Melissa Heifetz received her undergraduate degree in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. After graduation, she worked as a Staff Attorney in New York City’s Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Division, where she advocated for children in Bronx Family Court. She later received a fellowship to work in New York University School of Law’s Public Interest Law Center. Melissa is a member of the Bar in New York and Maryland.
After moving to Virginia, she decided to focus on her passion, disability advocacy. At The Arc of Loudoun, she was Director of the ALLY (A Life Like Yours) Advocacy Center, where she worked on local and state-wide legislative advocacy issues and provided individual consultations with families. She also founded a Positive Interactions with Law Enforcement Initiative (PILE) and created the first Disability Response Team in the state of Virginia. She conducted trainings, advocacy, and outreach on various issues affecting the disability community including: special education, employment, housing, public benefits, and criminal justice. Melissa rose to become the Executive Director of The Arc of Loudoun and was recognized by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce with the 2018 Non-Profit Executive Community Leadership Award.
Melissa later served as the Executive Director of Congregation Beth Emeth, a Synagogue in Northern Virginia. As a Board Member for the Jewish National Fund’s Disability Task Force, she had the opportunity to travel internationally visiting innovative disability programs abroad.
In 2020, Melissa founded the consulting firm, Advocacy Partners, LLC. The firm advocates for individuals with disabilities and their families and helps navigate the unique challenges they often face on the path to full inclusion, equal participation in the community, fairness, and justice. The firm approaches these issues through both proactive community training and organizing efforts, as well as through direct client advocacy. Melissa has a collaborative approach and works as a team with her client’s support network, including their families, support coordinators, attorneys, and other service providers.
Melissa resides in Loudoun County with her husband, two children, and precious dog “Lulu”.
Pam retired from Loudoun County Public Schools after 30 years of service in 2021. She started her career supporting students with disabilities in the classroom. She primarily worked with students with more significant disabilities of all ages.
After 13 years in the classroom, Pam became the Parent Coordinator at the Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Center. Parent Resource Services mission is to support families whose children are struggling at home, school or the community and may have a disability. She continued in that position until her retirement.
In her role at Parent Resource Services, Pam provided support to families in a variety of ways which included presentations on topics of interest to parents of children with disabilities, as well as phone and in person consultations regarding special education services, information and referrals to LCPS staff and community agencies, and assistance with transition planning. As a parent of three children with disabilities, she has gained knowledge through firsthand experience as she navigated both school and community resources to support their needs. She has a particular interest in transition planning for “life after high school” for youth and adults with disabilities. This includes public benefits, estate planning, employment, recreation, transportation and housing.
Pam received the Loudoun County Public Schools Special Education Advisory Committee’s Recognition for Excellence in Supporting Special Education Award in 2012 and The Beth Mills Service Award from the Arc of Loudoun in 2017.
She lives in Leesburg with her husband, two sons and dogs Izzy and Josie.
Deana received her Bachelor’s degree from Denison University in Sociology and her Master’s degree in Management from The Pennsylvania State University. Her early career was in Human Resource Management.
In 2001, Deana’s eldest child was diagnosed with a developmental disability. Shortly after, she became active in the Special Education Advisory Committee for Loudoun County Public Schools. She served on the Committee for over 14 years and as Chair for 3 years. Deana served on the Career & Transition sub-committee, responsible for identifying unmet needs of students with disabilities in the area of transition planning, and making recommendations to the School Board.
Deana was also appointed to an ad hoc committee on Special Education by the LCPS School Board in 2018. The committee spent a year reviewing Special Education policies and developing recommendations to the School Board. Deana has also served as the emcee for “When the Bus Stops Coming - Life after High School” event that LCPS Transition department offers each year, sharing resources and information with parents on the journey through high school and into adulthood.
In 2019, Deana was hired by Loudoun County Public Schools as a Parent Liaison at a high school. In this role, she works collaboratively with parents/guardians, teachers and counselors to connect them with resources both in school and the community.
Deana’s first hand experience raising a child with a disability has shaped her skills and interest in transition planning, community supports & services, sibling care, housing and employment.
Deana is active in her community, volunteering at church, and most recently facilitating a monthly parent support & information group for parents who have a child or young adult with a disability. She lives Western Loudoun County with her husband and two daughters.