I began working with law partner and past SNA president Ed Wilcenski, in 2004. Working with Ed offered me an introduction to special needs law very early in my legal career. My passion for this area of the law was solidified when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) just before his 4th birthday. Now that he is 19 and in college, a new phase is upon us where we are thinking much further into the future; what that looks like, and how his sister might be a part. A stage so many families have navigated and others just beginning to navigate. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a firm that allows me to be a better mother to and advocate for my son, and being a mother has made be a better lawyer in this space.

I would describe my work as multi-faceted. The field of special needs planning is a highly specialized and personalized field that combines legal, financial, and advocacy aspects to enhance the quality of life and financial security of individuals with disabilities and their families. The practice requires a deep understanding of the applicable estate and trust laws, government benefit programs, and a commitment to creating tailored solutions that address the unique needs of each individual and their family.

We need you. This is an unbelievably rewarding but also challenging area of practice. Demographics show disability diagnoses are on the rise and more and more families are focusing on the future care of their loved ones, both young and old. Our national system for this care is already under immense pressure and that pressure will only grow as the existing population ages. Many practitioners shy away from this area of practice because of its complexities and the need for expertise in a variety of different domains, and while that is true it is also an area of practice where we can make a profound difference in the lives of our clients.

Advocacy; having frank and open discussions at the state and federal level about the failures of the service delivery system. We often hear something is too big and thus not able to be changed, but we can’t be agents for change if we don’t talk about the issues and give more than lip service to possible solutions. Many families are struggling with aging and disability, they fear the future and the lives that await their loved ones who cannot support or advocate for themselves. Focus comes on these issues when it is politically expedient or when there is crisis, but the sustained and targeted forward thinking policy discussions on the national political stage don’t seem yet to be happening, and they need to happen. Soon.

My ideal way to spend a Saturday is being outside, in the woods, preferably hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. There is a special kind of peace and beauty in the mountains of upstate New York, and if I can get my family on board for day hike, then all the better.

I have a several “favorite” movies, most of them involve sports. If I had to choose one, I would choose Field of Dreams. It blends together baseball history (which I love), the tranquility of farm country (which I also love), and the theme of loss. I have always loved this movie, but found myself loving it more after my dad passed away in 2015. New York sports, specifically the Yankees and NY football Giants were our thing. When I was young, in addition to being fortunate enough to attend many football and baseball games, my dad took me to an event where I met Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. I have been student of baseball history ever since. The movie at its core is really an exploration of the impact of losing your dad, and finding a way to reconnect with him, even if to do so means going broke to build a baseball field on a farm in Iowa…But hey, if I could play catch with my dad again, I would build one too…