Diane Cooper-Gould – President
Diane Cooper-Gould is the mother of two special needs / twice exceptional children. Early in her family’s special needs journey, she realized that the greatest support and guidance she received was from other special needs parents who had, like her, been navigating the trenches through trial and error. She found that no matter the child’s need, the super-hero parents were often feeling overwhelmed and alone. Her desire to connect, educate, empower and support special needs parents led her to found a Special Needs Parent Support Group online in 2013. The group now has over 175 members on two continents.
In the fall of 2015, realizing how many local parents felt confused about the best ways to support, enable and advocate for their children, Diane began searching for a way to bring parents together to form a collective voice and enhance their ability to provide services and support to their families and each other. After some wonderful guidance from a friend at Arlington SEPTA, the idea for a Fairfax County SEPTA was born! Simultaneously, Diane started the Special Education Committee for her local school PTA, which she currently chairs.
Diane and her husband both have dyslexia, and both graduated from the FCPS Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Diane received her BA in Drama from the University of Virginia. Prior to being a full-time special needs mom, Diane worked as an actress, choreographer, and teacher of acting, stage combat, and dance. Previous board positions include serving as both at-large member and president of her HOA. Diane’s favorite coping strategy is gallows humor.
Brooke Varma – President Elect
Brooke Varma, LCSW received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from George Mason University and her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University where she was also the recipient of VCU’s Social Justice Award. Her passion for the disability community has guided her professional career as a case manager with Brain Injury Services and an Education Specialist supporting the IEP process for children with special needs and their families. Brooke’s genuine love for, and understanding of, advocacy has led her to have a prominent role in local and statewide advocacy efforts. Brooke has served on the Board of Directors for the Arc of Northern Virginia and was the recipient of the 2016 Martha Glennan Disability Inclusion and Equality Award. In addition to her professional passion for the disability community, Brooke has an older brother with Down syndrome and is the mother of a child with apraxia – giving her a unique personal perspective as she works directly with clients and supports the disability community as a whole.
Lindsay Latham – Secretary
Lindsay Latham is excited to be a founding member of the first Fairfax County Special Education PTA. Her son started special education pre-k in September and has seen first hand what a fantastic program Fairfax County has for our children. In the short time that her son has been in the school system, he has been given the tools to grow with his peers and provided “a voice” through an AAC device. The position of Secretary seemed like a natural fit with her background and years of experience as a Stage Manager in theatre. She is currently the Operations Manager for Barbizon Lighting Company-Capitol in Alexandria, Virginia. She also serves as the Secretary for PMG Awareness Organization. Thank you for your consideration as the Secretary of Fairfax County SEPTA.
Ami Todd – Treasurer
Ami Todd is a military wife and mother of a little girl with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, currently enrolled in special education pre-k in Fairfax County. Her daughter’s complicated medical history gives her a unique perspective on therapies, instruction, and health care. She is involved in several organizations benefiting military families and special education. Ami is currently volunteering as a patient advocate for children with intellectual disabilities and complex medical issues, including for insurance negotiations and IEP advocacy. She is also passionate about educating special needs parents about available resources within the community. Mrs. Todd graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Classics and History. She later pursued a Masters of History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. After a brief stint as a professor she moved into finance as a pension-investment and benefits manager with clients around the country. Mrs. Todd left the world of finance to focus on her daughter and pursue volunteer opportunities.