Tell us about YOU!! I graduated undergraduate with a degree in Psychology and Communication and went straight to law school. Early on in law school, I knew I did not want to practice in the traditional sense. My focus was heavily on mediation, and issues related to children. After law school, I went to work for the State of Massachusetts in the Office of Dispute Resolution, where we trained all state agencies in the Commonwealth on alternative dispute resolution. I also became a certified facilitator. From there I pivoted into law school administration and student based services, which I loved. I worked at several area law schools in career services. I enjoyed the counseling aspect of my work as well as teaching and training. I took a break after beginning a family, but continued to assist privately with resume and cover letter support; and then after some time off went to transition back into the work world full time. I wanted back into education, but not necessarily at the law school level as I also desired flexibility and work/life balance so I could continue to care for my family. I has 3 beautiful children and wanted very much to be there for them. I found that my law school degree was the biggest hurdle and block to every position. Over and over I would get to the final stage of the interview process and then that would be the no. In the meantime, I had begun substitute teaching and was often placed in special education. I myself had first hand experience working with (battling) the school system for services for my oldest and youngest child. I knew firsthand how complicated and frustrating the process could be. I decided to embrace the very thing that was getting in my way…. I reached out to a former student, who I knew practiced education law. It all came full circle. All my past experience and knowledge led me right to this point. In 2018, I joined ECALS, LLC. I work as an educational advocate and attorney, helping parents and families navigate the complex world of special education, disability law and other school related issues.
What makes you different/stand out in your industry? The philosophy and approach of our office is unique to others. We function much more like an advocate and do not rush to litigation. We work collaboratively with the team, including the parents and the school. We find that educating our parents and families, while preserving the relationship with the school district is more beneficial to all, when possible. We are dedicated to making sure students have the education they need and have a right to receive. We represent clients in a variety of areas: IEP/504 review and consultation; we attend and participate in Team meetings, suspension/expulsion hearings; we attend dispute resolution sessions; provide trainings in education law matter; and have experience in evaluation and assessment review.
What do your clients love about you? My clients love that my presence at meetings lowers their stress and anxiety levels and that they feel like an equal member of the team. I think they appreciate that I am responsive, knowledgeable and that I listen to their concerns. I provide them with information and involve them in the process so they learn along the way. Each client is unique in the level of support they want or need. I think good communication allows me to tailor that support to each family and parent individually.
What is the best advice you can share with others? Document!!!! Good documentation is key to this process. Not only your own documentation and systems for organizing for yourself, but also learning the skill of documenting things back to the school or other people involved in the process.
How has the Women’s Business League helped you? There are a number of ways I feel that WBL has helped me. The first, is feeling empowered in getting back in the saddle so to speak. I think that after being home for so long, that imposter syndrome definitely was a reality for me. When I first joined WBL, I was in the tri-town chapter and cannot say enough about the women there and the connections that I made. I learned a lot and felt really encouraged and motivated to get back at it. It helped me feel strong enough to overcome the doubt and other obstacles. I had my own personal obstacles as well and my come back into the work world got side-tracked and then there was shifting to overcome school shutdowns and a potential lack of work since my whole job is tied to public schools. I had to shift and pivot and look into other sources of income. During that time, I became connected socially with the Ipswich Chapter, whixh came just at the right time while feeling so isolated. As I began working again, their meeting times worked better for my new schedule. The support from the Ipswich Chapter as I stumbled through this weird time and re-launch has been truly inspiring. I was a sorority girl and sometimes just having another group of women in your corner, cheering you on, accepting you just as you are AND supporting you just because is truly transformational. It has a huge impact on my growth both individually and in my business.