences to grow and support the DSAP community.
Joseph Bement is passionate about spreading education and understanding for the community, as well as his focus on connecting the community to help create employment, education, or recreational opportunities for those with special needs of all ages.
Prior to joining the board, Mr. Bement had founded, and eventually sold an environmental engineering company. In addition to this, Mr. Bement is an executive in an oil and gas company in the Pittsburgh area. Mr. Bement has also previously served honorably in the United States Marine Corps. During his time with the marines, Joseph learned how to inspire marines with diverse backgrounds. He is a parent of a son with Down syndrome and resides with his family in the South Hills.
Megan Loftis is the Owner and Attorney at the Loftis Law Firm. She has been working in the area of Estate Planning, Trusts, Special Needs Planning and Estate Administration for 10 years and has managed her own practice for the last 3 years. She worked for an Attorney for 5 years who focused in these areas before acquiring his practice upon his retirement. While her office is located in the Beechview neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh, Attorney Loftis’ practice includes most of Western Pennsylvania.
Attorney Loftis holds two bachelor’s degrees from Washington and Jefferson College in Political Science and Business Administration. Additionally, Attorney Loftis pursued her law degree from Duquesne University. She has been involved with many volunteer organizations in the past including Special Olympics, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), and Mentor to college students at her Alma Mater. She has been helping families with special needs for the last 6 years to navigate the difficult decisions in planning for their family’s future. She currently resides in West View with her boyfriend, Patrick. They enjoy traveling, golfing, and spending time with friends and family.
Amy lives in Jefferson Hills with her husband, Jess; her 21- year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, who happens to have Down syndrome; and her 17-year-old son, Evan, who happens to have autism.
Amy is an attorney with over 25 years of legal experience and many years of experience advocating for her children and others with disabilities. Having previously served on the Board when the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh was known as the Down Syndrome Group of Western Pennsylvania, Amy’s motivation to again join the Board is to share her professional and personal experience and skills to support others along this journey.
Carey Cardwell is an athletic trainer with Allegheny Health Network since 2001. She graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with my Master's degree in Sports Medicine. As a parent of a five-year-old with Down syndrome, Carey shares that this community has provides so much support to her and her family that she wanted to fine a way to give back. Her son Rhys is the reason she serves and she is eager to help support Rhys and all individuals with Down Syndrome lead a healthy fulfilling life.
Carey resides with her husband Eric and two sons Ryker (age 11) and Rhys (age 5) in the North Hills. She loves spending time with her family most of all. They enjoy going to the zoo, Kennywood, hiking & listening to a variety of music together. She is also passionate about exercise & try to cycle or weight lift before work.
Chandra Donnell Carey
Chandra Donnell Carey is a Professor of Counseling and Behavioral Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Carey is a counselor educator and scholar-activist who has made investigating issues affecting persons of color with disabilities a career-long focus. For over 23 years, she has been training mental health and rehabilitation counselors. In addition to her doctorate in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University, she holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She has been a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor since 1998 and previously held a Licensed Professional Counselor intern designation in the State of Michigan (2005-2009). She’s worked as a job development and placement specialist for individuals with disabilities and as a mental health counselor. A recent transplant from Dallas, Texas, Chandra continues to work with a team of researchers on a US Department of Education grant for a 4-year, inclusive post-secondary education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the University of North Texas, called UNT ELEVAR. Her current research focuses on psychosocial adjustment and positive mental health for college students with intellectual disabilities and fostering mental health supports for parents and caregivers of individuals with intellectual disabilities through life transitions, particularly as it relates to communities of color.
A fierce advocate, wife and mom to two children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Chandra is committed to fostering opportunities for quality engagement and integration in education, employment and community for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Her daughter, Kennedy, has Down syndrome and her son Miles is on the Autism spectrum. They both have helped to sharpen Chandra’s advocacy for equitable policy and full inclusion for individuals with disabilities. A 28-year member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and former president of the National Association for Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns, Chandra is no stranger to community service and active board membership and is excited for the opportunity to serve the Ds community in Pittsburgh.
Mindi Hilborn is a certified athletic trainer with over 10 years of providing medical services to youth through collegiate athletes at various levels of competition throughout the country, including Special Olympics and the Pittsburgh Marathon. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Health Science at Chatham University teaching within the Master of Athletic Training Program. Mindi holds a Doctor of Athletic Training from Temple University, a MA in Kinesiology and Health Studies from Southeastern Louisiana, and a BS in Athletic Training from California University.
She has previously been involved with DSAP as a member of the executive planning committee for the Buddy Walk and volunteered at several other events. Recently, she served on the California University of PA Alumni Association Board of Directors where she was a member of the student engagement and young alumni, student recruitment, and alumni events and chapter development committees. A Pittsburgh native, she currently resides in Jefferson Hills with her husband Ben, their son, Keagan and daughter, Mikayla.
Prior to joining the DSAP Board of Directors, Angie McKain created an anti-bully nonprofit in her local community and became a special education advocate. She also worked in prehospital emergency medicine for 15 years. Currently, Angie is a stay-at-home mom, holistic health professional, published author, and lifelong creative.
Angie's son, Kaleb, who happens to have an extra chromosome, was born in 2018. His birth set her searching for ways to become involved and make an impact in the Down syndrome community. She has served as a volunteer for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network and took part in publishing a book about daily life with a loved one with Down syndrome.
Angie resides in Kittanning with her husband, Ben, sons Kaleb and Kolten, and a slew of animals.
A native of Pittsburgh, Nick Sfakianakis has helped his beloved city grow as a carpenter, a teacher, and as a human resource professional. Currently, as a Training Coordinator with WorkPartners, Nick teaches case managers in helping people through the difficulties of being off work. While earning his master’s degree in teaching from the University of Pittsburgh, Nick volunteered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, and then with the local chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition he co-chaired several committees as part of the organization’s annual Run/Walk event with his wife Melissa Evans. They even appeared in a commercial together promoting the event.
Nick’s passion for helping his community stems from a strong family connection. Nick’s younger sister, also named Melissa, has Down Syndrome and lives with their mother in the area. Nick recalls the strength his mother showed when Melissa was very young, fighting for the same opportunities of a quality education. Nick continues to be inspired by his mother’s and sister’s journey and is eager to help others in the DSAP community through similar challenges. Nick and his wife live in the South Hills and enjoy supporting the performing arts in the area, traveling, and hosting dinner parties.
Melissa Skiffen has worked at Achieva for over five years as a Disability and Family Support Advocate. She is a Charting the Lifecourse Ambassador and Co-Authored an article in the ODP Positive Approaches Journal on Person-Centered Planning and Trauma-Informed Approach. Melissa has a passion for supporting people with disabilities, families, and the community to ensure that people with disabilities are living a good life and the life they envision for themselves.
Melissa is the parent of a middle schooler in Westmoreland County. Her son has Down syndrome and autism, is a valued student at his school, and a valued member in his community. Melissa is a lover of books and enjoys reading non-fiction. Melissa and her family enjoy day trips and exploring all parts of our beautiful state. She loves all animals, but especially her cats and chickens.
Chloe Page is originally from New York and has focused on leading business operations across a variety of industries. After graduating from Barnard College, she spent 8 years working abroad in Germany, the United Kingdom and China.
Chloe enjoys living in the city of Pittsburgh, and found the DSAP community through her lovely nephew Theo. Chloe enjoys yoga, hikes with her dog Leo and cooking with husband Ben.
Stephanie Zagrocki is a licensed Pennsylvania attorney and works for Mitsubishi Electric Power Products in Warrendale. A former registered nurse and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Stephanie came to Pittsburgh in 1995 to attend law school at Duquesne University. She now resides in Wexford with her husband, Eric, and their six children.
Her oldest is a college senior while her youngest is ten-year old Madeline (Madi), who opened her eyes to the needs of a person with Down syndrome. As Madi’s primary advocate, Stephanie has utilized many of the athletic and social opportunities offered in our local community that promote a healthy and fulfilling life for Madi. Seeing the impact of these opportunities firsthand, Stephanie wants to support the mission of the Down Syndrome of Pittsburgh and believes that all individuals with Down Syndrome should have the opportunity to participate in activities of interest and to otherwise benefit from the support the Association offers.
Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, whether it is being outdoors hiking, skiing, or swimming; or indoors at a concert, show or movie.
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Looking for passionate leaders
Interested in learning more about becoming a future board member, reach out to Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Administrative Program Coordinator
Masha Zaldonis, BA
Masha joined DSAP in August 2022 but her passion for community connection began in eighth grade when she started volunteering at the Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh. She continued to volunteer there throughout high school and college, working as a Program Staff for several years. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Science and Disorders, Masha went on to work as a Program Coordinator at the Friendship Circle. One of her favorite programs to coordinate was Friends on the Town, where friends would get together out in the community, often at a pizza shop to have dinner together. After this, Masha transitioned into a different role as a Research Coordinator at UPMC, working on a study focused on aging and Alzheimer's disease in adults with Down syndrome. While in this role, Masha also completed a traineeship at the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Masha is excited to bring her experience to DSAP and to expand DSAP's reach and connections! Click here to contact Masha.
Meredith Peterson, MA
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. Click here to contact Meredith.