At F.A.C.T., we love our work. And we (truly) love the people we work for. Take a look through our bios and you’ll see what led many of us here: our own children. Many F.A.C.T. team members have faced the same challenges as the families we serve, so we know how hard it can be to advocate on behalf of a child with disabilities.
Whether we’re parents of children with disabilities or family members, we all share a common passion for what we think is the most important job on the planet – supporting families and kids. Here are some of the friendly faces you’ll see at F.A.C.T.
Heather Lytle, Executive Director
I have been with F.A.C.T. since 2007 beginning in the role of Administrative Assistant. I received my Bachelor’s degree in English in 1997, and my Master’s degree in Education in 2002 with the hope that one day I might be an English Professor. As is common in planning for a future, that didn’t happen and instead I fell into the world of non-profit disability related work rather randomly. Although I had family members with mental health challenges and developmental disabilities, I was not aware that any services existed for people who have a disability until I came to F.A.C.T. I learned quickly and embraced the philosophy of peer parent mentoring as the most effective way to offer support. I currently work towards the goal of ensuring that all families who are raising a child with a developmental disability or a mental health challenge have the support they need to keep their families together, have hope for the future, have children that are included, and the skills necessary to move through all life’s obstacles.
Rachel Svejkosky, Program Director
Hi, my name is Rachel Svejkosky and I am very excited to be joining the F.A.C.T team. I graduated from Webster University in 2003 with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Management with not really knowing what I wanted to do with the degree. Shortly out of college, I landed a job supporting and advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses and fell in love with the field. I have always considered myself as a “helper” and enjoy working to support those that do not have a strong voice. I look forward to supporting F.A.C.T.’s mission and to take part in such a wonderful organization.
Krystle Brown, SEAT Certified, Executive Assistant
My name is Krystle Brown and I started out at F.A.C.T. as an Educational Advocate. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 3 years old, along with Mood Disorder and OCD at 6 years old. He had been thrown out of many daycare centers and preschools before he was evaluated for eligibility under IDEA. It was very difficult as a parent to see him struggle for so many years. I was unsure what resources Bryce needed to succeed in school. I learned how to advocate for my son through my F.A.C.T. Advocate and there I found my passion. F.A.C.T. taught me that I needed to educate myself to be the best advocate for my child. Afterwards I read everything that I could get my hands on about Special Education Law, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mood Disorder. Now I hope to support other families that need assistance going through the special education process.
Roni Jackson, Administrative Communication Specialist
I am Roni Jackson and my nonprofit experience began with an internship with the Alzheimer’s Association in 1995. From that point on I was hooked and tried to find positions with companies that made community outreach a part of their business model. This eventually led me to work for a Broadcast-Interactive Media company that regularly partnered with nonprofits to either host or be a part of their events; it wasn’t only a part of their business model they actually lived it. We partnered with everyone from Children’s Miracle Network, St. Jude’s and Friends of Kids with Cancer to Lantern Fest and Susan G. Komen. When a position with F.A.C.T. came up I was excited to work with them. To be a part of an organization with people who are passionate about helping families either through support or understanding the Special Education process is more than I could have ever asked for.
Karen Cooper, CFPS, SEAT Certified, Training Specialist
I am the mother of two; Sam and Sarah. Sam was diagnosed as language-delayed at 3 years old and received services starting in pre-school. He was later diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It was very difficult finding the right services and supports for Sam. F.A.C.T. taught me that I needed to educate myself to be the best advocate for my child. I am passionate about sharing knowledge and empowering parents to advocate for their children and realize their best lives.
People First Program
Kelsey Simmonds, People First Advisor
Hi, I’m Kelsey Simmonds and I am very excited to begin my career with F.A.C.T. I have always considered myself as a “helper” so caring for family members that have mobility issues just came naturally. I have worked in direct support of others for what seems like my whole life. I enjoy building relationships with the people I serve and helping them achieve their goals in life. I look forward to helping our members advocate for themselves and achieve their goals.
Educational Advocacy Program
KayCee Machino, SEAT Certified, Advocacy Supervisor
I am the mother of four adult children: two boys and two girls. I spent many years advocating for my sons who both struggled in school with ADHD and learning disabilities. As a parent, it was difficult watching them struggle in school. Often times, I felt alone and unsure of the choices I was making for them and their education. I found F.A.C.T. when my youngest son was in high school. My advocate helped me feel that I was not alone. I joined the F.A.C.T. team in 2013 as an Educational Advocate. It was important for me to be able to share my journey and empower families by giving them the tools they need to be able to effectively advocate for their own child. As the Advocacy Supervisor, it is equally important for me to assist my team in providing quality services to our F.A.C.T. families.
Chelsea Hull, Educational Advocate
Hi. My name is Chelsea Hull. I am a proud Active Duty Navy Spouse and mother of two beautiful children. My son was diagnosed in Kindergarten with Autism Level 1 and ADHD. He also has hyperlexia which can be a gift and a challenge for our family. My daughter also has ADHD and we are still learning more about her needs. I grew up with a mother who was deaf and had a severe heart condition which inspired me to pursue a career in Deaf Education. While I had become familiar with special education populations prior to becoming a mother, learning my children had disabilities still came as a surprise to me. The parent-to-parent support I received from F.A.C.T. and other parent organizations made my journey to help my children reach their fullest potential not only possible but hugely successful. The emotional support involved in advocacy has made all the difference in my life as well. It’s a special honor for me to support other families on their journey to ensure best outcomes for their children.
Amanda Linski, Educational Advocate
Hello! I am a wife, and a mom to a son with a disability. Before becoming an advocate, I spent 12 years as a classroom teacher. As a classroom teacher it was my responsibility to do all I could to ensure each of my students received their right to a free and appropriate education. This belief led me to obtain a master’s degree in Special Education. When my son was diagnosed with his disability, I believed my experience as an educator with a specialization in reading disabilities had me well prepared for advocating for my own child with disabilities. I quicky learned that there was so much I did not know about advocating for children with disabilities. The learning curve was fast and steep.
Over the years I realized that I could use the knowledge I acquired both from teaching and advocating for my son to help support other families facing the same difficulties I have faced as a parent of a child with a disability. The challenges and difficulties I faced advocating for my son has made me a better parent and advocate as I can say to the families I serve: “I get it. I understand. You are not alone. I have been where you are and know firsthand the confusion, frustration, and pain you are feeling. How can I help?” My professional and firsthand experiences enable me to support families in the development of educational plans that allows each child to grow and be successful.
Chrissy Mehrle, CFPS, SEAT Certified, Educational Advocate
Hi, my name is Christine Mehrle and I am blessed to be the mother of four children, all who have some degree of a disability. They all have ADHD; my two oldest have bi-polar, and my youngest son is diagnosed with Asperger’s. As much as my life has been a challenge it has been more of a reward. My children have taught me patience, kindness, and to never judge a book by its cover because there is so much more to the story. At first, taking care of my children was overwhelming, but with a couple of referrals, I was able to find hope at its finest! Now my children are mostly grown and I have the availability to give back all the knowledge and positive energy to the parents I support through F.A.C.T as an Advocate.
Kristen Moore, Educational Advocate
Hi, my name is Kristen Moore and I am so excited to be joining F.A.C.T. I am raising twin daughters who are 11. Mairin has high functioning autism, SPD and ADHD while her sister, Teagen, has SPD, OCD, ADD, Dyslexia and an anxiety disorder. Our adventure began when the girls were 3 and there were some pretty signiﬁcant sensory issues. As they grew and we discovered other diagnoses I began to educate myself on each one and looked for supports and therapies to help the girls be as successful at life as they could be; many times feeling both isolated and driven at the same time. My association with F.A.C.T. started when we sought services through Compass and I met with my own Parent Partner. It was such a relief to know that there was someone that I could talk to who really understood and who also had resources and the knowledge to help connect me with them. Having someone there just for me was such an incredible help! I want to be able to do the same for other parents who may be struggling while trying to do the best for their children. We are our children’s best advocates, so helping parents ﬁnd the resources in order to do just that is my passion.
Mandy Nolan, Educational Advocate
My husband and I are blessed to be parents to two wonderful kids, Cheyenne and Owen. Cheyenne was diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety and PTSD early on and Owen has since been diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, Social Anxiety Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and specific learning disorders. Being told these diagnoses can feel overwhelming and scary. But finding out that we aren’t alone helped give us the encouragement we needed to learn how to advocate and stand up for their rights. This support came from several areas but as a parent, our support came from F.A.C.T. Without our Parent Support Partner’s knowledge and understanding my husband and I would have continued to struggle in how to get our kids the supports they needed. I am excited to help share what I have learned with others and being a part of F.A.C.T as an Educational Advocate.
Denise Waldrop, Eligibility Specialist
My name is Denise Waldrop and I am so excited to be part of the F.A.C.T family. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a master’s degree in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics, and am currently pursuing a second master’s degree in Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology. I am the proud parent of a bright and energetic 7-year-old boy, and happily married to my husband and best friend. My son was born with a birth defect called Pierre Robin Sequence, which is a cleft palate and lower jaw deformity with respiratory distress. Along with his physical disability my son was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, GAD, and SPD before he was 5 years old. I went through a lot of struggles trying to find the right resources and services that met my son’s needs, and at times felt confused, overwhelmed and exhausted. I truly understand the challenges a family faces raising a child with a disability, and I want other families to know that they are not alone in their journey. I strongly believe in F.A.C.T’s mission and values of empowering and mentoring families. Working at F.A.C.T allows me to fulfill my passion of helping families by providing them with the support, encouragement, and the empathy they deserve.
Rose Washington, CFPS, SEAT Certified, Educational Advocate
I graduated in 2014 with an Associates of Applied Sciences in Human Services from St. Charles Community College. I have spent the last thirteen years advocating for and taking care of my nephew. He has been diagnosed with PDD and RAD. I struggled for a few years until I became a customer of F.A.C.T. They taught me how to educate myself and build relationships with persons involved in his education process. Over the years advocating for him has been tough, but with the support and knowledge F.A.C.T. has given me I have blossomed and been empowered to take a stand and advocate with results. I look forward to giving back to my community and helping families be empowered to do the same.
Partnership With Families Program
Cathi Bornhop, CFPS, Parent Support Partner, Partnership With Families, Supervisor
Hello, my name is Cathi Bornhop, I am a proud Mom of 3 (2 girls and 1 boy). One of my daughters was diagnosed as having ADHD along with depression and developmental disabilities. I am excited to be working at F.A.C.T. as a Parent Support Partner. I am sure that there are many parents out there that are overwhelmed and confused over having a child with a severe emotional disability. My goal is to empower parents by identifying the family strengths, guiding them to the resources available to them, and offering parent to parent guidance.
Traci Smith, CFPS, Parent Support Partner, Partnership With Families, Supervisor
My name is Traci Smith, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children Ali, Rylie and Johnny. Since coming to work for F.A.C.T. I have enjoyed working with many families that are going through some of the same struggles I had been through with my own children. Having this opportunity to work for such an amazing organization is a blessing to me. I have always had a passion for helping others and empowering them to be the best they can be. When I am not working I enjoy coaching my children’s sports teams and being outdoors.
Christa Cointin, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
My name is Christa Cointin and I am very excited to join F.A.C.T. as a Parent Support Partner! My husband and I are blessed with 3 great kids, 2 daughters and a son. My older daughter is diagnosed with bipolar and my younger daughter with ADHD. Both girls have depression and generalized anxiety. We utilized FACT services and were grateful to have someone navigate the ups and downs right beside us. The support and guidance at a time when we felt scared, unsure and very alone was invaluable. I believe that no one knows our kids like we do, and I look forward to working alongside parents and being able to offer the benefit of my experience, my support, and understanding. F.A.C.T. has shown me what we can do together and I am glad to have the opportunity to pay it forward!
Jessica Hebb, PWF Parent Support Partner, Franklin County
Hello! My name is Jessica Hebb and I have always been interested in helping others. When I was younger, I wanted to be something important, a doctor, a veterinarian, or a social worker. However, when looking at the scales and picturing my daily life in those occupations, it occurred to me that those unfortunate circumstances where I would not be able to help an individual would really take a toll on me and start to break me down. I needed to find a career that allowed me to help individuals without the risk of losing them.
My husband and I are currently heading down the path of helping our own children get the help that they need. We have 3 beautiful girls: Jesslynn, Kaylee, and Elizabeth. Jesslynn & Kaylee have started their journies with behavioral health services and supports, and through that process, I have found F.A.C.T. and the amazing work that they are doing. The benefits of having a PSP through F.A.C.T. were so advantageous that I needed to step into the role myself and help as many families as possible.
Kim Heister, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
Hello, my name is Kimberly Heister and I am a proud mother of 4 boys who range in age from 23 down to 13. I have both personal and professional experience working with children and families navigating life while navigating a variety of disabilities. One of my favorite quotes is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’m sure almost everyone can relate to this and because life does what life wants, I have learned many lessons in patience and flexibility. I feel blessed to be a part of the F.A.C.T. team where I can help empower families through, encouragement, modeling advocacy, and sharing resources, to reach their unique personal and family goals. “It’s a good life Hazel Grace”
Stacy Johns, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
I am a single mom to a teen who has been diagnosed with Autism and a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis. Having a child with unique challenges has given me a different perspective to parenting than I had planned for. It’s like my favorite poem, “Welcome to Holland.” There is nothing wrong with the new path, it’s just different than what I had expected; but still a beautiful and wonderful journey.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Missouri Baptist University in 2010 and have worked in the elementary setting for eight years. I believe this gives me a very unique perspective. My goal as a Parent Support Partner is to ultimately empower families to find their voice and become an advocate for their children. I believe parents are the ultimate experts on their children and know what is best for them and am excited to guide families in this fantastic journey.
Andrea Lesniewski, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
My name is Andrea Lesniewski, and like many others, I have a child (now an adult) with Mental Health challenges. While we were going through our toughest times, I often wished there was someone that could stand by me and help me to figure everything out that was being thrown at us. I needed someone to direct me when I felt so lost and didn’t always agree with what I was being told I needed to do for my son. I dreamt up this position where I would stand next to the caregiver of a child who was struggling and just be their shoulder and their voice when they needed it. I even started back in school at 38 years old so that I could make that happen. So, to my surprise, when I found FACT was available, I was so elated that this program exists and that I had the qualifications already to be able to do the work. I am looking forward to empowering families to stand their ground and speak up for what they know is right for their child and their families.
Sue Lozen, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
I am proud to say, I am the mother of a beautiful daughter, who is diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety/Depressive Disorder and she is on the Autism Spectrum. She is a young adult now and doing great thanks to all of the supports we have had. F.A.C.T. is one of those supports that has been invaluable! Most supports are geared toward our children, but having a Parent Support Partner helped me be the best mom and advocate I could for my child by learning about my own strengths and finding the supports and resources that fit our family’s needs. I have a passion for helping others. Working as a Parent Support Partner gives me the opportunity to bring some of these same skills I have learned to other overwhelmed parents, like myself.
Michelle Nicolas, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
My name is Michelle Nicolas. I am a mother of two children; my son Ian, 10, and my daughter, Aubree, 16 months. I have also helped raise 3 other children for the past 8 years; Jaiden, 12, Elliott, 10, and Kendall, 8. Jaiden was diagnosed with severe ADD/ADHD, ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder and RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder. She experienced trauma as an infant/young toddler which resulted in the mental health diagnoses we are facing now. My son, Ian, was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety disorder, ADD/ADHD and OCD – Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. Along with my personal experience with my children and their mental health diagnoses, I also have experience from my childhood due to my mother’s diagnoses. She was diagnosed with Bi-Polar/Manic Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia and Suicidal Ideations. Throughout the challenges that these mental health diagnoses have brought, I am a firm believer that there is a lot of growth and strength that have come from them as well. Being a part of F.A.C.T. has given me the opportunity to use my experiences, challenges and successes, to support families and empower them as individuals and as a family.
Melissa Struble, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles and Lincoln Counties
Hello! My name is Melissa Struble. I’m the mom of 4 children; 2 of them are mine and 2 of them I have been lucky enough to be in their lives – I like to call them my bonus kids. My son was diagnosed in middle school with ADD and a learning disability. My daughter was also in middle school when we discovered she has bi-polar, depression, and a learning disability. Both of them had IEPs and/or 504 plans. Trying to work through the system as best I could with no assistance was tough and at times frustrating. So when the opportunity arose for me to be a part of F.A.C.T., I jumped at the chance! I am happy to be able to give back to families to help empower them and do their best for their children.
Christine Vaccaro, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
Hello! My name is Christine Vaccaro and I am the lucky mom to three wonderful boys and one amazing girl. Two of my sons have been diagnosed with emotional and developmental disabilities. Throughout the years, F.A.C.T. has been a huge positive support for me as I learned to navigate the resources available and advocate for my sons so that they could be successful in life. I am looking forward to helping other parents feel empowered to help their children be successful.
Darlene Whited, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, Franklin County
Hello! My name is Darlene Whited and I am a mother of a beautiful daughter who has learning disabilities. I had to learn to advocate for her needs while working through issues with school, doctors and peers, while being able to handle my own insecurities at that time. She is now a very successful adult and mother of a child with disabilities which, together, we have been able to learn the skills needed for wins in his life as well. I’m excited to join the FACT team as a Parent Support Partner to be able to inspire others to achieve their goals and support the Franklin County community as needed.
Rita Whitten, PWF Parent Support Partner, Franklin and St. Charles Counties
I am so excited and humbled to be a part of the F.A.C.T. team. It is truly a dream job for me! I have been given the honor to be a mother in many ways. I am a legal guardian to my niece, a birth mother to one, a biological mom to 2, and a bonus mom to 4, incredible and beautiful babies. There have been many events in my life that have prepared me for this role. Living with ADHD my whole life and having a child of my own that lives with social and emotional delays has helped me to find my natural passions in advocacy, and the ability to effortlessly give support, empathy, and connection to anyone who crosses my path. I look forward to this new journey with other parents in supporting them and learning alongside them.
Randi Wilson, CFPS, PWF Parent Support Partner, St. Charles and Lincoln Counties
My name is Randi Wilson. I am the mother of one son named Anthony. Our journey started when he was around 2 years old. I noticed he was not speaking any words and basically pointing and grunting to communicate. He has been diagnosed with a speech disability, general learning disability, anxiety disorder, communication disorder, social deficits, depression, ODD, and several other diagnoses. Through working with a counselor from Compass Health Network, I was introduced to F.A.C.T. and my Parent Support Partner. I was struggling to deal and cope with everything going on with my child. The Partnership with Families program helped me develop the skills and understanding to work through the challenges instead of feeling depressed and isolated. I am excited and thrilled to now be working at F.A.C.T. and have the ability to help other parents understand and navigate through their own struggles and journey.
Family Support Program
Christine Kennett, CFPS, Parent Support Partner, Family Support Program, Supervisor
I am the proud parent of two young men, John and Nicholas. The youngest, Nicholas, was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome as soon as he was born. I was suddenly thrown into a world that I knew nothing about. Having two wonderful children with very different needs was difficult. I had a hard time finding someone who not only could understand what I was going through, but also who could relate to how different my life had become. I found that the more I could learn about my children’s different abilities the better I felt. I strongly believe in the values at F.A.C.T. and hope to live up to them every day. I can empathize with families that have children with disABILITIES and hope that my personal experiences with my own family may empower another family in the same way that I have been empowered.
Carol Otten, CFPS, Parent Support Partner, Family Support Program, Supervisor
My name is Carol Otten, and I am pleased to be working with F.A.C.T. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Columbia College. I have two great sons, Jonathon and Matthew. My oldest son, Jonathon, was diagnosed with a genetic brain disease when he was 18 months old that has resulted in multiple disabilities. Navigating through the school system has taught me how to be strong. Helping him grow and develop through the years has given me passion to help children with disabilities reach their full potential throughout the many phases of their lives and to empower and support their parents. I am pleased to have been working at F.A.C.T. for over 10 years.
Jennifer Brimer, CFPS, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
I am the mother of 2 boys, Elijah and Lee. Elijah was diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy and Asperger’s among other diagnoses. Lee was diagnosed with a rare chromosome micro duplication. After having Elijah, I found myself with little emotional support, no resources and an unsure view of our future. It wasn’t until I came across others going through similar situations that I learned to navigate my way through this new world I was thrown into. I have met many parents while sitting in waiting rooms who like me at one time, had no support, no resources, and an unsure view of their future. When I learned about this amazing organization called F.A.C.T., I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of their team to help and provide support to parents trying to navigate through the system.
Ann Buehrig, CFPS, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
I am a wife and proud mother of 2 wonderful young men. Nick and Jacob are both on the spectrum. Learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and depression have also been considered. They have had many difficulties in school and a lot of challenges in everyday life. When my youngest was a senior in high school, I was introduced to F.A.C.T. I was a client with this organization for over 4 years. The help and guidance of my Parent Support Partner taught me how to be the best advocate I could be for my sons. I am so excited to be working for F.A.C.T. I want to give back the knowledge that I have learned. I want to help empower parents that are going through similar situations and help them overcome obstacles like our family has encountered over the years.
Katelyn Davis, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Charles and Warren Counties
Hi! My name is Katelyn Davis, and I am overjoyed to start my journey with F.A.C.T. I am the mother of a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with Angelman syndrome and Von Hippel Lindau. Advocating for my son has taught me not to settle for less. I have been my sons full time advocate since his birth, advocating with different schools, programs, and agencies. I cannot wait to use these skills and knowledge to help empower families and individuals alike in their community. Just like I never settled for less with my son, I intend to provide that same effort with any families and/or individuals that need support.
Sharon Ellis, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
My name is Sharon Ellis. I am very excited to be working at F.A.C.T. I am the mom to 4 amazing kids. Paige is 26 and has given me 3 spectacular grandchildren. Being a grandma is the best gift that God has given me. Austin is 21, and then I have twin boys that are 18. The twins were born at 29 weeks gestationally. They were in the NICU for a very long 6 weeks. While in the NICU, doctors tell you that your child will never accomplish many things. When it came time for the boys to be in elementary school, we noticed that there were signs of developmental issues with 1 of the boys. So, I came to F.A.C.T. and they empowered me to fight for the rights of my son. After that 1st meeting everything changed. The school district was amazing and worked very hard to give him the services that would help him succeed in school. He did and he graduated this past school year with a GPA of 2.0. I was the proudest mom in that auditorium.
Sheila Holt-Leach, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Louis County and City
I am the proud mother of 3 amazing children. I have 1 daughter and 2 sons. I am enthusiastic about being a part of the F.A.C.T. team. My journey began when my oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, and Speech and Language Impairments at an early age and started receiving services in 1st grade. Later he also received a mental health diagnosis. Feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, not knowing what to do next, or who to turn to, or if anyone understood or even cared what I was going through, was very challenging. One of my favorite sayings that is so true to my situation is “It takes a village to raise a child!” I am thankful to my supportive family and friends, and the many doctors and specialists that helped me along the way. Without an awesome team I couldn’t have done this by myself. My experience taught me self-advocacy, patience, passion for others and perseverance. It’s very rewarding to be able to help mentor and empower families through my job here at F.A.C.T.
Dianna Hyndman, CFPS, FSP, Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
Hello, my name is Dianna Hyndman. I am the mother of two amazing children. My daughter, Lauren is 26 and happily married in Tennessee. My son, Alex, is 24 and was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum in middle school, after many years of seeking help through the school district, doctors and therapists. Receiving that diagnosis was a pivotal turning point for our family. He is now in his last year of college at Southwest Missouri and living a more independent life than I could have ever dreamed. I hope to help encourage, support and empower other parents and families in their journey to help their child to hope, live and dream.
Tamara Jones, FSP, Parent Support Partner, St. Charles & St. Louis Counties & St. Louis City
Hello, my name is Tamara Jones, and I am the proud mother of two beautiful daughters. Kayla is 24 years old and is an amazing big sister to Hailey who is 11. Hailey is diagnosed with an intellectual disability. We traveled constantly due to my previous career, and I had to learn very quickly how to advocate on Hailey’s behalf. The experiences that I have encountered has given me the tools and the grace to accept any circumstance as a challenge that we can overcome and find a solution for. I am elated to be a part of the FACT family. I am honored to be able to assist other parents in using their voice to get the resources to fit their family’s unique needs.
Brandi Palmer, CFPS, FSP Parent Support Partner, Jefferson County
Hi, my name is Brandi Palmer! I’m married with one son, Ethan. I understand how difficult it is to have a child with challenges. Ethan was diagnosed at age 3 with severe ADHD in 2005, and then in 2008 diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It was very difficult finding the right services and supports for him in Jefferson County. I had to find a lot of resources on my own. I decided to educate myself for Ethan’s success, so I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2011 and then my Master’s degree in Psychology in 2013. I’m very excited to have found F.A.C.T. so I can share my knowledge and give back to families with children with challenges.
Chantel Pekarcik, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Charles County
My name is Chantel Pekarcik and I am the mother of three amazing children. My oldest son, now a young adult, was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome shortly after birth, then Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD by age 6. I understand how isolating and lonely it can be when dealing with the medical and educational aspects of having a child with a developmental disability. It became my passion to make sure other families and caregivers never felt alone on their journey. As a result, I earned a B.S. degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. My dream has been to partner with families and walk alongside them in order to provide support and encouragement. After discovering F.A.C.T, and learning of the many services they provide, I knew I wanted to be a part of this team.
Kelly Simmons, CFPS, FSP Parent Support Partner, St. Louis County and City
Hello, my name is Kelly Simmons, I am the mother of two ( 1 young man and 1 young lady). My daughter, my youngest, was diagnosed with developmental disabilities. I look forward to working at F.A.C.T. As a parent of a child with a disability I know the struggles a parent faces and how overwhelmed you can get; especially when you feel all alone. I hope to be able to give each and every parent the strength and guidance they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel empowered in my role as a Parent Support Partner.