2021-2022 Board & Delegates

SEPTA Officers | SEPTA Committee Chairs & Delegates

SEPTA Officers

SEPTA's 2019-2020 President, Michelle Cades, stands in front of a flowering tree wearing a bright blue short sleeve shirt.President – Michelle Cades
Michelle Cades is honored continue serving as President of SEPTA for the third year. She previously served as SEPTA’s first liaison to the ACSD (Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities). She has dedicated her adult life to working with children with disabilities and their families. Michelle earned her MA in learning disabilities and taught students in Alexandria City Schools and at the Katherine Thomas School. She then earned her MSW and focused her social work practice on this population, working at KTS, Congregation Beth Emeth, Capital Camps, Matan, and USY.

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With three children who are all twice-exceptional and have various chronic health diagnoses, Michelle’s professional life merged with her personal life as she now primarily spends her time case managing her kids who are completing 7th grade at Rachel Carson MS, 11th grade at Chantilly HS, and freshman year at the University of Vermont (remote campus in Herndon, VA!). When on a “brain break” from special ed, Michelle enjoys reading, creating with her hands (crochet, baking, mosaics), playing mahjong, and cheering on the Washington Capitals and Chantilly ice hockey team with her husband, Andy, and training her somewhat ADHD dog, Cosmo.

Vice President – Amanda Campbell
Amanda Campbell is honored to serve as SEPTA’s Vice President for the 2021 – 2022 school year.  Amanda is a charter member of Fairfax County SEPTA and has served as SEPTA’s Communications Chair/co-chair for the past 2 years. Amanda is a graduate of Penn State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Music Education (K-12). During her time at Penn State, she had her first experience in the non-profit world as an intern with the National Symphony Orchestra Education Dept. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After graduation, Amanda began teaching elementary general music in districts in Pennsylvania and then Virginia.

When the U.S. Air Force moved her family to Idaho, Amanda re-entered the non-profit world, working in multiple capacities – including administration, education, marketing, and performing – for Opera Idaho.  While in Idaho, Amanda also volunteered with the Mountain Home AFB Officers’ Spouses Club – serving on their board as Editor and Webmaster – and as a Key Spouse for the 366th Communications Squadron. Amanda currently teaches music classes for children (and their grown-ups) ages 0-5 through the Music Together curriculum and has also recently served as a substitute teacher in FCPS.

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Amanda’s family permanently relocated to Northern Virginia in 2011.  When her daughter was 10 months old, their pediatrician referred them to Infant and Toddler Connection for evaluation and they began their experience with special education services.  A few years later, they did genetic testing and found that their daughter has a rare genetic disorder that is responsible for her global developmental delays.  Through experiences with ChildFind preschool, Amanda met one of SEPTA’s founding members who encouraged her to get involved with the organization. Along with communications, Amanda is also very involved in advocacy – both as an individual and with SEPTA.  Her advocacy to date primarily focuses on speech-language services – including advocating for improving the Student-to-SLP ratio in the county – and assistive technology services, specifically augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) advocacy.

Born and raised outside of Buffalo, NY, Amanda is also an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres – and, of course, chicken wings (and sponge candy!). When she’s not singing or working with SEPTA, you’re most likely to find Amanda planning the next family Disney adventure.  With Disney’s incredible accessibility services, there’s no better place to “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy!”

Headshot of 2019-2020 SEPTA Treasurer, Rich Hem.Treasurer – Rich Hem
Rich Hem is a graduate of Michigan State University and the father of two twice-exceptional (2E) boys, currently enrolled in middle school and high school in FCPS. Rich has over 20 years of senior management experience working in the non-profit/association industry, responsible for multi-million dollar annual capital and operational budgets. He has experience implementing accounting and financial reporting systems and has led multiple business intelligence projects. 

Prior to his involvement with SEPTA, Rich served four years as President and two years as Treasurer of the Michigan State University Alumni Club of Washington DC.

Secretary – Stephanie Smith
Stephanie Smith received a BA in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. She worked as a staffer on Capitol Hill for seven years and then moved to Africa to work on US government supported programs promoting democracy and governance in several developing governments. After seven years of this work she left the workforce when her son was born.  When her son was diagnosed with autism at two and a half she immersed herself in finding him all the resources available.  As he entered the school system through the preschool program she has tried to learn all she could about the IEP process and trying to navigate the education system.  She is especially interested in the inclusion classes and supports available to special education students in the general education classes.

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Stephanie has been an active volunteer at her son’s school, Rose Hill ES, and has served as Secretary and Special Education liaison on the board of the PTA for the past two years.  She introduced and manages a special education parent group sharing resources and hosting events between parents and staff.  She has also worked with staff at the school to develop a buddy program and hold a Walk in My Shoes event.

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SEPTA Committee Chairs & Delegates

Committee Chairs

Advocacy – Diane Cooper Gould
Awards – Jenn Benecke
Communications – Helen Minor & Luis Larrazabal
Educator Committee – Amy LaCrosse (seeking Co-Chair)
Events & Programming
– Cheri Belkowitz
Membership & Outreach – Lenora Gumbs
Mini-Grants: Lauren McCaughey
Reflections – Jenn Benecke
SpEd Liaisons – Kate Volpe
Twice Exceptional (2E) Committee – Emily Haeckel (seeking Co-Chair)
Underserved Populations* – Margaret Behrns
Volunteers – Cathy Greulich

*Committee name change TBA

Delegates & Liaisons to Other Organizations

Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities
Ally Baldassari

Arlington SEPTA

Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA)
Michelle Cades (SEPTA Liaison to FCCPTA)
Larry Mills (FCCPTA Liaison to SEPTA)

Prince William SEPTA

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