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PEATC, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center
Assisting families of children with special needs since 1978
Girl on horseback with many ribbons

PEATC Board of Directors

PEATC is governed by a culturally and geographically diverse Board that includes a majority membership of parents of children with a full range of disabilities. Members also include professionals in related fields, self-advocates, university representatives, legal and business experts.

If you are interested in joining the board of directors, please complete this form and email it to partners@peatc.org or mail to:

PEATC
100 N washington Street, Suite 234
Falls Church, VA 22046

Vanessa Rakestraw

Vanessa Rakestraw

, President of the Board


Vanessa is employed as a disability policy analyst with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. She has been employed by this Department in the position of vocational rehabilitation counselor for persons with disabilities and as a long-term rehabilitation case manager for persons with severe physical disabilities. As a person with a disability, Vanessa has experienced both sides of the disability services system. She knows firsthand about some of the issues that students with disabilities face. She also knows about the service areas that are designed to address those issues. She is also familiar with what is working and with what is not. She views PEATC as an instrument of change that will help to improve these services. She believes that she has the knowledge and skills to assist PEATC in creating that change. Vanessa resides in Richmond.

Anne Carson

Anne Carson

, Vice President of the Board


Anne is the Immediate Past President of the Virginia Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and serves on the National PTA Nominating and Leadership Development Committee. She is the proud mother of 3 sons; one a 20 year old who has specific learning disabilities and is now attending college and utilizing a 504 Plan. She also spends a lot of time with her brother's family in Fairfax County that has 6 year old with Down syndrome. Anne is committed to her family and the PTA vision of Making Every Childs Potential a Reality. Anne has a BS degree with a background in Human Resources. She lives in the Central Virginia Region where in addition to volunteering with the PTA, she currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Children's Museum of Richmond, and was appointed by the Governor and State Superintendent to serve on the Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center Advisory Board for 5 years. Anne is currently working in the public school system.

Timothy Johnson

Timothy Johnson

, Treasurer of the Board


Timothy Johnson ("Tim") is an attorney in the Northern Virginia area who represents children with disabilities and their parents in special education matters. He moved to Fairfax County after working in New York city and New Jersey as a lay-advocate before being admitted to the state bars, then as an attorney representing parents and their children in special education disputes. Growing up with two siblings with specific learning disabilities, and his mother who was a member of a special education legal advocacy group, provided Tim the encouragement to remain involved in special education issues throughout his career. He has a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison University where he majored in Justice Studies: Criminology, and obtained his Juris Doctorate at New York Law School. He is married to a Fairfax County Public School elementary school general education teacher.

Barbara Tate

Barbara Tate

, Secretary of the Board


Barbara was born and raised in Northern, Virginia. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Behavior Analysis. Barbara is a human services-board certified practitioner and certified as an Employment Specialist through the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE). Barbara is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) through APSE and has completed all of her training and supervision for a behavior analyst. Barbara has extensive experience with budgets, conducts program audits, develops local partnerships, and ensures compliance with local jurisdictions and agencies, as well as, CARF. Barbara also has a plethora of experience in policy development, staff training, program oversight, and community outreach, along with experience working with mental health, intellectually disabled, and homeless populations to assist with behavior change, employment, and housing services.

Troy Bryant

Troy Bryant

, Board Member


Troy Bryant is a native North Carolinian, but currently lives in Richmond, VA with his wife and four children. He has been an engineer and union representative with CSX Transportation for over 20 years. Also, he serves as a member on the SEAC for Henrico County Public Schools. His youngest son has a learning disability. He has a passion for helping parents navigate through the Special Education process. He believes all children and young adults deserve the right to an appropriate education, regardless of the challenge.

Jack Merenda

Jack Merenda

, Board Member


Jack presently serves as the Pastor of Care and Counseling at Immanuel Bible, a large church in Fairfax County, Virginia. He attended Orange Coast Community College (AA), Biola University (BA), and Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University (MA, Psy.D.). In 1992, Jack received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology, on the campus of Biola University. He became a licensed clinical psychologist in 1994, and since 1999 has also served as a pastor of care and counseling. In the course of his work at Immanuel's care and counseling, he serves a variety of people including families of children with disabilities. He has been married for 25 years. His wife is taking Masters Coursework in Special Education in adapted curriculum. They both are intent on serving families of children with disabilities. The Merenda’s have three children. Their third-born, Nathan, is 15 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Hoang Phan

Hoang Phan

, Board Member


Hoang Phan--Hoang is a student and a passionate self-advocate. He is the Best Buddies Buddy Director at Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is also a member of the Best Buddies Virginia Advisory Board. In addition to his work on behalf of the Best Buddies organization, he has participated in fundraising activities for Vietnamese children.

Michael Winget-Hernandez

Michael Winget-Hernandez

, Board Member


Michael is an attorney who works together with his wife, Lelia, in her estate planning firm in Zion Crossroads, Virginia. Together, they serve primarily working families with children, including children with special needs. Madeleine, their daughter, has special needs and is the inspiration for the special needs trust planning they do as an important part of their law practice. Michael is from Texas, where he spent many years in public service as an assistant attorney general. Michael also serves on the board of directors of Lafayette School, a school in Zion Crossroads which serves children in K-12 with emotional and intellectual disabilities who are referred to them by Virginia public school districts. He also serves on the board of the Louisa Arts



8003 Forbes Place, Suite 310
Springfield, VA 22151
703-923-0010 (phone)
800-869-6782 (toll free)

Copyright © 2017 PEATC - Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center. All rights reserved.

Content on this site was produced, in part, with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education, under CFDA # 84.328M, #84.310A, and #84.235F. The content herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Education, any other agency of the U.S. government, or any other source.

PEATC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to building positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Our special focus is children with disabilities. You can reach PEATC by calling 703-923-0010 (Voice/TTY), or sending an e-mail to partners@peatc.org.

Celebrating 30 Years of Building Better Futures for Virginia's Children

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