Meet the Team
Board of Directors
Nora is leading a new team to design and launch this new program for the Richmond special needs community. She plans to utilize her non-profit organization management experience as a member of the Board of Directors for Mercy Mall, as well as her 30 years of leadership skills in corporate business and marketing to fill a large gap in the Richmond Special Needs Community. Nora identified this need while searching for a fun and inclusive environment for her high school graduate son Christopher, diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and his peers can thrive.
Her years of study at Carnegie Mellon University have provided her with the analytical skills necessary to launch and manage a business. Her heart as a mother inspires her to create a fun and inclusive program for those with severe intellectual and physical disabilities.
Director of Communications
Donna is the mother of Alexandra, diagnosed with Grin2B, Lennox Gastaut & Cerebral Palsy. Donna is now a full time caretake of Alexandra who is non-mobile, non-verbal and g-tube dependent. Donna graduated from business school in New York City and has over 20 years of business experience in the HR field. Donna currently serves on the We Heart Harlie and Friends Foundation Board as their Family Liaison and has served on other non-profit Boards benefiting people with disabilities. Donna has a personal passion for serving the special needs community. In her free time she enjoys crafting, being with friends and spending time with her husband AJ and her children Alexandra and Zachary.
After working in the financial industry, Cindy was inspired to change careers to pursue her passion for working with children. She earned her degree in Physical Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and began practice at the Children's Hospital of Richmond. After learning about the intensive therapy approach and the great distances families were travelling to receive this care, Cindy established her own practice, Richmond Hope Therapy Center, in 2006. To further support her mission and business, Cindy earned her Master of Healthcare Administration in 2017 from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Cindy is passionate about providing intensive therapy to the pediatric population, as well as an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to therapeutic interventions. Under her leadership Richmond Hope Therapy Center has grown significantly and, in 2012, the practice joined the Bon Secours Ministry. Cindy is thrilled to provide high-quality therapy to the pediatric population of Richmond and its surrounding areas. She is incredibly proud of her team and enjoys supporting the families she meets. Cindy’s enthusiasm is evident in daily interaction with the children, and her perspective in pediatrics is certainly heightened as a mother of four.
When she isn’t working, Cindy enjoys spending time with her husband and four children- especially if that time is spent somewhere tropical!
Ben’s oldest child, Jimmy, was born in 2007 with a long list of medical complexities. Today, despite his challenges, Jimmy is an active and enthusiastic member of the community. He enjoys school, music, Inclusive Racing, Miracles in Motion dance, and cheering on his four younger siblings at their activities.
Ben is excited to contribute to the Board of Directors by applying his experience in strategy, predictive analytics, finance, and management. He has worked at the CarMax corporate office since 2007. Prior to that, Ben earned a BS and MBA from JMU, as well as a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.
Theresa's daughter, Reagan suffered an anoxic brain injury (TBI) from complications following her adenoids being removed. After Reagan's injury, Theresa became a full-time caretaker and advocate for Reagan. Sadly, Reagan passed away in June 2021 and Theresa remains an active advocate and supporter of Nest.
With a BS degree in finance from VCU and a class A business license, Theresa worked in the HVAC commercial industry for 14 years. Theresa is truly excited to be a part of Nest Academy because this another opportunity for her to give back for those who deserve so much more.
Outreach Volunteer Leader
Casey is a special educator with a specialty in Deaf Education, driven by her personal experience with a lifelong disability. Her dedication extends to advocacy and awareness projects. Casey has a diverse professional background spanning medical administration, education, and adult disability services. As a special educator, she worked in a bilingual deaf school and non-profit organizations for people with disabilities. Notably, as a director of a non-profit for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, she spearheaded the establishment and development of a vocational program, supervised a retirement program, and started a day program for individuals with more complex needs. Additionally, Casey provides consultation and support to military organizations and military families with special needs.
As a military and federal service family, Casey has had the opportunity to live in other countries and explore new places. Casey loves snorkel beaches, festivals, expos, Tex-Mex cuisine, trying new experiences, and board game nights.
Sara Mar has experience in Administration, Education, Human Resources, and businesses. Sara has a bachelor's degree in General Psychology with a specialization in Industrial Psychology and a master’s degree in Mathematics Instruction. With her passion for education and her experience in human resources, Sara plays a vital role in fostering connections with the community and ensuring a positive work environment within the organization. Her commitment to empowering others and her strong interpersonal skills makes her a valuable asset to the team. Sara’s strategic thinking and combined with her ability to adapt to changing needs, enables her to effectively manage outreach initiatives and implement HR strategies that drive success.
Sara loves to spend time with her husband and her children and to travel. She believes herself a runner and has participated in Marathons and relay. Sara loves to learn new thing and dabbles in everything that caches her eye.
Suzanne is a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist and is co-owner of The Speech Path, a private practice in Midlothian. She has spent her 40-year career primarily working with children who have neurological challenges. Suzanne co-authored a book on feeding for educators, served on the Board of Directors for DSAGR for 3 years, was a consultant for the Virginia Department of Education through TTAC for 25+ years, taught at VCU in the Department of Early Childhood Special Education for 7 years and is a founding member of Nest Aacademy. She is passionate about her life’s work and in helping meet the needs of families throughout the Richmond community.
Jennie Raugh is a special educator with 35+ years of experience. We love that she has worked in a variety of settings including being a Director at Camp Baker, teaching at Chesterfield County Schools, supervising group homes, and working in a classroom setting at Commonwealth Music Therapy.
Jennie lives in Bon Air with her husband and 3 kids. She loves cooking, animals, and can play the violin!
Thriving Together Program Leader