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PEATC, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center
Assisting families of children with special needs since 1978
Girl on the beach

Who's Who at PEATC

PEATC is staffed by a talented and diverse group of parents and professionals committed to building better futures for children with disabilities by working collaboratively with families, schools and professionals who serve them, to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life.

Suzanne Bowers

Suzanne Bowers

, Executive Director


Suzanne Bowers brings a wealth of expertise to the role of Executive Director. She taught elementary school for five years before becoming an Educational Advocate for military and civilian families, as well as her own children. She changed her career path in order to dedicate her talents to helping families of children with special needs. She brings a rich background in education, administration, management, training, and advocacy. Suzanne is the proud mother of four children, two of whom have special needs. She served on the Virginia State Special Education Advisory Committee for four years as the Vice Chair and the as the Chair of the Policy and Regulations committee. Suzanne serves on the Virginia State Rehabilitation Council an is very active in her community as a volunteer in the schools.

Nichole Drummond

Nichole Drummond

, Deputy Director


Nichole Drummond, a senior PEATC staff member, brings both executive managerial expertise and program development skills to the organization. With great proficiency, she serves as PEATC Deputy Director. In her management role, Nichole carries to completion program, office and staff management with an indispensable sense of humor. Nichole also directs PEATC’s Family Engagement, Court Involved Youth and Anti-Poverty initiatives which provides school districts and PTA’s with practical partnership strategies that bolster student learning and success through life. Using research-based materials, Nichole facilitates the development of engagement plans that increase families’ involvement in their children’s academic efforts through home and school activities at the decision-making level. Throughout Virginia, Nichole spreads the word that families are not needy – they are needed. Nichole serves on both the Virginia Department of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services State Rehabilitation Council. She also serves at her church and volunteers at the Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton Volunteer Fire Department in Woodbridge, VA. Nichole has a Bachelor's of Science in Human Services and and is continuing her graduate studies in Education. Nichole is the proud momma of three beautiful children, two with learning disabilities. A trained chef and event planner, Nichole somehow finds time to cater small parties (she considers 50 people small!) and conducts culinary classes for adults.

Kristin Kane

Kristin Kane

, Family Support Specialist


Area of Expertise: Specific Learning Disabilities

Kristin Kane is the mother of three and has a BS in Psychology from Kutztown University. She is an active advocate for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in the Virginia public schools and the Washington DC area. Kristin helped found the Decoding Dyslexia Virginia movement and collaborates with other parents, educators, school administrators and organizations such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the International Dyslexia Association on parent outreach and education efforts. Kristin is a local Loudon County, VA Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) representative for two schools and has participated as a parent with the VA State SEAC. She was a presenter at the Decoding Dyslexia Social Media Conference sponsored by Learning Ally and made possible by a grant from the Tremaine Foundation where she trained parents from across the country on how to use social media for grassroots advocacy and has served on a panel with Pete Wright to help raise Dyslexia awareness in Richmond, VA. Upon being certified as a Parent Collaborative leader through the Virginia Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) in June of 2014, she knew that the philosophy and mission of the VA state parent center was a place she could help make a positive difference in the lives of VA’s families with special needs.

Stephanie Hicks

, Family Support Specialist


Stephanie is originally from Virginia Beach and attended college is Los Angeles. She has a B.S. in business and an M.S. in administration. Neither of these degrees prepared her to raise two special needs children so she has spent the past ten years attending as many training opportunities as possible. Stephanie’s special areas of interest are twice exceptional students and adoptive families. She has been a presenter at the international conference of Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted. She has experience working with public, private and homeschool families seeking to meet the unique needs of this group of students.
Stephanie has been involved with non-profits as either a volunteer or an employee for more than twenty years. She has especially enjoyed volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and serving on the Albemarle County Special Education Advisory Committee. She is passionate about her family, community, and connecting people with one another and with services they can use. She shares her life and home with her husband, two children, and two extremely affectionate Goldendoodles. In her free time, she loves to read, travel and snuggle her dogs.

Alexis Richardson

Alexis Richardson

, Administrative Coordinator


Alexis Richardson provides support to the PEATC team as the Administrative Coordinator. She received her Associates degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Marketing and Business from Syracuse University. She has an extensive background of 6 plus years in Administration and Marketing fields. With a Military background, Alexis has traveled the world and embraces her outgoing and bubbly personality. She enjoys hiking and going to national parks with her husband and their son, Declan. Alexis and her family reside in Falls Church, Virginia.

Tammy Burns

Tammy Burns

, Family Support Specialist


Tammy was born in North Carolina and moved to Virginia at the end of middle school. She received her BA from Virginia Tech in Elementary Education - let’s go HOKIES! Tammy began her career as an elementary school teacher in Chesterfield County. She attended many IEP meetings as a teacher, but then in 2000 when her middle son Jared was diagnosed with autism, Tammy experienced IEPs from the “other side of the table.” Because of this, Tammy then decided to go back to school and pursue her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree with a concentration on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from Arizona State. Since that time, she has been involved in many leadership positions with disability related nonprofits, and served on several local and state stakeholder and advocacy groups. Tammy also graduated from Virginia’s Partners in Policy-making program where she developed a very successful IEP Boot Camp for parents as her culminating project. Tammy is a certified Sibshop leader and has served as the Chair of the Chesterfield County Special Education Advisory Committee.
Tammy is passionate about empowering individuals with disabilities and their parents/guardians with the knowledge and tools that they need to be successful advocates. Tammy and her husband Troy live in Midlothian, VA (outside of Richmond), and have three children – Brett, Jared, and Amber. In her free time, Tammy enjoys spending time at the beach, going on motorcycle rides with her husband, and reading suspense novels.

Tina Norris

Tina Norris

, Family Engagement Specialist


Area of Expertise: Family Engagement

Tina Norris brings years of experience working with children, adolescents and families to her position at PEATC. Tina is responsible for developing and managing the family engagement initiative and is passionate about empowering families through education and advocacy. Tina is a skilled trainer in bullying prevention, puberty and family engagement. As a parent who has guided her own children through the elaborate education system she believes that family engagement is essential for the success of all children. Her expertise and practical approach allows her to establish collaborative relationships with schools, communities and advocacy organizations as an avenue to strengthen family engagement within our communities and schools. She is a Certified Bullying Prevention Specialist and a member of the Family Engagement Network, National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement, International Bullying Prevention Association and the American School Counselors Association.

Keri Peko

Keri Peko

, Military Outreach Specialist


Keri founded MASC, the first Tricare approved, not-for-profit applied behavior analysis and family support provider, in 2005 to serve the Hampton Roads area of southeast Virginia. She assisted the center’s clients by providing in-home parent training and advocacy during IEP meetings while managing the business. Her 18 year- old daughter with severe autism inspired Keri to address the needs of children with autism in her community. Keri has had the opportunity to meet with senior military leadership, members of Congress, and health care industry leaders to address autism and the impact it has on military readiness. The Peko family has lived all over the United States but has been in Chesapeake for 15 years. Keri’s husband currently serves our country in the U.S. Navy and has for 27 years.

Arianna Sweeney

Arianna Sweeney

, Bilingual Family Support Specialist


Area of Expertise: Latino Outreach

Arianna Sweeney provides outreach to Latino community in her position at PEATC. She earned a Bachelors degree in Humanity and Science from Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied Foreign Languages with a concentration in Spanish. Arianna has previous experience working as a certified translator and interpreter at VCU Medical center and NVFS. While working at the Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) in DC, she learned the importance of intercultural communication and enjoys working with the local Hispanic community in the DC/Northern VA regions. She volunteers at different institutions and organizations, such as the El Poder de Ser Mujer (Empowerment group for women) in support of all women but with a special focus on the local Hispanic women in the DMV area. Arianna's connection to PEATC and Special Education is based upon having supported her parents advocating for her little sister that has ADHD and dyslexia. Arianna looks forward in providing a service that specifically supports the Hispanic communities throughout Virginia with the special focus on special education resources.

Lizzett Uria

Lizzett Uria

, Bilingual Outreach Specialist


Area of Expertise: Bilingual Information Dissemination

Lizzett Uria supports PEATC by providing bilingual information to Virginia's Latino community. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University along with a minor in International Social Justice. She is also a Certified Medical Assistant and Limited Radiologist. She worked as a Counselor for the Center for Children and Family through Florida International University during which time, she had the opportunity to work and do research with children diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. As a counselor, her job was to reinforce positive behaviors such as academic, recreational, behavioral, and social skills that would prepare them for the next grade. Uria always knew I wanted to work with children with disabilities and so when she came back, she continued volunteering as an educator for the Special Ed class at St. Michael’s, and is currently training on becoming a Registered Behavioral Therapist. She has always been involved with the Latino Community and believe in the importance of providing information and educational resources to the parents of children with disabilities. She is an active volunteer for organizations such as National Council of La Raza, Latin American Youth Center, and many more. Uria loves volunteering for her community, but she also enjoys traveling, dancing, trying different foods, and spending time with family and friends.

Lakeshia Yancey

Lakeshia Yancey

, Family Support Specialist


Youth and Workshop Systematization

Lakeshia Yancey has extensive experience serving children and families from diverse backgrounds, particularly in the early childhood field as a preschool teacher for Head Start and in the private sector. She is very passionate about child development and effective classroom integration. She believes that if educators meet children where they are they will improve their educational outcomes. She is a native North Carolinian, but lives in Maryland with her husband and two beautiful daughters.



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

Copyright © 2018 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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