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.
Cheryl is responsible for fundraising efforts to support Nest’s mission and growth. Prior to joining Nest, Cheryl worked in the development office at GoochlandCares. Cheryl has worked as a Grant Writer since 2011 and has held the role of Director of Development at Riverside School and the Bolling Haxall House Foundation. Cheryl started her fundraising career at the Richmond Symphony before earning her MA as a Lois F. McNeill Fellow at the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. Cheryl brings more than 15 years of nonprofit development experience and is passionate about working to achieve capacity-building growth through strategic fundraising programs and community engagement. In her free time, Cheryl loves spending time with her husband, William and their two children Clare and Willy.
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. Reagan is cognitively aware and understands her surroundings despite her physical limitations and limited communications. Reagan is active in the community through programs like Inclusive Racing which allowed her to participate in her first Monument 10K.
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.
Sara came to Nest Academy with experience in Administration, Education, Human Resources, and businesses.
Sara started her professional career working as a bilingual executive assistant while she pursued her bachelor’s degree. At a very young age Sara knew that she wanted to work in Human Resources, but she wanted to be different, so she didn’t go for a bachelor’s degree in human resources, she went for a bachelor’s degree in General Psychology with a specialization in Industrial Psychology. She wanted to understand the behavioral and human side of HR (Sara doesn’t like simple). Sara worked for large international corporations such as, Emerson, Siemens, ITT Automotive (now Valeo), Philips, Delphi and GE.
In 2006 Sara decided to change her career to education. She obtained a master’s degree of Mathematics Instruction from UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso). Sara worked as a teacher for El Paso ISD and Houston ISD. Since Sara also had certifications in Special Education and bilingual education, Sara had the opportunity to work with students with unique learning needs.
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 races (Ragnar and Great Lakes relays). Sara loves to learn new thing and dabbles in everything that caches her eye.
Executive Director Assistant
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.
Prior to joining Nest, Ali has been providing special education services as a teacher in Powhatan County for the past 10 years, where she had the opportunity to work with a variety of students with very unique learning needs. Prior to teaching, Ali had a brief stint in social work and also worked as a hiking guide in New Mexico. Ali's educational background includes undergraduate studies at Virginia Wesleyan University and graduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. Ali strives to create exciting learning environments where all people feel included and valued. When she's not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Darren, and their son, Levi (2 years). Ali recently moved to her grandmother’s old home in Midlothian and has been deep in house projects and DIYs. Ali also shares her home with two dogs and a cat. Ali enjoys gardening, cooking, and exploring new places.
Ginger has been a supporter of Nest for a few years. Ginger has had a passion for the special needs community since 6th grade when she met her best friend’s brother who had and an extra chromosome. Ginger works at Capital One full time and she is also a U.S. Army veteran. Ginger enjoys bringing organization and process improvements to any situation and being able to do this with Nest is proving to be extremely rewarding. Ginger enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris, her daughters Lexi and Kaley son, Sam and her Golden Retriever, Bentley. Ginger enjoys softball, volleyball, working out, home renovations and doing anything with her children.